I always planned to have four kids. I am one of three (two girls, one boy) and growing up, I watched my brother feel left out without another boy in the mix. I told myself I needed an even number and two wasn’t enough, so four it would be. My husband was on board with this logic and we often told others, before we’d even had our first, that we were planning on having four kids.
We had our third in December 2018 and whether or not we’d really try for a fourth has been on both mine and my husband’s minds pretty much every day since. We agreed that once we were sure we were done, we wanted to take permanent steps to prevent any surprises down the road.
But coming to a definite decision on closing that door or not has proven difficult for both of us.
There are many reasons not to have a fourth kid. It would mean an eventual move to a bigger house, our budget is already tight, the nightmare of paying for college is looming down the road and on and on. But all of that quickly seems like just a numbers game when my baby gives me slobbery kisses or learns a new trick and I am conflicted all over again.
Could this really be the last baby I’ll ever experience this with?
Then there are days I feel completely overwhelmed and know that if I never have to make another meal with a baby screaming at my feet to be held, it will be too soon. I go to bed feeling guilty for all the times I’ve snapped at my older children because I was completely overwhelmed and sleep deprived. I wonder could I really go through this all over again and put my kids through another adjustment of even less attention to go around?
I have finally realized I have been holding onto the idea of another baby because I am not ready for this time of my life to be over. I am grieving never again having that jolt of excitement at seeing a positive pregnancy test, or getting to feel a baby’s first movements, or having another empowering birthing experience.
I was sure for most of my life that I wanted to be a mom and it has been everything I ever imagined and more. Making the decision to stop having more kids feels like the beginning of the end of this chapter of my life. What will I do when there are no more little ones to read stories to and no toddlers adorably mispronouncing words and no babies whose tears can be quieted with just a nursing session with mom?
But I have to come to terms with the fact that I have reached my limit as a mom.
I cannot have more kids and continue to be the kind of mom I want to be and do the kinds of things which are important to me. Three class Valentine parties to prep crafts for and attend is more than enough. Three birthdays to make special breakfasts and requested themed cakes for is more than enough. Three little people to get to know better than they know themselves and to pour into with one on one time as often as I can is more than enough.
I can mourn the end of this time in my life while also being excited for all the milestones still to come. I will let the sadness for the babies who will never be coexist with the love I have for each unique being I have helped create. I will do my best not to take any of the moments I have left with them for granted and I will trust that the new chapters we are starting will be just as sweet as this one that is ending.