She asked if I planned on having any more children and when I said no she mentioned the option of getting a tubal ligation during my C-section and I startled my own self by blurting NO. No, no, no. No I don’t plan on having more children, no I don’t want to rule out the possibility that I’ll change my mind.

But after he was born, my second child, I gave away my maternity clothes. I sent boxes across the country to pregnant friends, I filled bags for Goodwill. Hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars of tent-shaped items, even though it sort of broke my heart to do so. I remember carefully folding everything and stacking things in a trunk after my first pregnancy and the subsequent dusty nostalgic joy of unearthing them during my second. This time, there was nothing to save for.

Then I started giving away baby clothes. The tiny outfits that only fit a newborn, the blankets, the sleep sacks. With the exception of my very favorites which I plan to have made into a quilt someday, I gave it all away. More boxes. More bags. I gave away the swing, the Bumbo chair, the Bjorn carrier.

All that time, I thought, this is my last baby. There’s no need to hang on to this stuff. But in the very, very back of my mind, I thought: I can always buy more. If I need to. Because, I don’t know. Am I really never going to be pregnant ever again? Am I really never going to care for a brand-new baby, ever again? Is our family complete? Is everyone here?

(You are thinking, at this point, that now is when I tell you that I’m pregnant.)

I love my baby Dylan more than ever, and if anything my heart sustains new bruises every day at how quickly he’s moving away from babyhood. In actual walking steps: he’s running away from me. And oh, my Riley, my big kid. My babies are boys now, both of them, and those early, indescribable days of infanthood are over. Those days of pregnancy — of breathless anticipation and the marching miracle of growth — are over.

And for whatever reason, it’s only recently that I’ve truly believed, in every hallway of my heart, that I’m okay with that. I’m ready to say goodbye. To fold up those memories and place them, carefully, in the trunk of my soul. To carry them with me, but continue stepping forward. They will grow dusty, because that is the betrayal of our lives, but they will be there.

With me. With us. We are all here now.


85 Responses to “Next chapter”

  1. jetsy on March 19th, 2009 8:43 am

    I have chills from your writing over here!

  2. Kelli on March 19th, 2009 8:55 am

    “And for whatever reason, it’s only recently that I’ve truly believed, in every hallway of my heart, that I’m okay with that. I’m ready to say goodbye. To fold up those memories and place them, carefully, in the trunk of my soul. To carry them with me, but continue stepping forward. They will grow dusty, because that is the betrayal of our lives, but they will be there.”

    I realize you were writing this about your complete family, but as a single, baby-less woman, I think the above paragraph can work for a lot of LIFE – goodbyes, break ups, changes, etc.
    Thank you for writing this.

  3. KB on March 19th, 2009 8:55 am

    I had my tubes tied with my second c-section. I mourn that I will never see that second line appear on a stick I just paid 10 bucks for, just so I could pee on it. I celebrate that I will never have a baby jump on my bladder but mourn that I will never feel that first flutter and know “you are there! you are within me!” My youngest is 2 1/2 and I know that our family is complete. But when he was just past his first birthday, as Dylan is, is when I went “oh man, that was a really final decision to have those suckers chopped up…” Now that he’s bigger, I feel great joy in unloading the burden of baby items and am looking forward to soccer practice and popsicle faced kisses.

  4. Lindsay on March 19th, 2009 8:58 am

    This is just beautiful.

  5. Sarah on March 19th, 2009 9:48 am

    Quite simply: beautiful. Love this personal look at a particular life stage and the thoughts and feelings that go along with it.

  6. seadragon on March 19th, 2009 10:00 am

    I wonder if your lingering indecision was in part because you were right in the middle of pregnancy, birth, and infanthood. If your heart, mind, and body are fully engaged in all of that, I think it makes sense that it’s hard to be simultaneously deciding against it.

  7. Maria on March 19th, 2009 10:03 am

    I’m not sure I’m ready to move on yet. It’s breaking my heart to pack away each set of MJ’s clothes. He’s already 17 pounds at four months so he’s in the 6 month clothes and I’m totally not ready.

