Her Bad Mother

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Let Me Know When I Am Done

I think that, maybe, I am done having children.

I think.

Maybe.

Very possibly almost certainly.

I've been thinking about this for weeks. I've been thinking about the fact that our family of four comprises a tidy little unit. I've been thinking about the fact that my daughter and my son make such a lovely pair, and about the fact that even though he is still so small they are becoming fast friends and about the fact - the fact - that this is just so lovely. I've been thinking that our happy little foursome is so balanced. There is something about us, it seems - it seems - that is complete.

And that completeness is bittersweet. Bittersweet because, I don't know, who's to say that we wouldn't be even more complete with another member to love? I can imagine - albeit in only the vaguest, fuzziest outlines - a future that includes someone else, another girl or another boy who would throw her or his weight into our tidy little apple cart and knock our happy unit delightfully off-kilter, out of balance, wonderfully, joyfully askew.

But then I look at my boy and my girl and my husband - I look at us - and feel something that I imagine is a feeling of completeness and I ask myself, isn't this enough?

Of course it is enough. Of course.

I don't want to go through pregnancy and childbirth again. That is, at least, I think that I don't. Bringing Jasper into the world scarred me, literally and figuratively. You don't want to go through that again, says my mother when I say - ill-advisedly - that I'm not one-hundred percent sure that we're done. You can't go through that again. You just can't. But she's wrong, in part. I could go through that again. I don't want to, but I could. If you'd told me before Jasper came along that his gestation and birth would be so difficult, so emotionally and physically difficult, I would certainly have said that I didn't want to do it. But were I then to grasp Jasper in my arms and press his soft, chunky self against my chest and feel his little hands explore my hair, my neck, my cheeks, feel his breath on my face, hear his giggle, his coos, I would say to you, I would do it all again. I would not hesitate to do it all again.

And I would not. Hesitate, that is.

But I wonder: do I lie to myself, when I tell myself that I do not want to close off the possibility of a different future, a future with a third? Do I lie to myself when I concoct stories of some hypothetical child, some ghost child, some spirit waiting to be given life and welcomed into our family in a future that I cannot yet comprehend but am loathe to disavow? Do I hold out the possibility of that third child as a means of forestalling my own future, a future that I've lost touch with in this, my tenure as a new mom times two? Am I stuck in this identity - this identity that I both love and resent - as a mommy, to the extent that I am compelled to suggest to myself, over and over and over again, that this is who I am, all that I am, all that I can do? By which I mean: am I holding out for the possibility of a third child for the simple reason that there is some part of me - some deep and vital part of me - that is afraid to let go of the mantle of Mommy and march forward in life as me first, Mommy second?

Obviously, I haven't lost my sense of myself as Catherine - I do identify myself beyond 'Mommy;' I do have (fragments) of a life that is not defined by my care of and love for two small children - but my 'mommyness' has been a lodestone for me. It has been the thing that directs the compass of my life, that which points here, there, hither, yon and tells me where I am and where I should be headed (building a life with and for my children; building a future with and for my children; changing a diaper; looking for diapers; shopping for diapers). What will I do when I am no longer essential in meeting the minute-by-minute needs of these creatures? What will I be?

There are things that I want to do, versions of myself that I want be, all of which have little or nothing to do with being a mom. It is possible that I am afraid of leaping headlong toward these things, unencumbered by diaper bags and swaddle blankets and slings. It is possible that I am afraid of trying. It is possible that these diaper bags and swaddles blankets and slings are so much security for me: I cannot jump, see, because my hands are full. I would jump, but I can't. Oh well. C'est la vie.

(It is possible that this is what happens when you go without sleep for over half a year. You start to believe that there are no other worlds beyond this one. You start to fear that you could not not survive in any world outside of this one. You start to go a little - what's the word? - crazy, and you become attached to your own craziness. Maybe.)

I have a seven and a half month old baby and a three year old girl. I'm going to be 'Mommy' for a while yet. It is silly to be nostalgic for this stage of my life, this stage of their lives, when we are still so very much in it. And it is, very possibly, sillier still to fetishize the idea of more children as a means of clinging to this stage. I will, we will, have to be done with it sometime. I can't be Mommy forever.

So, am I done? I think so. I don't know.


How do you ever know?

******

Still hoping for contributions to this. It won't save my nephew, but it will, someday, save some other child, some other nephew, some other mother's son, and that will make all the difference.

Also, if you're so inclined, I wouldn't - as I explained here - object to nominations for one of these. If you're so inclined.

Labels: ,

118 Comments:

Blogger Mr Lady said...

I only had one planned pregnancy. #1 and #3 were both actually quite prevented, and yet here they are anyway.

I'm going through this right now, just about a 4th. Color me insane, I know. The thing is, #3 was an accident. I was done when I was 24, and then at 29 and 3/4, whoops.

She is the best mistake I've ever made.

I didn't ever want three, I didn't try for three, I didn't plan for three, and three is infinitely harder than two, three has ended Shannon as I know her, three is expensive and exhausting and hard on everyone, and it is the best thing that ever happened to all of us.

Well, except maybe the middle kid. He had it pretty dang good being the baby. :)

My point, get an IUD. Don't cut, not just yet, not while they're so little. Or do. That Frankenvulva made me want to superglue my cootch shut permanently.

4:04 PM  
Blogger Issas Crazy World said...

Maybe you don't ever know for sure. Maybe at some point you decide, okay it's too late to start over again, so now, now I am for sure done. Maybe Emilia and Jasper are it, but maybe there is room for one more? I'd say, don't go for the big V yet. Give it a year, then maybe you will know for sure.

My girls are seven and four and a half. We so easily could have been done. (Everyone thought we were.) We were at the point, where things like traveling to Europe would have been easy. Where flights from San Francisco to New York and back were not done in fear. Past the baby and toddler phases and into school ages. But life without my tiny (ish, dude is a chunk) boy, man I just can't imagine it now. He's only 3.5 months and I won't lie and say that he was planned, because he wasn't. But I'd never in a zillion years give him back. Before him, I'd have told you we felt complete, now I feel that way again. But who knows? We may go for number four.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Ashley said...

I knew I was done when the tubal was performed during my last c-section. Of course I decided it ahead of time, but once I got my girl (after having two boys) I just knew.

No one can tell you what is right for your family. But you'll know. You will know.

4:21 PM  
Blogger SP said...

Spoken so much more eloquently than my post yesterday. This does however seem to be on a lot of women's minds.

P.S. I'm not an often commenter but your words have carried me through many a day. For that I say thank you.

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Joy said...

Am I finished having children? The answer for me is yes, certainly, but...

We have three children - 2 brilliant, difficult boys (almost 7, almost 5) followed by a brilliant difficult girl (23 months). None slept, none sleep particularly well now, although putting them to bed takes an hour, collectively, rather than an hour and a half, each!

I had decided after the first two that I would bear one more child. Not because of the difficulties of pregnancy (because mine were easy), or because of the difficulties of childbirth (only the first was very very difficult... the other two were almost orgasmic in comparison, lol!), but because I did not (do not now) sleep. My babies did not sleep. They did not sleep as toddlers, either. I have had maybe a dozen uninterrupted nights of sleep in the past seven years. This includes nights away, because I am so used to waking that I have forgotten how to sleep the night through.

My emotions during my last planned pregnancy were ones of joy (this was the last one, and it was going well) and relief (this was the last one), and some sadness (this was the last one). But the freedom that I felt as I birthed my last baby, my girl, was empowering. I knew that I could survive this last 3-4 year sleepless phase, because I wouldn't be doing this again. I did not resent the time that nursing takes because this was the last baby for me (and this is also the part that I miss the most, the sweetness of nursing a beautiful infant, and the power of that bond. Mind you, I don't miss the mastitis!).

My baby is almost 2, and not sleeping nights through yet, but I know that within a year or two, she will be, and I will surely start to regain some brainpower, and sanity, and some time alone. I will be able to start to plan for those few parts of my life that will (hopefully) not be consumed by all things children.

