Thursday, November 3

Are you done yet?

Over the past few years, I've realized that sometimes we tend to get so caught up with like the top 10 things not to say to a pregnant woman or top 5 things not to say to first time parents or how not to look at me when my child is having a tantrum or how dare they ask me how many children we want to have that half the time I feel incredibly fearful of what might slip out of my mouth.  Then as if it's not already hard enough to make friends while living in the age of 6 foot privacy fences, I feel inauthentic and like I've messed up any chance of friendship that I could have had with this person.  I have found myself on more than one occasion going home obsessing over every single sentence that could have been taken the wrong way because I didn't memorize that darn list.

I am by nature an inquisitive person.  I hate that it may sound like I'm prying to some but I really thrive on getting to know people on a deep level.  So when I have asked the question of "how many babies do you think you want to have?" it's because I genuinely want to know.  How do couples come to this decision?  What factors are they considering?

The truth is that question has been weighing heavily on my heart from my own family's perspective and something tells me that I need to talk about it so here I am.  I want to be authentic and raw because when I've had real questions like this, I needed real answers and many times I have felt like there was no one to turn to for advice.  While it may not be the business of that stranger standing in line behind me at Target or your fourth cousin's aunt, I felt like I needed some peace and clarity and so I wrote a post about it on Instagram, here is the link to my page if you want to follow along.  That amazing app never ceases to amaze me, it has gotten me through the first year of being a first time mother on an island, it has given me that sense of community when I needed it most.  I have made some lifelong friends and I will forever be grateful for the ways that it has enriched my life.  

I want to share this with you because it was helpful to me in so many ways, and it has given me so much insight to read stories of how different women and families from all over the world with all different backgrounds and faiths make these types of decisions.  I felt like I was sitting around a bonfire, playing a guitar and roasting marshmallows and sharing deep truths and struggles from the heart.  I hope at least one of you will benefit from this as much as I have.  

This is what I posted:
"how did you know when you were "done"?  I want any and all of your answers.  I feel so bloody guilty asking this question because I love our babies so much and I feel so thankful for my body and for the incredible miracles that it has brought into the world but also that maybe it's time I should give it a break and other times I want to have all the babies. I have both reasons and excuses, and I want to know yours."

Here are some answers that I received from some pretty incredible people who were willing to share this with all of you as well:

"I've got 2 and definitely don't feel done. I could be pregnant forever. I love birthing. I love breastfeeding (my 2 year old is still going). I love the first year milestones. I could have babies forever. But finances 😕. I've got my husband on board with 3. I don't want to say 4 is out of the question, but it probably is. We don't want to be a burden to anybody or the system, and we are already finding it difficult to put back as much as we want for each child for college. My heart says one thing but my head says another. 😞"

"I am in the exact boat. I have two but I long for another. Then there are days when it just seems so right. My husband says we are done but I can't quiet my heart or my mind! I need all the advice on this too! You are not alone! 💕"

"You know and the stars kind of align. I knew when I was pregnant with my third! Even though I adore my children more than life! We just had our own circumstances that were pointing to this being the best for our own family!"

"When I had my second preemie - one at 28 weeks and one at 30. I'm amazed at big families. It's beautiful. Also, none of it is a given. Grateful for my blessings."

"Ahh I'm still not sure! I have given birth to a boy and a girl.. My husband has two kids from a previous marriage (they're 18 and 13 yrs old) so I feel like we are done mostly because he seems like he's done. If it were only our two, I definitely think we'd try for more! We mention the idea now and again.. I tell him not to get my hopes up because in truth, I long for another baby.. The pregnancy.. The birth.. The blessing of another child. I'm not sure if that feeling will ever go away! I'm eager to hear other input. 💕"

"I loooove babies. But when our third was out of the baby stage I started to think "I could get used to this." Well, my husband came home from deployment and we got pregnant basically that night. 😜 While I was pregnant and when #4 was born, I just knew. That baby stage had lost that magic hold on me. I'm ready to be done with diapers and having to do Every. Single. Thing. for them. At times, I think "Maybe..." and then the baby starts screaming while my toddler wants a snack and my older two need homework help and NOPE. I'm done."

"I was on the fence about another after my 3rd was born (my oldest had just turned 3 when the youngest was born 😁) and after about 6 months I just felt like my body probably wouldn't handle it well. I've had 3 c sections, and all of them were rough. My last pregnancy left me bed ridden for a few weeks. Mentally though, now that the youngest is 2 and we are quickly approaching the end of the baby years, I feel really done. I can feel the next chapter is just a page away and I'm excited about what's in it! It's been really nice not to rely on planning my day around naps etc. They are all old enough that we can go camping and hiking and exploring and it's getting so fun. Another pregnancy/newborn stage would be hard on us as a family I think. I also have some awful hormonal shifts after each babe and this last one was really really bad. So for me, I guess the simple answer is that my body and mind are at rest and content with where I am."