    But I also don’t want to be pregnant again, good lord.

    This is hard.

  8. Artemisia on March 19th, 2009 10:14 am

    Oh, this was so wonderful. Truly, a remarkable post. A remarkable place to be.

  9. Laura on March 19th, 2009 10:27 am

    You made my pregnant hormonal ass cry in my cube – I can’t wait until ONE is here, much less, “we are all here”. You have a beautiful family!

    I totally thought you were going to say you were pregnant too :)

  10. telegirl on March 19th, 2009 10:40 am

    Since my husband and I met later in life (we met in our mid-30s), this decision is going to be a bit easier for us because we do not have much of a choice. We had our little boy when I was almost 37 and now we are in the beginning stages of our second pregnancy and I am 39. There is no room for more kids on the horizon so I guess I can be glad that the decision is going to be made for us.

    I am sad to think that this is the last pregnancy; the last time to feel a baby kick inside of me and to feel the warmth of our own tiny baby in my arms. I am sad to think of no more first smiles, first steps, etc. But, I am just so thankful that we had the opportunity to make a family at all. I had begun to think that it just was not going to be possible.

  11. Stacy on March 19th, 2009 10:40 am

    I have a 4 year old girl and a 2 year old boy – the absolute perfect family, right?! Then can someone tell me why I cried like a little baby when, just last week, we sold all of their baby items? (infant bathtub, walker, snugli, etc?).

  12. Must Be Motherhood on March 19th, 2009 10:42 am

    I have a nutjob 2.5yr old and a 6 month old and I am sosososo tired and never want to be pregnant again. And I want to go back to Vienna and Hawaii in the next 5-10 years. But there’s a little voice on my shoulder that peeps at me here and there and she says Wait for Me!

    Arrrgh. To have resolution like you have would be a beautiful thing.

  13. kath on March 19th, 2009 10:43 am

    I was reading this and I read the post before. I had a second reaction after my first which was, of course, wow, deep, wonderful, well-written, thought provoking. The second reaction? Oh, that girl was tired, look how she writes after getting some rest. (said as a compliment and with fondness)

  14. Ilana on March 19th, 2009 11:23 am

    When you make me cry at work, there should be a little disclaimer in the title. Something along the lines of, “heh, I’m going to turn you into a blubbery mess now, so cowboy up.” I’m just sayin..

  15. Belle on March 19th, 2009 11:55 am

    Our son was 4 when our daughter was born and I knew then we “were all here”. My husband was never quite so sure but he went ahead and had the big V when she was 18 months old. I’ve never regretted it but as others have said, I do love me some babies and wish like hell our now adult kids would have us some grandbabies.

    Another great post today!

  16. ErinM on March 19th, 2009 12:21 pm

    So beautifully written! And very touching!

  17. Kerilyn on March 19th, 2009 12:52 pm

    VERY touched by these last two entries.

  18. Korinna on March 19th, 2009 1:01 pm

    My mom told me something the other day that was kind of a revelation, “Even if you decide that x number of children is what’s right for you, don’t be scared to mourn that you’ll no longer be pregnant. It’s okay.”

    It was all Deep-Thoughts-by-Jack-Handey and made total sense.

  19. Karl on March 19th, 2009 1:54 pm

    I did the man snip thing after #2 (or #3, or #4, depends on how you want to count ’em, not relevant at the moment). And I hear you, every word.

    We’ve been done for 23 years and I still wonder sometimes, and think what if. But I don’t really seriously regret any of it, and you put it very well: “we are all here now”. Good words.

  20. Leah on March 19th, 2009 2:13 pm

    What a nice feeling that must be. I’m so happy for you guys, and I think you’ve created an awesome family.

  21. Emily on March 19th, 2009 2:56 pm

    I love that question, “is everyone here?”. It’s so perfect, and so lovely.

  22. Val on March 19th, 2009 3:16 pm

    How do you do it? How do you know? I know. You just do. You just know it. Maybe I’m just not at that stage of my life yet. I recently had a pregnancy scare – which is an oxymoron for a previously infertile like myself. And yet there I was, freaking out, because we can’t afford another. Can my body afford another? And yet…and yet, I find myself thinking…well, so, are we done then? And the answer is still…I don’t know.

