How Do You Know When You’re Done Having Babies?
Once upon a time, when I was a little girl who had no idea what it was really like to be a mum, I thought four seemed like a good, round number. I meticulously planned the gender ratio to be two of each and in this order: girl, boy, and then girl/boy twins. PERFECT.
Of course, life rarely turns out like you planned when you were six years old.
The Magic Number
My husband and I tossed around the idea of four kids in the early stages of our relationship. We romanticised big families because neither of us grew up in one. With just one sibling each, both of us craved the slightly more chaotic but – what we perceived to be – closer dynamic of a bigger family. In the end, we decided on three kids as being just enough chaos but without having to buy a van for transport.
We didn’t talk much about what the financial implications of having kids would be and thank god for that – we might not have had any! If we had waited until we were ‘ready financially,’ who knows how long that might be taken? Our age was a more important factor and as we approached our 30th birthdays, we knew we wanted to get started sooner rather than later.
Three, Not Out?
From the beginning, my husband and I were convinced we were ‘girl’ parents. He was a gentle musician who couldn’t name one football player, and I was convinced I needed a daughter. Naturally, the universe laughed at our plans and instead delivered us two exquisite baby boys, one after the other. It was no secret to anyone who knew us that we wanted a girl, so no-one was surprised when I got pregnant for a third time.
At 20 weeks, we discovered the baby was a girl, and it seemed like the perfect full stop to our family. Three kids, just as we had planned – and finally a little girl in the mix. We were ecstatic. But in those emotional early days after our daughter was born, the idea that I would never experience that newborn rush again had me quietly contemplating having babies foreverrrrrr. Thankfully, that feeling did not last, as life with three kids delivered a healthy dose of reality to that loved-up post-baby daydreaming.
Pros and Cons – and things I’ll always miss just a little
Truthfully, I could not handle more than three kids. In fact, if I really think about it, I really only held my shit together when it was just my firstborn and I. I’m a bit highly strung, and lots of noise and activity makes me very tense. Three kids is, in a nutshell, lots of noise and activity. So three kids: THE END.
And yep, money never came into our original decision to have three kids, but it really would be bonkers for us to bring another little person into the world. Now that the kids are older, I have finally refocused on my career. We might actually save some money! Then there’s the fact that all three kids are now at school. No one wears a nappy. Sometimes the kids even make their own breakfasts! This just seems like a sweet spot to be in.
But I don’t think I will ever get over the adorableness of newborn babies. It’s been almost six years since I held my last one, and still, if I see a freshy all swaddled up, my heart just aches. I want to snatch them out of their mother’s arms and sniff the top of their heads. The idea of a baby to snuggle, to breastfeed and rock to sleep? Heaven!
Oh, and pregnancy. Pregnancy! Admittedly, I did moan throughout the entire nine months of each of my pregnancies, but that’s just part of the fun. There is no other experience that comes close to feeling a baby grow and move within you. It’s a magic that can’t be replicated and I will always feel a certain sadness at knowing I won’t ever experience that magic again. Even the idea of never going through childbirth again makes me nostalgic. I know. Weird.
But I find myself noticing mums of very young kids and my blood runs cold. Mums with bubs on the hip, hauling prams in and out of cars, holding one hand out to receive toddler’s mushed banana, calling after pre-schoolers who are escaping on lightning fast legs. How do they do it? How did I do it?? I feel exhausted just contemplating returning to that life again. We are so far past that stage that the bitter-sweetness of those days can’t match the ease and relative freedom of life now. My kids are less attached to me and I am genuinely relieved. I don’t understand how I survived the intensity of early motherhood in the first place. It’s a distant, blurry memory.
Three Little Ducks in a Row
When people ask me if I’m having more kids, I don’t hesitate. It’s a confident hell no. As each childhood milestone passes, I momentarily mourn it, but mostly, I celebrate what is to come. I am feeling more myself than I have in years and it feels incredible. And most importantly, when I look at my beautiful kids, three little ducks in a row, I feel an overwhelming sense of wholeness. No-one is missing. They’re all here. And it’s more magnificent than I could ever have dreamed.
Photo: Polina Tankilevitch via Pexels