I am not planning any more babies, and DH has made his visit to ensure that this is so. But I can't quite say that I never never would accept another baby, because, oh, to hold that sweet new baby, and learn another personality that is a curious melding of DH & I, oh, that is magic. But it is a magic that I can safely say that I will not be planning to encounter again. And in saying that, typing this, I feel liberated and FREE once more...

4:47 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

I know these questions well... and we've also answered it here.

In case you haven't visited in a while, we're expecting our third, our last one. While I'm looking forward to meeting our new wee one this summer, I also know this will truly be the last one.

4:49 PM  
OpenID growingapair said...

Welcome to at least 1/2 of my blog posts. I kept "accepting the fact" that we were done, but there was mourning going on that I just could not deny or define. And for us, that ended in a third pregnancy. I feel definitively done, #3 being due in mere weeks. I don't know that I will feel so done in a year, but I am planning to take measures that make changing my mind impossible. I had an IUD after #2, because I THOUGHT I was done. I am so glad that I did, even though my IUD was less than ideal. Because had my husband finally sacked up and had the snip (hee hee) I would not have the beautiful little dude that's kicking me in the bladder.

Only time will tell us whether I was just nostalgic for those baby days, or meant to grow our family. The point is moot now. Because it is done.

6:03 PM  
Anonymous Walking With Scissors said...

I have been told that you will just "know" when you are done. If that's really true, then I most certainly am not. Done, that is. Unfortunately for me, my husband is. I am in the position right now that you imagine yourself to be in the future - imagining life with a third ghost-child, always feeling unfinished, like there is yet another little soul to bring into the world. My kids are 6.5 and 4 years old. It would be infinitely harder to have another baby now than it would have been two years ago, but I still can't shake the wanting. It's torturous.

6:11 PM  
Blogger Cynnie said...

I'm almost 50 and i still yearn for just one more :(

I think as long as you're a woman you'll always miss the children you could have had... all while being perfectly happy with the ones you do have ..

I will say my biggest regret is not giving my daughter a sister..She's 24 and its too late on many many levels.
but i have 4 sisters and I have so many great memories and even now as we're all trodding into middle age, we are THE Shoe sisters.

Every girl should have one.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Jana said...

I knew we were done before Alex was born. I could name a dozen reasons why, but they're really not great reasons to not have another one. When he was born, I knew I'd do it all over again *for him*. For another one, though? No way, Josesito.

Now, I could be persuaded to adopt another child with a teensy amount of coaxing, but I don't have that longing for a newborn that a lot of women get.

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Ami said...

Maybe some people know when they are done. They know 100%, all the way through their bones, THEY KNOW. I never got that giant finality resonanting from my uterus. My husband and I have three children. And for us, three is so much harder than two ever was. Plus, we are discovering that it does not get easier. It gets less messy and there is more sleep. But, the stakes are higher as they get older. The decisions are tougher as they get older. The kids require just as much attention as they get older.

So we weighed the pros and cons, we discussed, we prayed, and we decided. We are done. Is part of me sad? Definitely. There will always be that "what if" whisper. But that whisper is there with every decision. And, in the interest of full disclosure, most of me is glad. So all you can do is decide, or decide to decide later.

6:46 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

There seems to be a particular "Shock and Awe" element to having a baby. The sleep deprivation, the constant use of your body. I know we're supposed to say it's wonderful, and it is, but keep in mind these same techniques (OK, maybe not breastfeeding, but you get my drift... and it would be effective...) are used for torture. I remember the 6th month of no sleep. Thankfully my torture ended after close to 9 months. I don't think I would have made any decisions back then. Give it some time and some sleep and then see how you feel.
Oh dear... ::debating whether or not to post the comment:: ... what the hell...

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Amber said...

Oh, I am right here. I have an almost 4-year-old, and a 5 month old, and I can't make up my mind. Right now I have an IUD, because I'm pretty sure I want another baby, but my husband is pretty sure he doesn't.

I remember my mother having a pregnancy scare when I was 5 or 6. She wasn't pregnant, and she was so relieved she cried. That's done. I'm not there - but I can also see the merits of a family of 4.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Michele said...

Reading these posts are like putting a mirror to my very own thoughts. (except you put it so much more eloquently). My children are roughly the same age as yours and I, too, am wondering these very same thoughts. How do you know?

7:05 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Of course you're already nostalgic. Academics are all about retrospection (and, worse, instrospection). Occupational hazard.

Have you read _Stumbling on Happiness_? It was kind of a revelation to me, all these psychological and neurological quirks of being human that render us so incapable of really imagining a future that's different from our present. Have faith that you will be like everyone: happy where you are at in your life and your self, wherever you will be at whatever moment you are in.

Let it go ....

7:09 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

[AHEM! As if I quite manage to do it myself any where near half regular ...]

7:10 PM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Get out of my head. Get out get out get out.

No wait, don't go. The company is nice.

Maybe it's the age? I don't know. I just don't know.

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Aww.

I've been tossing this around.
I'm done, I'm not. I'm done. I'm not.
the what if.. the possibility, the hauntingly sweet memory of the subtle first fluttering movements, the sync of my body with another and the hellaciousness of birth. It's all sweet and wonderful and am I really done? gah.

Yes. no. yes...

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Sarcastica said...

I don't know when you know you're done..I've never thought about it before.

I don't think anyone really knows when they're done.

But even if you're unsure, you know for a fact that the ones you have ARE enough :) a 3rd would make you feel just as complete.

I'm probably not helping lol!

7:57 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Chicky - isn't your hubs scheduled for a snip-snip? (Mine is angling for an appointment)

8:17 PM  
OpenID LSM said...

I'm in the "wait a while" crowd as well as the "you'll know" group. Nothing too original to add other than that I was sure I wanted another one after our second and almost as sure I didn't want to add further after our third. We waited until our youngest was four to do anything permanent, and I've always felt good about that. When we did make a final decision, it was the right one for us, and I haven't regretted it.

8:21 PM  
Anonymous egm said...

This post nailed the conversation I've been having in my head for the last year as my husband and I stopped trying not to have a third child. Then we started actually trying. Now I'm starting infertility testing.

My children are 8 and 4. My husband works around the clock and cannot even begin to do his fair share of caring for the children we have, much less a newborn. My body has evidently decided that it's had quite enough, thank you, but I'm still. not. done. And if all that doesn't make me crazy, then the little voice in the back of my head that says, "Hey, maybe you'll have to take Clomid and end up with twins--then you can have 4!" certainly does. (The only thing that might excuse me for this is that I'm from a big family--the oldest of five--and I cannot imagine life without any of my siblings.)

But whatever the outcome with the fertility issues, if I'm lucky enough to have another baby, he or she (or they!) will be it. After that, I have to face the world again and figure out who I will be in it.

8:27 PM  
Anonymous Olivia said...

For me, two things: Age and Finances. (Sadly it's not about wanting or not wanting).

I recently had my first. I'll be 35 this year. Hopefully I'll have my second by 37. I do not want to be 40 and trying for a third baby. (Risks, etc...) Financially, the cost of day care alone is enough to scare me away from having more children.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I had that struggle more with my husband than with myself. I knew I wanted another baby the moment my son was born. Two years of convincing my husband, then two years of trying and we have our #3. Husband has the snip and I have been told by my doctors anyway that I am done so that is no longer an issue for us!

9:24 PM  
Blogger mothergoosemouse said...

What Mr. Lady said. Get an IUD. If you end up with #3, you'll know it was meant to be. I know of which I speak. ;)

Seriously though, now's not the time to make an irrevocable (or nearly) decision. You're not certain, and you need at least a month's worth of decent sleep.

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a daughter on the way (six weeks to go!), and she'll most likely end up being my only child. If we do decide for another one down the road, my husband and I want to adopt. I wouldn't feel right without being able to guarantee a precious child enough of my time, energy and money, and I worry that I would be spread too thin if I ever had more than one or two. (Plus I think the world might be a better place if people limited themselves to a smaller quantity in the offspring department, but that's a touchy subject.)

10:48 PM  
OpenID wherewiller said...

