As a woman, I’ve spent as much of my fertile life trying to prevent pregnancy as I have trying to facilitate it.
At 26, I gave birth to my first child. At 30, I suffered a miscarriage. At 31, I gave birth to my second child. At 35, I questioned another. At 36, I decided I was done. At 37, I changed my mind and miscarried again and in the nearly two years since, I’ve waffled back-and-forth, back-and-forth, back-and-forth against my emotions and my biological clock.
If you’ve walked in my slippers, you know the maybe-baby pendulum is more than exhausting, it’s debilitating. When the baby answer was yes, I threw myself into vigorous baby body preparation mode. I put plans on hold. I obsessed over it. I worried about it. When the baby answer was no, I questioned myself. I obsessed over it. I worried about it.
What did my heart want? What did my family want? What could my body handle?
I’ll be honest, the answers to these questions never really came to me, or at least not the way I thought they would. I felt like I was putting in the necessary work to reach them. I prayed long and hard. I patiently waited. I searched for signs. I listened for a whisper, and still, nothing.
I’d written so much and for so long on the topic that there wasn’t a week that went by that I didn’t receive an email asking if I’d made my decision, and if I had, whether I felt good about it. Readers were asking because they wondered what their own “right” answer might look and feel like in the face of their own fertility, financial, and emotional struggles. They, too, were praying, searching their souls, and listening for whispers.
I’d always heard that I’d “know” when I was done having babies, that one day I’d be able to hold a baby and not sense that familiar ache. Well, as for me and my heart, I’m calling bullshit.
I recently decided I was done having babies in spite of this supposed “knowing,” and the choice was more beautiful, painful, liberating, and frightening than I could have ever imagined.
And after years of uncertainty and crippling doubt, I thought I’d be happy to finally settle my heart. I envisioned myself booking that international vacation or daydreaming about the freedoms and possibilities that lie ahead.
Instead, I cried.
I bawled as I accepted my 7-year-old as my last baby, wishing I’d known as much all along. I inhaled deep healing breaths of relief for my body. But as I mourned the loss of what I’ll no longer be able to give my family, I found myself unexpectedly lost in the possibility of what I might now offer instead.
Today, I’m at peace with small hands growing into larger ones, first words developing into lengthy conversations, and growing bodies I’ll one day have trouble reaching my arms around for one very simple reason: my kids will always be my babies. You see, I’ll never be “done” having babies, I’m just thankful my heart now understands that it never will be either.More On