I wrote recently about my wandering thoughts on having another baby. I was really surprised by this sudden urge to seriously consider having another baby, and I wondered what it meant. Well, after much thought, lots of good conversations with mamas IRL and online, I’ve come to the realization that I really don’t want to try for another baby.
My favorite trick when I’m trying to make a tough decision, is to imagine that I’ve made it (pick an option) and then see what my reaction is. I may feel elated and relieved (good choice) or apprehensive, restrained, hesistant, disappointed, crestfallen (bad choice). Whenever I imagined myself saying “Okay, this is it, let’s try to get pregnant” I was, admittedly, excited. But there was also this nagging feeling at the back of my mind, like I was doing something irresponsible and potentially foolish for short-term gain (episodes of my love life came to mind!).
I learned from talking to other mamas that “considering another when you thought you were done” is very common. And I’ve decided it’s also quite natural. From an emotional perspective, I think I needed to go through this mental process in order to grieve and move past this point in my life – the point where I realize that the days of sweet-smelling newborns and babes in slings is over. It is sad in a way, saying goodbye to a very wonderful, deep and meaningful phase of my life. Having my babies was nothing short of life-altering, and precious in more way than I could ever count. Recognizing that I’m moving out of that stage of life apparently necessitated some sort of closure from an emotional standpoint, and I believe this is why I went through this thought exercise.
And of course one cannot discount biology. Reproduction is the single biggest driving force in nature. Each and every creature on this earth, from a bacterium to an elephant, is driven to propagate the species; this instinct even overrides that of self-preservation. So it shouldn’t be surprising that thoughts of having another child gave me pleasure, as they did my husband. The drive we felt was likely just Ma Nature saying “hey, spread thy seed! fill thy womb!” Knowing it was a natural urge made it easier to flow with it.
Ultimately it boiled down to recognizing that I’m truly ready to move on to the next stage of my life. Having a baby not only means putting that off for another 2 or 3 years, but it also means putting some things on hold for my present children, things that can’t be done with a baby in tow. As one friend said, she was tired of “being on the sidelines” with a baby; now that her youngest is almost 3 she is able to get involved in activities again, like surfing and ziplining, and be the “fun mom” that her older children didn’t even know existed.
Another friend mentioned that their family were planning to do the Olympics in style (Vancouver is hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics). It occurred to me then that my kids will be 6 and 8 when the Olympics get here – definitely able to “do” the Olympics. But if I have another baby, that child will be just 2 and not at all able to do the Olympics – too old to sit still in a sling, but too young to run free at events attracting tens of thousands of spectators. I’d either be stuck on the sidelines, or finding someone to take the child off our hands so the rest of the family could “have fun”. I don’t want that for any child of mine, to be the “party pooper”, the one who gets fawned off on others so I can enjoy doing something, or who ends up with me caring for him/her and resenting the fact that the rest of the family is off doing fun stuff.
I gave my all for my babies. My life changed completely and I embraced those changes willingly and lovingly. But I know in my heart there isn’t much left of that to give, and it wouldn’t be fair to my next baby not to have what my first two had. I’ve had a taste of The Next Stage and I’m thrilled about it. Here are just a few things I’m planning on doing with the kids in the next couple of years: joining the Young Naturalists Club, learning rock climbing at a local indoor climbing centre, geocaching, swimming, cycling, hiking, skiing, ice skating, horseback riding and various road trips.
Having recognized within myself that Two is, and always has been, my own personal magic number has been liberating. I’m glad I went through the process of seriously considering another; now I know I am truly done. And while it’s sad to say goodbye to the baby phase, the next phase has so much excitement waiting in it…and you know, there’s always my future grandbabies to hold!