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.

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workout mommy
13 years ago

I had to scroll ahead because I was definitely expecting the “I’m pregnant” line! :)

I haven’t been able to give away my baby stuff yet, but as we inch closer to diaper free days, it becomes more of a possibility!

Lisa
Lisa
13 years ago

Oh, I want that feeling. The knowing of a complete family. We only have one little one, and I know there are more who should be with us, but my doctors have said no more pregnancies. We got really lucky the last time and that’s going to be it–with pregnancies. Next stop on this journey? Foster care and/or adoption…I am just not sure who is going to pick us yet to complete our family. I hope I will gain that insight in the years to come.

Erika
Erika
13 years ago

I have always wanted three children. Once I had my three, I made sure we were done. With that said, sometimes I think about snuggling a fat warm little body. Luckily, I have baby cousins to snuggle.

honeybecke
honeybecke
13 years ago

I admit, I scrolled down too!

I wish I was as sure as you are about just the two. Some days for sure, but other days not so sure. We are high on the fence with this decision.

Today my 3 year old told me his baby brother wasn’t a baby anymore. “Mommy, he’s a little boy now huh!” and I said yes he is, just like you. My babies are little boys, how about that.

Angella
13 years ago

We knew going into our pregnancy with Emily that she would be our last. We wanted just one more.

And while I get teary about the fact that my three are no longer babies, I would WEEP FOR MONTHS if I were to be pregnant again.

Praise be to God for vasectomies.

Trina
Trina
13 years ago

I am crying right now because I totally know where you are coming from and I sometimes wonder if I am really done. I keep telling myself I am, but, I just don’t know.

Anyabeth
13 years ago

We always planned for just the one. But always in the back of my head I wanted two. My husband is firmly on the one bench and so I guess I am too. But I can’t bring myself to give everything away.

Nichole
13 years ago

My little guy is just making the move from baby to boy, and it’s starting to tug at my heartstrings. But we’re giving stuff away, too. I’m pretty sure we’re done.

Connie
Connie
13 years ago

You know, that is so sweet and I don’t even have kids.

Connie
Connie
13 years ago

and BTW_ I was so scrolling looking for the announcement of Sundry #3

Amy
Amy
13 years ago

even though i am someone without a husband and without children, it’s truly lovely to hear a statement such as “we are all here now”…it suggests that you & JB were waiting patiently until your family filled itself up… if I can believe it about your family, then I will try to believe it about myself. I patiently believe that all my dreams will come true one day, just as yours have with your solid unit of four.

Erin
Erin
13 years ago

I feel the exact same way. We found out after #2 was born that I shouldn’t ever get pregnant again, as my body does a freaking awesome job of decimating my baby’s platelets.

So I guess we’re done. We should be. One boy, one girl- now both healthy and beautiful. God made our decision for us. But the older Aubrey gets (she’s 7 months old) the sadder and sadder I get about it.

Felicia
Felicia
13 years ago

I’m definitely wondering if my family is all here… for now we’re taking it one day at a time though and not making any decisions lightly…

Very well written post! When do I get to order my Sundry book? You really are a great writer.

ChelseaLI
ChelseaLI
13 years ago

The girls turned three on February first. I didn’t realize how big they were until my cousin had a baby, and I realized I could never carry both girls up the stairs in the crooks of my elbows. That damn near made me cry.

Marie Green
13 years ago

I want to feel done, or to not feel done, but I still waffle about it EVERY. DAY. Here’s the thing: I want another BABY, but I’m not sure I want 4 kids… Grah.

del
del
13 years ago

My family is full a boy and a girl, picture perfect and adorable. I don’t want to have more kids, I love and enjoy what I have now.
I loved being pregnant but didn’t really take the time to enjoy it. I would love another pregnancy to celebrate, another baby to snuggle with, but I am damn sure that I don’t want another child.
My family is done and complete, I just wish my body knew that and I felt complete too.

