It has been a million years.
J is almost three. Three! His babyhood long over, toddlerhood close to an end, he is a delight in our household, making us smile with all his observations of the world around him.
K is five and has started school. It was a big change, going from her small private preschool to her much larger public school, but she bravely boarded her school bus the first day and has not looked back… too much… though there has been a slight uptick in her cuddles and I’m not complaining.
C and I have talked about a third child, have tried a few times without success, and that is really why I’m back here writing. Because there are tons of articles and online conversations about straight couples making the decision to have a third (or not deciding and just seeing what happens) but very few that mirror our situation.
How do you know enough is enough?
We decided to try again in a casual (but obviously intentional) way under the guise of the heterosexual “let’s see what happens.” And considering that pregnancy has come easily in the past, I think we both assumed it would happen and we would deal with the consequences (the good and challenging). And then it didn’t. Three times. And at the start of each new period, we were sad, sure, but not devastated, not the way we were with the negatives when trying to conceive our first.
And because the tries are so focused, filled with temping and peeing on sticks and shipping sperm and paying for doctors, they come with a ton of stress and angst and thinking and planning. And there are many good reasons to have a third and there are many good reasons to not.
And now, after three tries, we are leaning toward not. And I’m almost at peace with that when I think of the time and energy and resources we will be able to give our children without a third child, when I think of how I will be free to focus on them and on my career and on all that comes next after this phase of rapid growth and development and intense physical neediness. But then I think about the magic of another child, the joy of another face at the table, the amazing moments leading up to and including childbirth… and I don’t know that I can fully commit to being done, though at the same time I don’t know how much of the magic is the magic of nostalgia and those special moments which exist but only in spaces between the day to day challenges and sometimes flat out dreariness of parenting.
As we get closer to saying we are done, I feel a mourning that is hard to define but involves the passing of this time in my life. It involves aging and growing into a mother of older children and losing part of my purpose as a mother of young children. It is a goodbye to the growth of my body during pregnancy and the release of childbirth and the first moments of nursing (even as I know that none of that is guaranteed even if I became pregnant) and it is a goodbye to identity. It is also fear of regret. And a deep, painful anger that we cannot just “let it happen” and accept what comes, that we must make decisions that are only as certain as the chance of pregnancy in any given cycle.