I knew I was done having babies before James was even born. Obviously, pregnancy and I do not get along! I gave away my maternity clothes when he was a few months old, and got a five-year IUD. But for some reason, I packed away the too-small baby clothes, old toys, and strollers. I told myself I was saving it for the future babies of friends, but everything is still sitting in storage in my garage.
While I occasionally wonder what another child would be like, it’s hard to imagine adding another kid to our lineup. Annabel is about to start Kindergarten, and James, while still a handful, is getting more independent. A lot of things are about to open up to us, things a demanding infant would prevent.
The last two months have been all about purging and organizing our house. We threw away a ton of stuff, gave away more, and have been preparing for a massive garage sale. I am extremely sentimental, so getting all of this stuff out of my house has been emotional but necessary. We do a large purge every year, but this one is easily our biggest — and most emotional — because I am finally getting rid of that baby gear.
As I’ve sorted the tiny pink and blue items my children wore, I can’t help but remember I’ll never have another baby to wear it. While I’ve been physically and mentally done with pregnancy for a while, I’ve never emotionally come to terms. I guess with baby James at home, I didn’t have to. Ending this chapter is bittersweet, even when I know the best is yet to come.
Eight years ago this month, I found out I was pregnant with Madeline, so it feels appropriate that the baby phase will end at the end of the month when James turns two. It’s the completion of a very difficult time in my life, but it’s impossible to overlook the amazing little people who came out of it.
It’s bittersweet. We are struggling with it, too. But the freedom and fun of being able to do so much more with your big kids is helping us along.
This post gave me chills. I have very similar feelings. We are still on the fence about a 3rd, but with each passing day, I think we are closer to not having another baby. No matter when we finalize the decision, it will be hard emotionally. This is beautifully written, Heather. Perfectly summarizes all the complicated feelings that accompany closing a chapter.
It’s so hard to let go of things. We are doing a big purge right now and I’ve given most of my daughter’s baby things away. She’s still little and I don’t think I want to do this baby thing again. But there are certain things I just can’t let go of, like my nursing pillow I barely used (Because maybe next time I will have more success) and my maternity clothes, most of which I didn’t get to wear because I delivered so early. I just can’t come to terms with never having a normal-ish 9 month long pregnancy where I’d get to wear them. Even though I can’t imagine going through another difficult pregnancy. I know I feel a little lighter without the burden of stuff, but letting go forces me to confront a lot of unresolved grief. It’s beautiful that you focus on your independent little people and loving them doesn’t negate the struggle. I hope it softens it a bit, though. I commend you for giving yourself space to acknowledge the emotions that surface, which also serves to normalize and validate others with similar experiences (thank you). Wishing you more good days than bad and more light than darkness.
We just had our third and final child in December. I cannot compare my situation to yours in that we haven’t dealt with loss in such a profound way. I just wanted to write and say that I can relate. I knew I wouldn’t be having more children but with every milestone she accomplishes, I both cheer and cry because I know I’ll never see it again. As a previous poster said, I’m wishing you more good days than bad.
Jeanne P says:
I always wanted three. My two were both sick babies but each thrived after hospitalizations and surgeries. My husband didn’t think he could go through it with another one.
I sit here 30 years later and there is still an empty place in my heart. I accepted that we were done and life with our two has been wonderful.
I wish you peace and love as you move on.
I think it is hard, no matter the age of your children, to realize a big portion of your life (mom to a baby, diapers, carseats, cribs) is over and you are moving forward….
For me, I put away several of my children’s outfits and saved a few of the baby items, just to be able to have them later in life, show them when they get older, etc. I also saved our pack and play for any guests, and our high chair for the same reasons, and we have used them frequently with younger nieces and nephews around.
Giant hugs to you Heather, it does “sting” but older kids are great too.
Please say you are keeping something special from each one of your precious kids…I know of people who took their favorite outfits & blankets and had them turned into Memory Quilts. Something you can use to snuggle under now & read stories, make tents from, and tell them stories of when they were little–including Maddie.
While it is different circumstances, I do understand the concept of wrapping one’s mind around the idea of no [more, in your case] babies, when my neurologist told me 8 years ago that I should never risk getting pregnant, as my brain was too fragile from illnesses to handle the hormonal changes involved and (truthfully) looking back, I see I also couldn’t physically handle either being pregnant nor raising a child. Which is why I dote on my nieces & nephews so much–lucky them! But the shock, at the time, was stunning, and I actally included that as a large part of my counseling at the time, over the whole illness thing, as it changed my whole life as I both knew it and had planned it to be.
