How do you know when you're "done" having babies?
Through the days, my bright, affectionate, determined child fills the room with her energy.
Yet as I lay chest to chest with her, enveloping her ever-growing frame in the dim morning light, I drink in the baby that only returns when she sleeps.
I survey her soft, full cheeks and lips, slightly parted.
I marvel over her indescribably perfect button nose, and impossibly long eyelashes.
I feel her warm breath against my neck, her hands resting against my chest, and know that when she wakes, she will again stop being a baby.
I don’t feel ‘done’ with the baby stage, but I know she is almost beyond it for good.
How do you know when you’re done?
For some mothers there is a pervasive fear of “but how will I split my love between them?”.
For me, the amount of love in the world is infinite, we are not drawing from a well that will run dry.
I have a strong belief that much like the “dessert stomach” that can magically appears after a large meal, my capacities for loving another baby alongside my firstborn would increase.
For some there is an understandable fear of future insecurity, financial instability and guilt surrounding the environmental burden of bringing another human onto the planet.
I get that 100%, and in some ways I am sh*t scared.
But I believe that if there is a soul ready and waiting to come into a human body, it will come whether I am the one to birth it or not.
For some there is soul-searching to be done, checking that their want of another baby is separate from their unexplored desire to heal their own inner child.
This is complicated and messy, but rewarding beyond measure.
For some women, there is still sadness when they know they are ‘done’, that this chapter of their life is closing.
The final breastfeed.
The removal of all car seats from the car.
The woman who knows she is ‘done’ satisfied with two children and in the sleep-deprived blink of an eye her twins are turning one and her time of babyhood is half the duration she expected.
For some women this chapter feels left unfinished, perhaps due to relationship breakdown, infertility or loss.
This grief does not feel that they love their children any less or are ungrateful for what they have.
There is something mammalian in me that tells me I am not ‘done’, but also a strong pull that I am not ready to start all over again yet.
When someone asks “will you have another?”, I give the vague answer “not yet”, the words of a woman still coming to know herself as a mother.
Any follow up questions are addressed with “at least not until she’s toilet trained”, as I pat her nappy bag like some kind of shield from a question I’m not yet ready to fully welcome into my heart.
Yet I know soon she won’t need that nappy bag and my excuses will run dry.
She will stop being a baby when she sleeps.
And I will have to ask myself the same question so many of us do our best to sidestep: “will you have another?”
If this article has sparked something in you, I strongly recommend listening to Nourishing The Mother podcast episode titled "A Third Baby? Yes or No".
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