I don't have any wisdom to impart, because I don't know the answer myself (even though a financial planner told me recently that you'll NEVER be able to retire if you have more than 2 kids!) - but I just wanted to say that your writing lately makes me think that all that death-of-the-blog crap and all-hail-140-characters as the new blogging is a bunch of garbage. As much as I love tweeting, I've loved your nice long wordy wordsmithed thoughtful blog posts much more.

10:51 PM  
OpenID FishyGirl said...

We thought we were done after two. I wanted a third, hubby didn't, and we were just beginning the discussion when our surprise happened. Then he started lobbying for #4 while I was pregnant with #3. I said no for a long time, that I was done, but we didn't do anything permanent, because I was willing to keep an open mind, and frankly, I wasn't sure. #4 is two now, and I'm sure. We're done. It's a good thing I'm sure, because my tubal was done during the last c-section. You'll know. If you aren't sure now, you aren't done.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Momily said...

I find it so interesting that so many of us are on the same page, "don't know if we're done. maybe one more . . . how do you know if you're done" -- and so many of our husbands know that they're done and ready for the big V! I think i could be persuaded to have a third, i often want a third, i sometimes think the last thing on earth that i want is a third . . . my husband is 100% content and happy with two.

The comment from one of "The Shoe Sisters" about giving a daughter a sister is really resonating with me . . . i have a wonderful sister, but my daughter may never have one.

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 35 and my two children (a boy and a girl) are 6 and 4 yrs old. My husband is 10 yrs older than me and says he is "done". I have a thriving photography business and am finally starting to have a "life" again now that they are beyond the baby stages. EVERYTHING in my life logically points to the fact that I am done. I had an IUD put in last year. I'm done. I should be done. I should be enjoying this new stage. And yet, baby cravings frequently enter my psyche and I spend many a night lying in bed trying to justify how we could manage a third. How we could try to afford a third if we cut back on the other kids activities and so on, how the kids could share a room, how I can't believe that I will never be pregnant again, never nurse again, never smell that sweet baby smell of my newborn nuzzling up to me... sigh... For all intents and purposes I should be done and accept that our family is truly complete. But......
It's complicated. That feeling of "just knowing" has not materialized for me. I am very ambivalent. I go back and forth constantly. Sigh......
Pascale

11:32 PM  
Blogger CP said...

I'm 38 now and have 3 kids- the youngest of which is 7. I have been moving into the life past being primarily Mommy for some time now. I can't say I went out and conquered the world. I live in a constant tug and pull of being mommy to 3 school age kids (aka as the driver and bank) and life as a corporate lawyer where my partners and clients expect me to put them first. Essentially, for me, right now, no one gets put first and everything seems to me to be half-assed. Sigh. This was of no help to you at all. Sorry. The point being is that time marches on and we do move on and sometimes not all of us are quite ready.

And as for knowing if I was done? I had a boy and then a girl, 18 months a part. Thought I might be done but then I held someone's newborn at a party and I KNEW I was not done. After the 3rd, my heart is sure we are done, complete.

11:48 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

I find myself thinking that if there was any guarantee of getting a sister for Pumpkinpie, I might consider it. But then, if there was a guarantee, I would have had one already, because much as I adore the Bun, I would have had that girl. And now I think that even if I had another in fairly short order, she and that girl would be too far apart to be really close anyhow, so I think I missed the window on that. Meaning that because of that rational thinking, I'm done. But even though I don't want three, there is a teeny, tiny, hidden part that wonders a little bit. Not enough to go there, but a little, so I get this.

2:45 AM  
Anonymous vic said...

Never say never while you're still unsure. Leave your options open because in 5 years time your world could be a totally different place.

6:27 AM  
Blogger SciFi Dad said...

I have similar thoughts. My biggest concern is the pregnancy and delivery of the third; our second was very hard on my wife (the pregnancy that is) and I don't know how much more she'd be able to handle with two little ones.

However, the question that begs the most introspection from me is this, "Would you want a third if the first two were the same gender?" THAT is an interesting question.

8:16 AM  
Anonymous red pen mama said...

I would do it again, even given the stress that is my pregnancies (anxiety-stress, not actual physical hardship.. er, a lot of physical hardship. it ain't easy). But we haven't, um, pulled the trigger yet.

That's an interesting hypothesis -- I am Mommy, so I can't yet be [fill in the blank]. I never thought of that.

If you're not sure, don't do anything permanant.

And, that picture! I just want to gobble them both up. What's one more?? :)

good luck,
rpm

8:35 AM  
OpenID pandorican said...

It is hard to move past the mantle of "Mommy". It IS hard to find yourself again when the youngest has gone off to school and does not need you as much anymore. But, when you are ready to do it, the internets will be here to listen and help you through the transition. And if you aren't ready, then, well, we will be here for that too.
Either way, follow your heart, because regrets suck.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Miss Britt said...

If I can get all "let me tell you about yourself" for a minute here...

I don't think you're done.

I always heard you "knew" when you were done. And I will tell you the same thing now.

As a 29 year old woman with two kids who is done. done. done. - you're not done.

You'll know when you're done.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You clearly need to get some sleep as you are repeating yourself. You asked this question awhile back, and it elicited the same answers. Since most of the people who read your blog are mothers, then of course they're going to tell you not to close the door. Because that's how they identify themselves.

I've been reading your blog since your daughter was a baby and you went to the first BlogHer conference. I was enthralled with your writing. I still think you're a great writer, but you're really sounding like a broken record these days. I follow you on twitter, and I wonder what you do all day besides take care of two small children (I know, I know, not easy, I've done it AND worked full time since my kids were infants) and whine about how tired you are.

I think that when you're a blogger, when you decide to blog and want readers and rely on readers to get advertising dollars, then you have a responsibility to them. For example, did you EVER take any of the advice you were given by so many people about how to get the baby to sleep at night? Did you ever go to a hotel for one night by yourself like you said you might? You throw all kinds of stuff out here, but you don't often follow up. Especially with the sleep thing, which makes me crazy because you're so. damned. tired.

I read quite a few mommy blogs, and many, not all, go on about how difficult it is but they LOVE it and it's wonderful and having that third child is the best mistake they ever made. I know that being a mother is a very emotional thing, but for chrissakes, all that comes to mind lately is "Methinks she doth protest too much."

Exactly who are you trying to convince that you would do this again and again (even though it's been sleepless, exhausting, and physically and emotionally draining)? Your readers, or you?

I think that this is probably more me than you. My kids are older, and I realize that this whole infatuation with babies fades quickly, whereas most of the mommy bloggers' kids are younger and they aren't there yet. I'm done with it. However, I encourage all of the mothers of young children out there to at least entertain the idea that your children will be older sooner than you think, and if you don't find yourself again, you'll be sitting around wondering what the hell happened to your life while your kids are growing apart from you and becoming more independent.

So my advice, not that you want it at this point, is to get some sleep and tell your husband to get snipped. I don't think I could handle your blog if you had a third child...

9:58 AM  
Blogger Syko said...

I never was sure that I was done.

Two girls in rapid succession. Several early miscarriages. One boy. Dalkon Shield IUD, then although not practicing birth control (except possibly abstinence as the marriage went into its downward death spiral), never pregnant again.

Cut to: divorced mom of three, two in their teens, and I still could not consider myself done. What if I would meet this really terrific guy, and remarry, and want to have a child with him? I was only in my late 30s...

Fun spending Dalkon Shield settlement check in class action lawsuit. Dating, working, raising my kids.

Suddenly I was 55 and finished with menopause. That was 11 years ago and I am pretty sure now that I'm done.

But I have to second everyone else. Don't do anything permanent unless you are totally, 100%, irrevocably, absolutely sure you are done.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anonymous - I started this post thinking that I was going to say that I'd finally come to terms with being done (that earlier post was about being really unsure) and in the course of it I got cold feet. It's not the same post. It's the same issue, but it's a different take on it. In any case, it's my blog - all due respect to my readers, but I write it primarily for me.

