There’s a point in every mom’s life when she knows.
This is my last baby.
Image Credit: The Williams Studios
When you know, you know.
Maybe a doctor told you, that’s it, no more kids.
Or perhaps you’re just done — and ready to get on with the next phase of life.
Either way, it is a moment that happens to all of us. That moment where we leave the baby birthing part of our lives behind us.
And either way, there is a part of you that grieves.
I’m here to tell you mama that it’s normal and it’s ok to be sad that you’re done having babies — even if you don’t actually want any more babies.
And especially if you do.
When You Know This is Your Last Baby
I used to think I didn’t want kids at all.
That actually wasn’t so long ago, maybe twelve years ago, I was enjoying life with no real responsibility except making sure my bills were paid.
Now here I am, a mother to three beautiful girls — and a parenting blogger to boot!
Life is funny like that.
Life is also funny in that it will sometimes take away something that you didn’t even know you wanted.
My dad comes from a large family of seven brothers and sisters. My mom comes from a more modest (by the Catholic standards of the 60’s and 70’s) family of four children.
While the thought of birthing and raising seven kids scares the living daylights out of me, I feel incredibly blessed that I grew up with a large family on both sides.
Having a plethora of aunts, uncles, and cousins has made my life rich. I also see the camaraderie shared by my dad and his siblings.
They were their own tribe, their own army. Everyone in our small town remembers having class with one of the Garska kids. I’ve even run across people in other states that can recall the Garska clan. How cool is that?!
I’ll readily admit that I don’t want seven kids.
I’ll also admit that maybe we wouldn’t have been done at three.
Except that my body is not built to birth children.
When the Choice to be Done Having Children Isn’t Yours
I used to think the “small pelvis” thing was just an excuse to pressure women into c-sections, but after emergency cesarean birth #1 and home birth turned emergency c-section #2, I stand corrected. (I still think there are more than a few non-medically necessary cesareans in this country, but that’s beside the point here).
If we lived a century ago, I would be one of those poor souls who died in childbirth. And let me tell you, after wondering whether you might actually die during childbirth, I know for a fact that would be the worst way to go.
There are doctors who say it’s perfectly safe to have three c-sections or more. I know quite a few moms who have done so, without side effects aside from those of normal surgery recovery.
However, I know I am done.
I knew after twenty minutes of pushing when I felt my youngest daughter get stuck, just like her sister before her.
I knew on the ambulance ride to the hospital, fighting to endure pain more intense than you can imagine unless you’ve lived it.
I knew as they lowered the oxygen mask onto my face in the OR, as I prayed for God to spare me and my baby girl.
I knew as I held my daughter, safe and sound by the grace of God and modern medicine, even as the surgeon told me I could have another c-section if I wanted, so long as it was planned.
Knowing in my heart that I’ve cheated death in a sense, I’m not going to roll the dice again.
I’m happy as a mom of three, and I know that our outcome was fortunate and that it is not that way for everyone. I look at my girls with gratitude every day, not wanting to take one moment for granted.
But there’s a small part of my heart that aches because the choice to be done having children is not really mine.
Of course there are those reading this who might argue that I could have more — the doctor told me so after all.
But when you know, you know.
Also, when that same doctor tells you that you’re lucky to be alive because your uterus was minutes away from rupturing and asks why didn’t I just get my tubes tied during it all (duh, I was unconscious at the time) — it kind of takes away from his assurance that a third c-section would be fine.
Or maybe this doctor thought I was stupid for attempting a home birth and worried that I might do something stupid again — like getting pregnant — so he might as well try to mitigate the risk by talking me into planning a c-section from the start.
I know this is my last baby, but sometimes I’m not ok.
Despite my happiness to be alive, despite knowing that we are so blessed to have our three healthy girls, there is still a tinge of sadness when I look at my baby girl and know that this is my last baby.
I think every mother must feel this way, even if just a little bit, and even if only sometimes, when they know that they are done having children.
There are also feelings of guilt: why should I be sad when I already have three kids? Some moms have fewer, some mamas have angel babies, some women have none.
Bringing life into this world is an immeasurable honor and privilege, even if it is pretty dang hard. That sense of purpose is almost like a high. That feeling — mamas you know what I’m talking about — of seeing a new person for the first time, a new little soul that you cradled in your womb for ten months, is impossible to replicate.
So it’s ok if coming down from that high hurts at times.
Even though I’m at peace with the way it is, I want to make each moment last.
I know this is my last baby, so I squeeze her just a little bit tighter.
I watch her just a little bit longer as she falls asleep.
I try to breathe in that sweet baby smell and commit it to memory.
I want to soak in every moment.
Because they are the last of the baby moments. And I’m not sure if I’m ready to let them go just yet.
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