When Evelyn was born, we became a family of three. It was such a magical time, as it is for many families. An adorable, wrinkly little being enters the world and a mother is born, a father is born, a family is born. Despite the fact that I had to travel a long, hard road to motherhood, once I finally did get pregnant, I was certain that we would have another baby in the future. I carefully chose all of our baby items to be gender neutral, so that they could be used again, regardless of whether we had boys, girls, or one of each. Several hours after giving birth, I was already talking about the “next time” and the nurses teased me, since apparently most women are a little too traumatized to start talking about having another baby so soon. I never had any doubt that we would have another baby. When Michael and I discussed the future, I always referred to “our kids” because I knew that another one would be joining us eventually. We were a family of three, but in my mind, that was only a temporary situation. We would eventually be a family of four.
Once I got pregnant, I naively believed that it would be a snap to get pregnant again. And actually, it was. I’ve been pregnant four times since Evelyn was born, but we’re still a family of three…and the difference now is that I’m pretty sure we always will be. Two chemical pregnancies and two miscarriages kind of left us worse for the wear. After our last miscarriage at 16 weeks, I was pretty sure that it was time to just let go of the idea of another child. We were so weary from the losses and just not sure if we could go through it all again. We are both getting older. Can you believe the medical term is ‘elderly’? I seriously thought my OB was teasing me when he used that word. Physically, I am not what I used to be.
I think for most women the decision to be done having babies is huge, whether you have one or fifteen. It’s hard to close that door forever, even if you think your family is complete. Unfortunately for some, there is no choice in the matter. For me, it’s been a process. At first, I was really mad at the idea of leaving my childbearing years behind after such a negative experience. I didn’t want my last memories of pregnancy and child birth to be so painful and traumatic. I also didn’t want to go through another loss. I started by getting rid of all the baby things. It was so hard. I still had ‘what if?’ in my mind. But my mom and Michael gently reminded me that I could always get more baby things if I needed them. So, I had a yard sale. I cried when I went through all of Evelyn’s things. I cried in my car when I met with ladies to sell her cloth diapers. I cried a lot.
I worried about Evelyn being an only child. In many ways, I think I wanted to have another baby more for her than for myself. Michael and I both come from big families, so the thought of an only child was totally foreign to me. I don’t want her to be alone in this big, bad world once her dad and I are gone. I talked to a good friend of mine and read lots of blog posts about the experience of being an only. I started to see all the positives that can come with that.
As I was slowly coming to acceptance over the idea of an only child, I was also still very much mourning the loss of our son, our last pregnancy. It was very conflicting to start to feel happy and relieved about the idea of being done having children while I was still so sad over our loss. At times I felt that if I let the happiness creep in, it was like saying that I never wanted my son in the first place. I’ve been having to learn how to separate the two experiences and it’s still difficult sometimes. But, I am slowly coming to a place of acceptance.
So, instead of becoming a family of four, we’re becoming a family of three all over again. I’m kind of getting used to the idea. I know we will be able to do a lot of cool things as a family that we might not be able to do as easily if we had more children. I know that Evelyn will be okay. I know that our family is not in a position to be starting over with a new baby right now and I am not sure we ever will be. I suppose that if God decides to add another child (or children) to our family, I am open to that idea, but we are not actively pursuing it. For now, I am just focusing on contentment, and it feels pretty good.