I am tired. And very possibly repetitive. I don't follow up on a lot of things for the precise reason that it WOULD get repetitive. We can't get the baby to sleep - we try all the suggested things, and he won't sleep. If I wrote that, someone, I'm sure, would think that I'm whining and repeating myself.

As to what I do all day - I mother, and I write. If you want the less whiny, less repetitive content that I churn out, check out MamaPop or BlogHer or WeCovet. Guaranteed no mention (or little mention) of my issues.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

Dear Anonymous:

You clearly are an asshat.

Oh, and cowardly. Don't forget that.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Rita Arens said...

Part of the fun of being a mother is getting to repeat yourself all the time. SIT UP AND EAT.

I knew I was done about a year after my only child was born. It's an unpopular decision in today's culture, but it was right for me, and I've found a few other one-and-done parents who just knew then, too. But I remember struggling with it, and it's a painful existential quandary. Best of luck finding peace.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Parent Club said...

After #2 - we were done. Modern life is built for a 4 person family.

But. now. 2009. we don't think we're done. I've always kept the window open (keeping clothes, lending out cribs with the full advisement they have to come back)

We're not done.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Karen Sugarpants said...

You know, I know we had planned on being done after Thomas (Daren got fixed after all), but now that I'm staring permanent infertility in the face with whatever this is attacking my body, I'm SO torn. I dreamt not two nights ago that I had a baby girl and named her Rachel. And she was beautiful, Catherine. Her face is in my thoughts constantly now -- maybe it's the thought that I may not have a choice, maybe it's the fact I will never have a daughter, I don't know. But it aches. I feel your pain, your ache.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Deb on the Rocks said...

I am very happy my younger son is 15. But I have never stopped wondering if I was really done with two.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous HeatherK said...

We are so DONE with three and I had feelings like you had now. I had an emergency C-section with henry which I'm sure nudged me closer. I knew for sure after two that I wasn't done. I saw five of us and it felt right. *hugs*

10:30 AM  
Blogger kgirl said...

I don't know, I dont' think that anonymous is an asshat. I think she has some real, decent points, but they apply to pretty much all of us bloggers with small children.

So, you know, I won't take it personally if you don't.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Redneck Mommy said...

I knew with Bug I was done. Done with biological children that is.

I knew my tattered twat would never be morphed into a Frankenvulva again and that was before Bug was birthed.

I just knew.

And then life struck and catastrophe happened and you know what? Everything I knew went topsy turvy.

I'd give my right leg to get knocked up now.

So I'm no help.

Get the I.U.D if you don't really know. Less permanent.

And anonymous, why? Why be like that? It's Cat's blog and she'll write what she wants. If you don't like it, feel free to not read. Why waste everybody's emotional energy posting such a useless comment? Especially since you hide your identity. Any credence to your opinion is negated by the fact you hide behind a cloak of invisibility. If you truly wanted to be heard, you'd step up, grow a set of testicles and identify yourself before you spout off.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

kgirl - I don't think she's an asshat either, but it doesn't make the comment sting less. And as I said - this post was meant to be a different take on the same subject that I worried over last fall (tho it may have failed at being different), so although I'm well aware that I can get repetitive about exhaustion, etc (which is why I don't follow up on that subject anymore), I hadn't regarded this post as being that.

ANYHOO. Tired girl can't handle criticism all that well.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Major Bedhead said...

For whatever it's worth, I don't think you should stop blogging about this issue. It's one that a lot of parents have, both the lack of sleep (for you and for the baby) and the am I done yet issue. I like reading these posts, even though they make me cringe in sympathy sometimes.

I have four kids and there are days when I see a new baby and wonder "Hmmm, what if?" But I'm 42, my husband had the big snip and there's no way in hell we can afford it. Still, that longing is there. It will most likely go unsatisfied, but it's there, nudging me in the heart every now and then.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

I *know* we're done. But the thing I struggle with is that I will no longer be a mommy to babies. For the longest time I was the pregnant one, or the one with the red-headed baby or whatever. And now? Now I have KIDS (not big kids mind you, but kids). And it's different. I don't want to weather pregnancy or childbirth again. But oh! to have a chubby baby to call my own? That would be wonderful. However, something tells me that baby would grow up too and then I'd be back to where I am now.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Liz said...

Don't be so offended by Anonymous. It sounded like she made a connection with you and is frustrated with your difficult situation. It wasn't a flame. She isn't an asshat. And she'll probably keep reading you, because she LIKES you.

It wasn't me, BTW.

10:44 AM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

C- Sorry to rile the feathers of some. The tired bit particularly rankled me on your behalf as I've been up all night with a sick child and well...it seemed asshatish to me.

I'm also fed up with people who criticize but will not put a name to it and stand by it. It's cowardly and it pisses me off.

Sorry again.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Liz - I know. And I'm not so much offended as suddenly self-conscious (oh, god, I'm repetitive! I'm a downer! I SUCK) because, yeah, I got that she was frustrated because she made a connection and I LET HER DOWN.

Also, am so fucking tired that I don't have any nerves left, so.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Amo said...

Seriously.

Give me a damn break, Anonymous.

First, have the courage to identify yourself if you are going to bash another.

Second, simply unsubscribe if you are 'bored' and move on.

Ahem.

I'm in the exact same place and truly appreciate the insight as I'm trying to decide as well. My second (both boys) was much more difficult on my body than I had anticipated. I had decided that there was no way I was going to have another. Then, in the children's hospital waiting room my husband decided to go get snipped. I blurted out, much to my dismay, "IDon'tKnowThatI'mDoneYet!" Totally didn't expect that. (Neither did he.) We're now in a 'wait and see and discuss it every few days' stage. I'm 29, so having another isn't an issue age-wise. My husband just turned 40 and is concerned about 'being almost 60 when they graduate'...

So thank you for admitting that it is okay to be on the fence and bringing to light (so eloquently) the happy disruption it could bring.

(And you are a kind soul for not bashing the asshat. Much more kind than I...)

10:48 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

NO APOLOGIES Loralee!

Your white knightery made me feel better.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Amanda Petite Mommy said...

Like the last 50 or so comments I struggle with being done or not. My husband wants another child. Last year I was for sure done and got rid of every baby thing we owned. Some days I think our family of 4 is enough and some days I think about the possibility of another beautiful little child.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous fidget said...

I'm not one to ask this of, I dont know that I will ever feel done. I mostly feel that way b/c after 4, a typical person expects to have felt done.. and I dont and I cant say I have some number in mind that feels round and full and done.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Scattered Mom said...

I'm done. Done, done, DONE.

I have one, and when he reached two I thought I would die if I didn't have another. What? Baby stage? Done NOW? Are you freaking kidding me?

Thing is, Hubs didn't want more.

I held it in, resented him, and went through hell until finally I blew when Jake was 4, and we sat down and had a heart to heart. I finally understood his reasons, and accepted that yes, I'm having an only child.

As Jake grew and we found out that he has dyspraxia, learning disabilities, etc and fought tooth and nail with schools, I decided that I would never consciously put another child through that.

So, we're done. He's 13. I've never wondered about another one except to say, "omg you're joking, right?" Hubs and I have genes that produce wonderful, fantastic, but seriously EXHAUSTING kids.

I don't think that I could survive more of that.

10:56 AM  
Blogger abbyjess said...

I get what anonymous is saying, but I think the whole point of this mommy blogging community is to support each other through the repetitive, tiredness, etc. Just because it is written doesn't make it any different than any gathering of mommies out there. Come to our playgroup and we are all complaining orally about the same things and that doesn't change from meeting to meeting.

I hope you do keep going on and on about how tired you are, how undecided about children you are, etc b/c that's where most of us mommy bloggers are. That's what helps us to not feel like were alone, going insane, etc.

Your writing is something you should be proud of. The fact that you write so often and have so many readers is something you should be proud of b/c how many other mommies out there can't even manage that?

11:00 AM  
Blogger Dory said...

I have two boys, 9 and 12, and I KNOW that we're done. But I still dream about that baby girl. I know I won't have her, but I still think about her. Oh, and sex life after a vasectomy is SAHWEET.

