Done

During my pregnancy with Charlie, Cortney made it known that two kids were enough. He was very happy with two boys and with being a family of four. I was not convinced.

Then Charlie was born. The night of his birth, after everyone had left the hospital and we were alone, I held him close to my face, breathed deeply, and whispered, “you are not my last baby.”

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My heart knew I couldn’t call it quits already then, and as my boys grew and interacted with each other, it still felt like our family wasn’t whole. Someone was missing. There was a spot in all photos of our family that seemed as if it was waiting to be filled.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted all boys. Four boys. I wanted tall, loving boys who doted on their little mother. I pictured boys when I pictured my family. Back in high school the husband in the picture was never quite clear, but four boys was.

Then Alice was not a boy, and I was confused because I have boys. I have two boys and I (thought) was having another. Cortney and I talked about whether or not we would be done after this baby, but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t think I could be sure until the baby was here for a while. Maybe I still needed that fourth child I always dreamed of…even if all of my kids weren’t boys.

To complicate matters, my pregnancy with Alice was difficult. In fact, each pregnancy was more difficult than the one before. Could I even endure a fourth (well, actually sixth) pregnancy? Somewhere between finding out Alice was a girl and feeling like garbage every day for 39 weeks, we became 98% sure there would be no more babies. It wasn’t because Alice was a girl, but rather because there was no way my body could go through another pregnancy like hers. It felt as if my body was constantly shouting at me that it just couldn’t go through this again.

When Alice was born and placed in my arms, I knew. Our family was complete. The missing piece of our puzzle was a little girl I didn’t know I wanted…or needed. Three was our number.

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Both Cortney and I are very VERY ok with our decision. We are totally sure. We are at peace. And yet…

Last Friday the doneness became official with a thirty-minute doctor’s office visit for Cortney. In the days leading up to that procedure, I had feelings. They didn’t have anything to do with wanting to be pregnant again or having more children. I feel very, very good about NOT being pregnant again and NOT having more crazy children. We are a party of five.

The feelings are about an almost imperceptible shift.

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Last Monday Alice and I were at Meijer to get groceries. I was just getting her out of her car seat and fitted in the Moby wrap when an old high school friend walked up to say hello and congratulations on the baby. She had seen pictures on Facebook and thought Alice was precious. I love it when people stop to say hello and tell me my baby is cute, so as Alice and I made our way to the carts with our grocery list in hand, I had a smile on my face. I felt good.

But as we navigated the baby department for diapers and formula, I thought about that friend and her children–all older than Eddie (who will be six in June). Then I thought about the vast number of women from my high school graduating class who have kids who are all older than my kids. One friend has a son getting married. Another is a grandmother already.

I pressed my nose against Alice’s fluffy hair as she snoozed against my chest and I sniffed the new baby smell.

I felt old.

For the first time in my life, I felt old.

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Birthdays have never really affected me. The number has never defined me or how I felt about myself. My experiences are what generated my feelings. When I got married at age twenty-seven, I felt young because I was a bride! I even said to my best friend/matron of honor, “OH MY GOSH! I am getting MARRIED today! That is such a GROWN UP THING!” She laughed at me because duh, I was twenty-seven. I was a grown-up.

When I had Eddie at age thirty-one I never thought, “aw jeez, I am having my first child in my 30’s.”  Rather I felt young and naive because I was a brand new mom with a new baby.

Now something has shifted.

I am no longer a newly wed; we are celebrating ten years in a month.

I am no longer a new mom; this is my third baby.

I am no longer in my child-bearing years; Cortney has taken care of that.

We are now officially starting a new era.

Cortney always liked to use soccer terms to talk about whether we were trying for a baby or not. We were either practicing or pulling the goalie and playing for real. Now he has said we are just on an alumni league where no one keeps score anymore.

It’s much harder on me than I thought it would be.

Not because I want more children, but because the Baby Years are over.

We are done.

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At the same time, we are at the beginning of something new. Of the “growing up years”. These are the years that family memories are made of.

Looking back on my childhood, the years after my youngest brother was born is where those “family memories” really begin.

That is where we are: starting those years my kids will remember as their childhood.

There is a loss I am grieving, though. The loss of my “young” years of child-bearing. The excitement of not knowing who was coming into our family next.

We are all here now. We are done. We are ready to begin.

