Well, it's done. My husband got 'snipped'. Vasectomy: accomplished. As long as we are careful for the next couple of months, we won't be having any more kids. That's good. Right?
A relief! Right?
That's what I wanted. Right?
I am pretty sure that at some point in my future, I will think that maybe it would be nice to have another one. In a couple of years both of my kids will be in school, and I'll have a bit more time on my hands. I'll be seeing lots of pregnant couples in my doula work and childbirth classes, and I'll start to get wistful when they talk about feeling the first kicks, picking out names, and how sweet their husbands are being about it all. I'll be that much further from the madness that has been my life for the past few years, and I'll forget how hard it was and start to think, "I'd like to have those feelings again".
That's why I decided to write this letter to that future me, so that she can remember why we chose to do this now, and what I hope it will mean for our future.
To my Future Self,
Hi. You suddenly wish you could have another baby. You are sad and frustrated and full of regret that your husband is shooting blanks. You long to feel that bond of newness, to create another tiny amazing person. You want to do it all "right" this time around: to film your amazing home birth, to remember every little detail of pregnancy and the baby's first months, to document all of the milestones and print out all of the photos.
Let me gently remind you that most of that wouldn't happen. You are you. You'd go into survival mode, barely remembering what day it is, never mind the exact date that your baby first rolled over. You'd be exhausted, sore, and drained for a year and a half.
Present me is 35 years old. I am FINALLY catching up after 4.5 years of pregnancy/breastfeeding/interrupted sleeps/tiny people to care for. Even now, if I have to get up with a kid at some point(s) during the night, I am a wreck the next day. So, to put it bluntly: forget it. We made this decision because it is the right one for our family.
You have two incredible kids who need lots of attention, patience, guidance, learning, friendship, help, fun, etc. I know that you would like to think that adding another wouldn't change life much for those two, but I know that it would. I know that when I am tired and hungry (the constant state of being for pregnant/nursing me) I am not the best mom I can be, and my two older kids would lose out on the time and energy I would be lacking.
So, I encourage you to funnel that baby-wanting energy into something else you could do for you, and for them. Go back and "do it all right" for the two kids you already have. Piece together their birth stories from others who were present, and from your own memories and records. Fully write them out, print them to keep and to give to your kids some day. Gather and sort the pictures and videos of them as babies and toddlers and print some to keep, and back up digital copies so they'll never disappear. Mark down the dates when it's a picture or video of their first meal, first steps, first little butt-shaking dance, first word. I know you still won't be the type who will scrapbook it all, but having it all written down somewhere is definitely achievable, and good enough!
You did it right. You did it incredibly. You are still doing it right. Give them the attention they need each day. If you still need a baby fix, throw some extra love and attention into your work. Stay an extra hour at a postpartum visit, so that you can have a baby snuggle while the new mama has a bath. Ask the pregnant mama in your Prenatal Class if you can feel her belly while her baby is kicking, and give her the foot massage you know she needs. Give that extra love in your heart to each new family you meet and work with.
And the next time you need to come back and read this letter, find a new project. Make it about YOU. Take a tango dancing class. Dig out and open your craft bin and see what inspires you. Learn to sew. Get into the woods and hack out a whole whack of blackberry bushes to free the trees. Go for a weekend getaway with your husband. Go for a whole week! Enjoy the freedom you have. I am claiming it for you now, so that you can enjoy it for me then. Thank you for trusting me.
P.S. We could always get a puppy. ;)