Dory

11:05 AM  
Blogger paper napkin said...

We have 3 and I'm done.

I'm SO done.

I'm not done because I'm 42. I'm not done because I don't want any more kids. I'm done because I wouldn't go through that first year again for a million zillion dollars.

OK, maybe for a million zillion dollars, because then I could hire some help. But barring that? I'm SO D-O-N-E.

11:07 AM  
Blogger imogen howson said...

I'm 35, with two kids--12 and 10. I was so ill during and after the second pregnancy that we decided we *had* to be done. So we are, and given that my partner's had a vasectomy, we have to stay done.

But I still grieve for the non-existent third child we didn't--and can't, now--have.

This is only my experience, and shouldn't be taken as a comment on yours, or as advice. But I think sometimes people have to be done even when they don't feel it.

And carry on repeating yourself as much as you like. If people don't like it...well, you haven't chained them to your blog, after all.

11:21 AM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

Methinks you are correct in thinking it's probably you gentle reader, aka Anonymous 9:58, and not her.

Blogs like this are an excellent forum to generate discussion and if you think each post topic needs to be unique, then tied up in a pretty bow and declared resolved in one posting, well than methinks you need to get out and visit the blogosphere more.

And perhaps learn to keep snarky comments like "I don't think I could handle your blog if you had a third child..." to yourself, especially under the cloak of anonymous. That's just a wussy way to operate.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous had some good points. Why is that if one voice dissents, everyone attacks? Isn't a blog a public forum for debate? To express different opinions? Why is one person with an honest criticism called an ASSHAT? This happens so much with mommy blogs and frankly I'm sick of it. Commenters should really let other voices be heard.

P.S. I'm not a troll or an asshat. I'm not linking to a blog because I honestly don't have one.

11:58 AM  
Blogger kateypie35 said...

That Anon comment was kinda nasty, huh?

I do NOT think you are repetitive, you are working through issues in your head that we all have...and it takes time. I love reading your blog, and never ever think "oh here we go again". Pfft.

I also do NOT think you have some "responsibility" to follow all the assvice you get in your comments...what? That's just silly.

I am posting NON anonymously, so I really hope I don't get flamed for saying this next bit...

I think you are done. You do seem to be constantly exhausted and mentally overwhelmed. Not that those two things aren't entirely normal as a Momma - but - why not just enjoy the two you have as fully as you can? Be happy in the now. Accept your blessings. Look forward to being able to sleep again. Adding a third - oy. No. Yikes. Aaak! Maybe I am just projecting my own thoughts on you though. I have one, I am fried. Completely fried. I'm not sure if we will even have two - but three? Oh hells no.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

We're done after #3, but only because I had my tubes tied. If I hadn't been 38 at the time, I would have thought about #4. If you're hearing that "little voice" whispering about another baby, in my experience? You might not be done.

That being said, with your pregnancy and delivery having been so difficult, you'll really have to think about whether you want to go through that again. If, however, you want to write another post (or two, or TWELVE) about this topic, I for one will be here to read. And try to help :)

12:03 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Most Recent Anonymous - not everybody called her an asshat. A few people said exactly what you did. *I* said that I didn't think she was an asshat, just that the comment stung, and that I thought it maybe missed the point of the post, but that on the whole, it stung because it DID make some valid points.

But it had an edge to it, and some people reacted (it didn't just dissent; it accused me of whining.) so, you know, reactions happen. It's not necessarily a mommy thing.

12:21 PM  
Anonymous habanerogal said...

There is not a single thing wrong with revisiting such a life altering decision as having another child.the end. As for me I had my second at the tail end of my marriage and I was 33 at the time. I knew I had to do what was best for me and get the tubes tied in the delivery room so that in the future some man would NOT be able to sweep me off my feet and convince me that it would be SO AWESOME for us to have a baby together. Never regretted the decision and now am with a fabulous man who was relieved that he would NEVER have to hear me beg him to give him another child Worked out really great for us. I feel lucky.

12:43 PM  
Anonymous LAVANDULA said...

oh catherine i don't think you are done but you are so exhausted right now.seriously you will know when you are done...my husband and i were in the car the other day and he said to me you know we are usually having another baby about now...and he told his co-worker that is getting married next weekend that him and his soon-to-be-wife better get started on their honeymoon making a baby before we beat them to it lol.if my darling beloved thinks i am popping out another one hes nuts! i am done.and i knew when i was done.as for anonymous i didnt think badly of her until she made that hurtful comment about not reading you if you had number 3...

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Ali said...

I am DONE. I have one, he's three. To be honest the baby thing really didn't bother me. He was awesome as a baby, slept through the night at 7 weeks and was never the teeniest bit of trouble. Three though. Wow. Three. If I'd been in a relationship a year ago, maybe we'd have had number 2. Maybe, there'd have been a number 3. Wo knows?

Right now, as a single woman with a terrible three year old never again. I've even pretty much decided that I don't want to get in a relationship just in case they'd want a kid 'cos me? DONE. Now he's 3 I'm getting my life in some kind of order, doing a degree, showering and eating on an at least alternate daily basis!! It's fantastic, but to go through this again? I couldn't.

I agree with everyone who says when you're done you know. If you can see number three somewhere on the sidelines maybe you aren't done. There's 20 years between me and my sister so, ya know, it's never too late to change your mind. But when you are done, you will know.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Adelas said...

I wanted another one. DH was ready to be done. After all, he is 10 years older than I am and has gone through the baby thing three times to my one.

My biggest concern against was how any new child would take away from the attention I can give my son. My biggest concern for was that I didn't want him to miss out on the siblings (since his stepsisters are 10 years older than he is and live in another state).

Last Friday, I finally decided I would rather have him be an "only child" so to speak, so that no one else will ever steal away any of the time and love that I want to give him.

Last Saturday, I peed on a stick and it said +.

Now, when I think about the statistically high chance of losing what I'm gestating currently, I think I'll be so devastated I'll need to try again to replace it. But why? Why can't I just revert back to my other decision?

And for that matter, why do I have such an overactive imagination, worrying about things like that as if they're sure enough that I need to make plans in case they happen?

Why can't I just make up my mind?

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

This does seem to be on a lot of minds, lately. I thought I was done after #2, too. The past few months, though, I've started wondering. I was willing to ignore that as my own emotional baggage until Hubby confessed that he'd been wondering a bit, too. So now we're in a big, confused, conundrum. We're going to wait a few months - as long as I can stand this damned Mirena (horrible!!) - and decide if we're done or not. I'd love LOVE to add a little girl to my family of boys. So would hubby. If we could guarantee that I'd be pregnant in a heartbeat. But then, the thought keeps creeping in how much I adore boys, and how much *more* fun another would be. My 3 boys. "Whew!" but also "Wow!"

2:21 PM  
Blogger Craftastrophe said...

I'm sorry that you're fighting this internal battle. I say get the IUD until you're rested and ready to make that decision with a clear head!

That's what I did. I knew I wasn't ready to say no, and so I got the IUD because I go back and forth daily - no HOURLY - about whether or not I want another child.

*hugs*

2:21 PM  
Blogger Martie said...

When you all sit down to eat dinner at night--if you feel like someone is missing--you aren't done. I thought I was done too--then I married a man with four kids as well... Now I have eight kids eating dinner at our table some nights. And EVERYONE is accounted for. We are DONE.

I really think, if you ask yourself this--you may not be done. Cause when you know you're done--you are.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Sarah S/C said...

I'm a big reader, not a big commenter (sorry), but I thought that giving Anonymous 9:58 the finger was worth coming out of my shell for.

After all, are we HUMANS expected to be perfect? People doubt, second guess, make decisions and change their minds, and ultimately life is composed of millions of these sorts of things. I cannot fathom a blog that didn't discuss things, that didn't have moments of introspection (even on a repeated topic), because it really wouldn't be, well, normal and human, would it?

3:01 PM  
Anonymous Ami said...