I was reminded of how fragile my brain is and how it reads things “wrong” when I spent Friday night in the ER because it took a substance that was supposed to release my pain and magnified it by quadrillion and caused uncontrollable shaking, and tetanic seizing, and made me appear to be on speed or having a bad acid trp. Try explaining that (over & over again) to emergency personnel! Me & my little brain! Never know how it might respond to medications!
Anyway, point being, I know a taste of what you are facing. But, please, during this purge, save a few items–either for a family quilt or to give to the kids when they are older. (My sister saved a few of my niece’s cutest outfits from her 1st year & the smallest are being worn by her dolls!)
Oh yes, I have (too many) keepsakes from when my kids were tiny!
M, I hope you are doing better today! I worry about you. xoxo
I am much better today! The residual pain has subsided and aside from being tired & a bit shakey, I actually feel better than I have in a long time. Compared to Friday night, I’m fantastic! So please don’t worry about me. But thank you, sweetheart! XOXO
I’ve been very fortunate to have easy pregnancies, and I too have a hard time emotionally coming to terms with it. Saying goodbye to that baby phase is HARD because it’s generally not something you get back.
Oh Heather – thank you so much for writing about this. I thought we were done but since Sawyer died I have wanted more children (not that any one could/will ever replace him or Jake).
We did try infertility (again) and adoption (again). We were matched with a birth mom but she changed her mind after the baby was born (I am not angry with her – I get it & could not do what she was contemplating doing). I am just sad for us but need to come to terms with how lucky I am to have 4 children (2 we get to raise & 2 I am hoping we see again one of these days). I have mostly given away all of our baby things. Your posts as always help me. Thanks again. xo
I wonder if you grapple with the same thing I do – the feeling that someone is missing? I have friends who said they knew they weren’t done having kids because they felt like someone wasn’t there. I ALWAYS have that feeling, but I think we know why. xoxo
I am going through this right now too. It’s hard saying good bye to this chapter in our lives. There are great things to look forward to, but I can’t help but feel sad.
I have one….that is the way life worked out for me, I long ago came to terms with it and enjoy my 9 year old very much I long ago stopped wanting another. Except when I do. I can’t imagine having more even if I could, except when I can imagine it. It’s always going to be what if. I think that it is that way for many people, regardless of how many they have. Emotions about family size are tricky and run deep. Its ok to feel wishful, even while making the decision you know is right for you.
I knew I wanted 2. But I always did the what if I had 4… I think it’s the maternal side of women to not know if we are truly done.
We are at the same stage. My girls just turned 4, and i have had baby fever big time. I know we are so blessed, and 4 has been a magical age really. I love it, and finally feel like i can breath again. but i have always wanted 3 and do feel a little like there is still room for someone else. but I am 38, we’d be looking at multiple rounds of IVF or adoption again, and I simply don’t have it in me. and i’d be over 40 by the time a baby came along, and…just no. So, i just try to tell myself that life isn’t always what we think it will be, but we are pretty blessed regardless.
I always wanted a big family, but pregnancy and my brain don’t go well together. I am having such a hard time with this. I would LOVE another one, but I don’t think it would be wise. I am not sure I’ll ever get over longing for more children. I am slowly getting rid of things, but it’s the big items that I haven’t had to get rid of yet. I am sure I can find a loving home for them and that will make me feel better, but right now it just makes me sad that it means no more babies in our house.
I love you and your babies…xoxo
Oh boy could I relate to this right now. Sigh…
I have a 2.5 year old daughter and a 6 month old daughter. Never do I feel like we are missing our boy because I couldn’t possibly be happier with two girls but as I start to give away baby clothes and baby gear, my heart hurts at the thought that I won’t be using them myself for another baby again. We are complete with our family of 4 but I do get the yearning for a 5th member of our family at times. If only it were that simple.
I have been doing this too…the purging. It hurts. And it’s liberating. What a jumbled up ball of emotions. I have been able to pass some things to friends and to our daycare provider (passing the high chair on this week)but I haven’t even touched some of their toys. It scares the crap out of me. Baby steps. Lots of hugs and do it in spurts. It’s the only way I stay sane.
