I was at the doctor’s the other day getting my monthly pregnancy check up when my doctor asked me, “Is this your last baby?” My answer was a mixed up mess filled with probablys, I think so’s, and of course it is. I’m 40 years old after all. Jim is in his fifties. I mean, we’re old parents so two kids is probably all we’re going to successfully produce, but still, the idea that this is it for us feels so final. Like a big “THE END” on our family…even though two kids is probably all we really wanted to begin with. All we can afford. All we have room for in our home. Still, I can’t bring myself to embrace this ending.
After my discussion with the doctor he went on to explain how he could tie my tubes right after delivering our second bundle of joy. Or, after he saw my face scrunch up as I processed the idea of labor, delivery, and surgery all at the same time, he explained that we could also wait and tie them up a few months later using a procedure that he could perform in less than 15 minutes. I suggested vasectomy as the only reasonable option and he laughed and laughed and wished me good luck with that one.
I was left thinking about how much can change in just a short five years. Minutes after Tiny-Small was born people were asking me when we were going to have a second one. After going through a fairly traumatic labor, and struggling with breastfeeding, I felt like a washed-up failure of a mother so my first thought was: NEVER. Still, people kept asking. Strangers, family members, and even the odd grocery store clerk took it upon themselves to inform me that I was ruining my daughters life by sentencing her to a lifetime of only-child status. At the time I seriously thought we were a one and done kind of family. After all, Tiny-Small was awesome and kind of wild so I simultaneously thought we’d never get so lucky again while bemoaning the fact that I probably couldn’t handle two of her at the same time anyway!
Fast forward five years later and strangers, family members, and even the odd store clerk are asking us a different question: You don’t want anymore do you? Apparently two kids is the perfect number. Especially when you are 40. I mean, the horror on their faces says it all as they watch me squirm under the question and answer them with sentences that begin with a long, drawn out, “Well….” It’s not that I don’t understand the risks of having more children or the fact that pregnant woman my age are jokingly referred to as “geriatric mothers” behind closed doors. I get it. I’m not the ideal age to be birthing a giant brood. I mean, one of the midwives at our clinic even asked me if this second baby was planned. I guess most babies born to the over 40 crowd are accidents.
It’s still kind of a shock that just a few years ago people were demanding I pop out more kids and now the idea of me having one more child leads them to admonish me in incredulous tones. It’s only been five years since Tiny-Small was born and I don’t really feel that much different. I still feel like I am 25 most of the time. It’s not super comfortable to have your doctor and the world constantly reminding you that you are getting closer and closer to deaths door. Nothing makes you feel quite like an old crone as being pregnant and over 40 at the OBGYN’s office.
The truth is I’m kind of assuming that after giving birth for the second time, and going through whatever fresh hell this one has in store for me, I’ll be begging my doctor to sterilize me immediately after birth. If he’d asked me a month or so ago when I spent my days vomiting into the porcelain god I probably would have asked him to sterilize me in that very moment. So, I am confident this urge to have just one more baby will pass right along with the placenta and then, maybe, return five years from now when I’ll be exceptionally decrepit as far as motherhood goes. So, in reality, this probably is our last baby. Which gives me pause.
I have the usual feelings about slowing down and taking it all in. The whole stay in the moment more thing and “enjoy every precious fleeting second of childhood” and pregnancy and birth that I see plastered all over the internet on a daily basis. But I also have another competing feeling squeaking it’s way through my consciousness and that is: HURRY UP! My life is going by quickly and there are so many things I haven’t accomplished yet. So many thing unfinished. All of this talk about my age has made me acutely aware of how much time I may or may not have left on this planet.
I’m over here singing “Whatever will be will be…” while frantically making bucket lists and business goals as I straddle the abyss and let my existential crisis consume me. All this over one simple question…is this your last baby?
Yes it is. Maybe. I’m not sure. Just stop asking because I am too busy staying in the moment and trying to check things off my to-do list to make a definite decision. Besides, I think nature might make that decision for us in the long run.