Just to put in my two cents, the part I don't like about anonymous' comment was the line "I wonder what you do all day besides take care of two small children." I do think working moms have it crazy hard: working all day and mommying all evening and night. However, there is something mentally exhausting about being the caretaker of small children, especially when it is 24/7. It is a continual job with few breaks, interruptions, or "off" time. You can never say "oh when I'm off work I'm going...." because you are never off work. Stay at home mothering is a fantastic, fabulous thing (usually) but the benefits suck, the pay is non-existent, and from anonymous' comment you can see the respect for the job is nil.

HBM-I think you are a great writer and completely nonrepetitive. You are justifiablely exhausted. I look forward to all the posts.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HBM, I apologize for the edge and sting of my first comment. Yes, I HAVE made a connection with you. I WANT you to be happy and to sleep, dammit, because I've been there and I know how awful it is to be so tired. (Yes Loralee, I've been up with sick kids all night too. Try doing that and getting up for work the next day and having to actually perform because you're on a deadline...) And that's probably why I'll keep reading your blog...to rejoice with you on the day that you do sleep, and to see how your nephew is doing because a friend of mine has a son with the same disease. That's why I continued to read when your other nephew was hospitalized and why I PRAYED for him even though I've never met him. And lastly, for what attracted me to you in the first place...your sense of humor. (Remember Phallic Lovey? I do.) I feel bad that I've made you feel bad, because I had no right to do that. But I'm only apologizing to you. Because YOU mean something to me.

To second Anonymous, thanks for the support. I do find it curious that when you dissent, you really do get dragged through the mud. Gretchen over at The Happiness Project wrote a great post the other day about deleting dissenting comments. Perhaps some of the bloggers here should take a look. Sorry I can't provide a link as I don't know how to do that.

To all of you who ranted about hiding under the cloak of "Anonymous," I have my reasons. First, the name I use is part of my e-mail address, and I'm looking for another job, and if a future employer decides to google my e-mail name, then every comment I've ever left would come up. I need my privacy right now. Second, I don't have a blog, and as a commenter, I sometimes get the feeling that the perception among bloggers is if you DON'T blog, then you couldn't possibly understand the whole world/concept of blogging. If I can't link to my own blog, then my comments aren't quite as relevent, except when I write something that you don't like. My question to you is this: If I identified myself like I always do, what would it matter? I don't blog, you know absolutely NOTHING about me, so you couldn't bash me on your own blogs (which, really, isn't that what MOST of you would do? Be honest.)and link it to mine because I don't have one. You don't have my e-mail so you can't flood my inbox, so what's the point?

Redneck Mommy: As for it being Cat's blog and she can say what she wants...TRUE, TRUE, TRUE. I know I can stop reading. But are you really saying that bloggers don't want readers? I wonder what Dooce would say to that considering her income is based on the fact that she does have readers. I HAVE gotten out into the blogosphere, just not as a blogger. Does that mean then that I am irrelevant? That I have no right to comment or give my true thoughts because I don't blog? I can't believe that bloggers don't want readers. If they didn't, they wouldn't put their blog links EVERYWHERE.

I applaud Catherine for not deleting my comment. I will show myself only to her, but like I said, she probably won't know me from Adam anyway, except to be able to go back and see my previous comments. Also--and this is a testament to Catherine's writing--my kids are older and, quite frankly, I could give a shit about the trials and tribulations of mothering young children, but I've been reading her blog for two years now. I'll stick with her for so many reasons, not the least of which is to see if she ever gets any sleep.

HBM, I don't expect you to address EVERY comment or suggestion made, but I just wanted an update as to whether Jasper was making any progress in the sleep department. That's really all.

As for the use of the word "whine," I myself have been guilty of the same, but you wouldn't know that because I'm anonymous. I tell my friends all the time to stop their whining, and they can say it to me without my taking offense, but I overstepped my familiarity boundary here. My apologies.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Sadie said...

I just spent an hour composing my thoughts and writing my own little story about my decision to have my tubes tied after my fourth girl. It was nice I was quite proud of my ability to organize my thoughts and throw my opinion in the circle...It was an hour interrupted by breastfeeding, owie kissing, snuggling, snack getting and shooting myself in the face with cherry flavored antibiotics. I then deleted the comment while trying to post it (smacks self in head). All I wanted to say was that after number 3 I knew I was not finished. Now with 4 beautiful girls aged 8 months to 7 years...after 6 pregnancies, 2 not-so-early miscarriages, 4 c sections and seven years of not sleeping, I am most certainly done...and despite the pain and suffering, I would keep having them if I thought I could handle it. I am simply at my absolute limit. You know what you can handle...you will know. Wait a bit and trust your self.

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3 is the new 2.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Faithful childless reader weighing in with the only perspective I have--that of a sibling. I'm the oldest of 3. I think all 3 of us wish my mom had stopped at 2. Not because the youngest isn't cool--he's great--but because the poor middle brother got a truly raw deal. He's learning disabled and wasn't diagnosed until adulthood, partly because his disability wasn't major enough to really stick out amid the constant noise of a 3-kid family.

I'm posting anonymously because I would hate for my parents or brothers to read this. I've read the stats and it's pretty clear: middle kids often get shafted, and end up less happy and less successful by most measures. I know there are tons of exceptions and statistics can be pretty misleading, but this one was important to me because our family isn't one of the exceptions and our middle sibling would have done so much better as a younger. I have my own share of guilt about being a squeaky wheel in the family, believe me, but I know my mom's guilt is most substantial as she was the one pushing for a third kid.

Whatever you choose, I'm sure you'll do it with the thoughtfulness and grace you demonstrate every day.

5:37 PM  
Blogger sashalyn said...

i love sadie. can i say that here? she's a dear, dear friend and i applaud her ability to mother those four beautiful girls. she amazes me. every day.

with that being said- some of us DO get to mother as long as we, or our child, are alive. redneckmommy will get me here- as the mother of a child with a relatively severe, lifelong disability, i know that i will be a mommy, in the very real sense of the word, for as long as we both shall live.

i struggle with the issue of another child. we had planned for two... but didn't plan for the challenges of an unhealthy child. i am at my max with just this one special, silly girlie, and when folks say, "oh, next time...", i just shrug. knowing that i will never just be myself again (and i was really a strong self once) makes me think that i can't take on any more. there is something amazing and special and miraculous about being trusted by the universe with such a fragile package, and i wonder if i wouldn't somehow be diminishing that experience by trying for another, likely healthy, child.

then again- i wonder at the wonder of a healthy child. cuh-razy, i know you well.

it is just such a difficult issue. only you will know your truth.

7:41 PM  
Blogger petite gourmand said...

Every time I think.."okay I guess we are good with just one" I read something like this and my heart skips a beat and I start to rethink everything.
Just look at these two...so so sweet.

Makes me really want to do it all over again.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Haley-O said...

I totally relate to what you said about your mother! My mother tells me she'll "throw herself out the window" if I get pregnant again because my pregnancies were so awful -- prenatal depression. The people at motherisk, who were angels to me, couldn't believe I was willing to do pregnancy a second time after what I went through the first time.... But, I knew what I had to do to get the family I wanted.

Beyond what she says, though, I know I'm done. I always knew I wanted 2 children. I come from a family of 3 kids. I've always felt like the 3rd wheel, the black sheep. I didn't want that for my children. I wanted them to feel accepted in our family -- it's hard enough to be accepted by your peers growing up, and even into adulthood. Family should be a place of acceptance, nonjudgement. And, for me, a "balanced," as you put it, family of four really fosters that.

9:54 PM  
Blogger Booba Juice said...

I know what you mean. While my husband and I always have said that we want a large family...and we hope that will include adopting...I almost can't imagin what it will be like to give birth for the last time. It makes me sad. I have been incredibly blessed with awesome and wonderful experiences with pregnancy and childbirth, each one unique and wonderful in its own way. And I can't imagin what it will be like when I don't have that to look forward to again. :) And yet, I think about how many things my husband and I are going to get to do together once we don't have young children in the house. :) Another very pleasing thought. But please, please, please, don't make any perminate desisions right now. I firmly believe that you can't really make that desion, until you at least have made it past the two to three year mark with you youngest...and even then, I don't know that I am a big supporter of perminate...there are just so many things, so many variables.

