Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saying Goodbye

Jay and I never really talked about how many kids we wanted to have. We decided that it was time to have the first one, and then we decided that it was time to have the second one, and then Jay started getting sicker--and that was that. After we had Joshua I decided that three would be a good number. After all, I'm an only, Jay's one of two, and neither of us has experienced a family with three kids, so why not?

But I'm bumping up against "advanced maternal age," and Jay's not exactly in stellar health himself, so it just seems foolish to have another. Should things go poorly for Jay, I have no desire to raise two kids alone, much less three. And I'm feeling a little too tired to go through the newborn phase again. So although we've never had an official "We're done here" conversation, it appears that we are finished having babies. And that makes me sad. I love being pregnant, I love laboring and delivering, and I love getting to know the new little person that has come to stay. Granted, there are many things that I don't love. I don't love first trimester sickness, I don't love dealing with fussiness, I don't love the exhaustion that comes with staying up all night, and I don't like being cranky with everyone around me because I'm so tired.

But there's something terribly heartbreaking about knowing that I won't have any more, knowing that the opportunity presents itself to me every 28 days and that I am not taking advantage of it, knowing how very little it would take to make it happen again. I feel like I am squandering this gift of being able to create and sustain a life, and I am afraid that one day, when that gift is no longer available to me, I will regret not having given it another shot.

I love my children desperately. And part of me has always been afraid of what would happen if we added a third to the mix. It's been hard enough to divide my time and attention between two, and I don't like the idea of making Clare "the middle child," but the fact that the door is essentially closed feels worthy of my grief.


Aunt Lee said...

Just imagine how you would feel if you never had the opporunity or choice in the first place. My body pretends to be healthy and normal every 28 days. It's all a sham. I will never be bringing another life into this world. I have come to terms with that. So, enjoy the blessings that you have and, even though it might be hard to accept, appreciate that God might have something more planned for you. I think you know me well enough to realize that I don't say any of that lightly. Evidently, I wasn't meant to have babies, but I was given the gift of amazing animals to love instead. Imagine the possibilities that await you!

Mary Beth said...

Oh, Lee, I'm so sorry. Your niece and nephew would love to see you, and so would Jay and I, so we'll make that happen soon!

Shannon said...

Oh Mary Beth!!! You have completely put into words what I am going through right now. We have 3, which are all HUGE blessings. I keep thinking all of the "what if's" if we don't have any more, if we DO have more.....Could I handle 4? What if we choose not to have any more and there was a purpose for #4? No more infants, no more itty bitty anythings. I SOOO feel exactly what you are experiencing, as I am side by side with you. Part of me wishes I knew that Jack (our youngest) was our last so I could savor the moments a little bit more. Definitely not a reason to have another, I know. So many emotions to this topic.

Thinking of you :-)

Suburban Turmoil said...

I know the feeling... It's bittersweet, to be sure.

Sparky's Garage said...

Late to the conversation as usual, and perhaps risky to jump in as a guy.

However, let me say Katie and I worked through the same feelings. As you know, we thought we were getting #2 and got #2 & #3 at the same time. We knew at that point we were done.

Over time, however, it has felt good to look around the table, and think, "This is it. This is our family. This is us." It seemed like as our family was growing our identity was developing. Our identity has now developed. A completeness has surrounded our family, and it feels good. I pray that you'll find your way to that place.

It's funny, though. At my first review at this church, I was praised for simple acts of service, for holding a family's newborn during our Wednesday evening program so the parents good eat. I didn't tell them that I just wanted to hold the baby.