I love babies. I’ve loved babies since I was old enough to be aware of them.
I’m an only child, so I admittedly had minimal access to babies and that may have impacted my opinion of them. As far as I was concerned, they were the most amazing things that I had ever laid eyes on. And I didn’t understand why my friends who had baby siblings didn’t appreciate them like I did.
From the age of eight, I was dead set that I was going to have AT LEAST ten babies. I wanted to be a Duggar before the Duggars had five children of their own. Even at 18, I wanted an army of kids. At least I thought I did.
Then at 21, after an extremely low-key and virtually painless labor and delivery, I had a baby. A beautiful, perfect, cherubic baby girl. Delanie really was the easiest kind of baby… mellow and content and slept like a champ. The kind of baby that most parents don’t believe exists. My transition into motherhood was about as smooth as anyone could dream of. But it was still fucking hard. BABIES are fucking hard
A picture of a picture, but adorbs nonetheless. The little roly poly who made me a mother, 11 years ago.
After Delanie, I knew I wanted more kids. But that dream of having ten kids? BUH-BYE.
We waited until Delanie was two and out of diapers before we started thinking about having another. And we bought a house… that was contingency #1. I got pregnant in late 2006 and had Elysa about a month after Delanie’s 3rd birthday.
Elysa. OH, ELYSA. I’m convinced that my little ginger was trying to kill me in utero, and again when she made her grand entrance into the world. It was storming on that particular August day in 2007 and Daniel said that only evil babies are born during storms. At the time, I’m pretty sure he was just screwing with me. Now I’m not so sure. Especially since she put me through hell that day, as I labored on my back, immobile, but still feeling everything that I didn’t want to feel.
Elysa wasn’t a bad baby… only because I don’t believe in bad babies. I believe in difficult babies. I believe in high needs babies. I believe in exhausting and frustrating babies who make you question your decision to procreate. Yes, I just said that. But when you’re in the midst of it all, hanging on by a thread, you start to think things that you don’t really want to be thinking. Of course I don’t still believe that, but I might have at the time.
I mean, it was sink or swim, and I couldn’t sink because I had another kid to take care of. In order to get through that first year (or first few years), I mustered up every ounce of energy, every ounce of patience, and every ounce of love that I could find. We got through it (with a lot of help from babywearing), because that’s just what you do. Elysa has grown into an awesome big kid. But she is still my little leech. And I have grown accustomed to having an extra appendage, because I’m not about to cut her off.
My redheaded demon baby, in all her cherubic glory. immediately after I thought she was going to kill me. Deceiving, isn’t she?
All things considered, I don’t think it’s a mystery why I was unsure if a third baby was in the cards for me. I swore up and down during her delivery that I would never have another baby, that I wasn’t doing this again. But if all words spoken during childbirth rang true, there would be a hell of a lot of castrated men out there.
Yeah, I did eventually go on to have another baby, but it took me a long while to get there. I didn’t even get bitten by baby rabies until at least three years later, and it was yet another year before I actually started thinking about it as a legitimate possibility. And when I reached that stage in conception planning, I knew immediately that this would be the last time we would do this. The last time we would make a baby. The last time I would carry a baby. The last time I would birth a baby. The last time I would hold my gooey newborn to my sweaty chest and nurse them during those first incredible moments.
From the instant the “+” sign popped up on the pee stick, I promised myself that I was going to cherish every moment of this pregnancy. Even the awful parts at the beginning, because those meant that my body was transforming into the perfect baby oven to cook our last little family member. Even the frequent finger pricks and insulin injections that I eventually had to deal with later in the game, because they meant that I was setting my own comfort aside for the health of my growing son.
I was also determined to have a natural birth, after my previous hellacious experience. I was going to embrace each contraction, each wave of pain. After all, my body was doing what nature intended, what it was made to do. And I am so happy to say that I got the birth I wanted and I didn’t have to fight for it. I brought Sir Calvin into the world through a gutteral roar as an intense wave of pain washed over me. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The last time I ever gave birth. Beautiful and bittersweet.
Having a son is an experience that I was totally unprepared for. One that I think should require a manual, a straight jacket, and a good deal of wine. Maybe sex has nothing to do with it and Calvin is just an overly curious, mischievous, strong-willed, loud, and destructive child. Regardless, he is in no way like the girls were and had he been my first kid, he may have been my last. But as it stands, he is my third kid and definitely my last. I knew this when he was nothing but a dream, when he was the size of a peanut growing within me and when he peed on me (thus marking his territory) the moment he was placed on my chest. And I especially knew it once he hit those challenging toddler years.
But you know when I finally ended my fertility? July 24th, 2014, when Calvin was a little over two years old. No more babies, this had been decided long before, but to put a permanent end to my fertility was a little harder to accept. Between Daniel and I, we conceive babies pretty easily, so I knew that this was something that needed to happen sooner rather than later. But I wanted him to do it. I had carried and birthed these babies… he needed to take one for the team. Of course he was nervous, of course he dragged his feet. And in the end, it worked out in his favor.
I had a large cyst on one of my ovaries that was giving me a lot of trouble, so I was going to undergo laproscopic surgery to remove it. Tubal ligations are done laproscopically. It only made sense to have the doctor take care of that at the same time. And so it was done, the same day that a painful cyst was removed and my other ovary was detached from my digestive tract (that was a surprise). I still think that Daniel should have a vasectomy based on principle, but I just might be a little bitter.
When I consented to the tubal, there was no hesitation. I was ready. Three children was enough for me. Money wasn’t the deciding factor, the size of our house wasn’t the deciding factor. I didn’t want to be a mother to more children than I already had. That was all I needed to know.
I thought I would have periods of regret after the procedure. Get hit with baby rabies when friends and family announced that they were expecting, or when I visited them and their new bundles of joy in the hospital. But no, not once. Not even on Calvin’s third birthday, which sort of marked the end of his babyhood.
It’s been a year, over a year, and I am 100% at peace with my decision. I’m amazed that I’m able to say that, but there you have it. Big(ger) kids are great in ways that I hadn’t thought about when I was in the early stages of motherhood. They sleep, they can feed themselves, they can sit on the toilet, they can carry their own shit and require less of it on short trips, they can explain how they feel in words. You can have somewhat adult conversations with them and learn how very, very cool they actually are. They can see when you’re having a rough time and more often than not, they care and they will try to help.
I still love babies. I will cuddle the babies of others any time I have the chance, and then I will gladly hand them back when they start to fuss. I get to smooch cheeks and pat little butts and rock them as I did my own. But then I can look over at my own brood of big kids and think “You are perfect for me. I have everything that I need.”
These three are just enough. Family = complete