:)

10:41 PM  
Blogger momranoutscreaming said...

I think when your littlest is around a year you'll know. Life's full of surprises though. I was done at two and what do you know. Along came a third. I can't imagine life without her just as much as I couldn't imagine life with her. If it's not a decision you have to make now why press the issue?

10:53 PM  
OpenID katesaid said...

I have a philosophy about parenthood, graduate school and certain other major life decisions: You should only do it if you cannot imagine NOT doing so.

If you can imagine a future without a third child, a happy and fulfilling future, then aim for it, because it's a lot more certain and controllable than another round on the Fertility Roller Coaster. It's OK to be done. And if you can't imagine life without another, that's OK, too. It really is OK to need more even when having two is the hardest thing you've ever done.

Now, an important caveat: that philosophy's second word is "should." Which means, in an ideal world. Which means, does not always apply.

But framing it that way has helped me make a few major decisions in recent years, so I thought it worth sharing.

1:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have two teenage boys. When they were young I thought I would like a 3rd, a girl maybe? My husband said two was it - 2 boys, 2 girsl, 2 chickens - it didn't matter to him because 2 was the limit. I was disappointed even though I had difficult pregnancies and a 3rd was not recommended for me. I still had that glimmer of hope for a 3rd, a girl. What I did not know back then is that they are not babies or young children for long. Teenagers come with a whole lot of worry! Today I am very thankful my husband put his foot down at 2 because 3 teenagers (probably all boys?) would be wild and I don't know if would survive all the worrying and stress? It takes every ounce of energy to support these two boys as they grow into men. For me the baby, childhood years were easy compared to this. The stakes are much higher now that they are older and there is so much more to think about as their world expands beyond me. Two is good for us. Thank goodness one of us knew that 15 years ago!

7:28 AM  
Blogger Meg said...

I think modern technology has made it more confusing than ever. You can made the decision to surgically remove any possibility of getting pregnant, but then you have to actually make that decision. It must have been easier a hundred years ago: oh shit, pregnant again...oh well.

I've always thought two kids would be the perfect number. Now I'm staring down the fact that it very possibly will only be one unless we adopt and I'm still mourning that fact.

Once you start sleeping, you'll decide it wasn't that bad and want another one. That is the benefit to your insomnia: you know the truth!

11:13 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anonymous (anonymous who got called an asshat but isn't one really) - thank you so much for weighing back in. I get where you're coming from - I mostly got it the first time, but was just a bit stung, as I said. Because, yes, I AM tired and super-sensitive to the possibility that I just might be a rambling mess. Touched a nerve. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

Anyhoo. Am glad you came back, and hope you keep reading, even if it seems that I lose my mind (and narrative thread) from time to time.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Also, katesaid? That's great advice. Thought-provoking.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

Four years ago, just after Moe was born, Husband and I decided we were done. It was more his decision than mine. Never in a million years, did I dream I'd have three kids in under three years. And honestly, I always wanted a son. But we're done.

Lately though, I've been thinking of babies. Probably because everyone is having one. And probably because, Moe starts kindergarten in September. And while I've been there before, it scares me. Scares me because my girls are growing up. But then I think back on the years of diapers and sleep deprivation and walking around in a fog (a fog that when I can out of it, I was like wholy shit, how did I function???) and I know I don't want to go there. Not only is it freaking expensive I often feel I don't have time anymore. Time because they have their own activities (and I limit it to one each - I'm not that crazy) but school and home work takes up alot of time.

That being said, Moe was a surprise. A great surprise, but one that took alot of time to get used to. I mean I had a six month old and just two year old and I freaked. I was still in denial when I walked into L&D. But it's worked out, and I couldn't imagine life without her.

Now I'm rambling, but if your unsure, don't do anything permanent. Follow your gut. And if you do decide this is it, know that you have a beautiful family and don't let any doubt affect how you live. Cherish what you have and love them everyday.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

As someone who's read your blog for a long time and doesn't comment enough, I wonder if one post of yours has caused so much controversy. The whole business of the amount of children someone has touches nerves as sensitive as religion (and I'm sure they are closely related). Comments like "they only have 'one' child" or "they procreate like rabbits" are common. Someone always has an opinion.

As for your apparent "whiny" behavior, I would be whiny, too (but you really aren't) if I were up all the time with a baby that doesn't sleep. There is nothing worse. Nothing.

As for being "done"? I knew I was after my 2nd boy. I never envisioned myself a mother to a daughter, and that's ok. And after the terrible bout with carpal tunnel syndrome with the last pregnancy I was totally sworn off being pregnant again. And now that he's 3 and my oldest is 7, I'm ready to explore being me again and regain some personal identity other than just mom.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

You don't ever know. And you don't ever stop being a mommy, no matter how old they get and you are. Your identity as "a woman without children" is largely gone. PART of your new identity is "woman with children" but that's not all you are or will be. Your comments about balance were so interesting to me because those of us who had intentional third children didn't feel that balance and when we had our third felt completion. So there's my two cents.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Betty said...

sorry to break it to you but
if you aren't sure then you are NOT done

4:33 AM  
Anonymous Scott said...

I am 42, and the last of four children--two girls, two boys. Both parents are still living. The first child, Cathy, is a typical first-born--take charge, make decisions for the youngest, etc. The second-born, Mike, was homosexual, and died of AIDS at age 33. The third-born, Elaine, is very apathetic, and the least intelligent. And I suffer from mental illness, and have to take medication for it.

Mental illness is inherent, and it is clear that both our parents have it, also. In fact, the only one of us who didn't have mental illness was Mike, but he had a psychosexual disorder that ultimately killed him. I am the most intelligent child, but also the one most mentally-ill. My parents claim that I was a pleasant surprise--though my dad got a vasectomy right after I was born.

Maybe I was a pleasant surprise, but that didn't last. My dad beat me, mercilessly, with the support of my mom. I am the only child who was abused (to my knowledge). My mom and dad abused me physically until I had grown bigger and stronger than either of them. But they still abuse me emotionally. And the older they get (he is 75, she is 74), the more emotionally-abusive they get.

Furthermore, my parents have always favored the daughters over the sons. As one of my past psychiatrists pointed out to me--it was never okay to be male, in my family. My mom, in particular, constantly talks on the phone with my sisters (who each live in another city, just as I do). She has call-waiting, but will not answer when I call. But if I'm talking to her, and one of my sisters calls, she hangs up on me and takes Elaine's or Cathy's call.

I have never been married (although definitely heterosexual, I've always been very unlucky with the opposite sex), and have sired no children.

I cannot advise you as to whether or not to have a third child. But coming from a family of four children, and knowing the possible consequences--especially how the last-born can inadvertently bring out the worst in his/her parents--I would definitely consider this paradigm, if I were you.

4:58 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

We made it surgically official that we were/are done. Funny, I still get butterflies every time we do that thing that before might have gotten me pregnant. Even though the decision has been made, a part of me will always long.

11:58 AM  
Blogger carrie said...

Oh Catherine...

I get this too, on so many different levels. With three, the youngest being 5, I long for those newborn days, the smell of baby hair and the feeling of life growing inside of me. But I am done, physically, and even though the years fade the birth of my daughter, my last, and quite a traumatic birth it was, I still would do it all again, if you asked me, and put my health at risk because no pull has ever been greater in my life than the pull to be a mom.

Sigh.

Thank you for this.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Scott - um, whoa.

5:33 PM  
Anonymous Meagan Francis said...

So, Scott, should I tell my fourth child the bad news now or wait until my fifth is born in March? I just can't tell, based on your logic.

Catherine, I was unsure if I was done at 2, and #3 was a most ill-timed surprise. But he ended up being the best thing for our little family...SUCH an easy transition, and he actually opened me up to the idea of having even more kids because I realized that you really do start to get the hang of it after two (or else maybe you lose the part of yourself that cares that you don't have the hang of it?)

