I say all of this because the topic I’m diving into today is one that would’ve made me so desperately sad to read when I was going through our first three miscarriages. It would have crushed me when I felt what can only be described as the strongest desire and intense longing for another baby. It’s truthfully the reason I haven’t written this post for more than two years when it’s a topic I’ve been asked about over and over again.
I’m sharing this here because this is NOT a blog post for everyone and it’s a post that very likely should be skipped by anyone going through loss or infertility. Not a day goes by when I don’t connect with someone over the internet going through a miscarriage. The desire for a baby is so incredibly strong and when it’s not happening it’s so incredibly devastating. To anyone in this season right now, I am so, so sorry and my heart is with you. I feel for you deeply and do not want my blog to be a source of pain for you in any way.
For anyone who might be in the phase of life where you are considering growing your family but you are in a wishy-washy place where you go back and forth about the idea of growing your family all the time, I understand this feeling. I am living this feeling. To be honest, this feeling fell to the wayside recently because my heart has been too bruised after our most recent loss to think about it again. Still, it’s something I get asked about a lot and it’s something that has begun to prick at my brain and heart again. It’s complicated and messy and emotional but I know it’s not something I’m alone in feeling. I’m hoping it’s a topic we can discuss and help each other through if you’re in this place or you’ve ever been in this place before.
Thoughts on Four
When I found out I was pregnant again in the fall last year, I felt the intense anxiety that comes along with pregnancy after loss but I also felt a sense of closure and peace. At last we would know we were done. It would be my final pregnancy and our final baby and the prayers I had to God to know in my heart Ryan and I were done growing our family would be answered. When we experienced another miscarriage, even though I thought I was prepared for the sadness I would feel, my heart felt more broken and somehow simultaneously squishier and harder than before.
The nagging thought I struggled with for two years before our most recent pregnancy popped back into my mind. “You have three children. They’re wonderful and healthy. Don’t be greedy. Why do you need more?” If you’re thinking those thoughts when you read this post, especially if you’ve ever gone through loss or infertility, I understand because I’ve thought them — and am thinking them — as well.
All of the fear and anxiety I have when I think about pregnancy and another child came back in full force over Christmas as I found myself looking at yet another ultrasound with a fuzzy black and white baby with no heartbeat. A very, very large part of me feels like it’s not something I can go through again. This is where I’m currently living and what I am currently feeling. We are not trying for another baby and I’m not sure we will again.
But I still have some questions; deeply personal questions and questions I hope you know come from a very vulnerable place and a curious place and a place where I’m seeking honest, heartfelt answers.
I know everyone says “you’ll never regret another baby” and while I fully believe this is true because the love we have for our children is so immensely deep, I have some follow up questions for those with large families.
How did you know growing your family was the right decision? While I am sure you don’t regret growing your family, do you feel like you have enough time for every child? Do you feel pulled so thin you might snap? Did your relationship with your partner change? Do you feel less patient, more stressed, more overwhelmed? Is your family always going in different directions or do you still have time together as a solid family unit? I am sure every single one of these feelings is worth it 10 times over for another baby for many and for most people considering a large family but they’re serious thoughts and concerns I have related to growing ours. They’re the things Ryan and I have talked about in circles for hours.
I want to be a good mom. An involved, patient, available, loving mom. Right now I believe I am all of these things for our children. Would another baby change this too much?
With the birth of each of our boys, time has been taken away from the other children. This is not something I struggled with thinking about before because I have a sister and value her and our relationship so, so much. I knew I wanted multiple children deep within my heart because I wanted them to have someone by their side not only in childhood but in adolescence and adulthood as well. Now the boys have siblings. I see firsthand what a gift the bond of their brotherhood is to each other and it fills my heart up like nothing else. Would another sibling be another precious gift? Or would it cause us to be too distracted and stretched too thin to be the parents we want to be to every single child?
And then there are the questions I have for the now-adult children from large families. I am honestly dying to hear truthful answers from any of you who may fall into this category if you are willing to share. I’m wondering how your family dynamics were as you grew up. Did your parents feel present for every single one of you and your siblings? Do you have a solid relationship with each of your siblings? Do you think having a larger family put a strain on your family dynamics in any way? Are your parents able to be loving and involved grandparents to all of their grandchildren?
I was talking with a friend of mine recently about how it seems like big families seem to be glorified on social media more than ever these days. There are moms and dads and caregivers out there who make raising a million kids look like a breeze. I don’t believe for one second parenting four or five children is easy just as parenting one child, two children and three children is not easy. It’s fun to think “oh I want a million kids” when you’re 20 and dreaming but when you’re in your late 30s and trying to make the “right” decision — a decision impacted by layers upon layers of feelings and emotions — it’s far from simple.
Here’s where I’m at right now: I believe my heart can reach a place where I feel complete with our family of five. It just might take time. I assumed I’d get that feeling of finality I’ve heard so many mothers talk about — that feeling of “I absolutely knew I was done” — but maybe I won’t. Maybe I need to become okay with easing into being done having babies. Maybe it will take me a year or two or five to arrive at a place where I feel a sense of closure in the chapter of newborns and toddlers in my life; a chapter I hold so deeply close to my heart. Maybe this feeling isn’t as simple as “knowing” you’re done but maybe it’s a feeling layered in deep thoughts, real questions, past loss and anxiety and not-so-glamorous practicality. I don’t know and maybe won’t know and don’t need to know.
One thing I do know is that motherhood has blessed me beyond belief. When I get too deep my my head or my thoughts and when I talk myself in circles for the one billionth time, I always come back to this: I am so profoundly blessed to experience the gift of motherhood. I am so profoundly blessed to have our three boys. They are and always have been enough. They have shaped me and changed me and challenged me and it’s only because of them, and the love I have for them, that Ryan and I know and fully comprehend the magnitude of the decision that comes along with having another child. It’s complicated and layered and emotional… just like all of motherhood.