I’ve known for a long time that I wanted children. For me, it was even clear that given the great relationship I have with my own siblings, I wanted more than one child. As luck would have it I found a partner who shared the same desire.
We gave ourselves a couple of years to ensure we had a solid foundation to start a family. Sure enough, when he finished his bachelors degree, I had secured a full-time teaching job and we were doing as well as two imperfect people who loved each other could do, we decided to go ahead with our plans to have kids.
My doctor had told me that it took on average 7 months to become pregnant. In the optimistic-naivety that characterizes me, I figured that I’d definitely be pregnant within seven month’s time. Except I wasn’t.
Now, I’ll be honest with you all. I’ve never had a miscarriage. I’ve not had to deal with primary or secondary infertility. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to live through them. However, it took my husband and I 18 months to conceive our first. Eighteen long months. After ten months, I was starting to feel frustrated. Once twelve months rolled by, some worry began to creep up. I skipped a period. And then a second, a third… I spent five consecutive months without seeing a drop of blood and as many months taking pregnancy tests that always, invariably came back with nothing but a single red line.
When my period finally came back, I was gutted. Then it came back for another two consecutive months. By then, the “baby dance” was no longer that fun thing that happened spontaneously, it had instead become a chore. I went through package after package of ovulation tests and, on our seventeenth month of trying to conceive, I told my husband that if it didn’t work out again, I wanted to go to a fertility clinic. Luckily for us, it worked.
Now, what does this have with the title of my post? Well, you see, my husband and I had never decided on how many kids we wanted. We just went at it one at a time until we felt that our family was complete. As it turns out, four seems to be our magic number.
To be honest though, it’s been something of a struggle. The rational part of me knows it’s for the best. On the one hand, my last pregnancy was hard. Not so much physically, but in other ways which I’ll probably write about in a later post. On the other hand, I had four pregnancies in quick succession. In fact, as of today, I have either been pregnant or nursing for the last seven years of my life. No wonder I’ve been having a hard time with this!
Despite all of this, I’ve had to convince myself that we’re making the right call. At first, I didn’t really think about it. I mean, I didn’t really have the time in the blur of days following bringing home a new baby. To those who asked, I kept repeating that this baby was probably our last, but that we hadn’t completely closed the door to having another child. I kept going back and forth in my head noting the advantages and disadvantages to having four or five kids.
And one day, a switch flipped in my head. I was nursing Adrien to sleep and I started to cry. It just dawned on me, at that precise moment, that my family was indeed complete. We were a family of six. I felt sad that I would never get to feel those little hiccups and kicks inside of me, that I wouldn’t be able to hold a warm and squishy freshly-delivered baby of my own, that I would never experience that first nursing session again.
But you know, I have a fantastic family. I’ve got four wonderful, healthy unique kids who, though they can drive me absolutely nuts, are the light of my life. I’m also lucky to have a fantastic husband who I couldn’t imagine my life without. And though a part of me is still a bit sad that this part of my life is finished, I think I am indeed ready to start a new chapter in my life with my family.
Was it difficult for you to decide when it was time to stop having children? How did you know your family was complete?