I would never tell somebody to have another child unless they really wanted to, but if you don't feel done, I'd tell you that you just can't know how much you can handle, what a great mom you really can be to three (even if going from 1-2 was hard--as it was for me), and how much it might enrich your life.

6:05 PM  
Blogger zchamu said...

Scott, dude? I don't know you or your family but I can be pretty confident in saying that your family had some massive issues long before #4 came along. I hesitate to say your parents shouldn't have had kids because then you wouldn't be here, but seriously..

6:13 PM  
Anonymous Gina said...

Um, Scott, I'm trying to be delicate here, but it wasn't having 4 kids that led your family and your sibs down this path.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I'm done. Knew I was done after the second pregnancy, still know it now.

But the good thing is - you can always change your mind. You don't have to know now. Or...you could know now and know differently in a year or two.

I like that approach, personally. Today I can only worry about today.

7:10 PM  
Blogger Amo said...

Wow. I generally don't read all the comments on a blog, but man.

Anonymous, I owe you an apology as I was one who called you an 'asshat'. I am sorry. I spoke out of turn in defense of a woman with whom I can relate.

Scott, your family was wrong to abuse you and I pray that your sharing your story will help another.

7:44 PM  
Anonymous Karen (miscmum) said...

I'm pretty sure we're done now. Or done FOR now. There's a lot of stuff I want to do over the next few years. Maybe in the future, who knows? Unless husband runs off and has a secret vasectomy.

2:36 AM  
Anonymous penelope said...

It's better to stop wishing you'd had more, than to keep going and regret it, in my opinion....

12:59 PM  
Blogger MOm said...

I am guessing that most of the commenters here are on the sunny-side of 35.
Well, speaking from the other side of 50 I can tell you that almost everyone who hears that I have six, says "OMG you're so lucky!" They go on to explain that i) they wanted more but spouse didn't or ii) they thought they were sure but as time went on and kids grew they re-considered, but had taken permanent measures. Measures that they came to regret.
It was very hard at the time, esp. with the CDN tax system the way it is, but I do think that siblings is the best gift we gave, or could ever give, our children. My kids are 30 to 19 (had my first at 20 and my last at 32). They are good friends, stay in touch - far more than I do with my two sisters - and are good people (even tho' I still want to wring their necks at times!) No regrets.
But, after the last was born, I waited and waited for that yearning for another baby to come back. It never did. When R was about three, I discovered a serious medical condition that with another pregnancy would probably have cost me my right leg. We decided that our 6 needed a two legged mommy more than they needed another sibling, so we stopped at that point. No regrets. We always kept the door open a bit though, using a FAM instead of a medical method. FAMs allowed us to ask ourselves "Is this a good time to have another child?" and if the answer was Yes, act on it. Unlike having to clean the Pill hormones out of your body before conceiving, for example.
I don't know if this contribution is of any use to you, but I wanted to add a different perspective on a very common and important decision. I think it's just like knowing that "he's the one" - when it's time to stop, you'll be sure. If you're not sure, then you shouldn't do anything decisive.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

MOm - waiting for the yearning is good advice. But, what's FAM?

(Also, you'd be surprised by how many of us here are on the shady side of 35. It's part of the issue for me - if we were to have another one, we couldn't really wait all that long)

4:06 PM  
Blogger MOm said...

Oh, sorry. Fertility Awareness Method. AKA Sympto-Thermal Method AKA NFP (Natural Family Planning)

4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want another, possibly two more if I am honest with myself. My husband is done at 2, and only then if it happens in the next 3 years. We do want to actually TRY for number 2, though. It sounds like fun!

If the whole money thing doesn't work out though, in the next 3 years, we will just have the one. We can't responsibly have another on our income.

5:34 PM  
Blogger No Mother Earth said...

Sorry, can't read all the comments cause I'm at work (albeit not for long..). While I think that the anonymous commenter had some valid points - about children, not about you - I thought he/she could have toned down on the nasty just a bit. It's your blog. If he/she doesn't like it, DON'T READ IT. And play nice. It's possible to be constructive without belittling. Sorry, I'm on a soapbox today.

What I really wanted to say was, man - you write the blog posts that are in my head. Only you do it much better than I ever could. I wonder why I have a blog sometimes. Maybe my blog should just link to yours and say "What she said."

And seriously? Call the Sleep Doula. She helps. Best money we ever spent.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

we are done.
as much as i'd like to have a brother for Josh, my family just FEELS complete. AND i don't think i could handle another pregnancy/delivery/recovery.
i'm excited to move on past the baby stage into the next stage!

i have an iud, though...because you NEVER know ;)

12:38 PM  
Blogger Swistle said...

I am ALWAYS up for a talk about family planning (not the birth control method, though I can talk about that too, but about the whole "another baby or not?" question. I love it. I love the magic feeling of it---that this could be changed. That there's a totally unknown baby we could call into existence and then not be able to imagine being without! It's so interesting to think, "Are we happier here? Would we be happier there?"---in part because there's no way to answer it. I love thinking about it and wondering about it.

I had two babies, and then I had twins. Our basic plan had been to stop at four, and so then we were Done. And then we had an unexpected pregnancy, and I look at him all the time with joy and wonder, thinking, "We didn't plan you!! You wouldn't be here!!"---and it makes me so happy, but also gives me a feeling of horror about the wonderful baby we're NOT having.

7:20 PM  
Blogger Swistle said...

I kind of skimmed through the rest of the comments, and want to say this: there's a big difference between a comment that "dissents" and a comment that attacks. A dissenter says, "No, I disagree with the point you made; I think this way instead." An attacker says, "I can't bear to listen to you; you are impossible; can't you get it together? What's wrong with you? STOP BEING WHO YOU ARE because I DON'T LIKE IT!" Attackers are almost 100% anonymous. This is why anonymous commenters get a poor reputation.

The problem with anonymous comments is that people tend to attack in a way they wouldn't if they were connected to any kind of identity at all. (It doesn't have to be a blog identity; a commenting identity is good too.) I think it's a good exercise to write an "Anonymous" comment with your information filled in, knowing you could accidentally post it, forgetting to change it to Anonymous. It definitely changes the tone of the comment, knowing your name might be connected to it.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Rhea said...

this is such a wonderful post. I have 3 children (7, 2, and 1) and the last two where so UN-planned... lol

and even though I struggle with how active they are, I would love to have another one, maybe... I think, we'll see.

I say, whatever will be will be. Just know that when the times right, all you're going to be is blessed.

Cheers,

http://www.thecocktailcafe.com
A mix of mom talk with a splash of style

8:16 PM  
Blogger InsideOutHappy said...

I might be your only commenter without kids, but I just want to say thank you for this post and all of them before. I'm 29, happily dating and hoping to have a few little ones in the next decade. Your amazingly well-written posts are lovely insights into all the ups and downs of mommyness. I admire you, I envy you; even the sleepless nights look good to me sometimes. I second a fellow commenter who suggested Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness (Get it on Audible.com for your ipod and listen in the car, if need be) because it's truly insightful. And remember that life will bring you what you're supposed to have, and the skills to deal with all of it, so long as you remain open and trust yourself. Good luck figuring this one out!

10:31 PM  
Blogger Elaine A. said...

Sometimes I am a little bitter that we feel we have to make decisions like this nowadays. I don't think that came out quite right and I am not sure exactly how to express it but I just mean... That "back in the day" people just had children when they had children. Now it's constantly on our minds (well mine anyway) as to whether or not more is a good idea or not. It's a tough one for our household. I'm on the fence, my husband says "no" and the debate continues...

Part of me always imagined my family with three and part of me wants my boys to have another sibling. But then I know I am lucky to have the two beautiful boys that are already in my life. It's a toughie I tell ya. Good luck with your decision making... : )

10:55 PM  
Blogger MarvelousMOM said...

What a sweet picture. I don't know how you know when you are done. I assume that I will have one more, but maybe I will feel complete and fulfilled with just my one. Ugh...weird to think about!

11:05 AM  

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