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About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. Sometimes, I read your blog, and it’s like you are saying exactly what’s in my head. I understand exactly the feeling that is hard to put words to. I don’t want any more kids, I don’t want to be pregnant again, but why do I feel this yearning at a baby shower? Why do I love to have a 4th kid in my car? And you’re right, it’s the loss of an era. We are no longer planning, saving for, figuring out the next baby. They’re all here, and now what? It’s a hard thing to overcome. Like when I graduated college and went back once a month to visit friends. It’s hard to let go of what you’ve known for so long. I guess life will always be like that. A series of eras that we begin and end. Great post.
    Jaime recently posted…HeavyMy Profile

  2. Tim had a vasectomy when Jack was 6 months old and we have zero regrets but it’s still difficult to wrap my mind around the idea that we are done having children. The idea of having children or not having children hangs over your entire sexual life until this point and now it’s no longer a concern. It’s jarring.
    Jennifer recently posted…What We’re Watching with #StreamTeamMy Profile

  3. TheNextMartha says

    My kids are a bit older and I always knew two would be fine. Older kids are great when you’re older too. They can bend over for you to pick up your reading glasses you dropped. <3

  4. I get this, so much. It’s been 5 years, and I still feel pangs about it. Not about wanting more babies, exactly, but about being done with that part of it. Hugs, lady. The growing up is awesome, too, right?
    Angela recently posted…Focus on the little thingsMy Profile

  5. You are radiant in those photos.

    I get this so much. I got choked up yesterday because Zoe was watching Tinkerbell, and it reminded me of when Rachel and Claire were much littler. I don’t want more babies, but I miss MY babies.
    Leigh Ann recently posted…stuff my husband buysMy Profile

  6. souphead says

    That last picture — I think Alice is down with this decision.

    xo

  7. Yes. BUT… one thing I’ve noticed as an “older” mom is that my kids keep me young. MANY of my classmates are grandparents or their kids are graduating and leaving for college or are learning how to drive. We are still YEARS from all of those things. So while some days I really feel my age, others I realize just how young my kids keep me. Even though there will be no more babies.
    Jennifer recently posted…Real Life FriendsMy Profile

  8. I so get this. We considered being done after our second but like you my heart just isn’t ready. We’d love to be blessed a third sometime in the (distant – ha!) future and even just thinking about him or her being our last stirs up all kinds of the emotions you so eloquently describe.
    Kara recently posted…Oh No She Didn’tMy Profile

  9. First, I just love that our family set up is the same. 🙂

    Second, I always saw me with three kids so when K was born and a girl (whee!) I was so happy my dream came true. But it was still hard knowing the baby days were done.

    But yes, the best days are to come. We are having so much fun with the kids at 5, 8 (well in 2 days) and 11. This is the sweet spot right here!
    Elaine A. recently posted…An Extra Special Mother’s DayMy Profile

  10. You are done making your family, now it’s time to grow your family. My youngest will be 16 this fall. (I have a 21 year old and an 18 year old) I knew almost as soon as I got the positive pregnancy test that she would be my last. And yet, there are times… thankfully those moments are just that, moments.
    Becky recently posted…What I wouldn’t Give for a Do-OverMy Profile

  11. I have a lot of feelings too, about this. I love the way you wrote about it, how it’s time to begin now and move forward and stop wondering. That is the beauty and magic in this, that it is time to FLY.

    But oh the feelings.

    Love you and your all you babies. Xo
    Kir recently posted…Ah-choo! Welcome to Allergy Season (CVS MINUTE CLINICS)My Profile

  12. Whenever someone asks if we’re done after Baby E (after twin boys 5yrs earlier), I tend to blurt out over enthusiastically, “I got sterlized!” I should really keep that TMI for social media. Ha

  13. “The growing up years.” Yes, exactly. My youngest will be in PRESCHOOL in a few months. All four will be in school. I don’t know how it happened, but it is excited (and bittersweet) to experience. I feel ya, mama.
    Greta recently posted…Through the Lens Thursday: RoundMy Profile

  14. I understand the feelings. We are now done with the making phase, and we can focus on the growing phase. I know for certain too that my child-bearing days are over, as soon as we found out we were having twins, and one would be a girl. It’s like God and the Universe gave us these two to make certain that we will KNOW we are done.

    I’m excited for our new eras!
    Alison recently posted…IMy Profile

  15. This is a lovely post. I get choked up when it’s the end of an era as well. That something could feel so familiar for so long (like having babies) and then be over forever…it’s a trip.
    Lucy recently posted…Has parenting become too precious?My Profile

  16. Oh, YES, I feel this. As a mother of two who is done (if I were five years younger, I might have been persuaded for a third…) I too am feeling the sadness of ending the baby stage of my life. For a while I just always felt like a young mom (I was 33 when I had my first!) and then suddenly, this year, as I approach 40, and I’ve been spending time with actual (ahem) young moms who are in their late 20s and early 30s, I’m realizing, whoa. I’m actually moving out of that realm. But I love what someone said, maybe on Facebook, about you being done making babies and now you’re growing them. I just love that. And I’m hanging onto it as I grow my family into the next stages of our lives.
    Dana recently posted…Change of AddressMy Profile

  17. I think the moral of the story is….1 girl is worth to boys. Right? Jk. 😉 No this is a lovely post and I think most women who have children feel the same. I know I do at times.

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