This is part of a series of perspectives from our contributors on a subject that no one quite has the answer to: when is your family complete? Come back later this month for another perspective, and comment below to join in the conversation.
I’ve been thinking a lot about whether our family is complete.
I have two daughters who, incidentally, were not easily conceived or born. Like many women, pregnancy did not come easily. I didn’t seem to become pregnant naturally and after several years, I found a good doctor who prescribed Clomid and other meds in the hope increasing our chances. I got pregnant with my girls within several cycles and was elated.
My deliveries with both babies were rough on my body and rough on theirs. One daughter was born with her cord wrapped around her neck, and the other broke her collarbone and had some hip problems due to her large birthweight. I realized after my second daughter was born that I had postpartum depression and anxiety after my first daughter was born. I only noticed by how much better I felt the second time. I am not sure I can safely deliver more babies and recover a third time.
In regards to having one last baby, I know many people who say, ‘Just go off your birth control. If it’s meant to happen, it will happen!’
Perhaps, but not in my case (or many others).
If I left things up to chance, I would likely have had no children. And you, dear reader, wouldn’t get to read my words on this website. Knowing that I would have to see a doctor, get the medications, write out ovulation days on the calendar, etc. just isn’t the stress I need. Especially for a process I’m not sure I want to undergo or for more children I am not sure I would like to have.
As an Army family, we have dealt with many TDYs, deployments, and reserve weekends that did not sync up with ovulation plans. This made family planning a little difficult and required more thought. I applaud those of you who have been pregnant or given birth in 2020. I have had high attention on the pandemic, homeschooling and solo parenting and have become increasingly satisfied with my family of four.
I grew up in Utah, where big families were common and sometimes seen as “ideal.” My family of three kids (I’m the youngest) was one of the smaller ones, but I loved it. It felt just right to me. At one point growing up, I wished for a younger sibling, but that went away when I realized it was awesome to have more time with my parents and no crying babies in the shopping cart.
Now that I’m married and have two daughters, I think about what kind of childhood they’ll have with each other.
Will they miss having a houseful of siblings?
Is it only children that make our family complete? The dog counts for something, right?
Will they be fine, happy and close and unaware of what they’re missing since they never lots of siblings?
Will my kids resent me for having a small family?
On good days, I assure myself they will be fine and happy. At other times, I worry that I am less-than because I don’t have a desire FOR and feel like I can’t emotionally handle having a large family.
I realize I carry some guilt and weirdness about my lack of making a large family.
I am absolutely happy with my two girls, but it feels a little strange having a conversation with someone from where I grew up and hearing them say, “Just the two?” I smile and reply, “Yep!” while I think about how much one-on-one time they get with us and how we can ride roller coasters together due to our even numbers. But as I’ve been gone from my hometown and state for over ten years, I see more examples of small families that are happy. That makes me think it will be ok and not sad.
I’ve had friends who have had dreams of another baby, spiritual feelings about additional children, or simply “felt” they weren’t quite done yet. My practical self and my husband have had no such experiences and don’t really feel one way or the other. I am tired, nearly 36 years old, and have two intense and wonderful girls. My brain tries to imagine newborn sleep deprivation again, especially willingly asking for it at a doctor’s appointment. I talk about this as though it’s a choice that’s up to me, but there’s no guarantee that even with medical intervention that I could conceive again.
I’m not ready to close the door on our family size yet, but the gap is getting smaller. My husband is amenable to the infamous Snip-Snip, but I’m not there yet.
At this point, I’m saving a few baby things and will donate them when the time is right or the moving truck loses them. I’m reminding myself that every family looks different and that what’s right for someone else doesn’t have to be right for me.