Sitting around the table at our first Thanksgiving dinner of the year, one of my husband’s outspoken uncles decided to ask one of those “off limits questions.” You know what I’m talking about, right? The question everyone seems to know you should never ask except the person asking the question.
“So, how many more babies are y’all going to have?” he asked, laughing hysterically the second the words came out of his mouth. “One? Five?”
“None!” my husband blurted back, while I stayed silent for a few seconds, looking at my beautiful two-month-old son sleeping in my sister-in-law’s arms a few feet away, listening to my two daughters screaming with delight while they chased their cousins around the room.
“We haven’t decided,” I said with a smile, earning a side-eye from my husband who clearly had made up his mind.
Less than nine months ago, I wouldn’t have hesitated to agree wholeheartedly with my husband. We were absolutely done having children. Three was our number, I was sure about that. In fact, a few months before that, I had said we were done at two, only to find out I was expecting a few days later.
If I’m being perfectly honest, my surprise third pregnancy wasn’t any easy adjustment for me. I had just begun imagining my life with a little more independence. I had only started sleeping without interruption a month or two before I saw a positive sign on the pregnancy test I took, “just in case.” So, why is it that I am now doubting my decision to be done having babies at two months postpartum? Shouldn’t now be when I am fed-up with pregnancy and burnt out on round the clock breastfeeding? Shouldn’t I be rejoicing at each new milestone we reach for the very last time?
The thing no one tells you about your very last baby is that they just might change your mind about everything. They might make you fall in love with being a mother of a newborn all over again.
The thing no one tells you about your very last baby is that they just might convince you there is room for one more in your family.
I watch my very last baby stretch and grunt after I unswaddle him and I wonder if these are really the last of the newborn stretches I will watch. I listen to his very first giggles and I feel sadness when I think that they could be the last first giggles in our home. Instead of sighing frustrated sighs when he wakes again in the middle of the night, I pull him in close and nurse him, asking myself if I can really say goodbye to midnight skin-to-skin for good after he weans. I sort through tiny newborn onesies to donate, but slip them back in a tub in the far right corner of our garage.
I’m not saying I’ve decided we’re having more. My husband obviously has some hesitations and, if I’m being honest, I do to. I’m not sure how I feel about having years of sleepless nights ahead of me or having to continue putting my work on the backburner for years to come. Do I really want to wait even longer to take a weekend away with my husband? Do I really want to gain and lose the baby weight all over again?
I don’t know. But I also don’t know if I believe if any of my reservations are a good enough reason to say no to growing our family by one more.
I’m glad I don’t have to decide right here, right now. It doesn’t really matter if I’m done or if I have one more baby in my future, I still plan to enjoy every sleepy stretch and first giggle as if they’re coming from my last baby.