Friday, 10 April 2015

How do you know when you're finished having babies?

We're very grateful for our four children. Not many people have asked, but in case you're wondering, no, we won't be having another. We'd be crazy to, right? We are pushed to our limits with what we have, in a tired and skint sort of way. Most people I know don't plan to have four children (but then, neither did we). I get it. Four kids is a lot. Another one would be hard for us, maybe too hard.

But still, the thought of holding another newborn makes me swoon. I can imagine it so clearly: I can picture the face of my newborn, even feel its soft weight in my arms and smell that amazing scent that babies have. In fact, I've been telling people that I'd happily have another baby if Mr Laney wanted us to. In a year or two. What can I say? I'm baby crazy. It's addictive.

Up until recently, the thought of never carrying a baby to term again, never meeting my new baby for the first time, never watching my newborn sleep and never carrying a precious little bundle in a baby carrier made me want to weep. Honestly, the thought of heading into the non-fertile years and having to let go of the idea of ever having another baby again has made me worried about the grieving process that awaits me. The biological pull towards babies is a crazy and powerful thing.

But recently I've started to get flashes of....sanity? Realism?

I've been getting sudden insights of what adding a new baby to our mix would really be like. Because of course, it's not all about watching a newborn sleep. That bit lasts for about 5 minutes. What comes after the newborn bit is the intense part. The bit when you really meet your baby for the first time. My babies have all stopped sleeping after three months. After which I've spent weeks trying to figure out what sleep technique to use to get them back on track. By the time I get somewhere with that, it's vaccination time. Then it's teething. Then it's more vaccinations. Not to mention all the other stuff that comes along, like first colds, developmental milestones and those blasted wonder weeks.

All things that make that first year so hard and unpredictable. And exhausting.

The realities of what another baby would mean for us occurs to me whenever I see another baby that's over three months old. And it's a turn-off. Is this what stops women having more babies? The realisation that they're just too tired to cope with anymore baby-work?  I mean, apart from the sensible things, like financial and logistical considerations.

Maybe it's because I'm so very tired at the moment, but the thought of adding another baby to the mix - a real baby, not the sleepy, curly newborn that will adapt to anything - makes me shudder. Maybe it's because I'm still so fresh out of the baby zone, having just done it all with twins.

So having another baby is a no from me.

But just between you and me, I'm so glad I still have a few years to fantasise about it all. I'm not ready to admit it conclusively yet. And I'm definitely not ready to palm off my secret stash of newborn clothes....

What about you? How did you know you were done with babies? Or are you still grappling with that thought now? Or maybe you're nowhere near done?

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