"My husband was done. I wanted more but 3 was it for him. I would never want to push his limit. So 3 is our magic number :)"

"We have 3 very close like yours. Ours are all 14 months apart. We just knew we were done and my husband got a vasectomy when our youngest was a few months old, but now he and I both wish we could have another baby, but God is giving us peace and happiness with the 3 blessings we do have ♡"

"After our third I just KNEW that we weren't done, despite slight complications like him coming early and spending time in the NICU. But when pregnant with our 4th, I also just KNEW that that would be our last baby. I'm occasionally sad we won't be having any more but that's mostly because it all happened so fast (4 in 5 years!) and I was sometimes too busy/tired to really soak it all in. The good news is that, it's really nice having my body and myself mostly back to normal for the first time in forever, finally getting a good nights sleep 90% of the time, and enjoying fun things as a family because nobody is super tiny or pregnant anymore."

"I'm having twins right now (well, in the next 3 weeks) and one has a heart defect that will be needing multiple surgeries. I don't think I could deal with the massive anxiety that would come with another pregnancy and the unknown of what could be. I say we're done, but I don't know how I will really know."

"I'm content with my 3 I have but I'm also just 26. I feel good about just having 3 because I'm not spreading myself too thin and I'm still able to function with all 3 and give all the attention they need. I still have my doubts about wanting another one or not but I know I'm good with 3 😊"

"I just can't imagine getting fixed... ever! It's just so so permanent. 4 boys is hard and our finances are not perfect and easy but God has always provided and kept us humble. If your hearts desire is for more children- then allow God to bless you. My husband and I are content but I just know that this feeling is temporary and we may decide in 5 years to have another child or adopt. We love having children.  Something else I thought back on snd thought some other women could relate with-- after my first two I miscarried a set of twins, I knew I would have another child and we started trying again and sure enough had the 3rd. At 3 I thought "wow this is good- I think we'll stay here" but each month I would stay on top of my menstrual cycle and keep count of the days- even if I was one day late I would run to the dollar store for a pregnancy test with more excitement then panic. That's when you know for sure that you're not really ready to be done."

"I'm from a large family and knew that I only wanted 2 or 3 children if I was lucky enough. Both pregnancies were terrible, all day nausea and cesareans which weren't my choice. I'm sad I didn't enjoy much of the pregnancies or found birth empowering. Despite this, I have two amazing little guys who are full of beans and I love being their mum. My husband and I know we are done as we've reached our capacity in many ways. We'll bring up our rad lads to be kind and wonderful men like their dad ❤"

"Well I have 4 kids... 10, 7, 5 and 2 and I would have another baby in a heartbeat. My last baby Lukey was born c-section and at that point my husband was dead set on not having any more babies... so c-section and tubes tied... My heart hurts still 2 years later.  The thing is when I was pregnant I had terrible morning sickness from start to finish. I wasn't a miserable pregnant lady and I handle he vomiting as if it were par for the course. Each child I've nursed, rocked and asked very little in terms of support from my husband. I find myself praying for an un-doing of sorts and one more chance at pregnancy but the reality and odds probably aren't in my favor. If you are at all unsure just wait for clarity. Pray about. Talk to your husband and make the decision because in your heart it's the one to be made.."

"We have two and I want more so badly, but we don't have a large income and our house is very small. We have a 2 bedroom house and the kids already share a room. No space for more. And the housing market it so insane here we would lose so much of our investment if we tried to sell. It's a bit heartbreaking..."

"After my third I thought that if I'm going to have a fourth I want it to be within 2 years of my youngest. In those 2 years I never felt ready. Now my youngest is 4.5 and I know I'm done (unless there's an accident cause they do happen 😂). I'll be 40 next year and I feel proud and content with my three amazing children 😊"