Vicki
Vicki
13 years ago

I don’t know how you do it . . .I’ve been thinking these same thoughts. We are done- our family is complete with a 3yr old and a 2yr old, but I LOVED being pregnant, and recently I’ve started walking by all the little clothes in stores, realizing that now I’m past that stage. sniffle sniffle.

Kate
13 years ago

I’ve given most everything away except for those few precious tiny outfits too. I knew after my 1st that there was still a person missing in our family portrait. And then we had #2 and it felt right and more complete. And even though I’m 99% sure I’m done, and hubby SAYS we’re done, I wonder if I’m done. I wonder if I’ll ever truly say “I’m 100% done. Never again.” Because while I could never plan a 3rd, if it happened, I probably wouldn’t be sad for long.

They grow oh-so-fast.

Christy
Christy
13 years ago

Oh, I love this post. We had two, and five years later had a third. I feel like we’re done…sort of. I want to be able to give each of them the time they need. I don’t think I want four children, but there is nothing like holding a brand-new baby. I’m very slowly starting to give away the brand new baby stuff, but like you said, I can always buy more.

Caleal
13 years ago

You sure are on a roll with these posts, Linda. Beautiful.

Cate
Cate
13 years ago

Absolutely beautiful post. I often want to comment and tell you how much I love reading your essays, how moving I find so much of what you write, but it always sounds so trite that I just read (and re-read!) your posts and then move on. You are a gifted writer, and I treasure your work!

Mary
Mary
13 years ago

I love this. After we had our two boys, my husband was quite certain we were done, and I was quite certain I was going to have a daughter. We had long talks, and I PROMISED I would be happy with three boys, and we tried again. It’s lucky we got our girl, because if we hadn’t, I would still be bugging him for a girl, and I am about to turn 48.

I never thought I would hear myself say this, but I kind of, sort of am ready to be a grandma. Because I so love those tiny little people, and I don’t want any more of my own, but I will never be done loving on them.

patois
13 years ago

“Is everyone here?” I love that question. I never really thought of it that way. It’s nice to have the definitive answer.

elizabeth
elizabeth
13 years ago

I. know. so ditto to that.

Brenna
Brenna
13 years ago

I don’t want to piss on your cornflakes or anything, but I felt the same way after my second baby. I felt like ‘okay, world, here’s our family, mom and dad with toddler daughter and baby son, here we are.’

And now we are nearly 10 y/o daughter and 7 y/o son, and baby (18 months now) makes five.

I’m just saying, you don’t have to pin yourself down and pinky swear that you won’t have anymore kids. Things change, feelings change, people change. And that’s okay, too.

Peggasus
13 years ago

I knew I was done after 10 years of soul-sucking infertility treatments and an ocean of tears (resulting in my two boys, five years apart) when I thought I was pregnant and I DIDN’T WANT TO BE. That was quite the freeing revelation for me, and I have never looked back!

sas
sas
13 years ago

This post gave me goosebumbs. I have spent the last 10 years on and off trying to decide if I want to have children. It has done my head in!
And after a couple of years of being quiet and thoughtful I have been able to make my peace, in every hallway of my heart, that I really don’t want to be a parent.
And this is a good choice for me.
I feel quite free by this decision and altogether ‘full’ within myself. Coming to this decision hasn’t been easy but it has enabled me to move on and grow and start making plans that I was always putting off.
It’s a wonderful feeling of YEAH BRING IT ON!

jenn
jenn
13 years ago

I am so with you, girl. When I was planning for c-section #2, my doc asked the same question, and I opted to have her take care of things while she was in there. If I hadn’t, my husband would’ve made an immediate appointment for the big V. He’s 42, I’m 36, we’re getting too old for this shit. There is nothing quite like being pregnant, the anticipation, holding a brand new baby… but I DO NOT WANT ANY MORE CHILDREN.

erin
13 years ago

Another stellar post. Thank you for this. I think we, too, will be at this point soon. There is always a last baby, even if you end up with eighteen. There is a final one, a sense of grief, and also a sense of relief.

Bunny
13 years ago

Linda, this is beautifully written.

