Jul 29, 2014
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On Parenting: Knowing When Your Family Is Complete

Even if you know you're done, making it physically so brings mixed emotions.

On Parenting: Knowing When Your Family Is Complete

 

There are people who are awesome at pregnancy.

My sister-in-law has had three babies—including one set of twins—none of which was small. She glowed during each pregnancy, was almost always happy and cheerful, and remained a skinny little stick figure that just happened to swallow a basketball. Four years later, her body looks like she’s never met an infant, except maybe at her babysitting job, before she heads out to meet her other flat-stomached friends at the mall.

I was not that.

I was fat. I mean, seriously fat. I had swelling in my toes. My butt was bigger than my belly. And the hormone roller coaster that would end in horrific post-partum depression meant that I spent half of each day hysterically crying for no reason, and the other half raging and throwing things.

It was not fun. For anyone.

In my seventh month, when my husband and I were planning out the birth, I finally said out loud, “Well, however this goes, I hope we enjoy it, cause this will be the only one we do.”

I never flinched from that position.

My mother begged me not to make permanent decisions while still on the hormone roller coaster. She asked us to wait a year after the birth and see how we felt.

So, on my daughter’s first birthday, my husband went in to get fixed. Happy Birthday, honey! You’re an only child now!

We knew. We felt like we always knew that we were to be a family of three. “Three Is A Magic Number” was my daughter’s favorite childhood song. We balanced well. My husband and I knew we’d never be outnumbered on an outing and that we’d have enough money to send her to college.

When did you know your family was complete? Tell us in the comments section.

I know people who knew that same feeling, that their family was done at three. For others it was four. For some, seven. But all seemed to come to some feeling that all their family members had arrived. I was just there sooner than many.

So you’d think when the doctor frowned and said the word hysterectomy, I’d have not flinched again.

But I did. More than flinch. I had a full-blown freak out.

It’s not the same, not nearly the same, but I have a friend who went through breast cancer, which, for her, involved a full mastectomy. I was there when she had the moment of “Am I a woman without my breasts?” 

And now, I was having the moment of “How can I be a mother without my uterus?” Like it was some secret resource I kept inside that kept me on track as a mom.

Until, eventually, I realized that it wasn’t fear of losing my PDA full of parenting secrets, or having my third eye, cleverly hidden in the hair on the back of my head, surgically removed. No, it was that having no more kids would no longer be my choice. It would be a scientific reality.

Gulp.

So that’s it. We’re done. Family of three, unless something unforeseen and awful happens to someone in my family or group of good friends or the parents of one of my daughter’s best friends, and we end up inheriting a child through tragedy. Other than world-shaking events, therefore, my time as a mom of babies is officially over.

When my daughter was 2, a very good friend of mine had a boy. He was passed around our book club one night, as handsome and cute and sweet as a baby could be. I held him, looked into his eyes, and felt his tiny hand grab my huge finger. My heart soared.

And I didn’t want him. I passed him back to his mother without a moment of regret. I’ve always said that if he didn’t make me want another baby, nothing would.

And nothing has.

But there’s still that twinge. Oh well. Goodbye, any thought of my daughter’s brother or sister. I consign you back to the stars, or back to heaven, or on to another family.

I will hold all my family in my arms tonight. For we are complete. As we were always meant to be.

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