Before we got married, my husband and I had to take a meeting with the priest who was going to perform the ceremony and discuss our relationship. Pre-wedding classes aren’t uncommon for marriages performed in a church, and since we weren’t living in the state where we would be getting married, there was only one meeting and a workbook to go through together.
We had a cross-country drive planned after the meeting, so I cracked open the workbook and we went through the questions orally. The idea is to open conversation about issues that will come up over the course of a marriage. If you find yourselves unable to agree on anything, maybe that’s a red flag for your relationship. The questions range from budgeting and shared bank accounts to elderly in-laws moving into your home in their time of need, and we seemed to be able to hash out a plan for our lives all in one car trip.
There was one area I hadn’t given much thought to, that Hubs had an immediate answer for as soon as I broached the question: how many children do you want?
“Three! Oh, is that okay? How many do you want?”
“I…have no idea.”
I knew I wanted children, but hadn’t given much thought to the size of our future brood. Did people even have more than two anymore? You know, unless they home-schooled and drove horse-drawn carriages to market? I come from a smaller family, where my grandmothers were the only women to have more than two kids (they each had three). We agreed to be flexible, depending on our ability to care for several children and other factors that wouldn’t be decided until much later. At the time we had no children, no young kids in the family to practice on, and no careers, so saying we would definitely have five babies would have been pretty outrageous. What if we can’t afford that many? What if I can’t have any babies at all?
With so many variables, we agreed to foster children, have a couple babies, or adopt, depending on what surprises we encountered along the way. The point of the workbook was to discover any deal-breakers, like if one partner values conservative investments and the other plans to pursue a new career in interpretive dance. Or, if one spouse’s answer to the kid question is “lets be the next Duggar family!” and the other says “maybe we just get a dog?”
When it turned out I could have kids, we seemed to silently come to an understanding that three was the magic number. I have one sibling, and Hubs has three, so we would meet in the middle.
While I seem to be able to get pregnant if my husband so much as winks in my direction, the pregnancies themselves haven’t been easy. Jackson was the easiest, and my morning sickness didn’t stop until month five. I had hospital-level sickness with Archer, and twenty weeks of mild bed rest with Mary. I’m afraid this is my body’s way of telling me not to push my luck.
It turns out I love being a mom, and I love my kids more than I thought possible, but I know for sure that Mary will be my last baby. It’s hard to even think about because I love her so deeply and time is moving too fast for me to really take time to enjoy every moment.
I don’t get to spend hours just staring at my daughter they way I did with my first born. Even when the big kids are in school all day, there are meals to prepare, there is laundry to fold, crumbs to sweep, and I actually feel annoyed when I have to stop to feed her. How inconsiderate of her, eating every three hours! With your first baby there are fewer chores to be done, and most people will give you a pass if your house is a disaster and you eat takeout every night. Now, we have schedules and homework and appointments and I’m nodding off during nursing sessions rather than gazing lovingly into her eyes.
Can this really be the last time I nurse a three month old baby? The last time I fold tiny onesies and wipe off pacifiers? Of course, there are lots of things I won’t miss, like my last case of chapped nipples and my last pair of mesh undies lined with ice packs and witch hazel. I’ve been focusing on the ending of my era of producing babies, when I should be looking forward to the era of Active Mom, who is not restricted to reclining due to pregnancy or chained to her infant because she doesn’t take a bottle.
Of course, it’s possible my plans are irrelevant and we are destined for more children, but I sense my body and the powers that be have decided we are set for now. Having difficult pregnancies is tough on the whole family, and I wouldn’t want to put them through that again. The boys adore their sister, so I hope they’ve forgiven me for being distant while I carried her.
While I carried my very last baby.