My husband and I made a proclamation prior to having our second daughter that this was it for us. We went through four miscarriages in between our daughters, and we wanted to put that behind us. After all, kids are expensive and time consuming, AND also rewarding and amazing.
I agreed with my husband. I still agree, I think.
Is any woman every really ready to make that final commitment? I know pregnancy is painful, tiring, and body altering, AND life changing, beautiful, and empowering.
The butterflies in my belly, the baby flips while doing yoga, the feelings that came with growing a life inside of me…..who wants to say goodbye to that? Then, there’s the baby stage….the sweet smells, the endless snuggling, and the bond that comes with nursing. I look at pictures of my sweet girls as newborns and all I want to do is go back in time.
And for us, there’s more to consider. Our second daughter was born unexpectedly with Down syndrome. I worry that not giving my older daughter a typical sibling will put too much pressure on her as she grows up. Will she feel obligated to stay closer to home? Will she make decisions for her family instead of herself? Will we hold her back?
Now, logically, I am aware that this is not a reason to have another child. I also have learned that there are no guarantees. Pregnancy does not always end with a baby. Labor and delivery do not always end with a ‘typical’ baby. After all, you get what you get and you don’t get upset.
I go back and forth about this all the time. Our plan before my youngest daughter was two kids, and we should stick to that plan. Then, I see a pregnant mom or a newborn and my oxytocin memories come flooding back, and I forget all that. I call it pregnancy and newborn amnesia.
Here’s the thing though. Why do we not remember how draining that stage of life can be? How quickly I forget the fact that my babies didn’t sleep more than 3 hours at a time until they were 11 months old. I was so sleep deprived that I thought I might have a brain tumor. I forget how hard it is being dictated by a baby’s feeding schedule, their helpless cries, and their sleeping (or not sleeping) demands.
We are finally starting to get some freedom. The girls can play together now. I can leave them alone for a few minutes and not worry. We are getting out of the house more. My husband and I are dating again. I can have a glass of wine (or four) and not worry about having to breastfeed or pump. My kitchen and living room feel bigger without the swing, the pack n play, and the exersaucer.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t daydream about those tender moments. Childhood goes way too fast, so for now, I’m going to cling to every stage and enjoy the ride. Each stage brings a new challenge, but so many new rewards. Motherhood is the hardest job out there, but it’s also the most gratifying.
I may not have those newborn snuggles anymore, but they’ve been replaced with hilarious banter between sisters, dance parties to music I never thought I’d tolerate, and nights spent going over homework. I also get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and I love every second of it.