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.