"I never wanted kids to begin with. God blessed me with my eldest at a time when my life was in shambles and she has saved my life more times than anyone will ever know (some of those times were darker than the blackest midnight). I struggled for years to get pregnant again, then was told by the doctor that the one tube that I had left after a previous ectopic pregnancy, was 100% blocked. I shook my fist at God and wondered why He would deny me when I finally wanted a child after not wanting any for a long time. A year later, boom. Pregnant. This "rainbow" baby pregnancy put my body through the wringer and my body has never been the same since. Fast forward to October 24, 2015. I had found out I was pregnant again a few weeks prior and had been excited until the Doc couldn't find a heartbeat. The week prior to that, I had to make the difficult decision on whether or not I would take a drug end the molar pregnancy or wait it out and let it happen on its own. I chose to take the medicine. The hurt of loss that I felt throughout the miscarriage was where I drew the line. My husband would like more children, but I am done. My body, my mind, AND my heart are done. With that being said, I do not know if GOD wants me to be done...and I am okay with that. That is the reason why we haven't had any permanent birth control procedures done. His will be done, not ours...and it took a long time for me to figure it out, but I am okay with that."

"I have felt a lot of peace for being done "for now" I definitely feel like three has me at capacity for the moment. And we have such a great mix of girls! I know that right now isn't the right time to add. But I am not committed to never. More- "let's get down the road a bit and see how we feel" lol. See where God leads us"

"Honestly I don't want more because I'm not allowed to have my kids normal due to my first being a c section 😔, I think if I were able to birth them natural I wouldn't mind having more, I have three all c. section and that was an awful and nerve wrecking experience. Not that my babies weren't worth it cuz they are the best thing that has ever happened to me. I tied my tubes after my last one and I'm sad cuz I regret it now, I want another just not a C-section."

"I want all the babies too but lately I've been feeling really overwhelmed like this is our limit and I don't want to push it. Perhaps it's gods way of showing me we're good... for now at least."

"I'm wanting another like yesterday!! My first is almost 14 months. I always pictured having my kids 3 years apart but now that I'm a mom, I like you want "all the babies"! Plus I have resigned in my position and think having another sooner than later would just make more sense while I'm home with my first anyway? I don't know. You tell me?! I also will be having a preventative double mastectomy after my second baby (due to a genetic mutation on the gene PALB2; which is now known to cause breast cancer....ladies go get your smash-o-grams! October is Breast Cancer Awareness month!) 👈 ...So now I'm feeling a little more pressure to start tying for our second babe. I would be sad after my surgery that if we were to get prego again, I wouldn't be able to breastfeed. I enjoy it so much. But as of right now I'm not sure if we'd have a third! Not going there mentally right now :)"

"I want them all...all the babies, all the beautiful births. Now that I've gone back to work and cannot stay home (for now), I don't want to have another and leave her to go back to work. I was naive three babies ago and had no idea what my grocery bill (among others) would be. My dream: One more baby and stay home full time until they start school. We shall see"

"My daughter passed shortly after birth, the pregnancy almost took my life as well. (She was baby #4) My son was born three years later, and once again, my life was on the line. (Baby #5) Very traumatic. We were forced to make the decision that my having another baby would be too dangerous. I know it seems selfish because I have 4 healthy, living children, but I truly loved being pregnant and bringing life into the world. Also, I think it's hard to accept when decisions aren't in your control. There's sort of a grieving process that you go through. I imagine that any mommy feels that way when she's "done."

"I knew I was done when I prayed about having another baby and God said 'no'. Sometimes God's voice is subtle and then sometimes he closes a door so loud and fast, you can hear it slam! I feel heartbroken over that, but I do trust that His plan is more magnificent than anything I could come up with. We are now praying about adoption, so we will see!"

"Ahhhhh the timeless question. We had just 2 little girls for a few years and then 2 little boys. We thought we were done when youngest was 2 -1/2and got a sweet surprise with #5. Then it hit that we wd just let God decide. Our baby #6 is now 15. Even then we thought "just one more to make a lucky 7" But all in all we are so happy he came to be the grand finale. He makes a perfect youngest kiddo. Besides, because our kids are spread out over 16 years, we started getting grandlings when youngest was only 3 and that's been an absolutely amazing adventure too! It will all come clear as you go along. Every Mama story is so unique. I love to hear them."

"I have 4 kids. Ages: Almost 6, 4, 2.5, and 6 months. We weren't "Trying" for any of them. After each one, I wanted a long break...but was always excited when I found out the next was coming. I can't imagine my life with a bigger gap between anybody, or without out any one of them entirely. Since we found out #4 was coming, all through the pregnancy and even now, my hubby tells everybody that she is definitely the caboose. That we are definitely done. It makes me sad in a way. I'm only 27, and I don't want to close that door and say that I am forever done. But at the same time, I am content where I am. And I do know my body does need a real break this time. I am extremely thankful that my hubby hasn't done, or suggested anything permanent. And I am also so extremely thankful that where God guides, He provides. He has been right beside me every step of the way. He carried me when I couldn't take another step. He put my marriage back together when it had fallen apart. He provides all the foods, and clothes, and friends and love that each one of my family needs, at just the perfect time and in the most amazing and mysterious ways."

