On Being Pregnant For (Probably) The Last Time

pregnancy, pregnant-579“I’m really trying to enjoy this pregnancy,” I say to my friend Danielle who has three children. “Because I know I’ll never be pregnant again.”

Danielle wags her finger at me. “Never say never,” she says. “You never know!”

I laugh, more at the funny way she raises her eyebrows than at her words.

I’ve always wanted to have four children, even before I met my husband at a party in graduate school where you had to dress in drag (which is why he was wearing a rhinestone-studded black flapper dress and I had on a construction hat, big boots, and a tool belt) when I was 25 years old.

At first James, an only child, thought he wanted “maybe one.” Still, he came around pretty quickly to my plan for a big family. We decided we would have four children before I turned 35 to avoid what our friend Karen was going through—being treated as an “older mom” and subjected to all sorts of testing and worries.

Our first baby was born when I was 29. With hubris that makes me cringe in hindsight, we credited our good parenting for our daughter’s patient and happy personality.

We timed our second so exactly that I knew the day and the hour I conceived (I glanced at the clock on the night table) but we had no idea our “easy” firstborn would turn into a willful toddler and that our second born would hate being a baby and that all the credit we had been giving ourselves for being “good parents” would fly out in the window in the face of having two babies in diapers, two babies nursing, and two babies with totally understandable but difficult to satisfy immediate needs AT THE SAME TIME.

My older daughters are only 19 months apart

My older daughters are only 19 months apart

So we waited until the second baby, who thankfully turned into a very easy-going toddler (the opposite of her sister), was almost three before we had our third. Our son, Etani, was an uncomplaining, kind, and quiet little guy. He was so sweet that he would giggle with happiness just before nursing when he was only a few weeks old.

I remember sobbing with relief after he was born, wondering if I could ever parent him with enough love to deserve to have him, hoping I could be a good enough mother.

Etani was born at home in our bedroom in our little red farmhouse in Greenfield Massachusetts, six years ago today.

The house in Greenfield, Massachusetts, where our son was born, almost three years after his sister

The house in Greenfield, Massachusetts, where our son was born, almost three years after his sister

Though it was all in keeping with the master plan (albeit a few years later than expected), when we started telling people about this pregnancy everyone we knew was surprised.

I’m so far past being under 35 at this point that the likelihood that we would even be able to get pregnant again after this one is slim.

And I know, finally and with certainty, that after this baby is born I will not be pining for another.

Or I think I know.

Ten years of mothering has taught me that Danielle is right about not making absolute statements about what lies ahead in one’s life as a parent. In the meantime, though, I’m doing my best to appreciate the few precious days I have left with another body growing and kicking and hiccuping inside me.

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on Monday, October 26th, 2009 at 2:44 pm and is filed under On wanting four children, pregnancy.
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14 thoughts on “On Being Pregnant For (Probably) The Last Time”

  1. Ah, the best-laid plans… We seem in America these days to be in a cultural wave of hyper-planning our children and where they fit into our lives. But life is messy and persistent, isn’t it?

  2. I don’t think that the urge to have more babies ever quite subsides. Good luck with your fourth! My two sons were 19 months apart, too, and I remember how difficult it was having them both in diapers, in cribs, so needy. But now? Wonderful. (PS. That was a while ago…)

  3. Deciding when we were done was a huge struggle for me. I’m glad that the path seems clearer to you because we spent years working through it. Best wishes for the new baby!

  4. I was obliged to lie down for the first half of my third pregnancy, and yet I remember it with such fondness, simply because I knew it would be my last.

  5. My first has always been just quiet and adorable, I could take her everywhere and she was like having a doll that smiled on cue and performed when called upon. When other people’s kids would whine, complain and cause the parents to humilate themselves by screaming in grocery stores, I would think, what’s WRONG with these people? Then I had my son. Can’t wait to read more of your blog.

  6. I’m sixty five, have two grown children and sometimes I still pine for another child. I guess that’s what grandchildren are for!

  7. I started late–my son was conceived on the eve of my 40th birthday–so the decision about having more had to be made relatively quickly, and (barring medical miracles) definitively. We’re a One and Done family, it turns out, and I’m happy with that decision 95% of the time. But then I start teaching my cooking class for new moms to a new group, like I did today, and their sweet little babies make my ovaries ache all over again. These things are never easy, are they?

  8. My kids are 14 months apart. The two couldn’t be any different growing up. My daughter was the alpha girl (what a shock) and my son didn’t even dare speak for his first four years. Now, both in college, there really close and have one another for counsel and support. We take what we’re given and I’ve been so fortunate to have what I have. Two’s just fine, thank you.

  9. What a lovely article! It makes me wish I’d savored my own pregnancies more. Congratulations on having the wisdom to do it, Jennifer.

  10. Loved both photos and blog. These are three-soon-to-be-four lucky children to have parents parenting in such a conscious and loving way.

  11. My only child is now grown and on his own, but I truly enjoyed reading about your family adventures and can’t wait to hear more about the new baby!

  12. My grandma says, “never say never.” But, quite often you probably know when you’re done.

    Good luck with this new [and likely final] baby! I hope it’s a chill, happy, giggly child. 🙂

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