Late in my pregnancy with Ruthie, I told everyone that this would almost certainly be my last baby. I said that even if I won the lottery or married a millionaire, I still wouldn’t choose to have another child; that I was okay with stopping at two, for a variety of reasons that I enumerated at length.
Well, I’m here now to tell you that all of that was bull. It was mostly my way of trying to convince myself to feel that way. In reality, it made me intensely sad to think of never experiencing pregnancy again, and, even though I didn’t even have the baby yet, it made me sad to think of not having another baby.
After Ruthie was born, for at least the first year, it was painful for me to even look at posts from my online friends who were pregnant or having new babies. I felt such a sense of desolation when I thought about not ever being pregnant again, not ever giving birth again or any of the rest of it. (And of course, since I’m really good at guilt, I also felt guilty for feeling that way, since I have other friends who have struggled with infertility, who would give anything to experience even just one successful pregnancy, let alone have two and pine for a third!)
Of course, as these things do, the feelings waned as time went on. As happy as I was with my kids, life with two was a lot more complicated in all kinds of ways. And the older Ruthie got, the more I could finally understand the point of view of all those people who say that they don’t want another child because they don’t want to go “back to square one,” so to speak. Once you get past the helpless-newborn phase, it’s definitely a challenge to go back into it. When I only had Isaac, I didn’t have those feelings because I felt so strongly that I was going to have a second baby. But after Ruthie came along, well, with every new thing that she learned how to do for herself (sit up, hold a spoon, put her arms into sleeves, etc.), the idea of going back to a world where I had to do all of that became less and less attractive. At the same time, Isaac was learning how to do even MORE things for HIMself, which definitely contributed — I mean with each new thing he can do, I get a glimpse of how lovely it’ll be once Ruthie is able to do those things as well: dressing/undressing herself, buckling herself in to her carseat, and the like. Now they both get their own bowls and plates and silverware and cups at dinnertime, and afterward they both put those things into the sink by themselves. They can both get a string cheese out of the fridge and open it and eat it with no involvement from me at all. There are lots more examples — and the more there are, the more tiring it is to think about “starting over” with a brand-new baby who can’t do anything at all.
So, at long last, after nearly four years, I’ve finally reached the point where I actually DO feel (mostly) the way I claimed to feel way back when. It still gives me major twinges of sadness to think about it — and honestly if I won the lottery tomorrow, I can’t say for 100% that I wouldn’t change my mind. Of course, the older I get, the harder it would be, so I’d better win the lottery soon, but really, honestly, I’m so happy with the two kids that I have. I’m closing the door.