    I look forward to the day I do know, that I am okay with my little family. I love my babies more than anything, and while I do firmly feel that all is right in my family, it still makes me ache to know this might be it…you know? I dunno. Maybe I’m babbling. But thank you for eloquently putting my emotional give and take into words so beautifully once again.

  23. Sarah @ on March 19th, 2009 4:02 pm

    I was definitely expecting an announcement too…and I think I found one, it was just different from what I thought it would be.

    Which should teach me to judge a book by it’s cover!

    Anyway, this is such an incredibly difficult and momentous choice to make. Congratulations on finding peace with the path you’ve chosen =)

  24. Pam on March 19th, 2009 4:14 pm

    My babies are 19, 15, and 3years. I thought after the older 2 that I’d never experience pregnancy, nursing, and a wonderful newborn again. I’d look at our family photos and think…it’s not finished. Then I got pregnant and miscarried. I grieved for that little one for a long time. My little 3 year old son (all boys)is truly a gift to our family. Now, finally, we’re complete. I thank God every day for my three beautiful boys. Oh, and I’m crying again…thanks!

  25. Amanda on March 19th, 2009 5:24 pm

    I love this, but it made me cry.

  26. Stephanie on March 19th, 2009 6:57 pm

    Great post. I’m having my second daughter tomorrow at 12:30pm, scheduled C-section. And I’m having a tubal. I’ll be 36 in May, and although I know I could have more, the thought terrifies me. Scares me to have 2. But I know once I meet Miss Olivia tomorrow, this pregnancy will have been worth it. All 9 months of shots in the belly with blood thinners since I got a blood clot after I had my first daughter. I don’t want to mess with a good thing.

  27. metalia on March 19th, 2009 7:09 pm

    I’m crying, a little bit, because–MAN. I know. I KNOW. This was beautiful.

  28. Kiki on March 19th, 2009 7:22 pm

    Beautifully, beautifully written, Linda. I can’t wait to read your first book. :)

  29. Party of Four « It’s Pretty Okay on March 19th, 2009 7:37 pm

    […] I also got all emotional reading Sundry’s post because well, here I am, doing the same thing. Having those same thoughts. I’ve never wanted a whole gaggle of children. For most of my life I saw myself with two. Two keeps things even. Two keeps a 1:1 ratio with parents. Two means there is no odd-man out. Two means we don’t have to own a van. Two means we can all fit in one hotel room. I think two is a good number and I think my temperment is adequately challenged by two….three might be pushing it. […]

  30. Sonja on March 19th, 2009 9:24 pm

    Due in June with #2, I hope I know! Above all, I love this post for reminding Mom’s to appreciate every little moment because it goes by so fast!

  31. moo on March 19th, 2009 9:45 pm

    I am done. SO. DONE.

    but I’m afraid of making that permenant …because, you just never know. right?

    so this post really resonated with me. A lot.

  32. NJ on March 20th, 2009 4:55 am

    I loved your post. It was really beautiful

  33. Trenches of Mommyhood on March 20th, 2009 8:40 am

    Eloquently stated. When you know, you just KNOW.

    You know?

  34. Kelsey on March 20th, 2009 6:37 pm

    We have two, a boy and a girl, and after a very rocky pregnancy/early delivery with the baby (now 1) we’ve been told NOT to do it again. Which is heartbreaking to me, but also in a very small way, nice to know that we are the family we will be. I don’t think it is ever easy, under any circumstances, to know you’ve had your last.

  35. Kym on March 20th, 2009 7:32 pm

    I totally feel like you. I had my 3rd son in Oct but at the time of my c-section I did have a tubal ligation. I was sad honestly at first esp the thought of never being pregnant again and feeling that life growing inside. But I have since had this overwhelming feeling that we are a complete family now. Infact I had our first family Christmas card picture taken, and recently bought their Easter basket’s w/the liner personalized all the same (b/c I didn’t want them to ask why is his different) So I know how you feel.

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