What happens to your heart when you decide to close the door on having another baby? For God’s sake, don’t keep that door open even a crack; that’s masochism. Slamming that door, locking it, and then perhaps even adding a deadbolt seems to be the only way to stay sane. Once the decision’s been made to call it quits, leaving any room for the possibility of another little bug just toys with your emotions, leaving you wondering every month if you’re pregnant, if you should be trying (Ugh, no one’s getting any younger, am I right?), and if you’ve made the right decision.
So no, don’t think twice once you’ve bolted that door tightly shut.
Give away all your baby items; that adorable baby bath, the newborn hooded towel with the bear ears, those tiny washcloths, the impossibly little socks, those ludicrously useless but oh-so-sweet baby high tops, and those leftover newborn diapers. Donate those nursing bras and those sexy tigress high-elastic-waist-banded pants. Be gone with them. Purge, my friend. Then swallow the sadness that threatens to well up when you think about how you’ll never watch your belly swell again or get email reminders that your baby is currently the size of an avocado, a banana, or a melon.
Mourn it if you need to.
Let that bittersweet feeling of “doneness” marinate. Drink glass after glass of wine… because, um, you CAN. And then, over time, once that melancholy begins to fade away and some semblance of acceptance is left in its wake, rejoice in the fact that your boobs will never again leak through your sheets, soaking you to the bone. Celebrate that you can wear your skinny jeans for the rest of your life. Work out like you’ve never worked out before and don’t think twice about your heart rate or overheating or someone saying “Are you sure you should be lifting that?” Rejoice that you won’t have to stay up all night breastfeeding and then drag your exhausted butt to work, pump at your desk, and worry your baby is missing you all while you take care of business like a boss lady.
This is my formula for how to cope once you’ve called it quits on the “should we/shouldn’t we” debate. See, for month after month, my husband and I tortured ourselves in limbo, mulling over the idea of getting pregnant again. Of having three little munchkins instead of calling it a day with our beautiful two. We literally went back and forth daily. (PS. It doesn’t escape me how lucky we are to even have the choice.) Seeing our two together playing sweetly, we’d think, “How can we not give them another sibling?” And the next moment, sweating and cursing trying to get them out of the house to get to an appointment on time, we’d think, “There’s not a fat chance we can handle three.”
Our paralysis was its own kind of torment.
Finally, at dinner one night – a night before I would ovulate and we would begin “trying” – we lost our self imposed game of chicken. Our decision to call it a day with two grew out of many variables, some intensely personal, but now that the decision’s been made I feel relief. Like a 40lb weight has been lifted. (Which I can only assume is what I’d have gained during my third pregnancy!) I drafted post after post about trying to decide if we should expand our family and now I’ve found that only after having made the decision am I able to write about it. Now that the deadbolt has clicked I am able to feel fully and completely grateful, not to mention immensely satisfied with my two beautiful boys. I can accept that we are enough; that I am enough of a mother. And most importantly, I can envision the life we have ahead of us and I love what I see.