Stick a Fork in Us?

We're done having babies. Really done.

We know this. We've been in agreement for a long time. Two kids and done. I'm approaching 40, I don't multi-task well, we feel settled with our two girls, we want to travel overseas as a family. We're done.

So why am I suddenly craving a baby? (And chocolate. And a nap. But mostly, a baby.)

At almost two, E's non-baby-ness is pretty hard to ignore. She's repeating words and phrases, speaking in sentences, insisting on dressing, buckling, zipping BY SELF. She sits tall and heavy on my hip or walks at a good clip beside me. I no longer have to stoop to one side to hold her hand or slow my pace at all. Sometimes I have to speed up to stay with her.

She's also fond of standing on top of things. Any thing. Every thing.

It is no secret that I love babies. Newborns with their sleepy, fuzzy sweetness, three month olds that greet you with full-face smiles and an earth-shattering whole body wiggle, six month olds who are discovering their fingers! and TOES!, I love them all.

But I declare to anyone who will listen that 8 months is my all time favorite age. Eight month olds giggle like it's their job, usually sleep decently, and are mobile but not TOO mobile. Their personality blossoms right before your eyes. I could hold and sniff and kiss 8 month olds for the rest of my life.

Z, 8 months old.

E, 8 months old.

I have to keep reminding myself that 8 month olds turn into 3 year olds at a frustratingly unstoppable rate.

Some acquaintances here with babies toddlers E's age are pregnant again or already have a new baby. After listening to my unearthly squeals over a baby at the playground the other day, Z asked me if I will change my mind and have another baby one day. I told her no but I didn't exactly sound convincing. To anyone.

Not fair to ask me when I am holding a sweet smelling baby, Z! NOT FAIR.

I didn't always know I would love babies. Before Z was born I had very limited experience with them. So I was a little surprised by the sudden, overwhelming love I felt for Z when she was born. But I was truly shocked that it was possible to love another baby like that, like I instantly did the moment E was born.

It's a dangerous thing to love E like I do, to have felt my heart expand and grow in the way it immediately did when she was born. The love I feel for her whispers a wild secret to me: as many as you'd have, that's how many you would love like this.

This just might be how Duggars are made.

We live in a small town/exurb/nowheresville which means that most people who move here do so because they have families or want some space or both. (And possibly, because they are just dying to drive an hour and a half into DC every day.) Large families are much more common here than in the LA area where we moved from. I've heard the various conjectures about why this is:

It's self-selecting; people who want more kids move to places like our town to live.


There isn't much to do out here except make more babies to hang out with your kids and your neighbors and your neighbors' kids.
It's not like you're missing out on some serious local nightlife by having a big family. It's not like you can't afford to eat in the plethora of 4 star restaurants or shop in the chic boutiques on every corner. What's one more soccer uniform? What's one more pigtailed stick figure sticker on the back of your minivan?

I found this on a Google image search. I kinda love it.

I guess there could be some grain of truth in both of those explanations. Mostly I hear the truth deep within the friends who are pregnant with their third (and fourth): people have instinctive desires for a certain size family, a certain number of children, and they don't always know ahead of time what that number is. That deep need for another child ("craving" sounds so crass but what other word is there?) must be fed or quelled, somehow.

Whatever the reason is, there is something about living here that makes have a larger family seem possible, desirable, normal.

But to be clear, I don't think it's peer pressure that stokes my babymania; it's my baby turning into a NOTBABY that started a baby craving deep in my belly. It's the baby-loving part of me that I suspect would feel that way no matter how many kids I have.

I do feel like our family is complete. I don't feel like there's someone missing, some baby out there I'm waiting to meet. That helps me stay settled, use birth control, write this blog post.

But to know I would love another baby this much is hard to ignore. To say goodbye to ever holding another baby of my own in my arms is just plain old SAD.

Anyone have an 8 month old they'd like to loan out for a few days?


Gina said...