Lee Cockrum says:
I have been working on purging as well. But I was never able to get pregnant, so I am getting rid of things that I had kept for my kids… That I never had. It will never be easy, but it is getting slightly better with time, and it does help me feel a little lighter to get rid of stuff that has no use for me.
i saved my favorite baby clothes and items and when my 2 daughters were pregnant with their first babies I presented them with the clothes, toys and their baby books. They loved and treasured this gift.
Like many others, I can also relate to this! We were on the fence between 2 & 3 kids for years. We finally decided on a 3rd but had 2 miscarriages. Then, we had our 3rd-she is so sweet! But we are done for sure now. It’s bittersweet.
Like many others, I can also relate to this! We were on the fence between 2 & 3 kids for years. We finally decided on a 3rd but had 2 miscarriages. Then, we had our 3rd-she is so sweet! But we are done for sure now. It’s bittersweet.*hugs*
I have been there too. I have ALWAYS wanted 3 children, but after years of infertility and miscarriages, I am grateful for the two beautiful children I have. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still morn the loss of a third. When my youngest started Kindergarten I cried for a week. Not only because he had reached that milestone, but because I wanted one more baby at home so badly. I would go shopping and see moms with their little ones in their carts and it would physically hurt. However, let me share with you that this pain DOES diminish. I still occasionally wish and long for that 3rd child (now again when my youngest is graduating elementary school), I no longer want to go back to that baby/toddler stage. My kids are old enough that I can leave them alone for short amounts of time when I have to run to the store for a few items. They help with chores (they surprised me this morning by cleaning up the kitchen and unloading the dishwasher) and are developing into such interesting young people. Recently while talking about future vacations, my husband reminded me how much easier it is to travel and to AFFORD to travel with just 4 people rather than 5 and he’s got a good point. And to be honest, now that they are bickering at each other so much more than they ever have (two tweens) and are involved in so many more activities, I see moms with 3 or more kids running in even more different directions and I sometimes thing that maybe 2 kids are plenty. It’s not that I don’t still yearn for a 3rd sometimes, but as my children grow, that desire for a baby is definitely not as strong. It definitely gets much easier.*hugs*
We needed IVF to conceive my son so we are not able to have another one. I would love to have another child, but we can’t afford to do it again. Plus my husband is happy with my son and his daughter from his first marriage. He is 18 months and I am still holding on to most of his baby clothes. THe big stuff I have sold, but the clothing has much more emotional attachment for me.
I would give anything for even just ONE child. Not to diminish the heartache in all the above comments at all … it’s as real as my hurt. The whole topic is just difficult. Such a complicated subject from every angle.
I’m having a lot of similar feelings, but about a different chapter closing in life. I finished my last full semester of college at the beginning of this month; after student teaching in the fall, I’ll close this college chapter of my life goodbye. I’m in such a conflict with myself: part of me wants to be done because I was SUPPOSED to be done this semester- thanks to my stupidity, I changed my major junior year, thus tacking on another semester. (Granted the major change was 100% right and perfect for me, but I wish I’d chosen it from the beginning). My friends have graduated and moved off campus; most have found jobs, some have moved and/or gotten married. I’m stuck still in school another semester, so I feel left behind.
YET: I’m so not ready for it to end. I feel like I’m mourning it! College has been hands-down the best experience of life thus far, and I am so sad this chapter’s about to close. I love my school and my community so much- I am so sad about saying goodbye (and am secretly hoping a job on-campus I’m qualified for opens up so I can stay. Lol).
ALL OF THE FEELINGS AT ONCE!
College has brought me so many good things that I’m thankful for- but I’m still sad to bring this chapter to a close.
I don’t get it about having kids, but I DO get your feelings. Transitions and life paradoxes are hard.
Going through this today. Put a bunch of stuff in the car for Goodwill…and left a bunch of stuff in the garage, that I just couldn’t bear to give away. Doctors have told me we are done. I KNOW we are done. But i just wish I could freeze time for a bit, just hold on to their being little for a little while longer. You would never know babies once lived in our house. High chairs and infant seats and swing and pack n plays are gone. Home has been restored to a semblance of order. Yet, I was so sad once our home looked again like an “adult” home. It’s so bittersweet.