I feel like I suddenly turned around and I have two kids, and no babies. Mine are going to be 5 and 3 in a month and I am looking around wondering where my babies went and also wondering: how do I parent children, and who am I if not the harried mother of a baby? I am getting the tug again to have another and I think I will. But this taste of being a mom to older kids has made me sad.

Roseann
Roseann
13 years ago

With a 12 year old and an 8 year old, I’ve reached the point where, when I see small ones, under 2 or so, I always sort of state how thankful I am to be past that stage. Having 2 kids that have conversations and opinions and actual lives is so much more interesting than the diaper/sleepless nights stage.
We loved the baby stage, while in it, but now a taste of tweendom has made me realize that it’s only getting better.

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
13 years ago

It’s even harder when you only have 1 and know you are never going to do it again, and not by your own choice.

Tiffany
Tiffany
13 years ago

Did someone start meditating or something?!?!?! Did you have a near death experience?!?! Can your next post be about flesh eating zombies so I don’t CRY AT WORK!!!

My children are very close in age to yours, and I too had repeat c-sections but chose to have a tubal with my second. My husband and I said when we got married that we wanted a boy and a girl two years apart…and my daughter and son are 5 days shy of two years apart. So we got what we asked for literally!

Both of your posts hit home in more ways than one and I had to make several trips to the bathroom to blot my eyes and make sure I didn’t have mascara running down my face…thanks a lot JERK! lol

danielle
danielle
13 years ago

I love this post. It’s so succinct and poetic.

I decided against having my tubes tied because it is just so permanent. Forever is forever and I just can’t commit to that.

Shawna
Shawna
13 years ago

I wish I was a sure as you. To think of never holding a fat warm fuzzy bundle of baby – MY baby – again breaks my heart. But I’ve had two dreams I was pregnant again and was startled at how visceral my no, no, NO reaction was.

books
13 years ago

Am so with all of you that want another baby, but not another child to raise. As my “one and done” little boy turns 8 months today, I totally feel you on how quickly they seem more like little boys than babies. With friends recently having babies, I think longingly of the excitment and anticipation of pregnancy and birth and those fragile tiny little infant days.

But then I also think about how I now finally have time to cook a meal again, how we can get out more, how I can put him down at 7:00 for the night instead of holding him every evening for 3 hours of on and off screaming, and I know one is the right decision.

We knew from the beginning that one was the right choice for us-considering the help we needed to create him and the lifestyle we want to be able financially to provide for him (and let’s be honest, ourselves). What I find strange is that whenever I tell someone that we’re not having any more, they always laugh like it’s some temporary attitude brought on by sleep deprivation and that we’ll change our minds.

However, we are serious. Despite our fertility troubles, my husband is going to get the big V, just to be on the safe side.

Dawn
Dawn
13 years ago

I feel very much the same way. We have two kids and I feel a sense of this is the team we were destined to become. I opted for the tubal since I was 40 when #2 was born. I don’t feel like anything is missing but my husband and I have talked about it and we both agree that if we had been 10 or even 5 years younger we might have had a third.

I really enjoy your writing.

wn
wn
13 years ago

I’ve not been able to bring myself to do it yet….despite having a viciously bad birth experience which left me SWEARING I’d not do it again…(think permanent damage)….BUT despite that….I can’t do it. And I KNOW we’ll adopt….but what I don’t KNOW is whether I’ll try for another baby. I just DONT know.

One day I might though….One day I hope to be comfortable and honest and say “we are all here”.

I am glad for you that you can finally say this.

Shutter Bitch
13 years ago

I still don’t believe it myself in all the hallways of my heart, even though I answer no to those asking if we’re having a third.

aimee
13 years ago

Ah, that was so beautiful. I do remember when my son was a newborn thinking that, later, when we were on our last one, all that newborn joy would be tempered with some sadness that that would be the last.