And this is why I am currently pregnant with our third - there is no practical reason for a third - we have a great dynamic going with two, husband was content with two, two is much more affordable, and they both sleep through the night now. But...I just wanted another one, I couldn't bear the thought of never birthing/nursing/seeing another first smile/first crawl and all those other totally addictive baby things. I never thought I would like being a mother all that much - thought I would go back to work full-time. It turns out that I love motherhood and I am totally smitten with babies. I am more excited for #3 than I was for #2. This is probably our last, but even now, tired and queasy at 13 weeks pregnant, I sometimes think, maybe one more.

I used to think that Michelle Duggar was a total whack job that I could not identify with. I still think that she is a nutcase, but I can identify just a little bit.

Pwhong said...

+1 on Gina's comments, except that I'm 22 weeks pregnant, with no sign of my morning sickness letting up. I grappled a lot with this. I was really happy as a family of 4, but would I, could I do another? People told me that if I didnt feel like I was done having babies, that I'd probably have one more. But let me tell you, after this one, I am SO done. This morning sickness has done me in. No more pregnancies after this one!!!

Rebecca said...

Six months ago, I was totally convinced we would have another baby and that I would try to get pregnant this year. When people evidenced shock that I expressed delight in having toddler, I just laughed. He was tons of fun and almost totally enjoyable.

Now that my baby is 2.5, though, that certainty is lessened. I'm struggling to keep up with ONE this age (a boy who gets into everything and doesn't nap and gets up at 6 and doesn't go to bed until 8 and oh my goodness, I'm exhausted) and cannot imagine being pregnant right now. Given that my husband retires from the Army in 2 short months, and our lease us up on our current home, requiring us to move, AND we don't know yet where we are moving next...I'm not convinced that I will try to get pregnant this year. But then...I'm not getting any younger, so if I don't do it soon, I may not be able to do it all. Sigh.

I still want that second baby, but I don't want him/her to push me further into crazyville. Why, oh, why isn't there some kind of "perfect spacing" option?!?!?!

Swistle said...

I get some comfort by thinking of grandchildren, which won't be our own but will be MORE our own than a friend's baby.

twisterfish said...

I used to say I was in "grandmother mode".... wanted babies but looked forward to being able to give them back when they got fussy or at the end of the day. At the time I had 2 children, thought I was done, but could not stop thinking about having another one in my belly -- feeling it move around -- could not get that out of my head. Had my 3rd 10 years after the others. I honestly feel like this 3rd one completes me (and I hate that expression). If that precious bundle had not come I know I'd always be thinking of another.... I'd be the crazy little old lady walking the streets with a pillow under my dress, pushing a stroller. Happily I don't have that craving anymore. I am 100% done.... And back in grandmother mode (and hopefully won't be a crazy old lady, but you never know)!

B said...

Swap "13 weeks" for "18 weeks" in the first paragraph of Gina's comment and I could have written it verbatim.

Why do our kids have to grow up so fast? If you do decide to have a #3 I'm sure it would all work out wonderfully. And if not, when my #3 is 8 months old (which I agree is a great age!) then you are welcome to get your fill for a few hours :)

PS: Love that Ass Family picture!

Michelle said...

I swore up and down that I didn't want anymore. No more. I haaaate being pregnant...
But lately, as the baby grows, I keep hearing this little voice saying "Enjoy it now, this is the last one. You've made sure of that."
I know two kids makes sense for us but it doesn't stop me from thinking that some day I might want a third.
It's probably best we did take care of things because otherwise I would be pregnant in the next year and complaining about it.

grammalouie said...

Dad and I were completely sure we did not want more than two children and, so, I made an appointment to have a tubal ligation when you were about three or so years old. And as sure as I was (really!), I cried the entire day before the procedure. The whole day. I was grieving for the loss of opportunity, the loss of childbearing, the end of such a happy time in my life. A big transition. And as totally pro choice as I am and was, I knew in my heart that I could not have terminated an unwanted, unplanned pregnancy.
When it was over, I felt such a sense of relief. No more birth control hassles!
A final, final decision. I never regretted it, but it was not easy making this decision and carrying it out.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Gina and Pwhong- Aaaand here are two of my CA friends reminding me that people DO have more than two kids in CA! So maybe it's not just living here, but a certain time in my life that I'm around larger families....