"Love reading everyone's stories. I ride this rollercoaster everyday. I'm so happy and content with the two little babies I have. The days are hard but so full of joy. Two seems so easy and manageable. My body physically hurts every day (RA) and pregnancy is even harder so it makes me want to stop here. But then I know that when I'm old, I won't remember how much it hurt. My heartbreaks to think about the days when my babies are grown. I know the joy i have now is worth it all. And I don't want to loose the graces God gives me everyday. Because I need Him so much when they are little, I am always looking to Him for strength, love and patience. Everyday it is "Your will, not mine."

"We knew before the first birthday of our youngest that this was going to be the last time hosting a first birthday party for our family. It all kind of clicked for me around that time, my body was finally feeling strong again and we felt complete as s clan of six. Now that the"baby" is 4 years old, I couldn't imagine being the mom I want to be if I had any more. Trust your instincts mama! ❤️"

"I finally accepted that I was "done" when I woke up and I was 45 years old, having been single for the last 11 years, and the only man that I dated during those 11 years left me on Mother's Day weekend at 6 months pregnant with my (now) 4 year old daughter to raise alone. God gave me the desire of my heart with His perfectly timed gift of her... and even though the circumstances surrounding us have never been picture perfect, He has never left us without providing our daily bread. I struggle emotionally and sometimes financially, but Marley never has a clue. This life of mine did not turn out the way I had envisioned, but everything that has happened along the way has prepared me to be the person I am today- the person I needed to be to make this work. I loved pregnancy and I too wanted all the babies... but it wasn't in His plan. Today, my heart is full and that is enough. ❤️"

"If you don't feel done, trust your instincts. You have the rest of your life for "other things". And if you are done, that's okay too, to appreciate what you have. I think your heart knows the true answer."

I just read all these responses again and I'm feeling so emotional, but truly, at peace.  For us, we make every decision through prayer.  And we prayed long and hard about this and received a clear answer.  Throughout my entire pregnancy with Florence, I felt a sense of finality.  It was a very odd feeling because after all our other babies, I knew we would have more, or at least I hoped.  This time, I don't know, I would find myself doing things a certain way because I knew it was the last time.  Like hiring a birth photographer, and I hardly ever complained even while 40 weeks pregnant and still carrying all of Ariella and all of Gwendolyn and waking up with them at all hours of the night, ask my husband.  I was being so intentional in feeling connected to my body and the miracle of growing a baby and birth and becoming a family of 5.  I guess I thought that it was enough at the time, but no one could have prepared me for the grief I have been feeling lately.  I've been in what I think is a mourning of sorts and a little bit upset at God if I can be completely honest here.  Then the guilt finds its way in because then I think that I'm not appreciating the beautiful blessings that we do have and are they not enough?  They are, they absolutely are more than enough.  The beautiful thing is that Brent and I are entering the season of raising our three beautiful girls into smart, loving, strong, independent, and Godly women and I know that so much wonder and excitement lies ahead.  That vision is helping me cope with the sense of loss, and I'm so thankful for people who opened up their hearts to me so that I got the peace that I sought.  I was watching a video from a sweet friend from high school the other day and she said exactly what I needed to hear, and it was that you don't know what stands on the other side of your obedience. 

I remember the day that I got the job offer of my dreams after 5 grueling interviews and praying on everything that is holy that I would get the job because it was in Austin, Texas, (my dream city) working for Target (foreshadowing much haha?!!!) Every cell in my body said YES, THIS IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN WORKING FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE AND IT'S FINALLY HAPPENING!!  Then I prayed.  I called my mom crying my eyes out because I told her that my heart is saying no.  It was subtle and while every other part of me was excited that I got this job and that I would be moving to an exciting new city and living the hippy life and playing music in the street corner (what? haha) that I always envisioned for myself, my heart is saying no.  They called me back on Monday anxiously awaiting my response to be the new executive pharmacy manager and I said tearfully declined the offer, and stayed in Little Rock.  Three months later, I met the love of my life.

Great things happen when we trust.  And so, just like with everything else in our lives, I'm going to keep the faith.  Selah.

When I think back to the million times that I tried to envision what my life would look like at 31, it's far better than my wildest dreams.  Thank you so much to Johnna from Johnna Johnson Photography for capturing us.


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