Cassie
Cassie
13 years ago

I started buying newborn neutral color baby clothes when my husband and I decided it was time for us to start a family. I have boxes of clothes from friends and family that they have given me in anticipation of our family. I have a onesie hanging dead center in our closet that we look at every day that I bought at Baby Gap that is white with little blue airplanes on it. It has a matching cap and socks. It is adorable. This will be the outfit that my newborn comes home in. I go to the newborn section of stores, buy gifts for friends who are welcoming babies and have to stop myself from buying something for our first child. It has been nine years and I still cannot bring myself to giving the clothes, toys, bathing accessories, etc. away because maybe some day I will have the chance to use them for my own child. I can’t imagine boxing up these necessities if my child actually wore them. I have come to terms that there is a great possibility that I will never have children. Nine years is a long time to try and doctors cannot tell me why I can’t get pg. I guess it is kind of the same thing you may be going through with the decision not to have any more children. It is probably time to pass these things on to people who can actually use them…. Like you said, “I can always buy more”.

Joy
Joy
13 years ago

Your post broke my hear this morning. I went through the same thing after my second child was born. Due to medical reasons we cannot have more, so I have to say two is enough. Sometimes I wonder if things were different if I would want more. When I see a pregnant woman rubbing her belly or a mother nursing her infant, I still have that longing for another baby. I cried the day I packed up all of our baby gear and gave it away. I kept a few small things to remind me of my children’s infant days, but it breaks my heart every time I find something else we will never have a use for.

Amy M.
Amy M.
13 years ago

My kids are just a few months younger than yours & I’ve been packing away baby things as well, but haven’t had the heart to get rid of them …yet. I’m pretty sure I’m done, but oh – warm, fuzzy babies!

And then there are the days when my 2 are grating on my last nerve & I’m thinking, why on earth would I want another one of THESE? :)

Donna
Donna
13 years ago

If you do decide to do it though, tubal ligation is the way to go. One of the few things I’ve never regretted.
And now I have the “I am here and you are here and we are here, and we are all together”, song in my head.
You’ll have daughters when they marry, and won’t have to worry about raising them. WIN!

Melissa
Melissa
13 years ago

Beautiful. Have been going through the same thought process lately.

Jakki
13 years ago

My youngest is 14 and I still have horrific pangs of want…

jakesmom
jakesmom
13 years ago

When you are done, you know it.

ElizabethZ
ElizabethZ
13 years ago

I am having a terrible fight with this question right now, my twin boys are 3, we always knew we would have a third and now here he is sleeping in the bassinet beside me, just barely a month old. After now having three in the house I can say a bit more assuredly that we are done, I guess I FEEL done in some ways, where I didn’t before but I still can hear that voice in my head saying, but if I did get PG again in a couple years, would that be a bad thing?

I am definitely more in the done camp than the maybe one more camp. Actually leaning more toward the, go ahead and get the V honey, and someday, if we feel the need and desire, we can adopt the little girl we didn’t get, a girl of 2 or so maybe because this infant stage? Ugh, God help me – I forgot, oh how I forgot how foggy everything can be during this time. We are 35 and 40 now and are just getting too old to be depriving ourselves of sleep this way. :) I really have no desire to be PG again either, though the resulting snuggly baby makes that part worth it.

I am happy for you that you feel at peace with your decision. Wonderfully written post, as always.

MRW
MRW
13 years ago

I know what you mean about feeling done. After my first was about 2.5 or 3, I started to really want a second. After years of miscarriages and problems getting pregnant and just about giving up and telling myself to get comfortable with one child (I’m an only, I loved it, I love my son), I finally got pregnant and this one is sticking. I know in my heart this child completes my family. My husband is getting a vasectomy this afternoon and it is the right decision.

Now, I just need to get together with some of your commenters who want more babies, but no more kids – I wanted another child, not another baby – maybe we can work a trade ;-)

Niki P.
Niki P.
13 years ago

Oh this brought tears to my eyes. My babies are now 11 and 13. I thought I was done, I thought I would never want to go back to that again. Right now I want a baby so bad that I ache. I am 36 and I know it’s my clock tick tick ticking. I don’t care. I still want one.