Rebecca- There is no perfect spacing option, of course, and no way to know just how crazy-making two will/would be. Speaking for myself, having two has been infinitely more difficult AND infinitely more satisfying. I am a bit crazier AND so much happier, in a weird way. Good luck with all your decisions!

Swistle and twisterfish- Oh grandbabies. Yeah. I will require at least a dozen, I think.

Rebecca said...

Oh, and totally off topic...that pink ball you recommended last month is AWESOME, as is the bubble-tube thing. (I can't remember the name of it!) I have been using both, and I have found that they totally loosen up my back. YAY!!!

Marianne said...

Someone at work has that same sticker on their car. Cracks me up every time!

Marie Green said...

I was really afraid that I would be one of the people that would NEVER stop craving a baby. And while I cannot be absolutely SURE that won't happen, I DO feel like this is our LAST ONE. (It would have been our last one whether I felt that way or not, because of how David felt, but it's nice to know I feel like this is IT.)

But, unlike you, I DID feel like someone was missing. And didn't necessarily want 4 kids, but at the same time, I felt very strongly that "we're not all here" and that someone else was waiting. I know that sounds all hippie-dippie and yet.

And for the record (in case there was any doubt) I'd be all for you going for one more. :) I'm also all for meeting up with you when this baby is 8 months old... that would be next April/May? Sounds like a great time to get together. :)

Anonymous said...

I feel the exact same way. We have a 4 year old and a 1 year old, and we're done....but I know I'll always be a teensy bit sad about that. Having said that, our 12 month old is still fairly high maintenance so on the one hand, looking forward to her getting older, and on the other, nooooo! Life is just so full of flip flops!

Erin said...

Well I can tell you this: I am pregnant with my fourth and I am ALREADY mourning the fact there will be no fifth. WHAT?! What IS that?

I cannot make it go away, and I think that (for me, anyway) it will wax and wane for a long while. But I think it will lessen gradually as my kids get older and we become immersed in new stages and more distant from the baby phase.

I feel you.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Marie Green- I fully plan on parachuting into your house when your new baby is 8 months old. I'm marking it on my calendar now.... :-)

Erin- YES. I need to get a little further away from the baby stage so it stops visiting me in my dreams. I need to not be surrounded by babies, too. That would help. But I also WANT to be SURROUNDED by babies. So. I'm a bit of a mess, really.

Cortney said...

I've got the baby longing/wistfulness a little too late. I really didn't have those feelings about babies after my first. We had a rough first year with her and it took me a long time to want to go through the baby stage again. But I'm so happy that we did because I reveled in my second's baby-ness. I loved every minute of it. And now that he's nearing that decidedly grown up 18 month old mark, I'm really sad that I won't be having another sweet babe around. (We've made that decision permanent) I just look at it as another exercise in understanding the impermanence of life. I know my introverted self doesn't want/couldn't handle three children, (not to mention, I cannot survive another 6 months of morning sickness) but the finality of knowing that I will never have another baby of my own to love and sniff and snuggle is just so sad.

Bronwen said...

Weird -- I was just asking Andy if he thought swaddling our baby 24/7 might prevent her from growing, and would that be unethical? I know I'm going to feel like you do some day. It's why I make a point every day of deeply inhaling the baby smell.

Laura said...

Here's a proposition for you, CBHM, what about a time-share baby? You do through 8 mths, I'll do the rest. Heck, I'll even throw in an extra month of the sweet spot. I would love a sibling for Orion, but the thought of being pregnant, acquiring another awful 'birth story,' and getting through the first three months is almost insurmountable.

Is it terrible that I really didn't like 99% of it? Is it selfish to not withstand it again if the result is my son has no partner in parental eye-rolling?

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