My husband had a vasectomy a few days ago. We have two kids over 5, a boy and a girl. I had my last one at 34 1/2, and soon after got a Mirena IUD, because I wasn't ready for anything permanent. I am now 39 1/2, so I have had 5 years to say, "No I really do want a third!" I have had 5 years in which I could have experienced "baby lust" but instead I mostly felt content, with only occasional ambivalence about ending our childbearing years. My husband felt even more strongly than I did that two kids was right for our family, given our age, our energy levels, our finances, and our valuing of one-on-one time with the kids we have. But if I had said I really really wanted another, he would have gone along, and said he would have welcomed and loved that child. As the years passed, the thought of having a baby at 38, 39, and now 40 (!) seemed intimidating, especially to a couple who was on the fence anyway about adding to the family. We are not a couple who would terminate our pregnancy if there was a problem.
When we walked into the small operating room for the procedure, I cried, but I did not try to prevent the vasectomy. I could have. Even in the middle of it, I briefly thought about saying, "Stop! Leave one of the testicles alone!" But I did not. Because rationally, I knew it was the right decision for us.
My womb obviously didn't agree, because that night and in the couple days after, rather than the peace I expected, I was sobbing on my bedroom floor, thinking of ways around it. Maybe we could catch the last of the sperm before he was declared sterile, or get it reversed, or adopt. What was I thinking? Birthing and nurturing kids has been the best part of my life, was I ready to move on? I am much calmer now and I don't think it was a mistake. If anything, maybe I should have had a third at 37 or so, but even then, my youngest would not have been ready. And if I really really wanted a third, wouldn't I have had a deeper and clearer longing for that when the option was still there? I suspect maybe my feelings now are a result of wanting what I can't have anymore. Anyway, I wrote all that out to see if there's anyone here who can relate to this. I'd love to hear more stories.
Thank you so much for your kind reply. In a way, it feels like the death of that hypothetical third child. Sometimes I would see another little blond toddler walking around the yard, and now he/she will never be. I'm also mourning the end of an era, the upcoming entrance of my youngest to school, and the beginning of middle age.
I still have days where the anger creeps up on me, but I keep telling myself that in a few years from now, when I'm forty (I'm 37 now), and the kids are 10, 9, and 3, that I'll be happy that I'm done with the diapers and sleepless nights and can focus on being involved in the boys' sports and things like that.
I imagine I'd feel the same way if I were in your shoes. It's hard to know that an era has ended and that your life has entered a new phase- and that there's no going back. We're still in the not quite sure if we're done stage, but if we don't choose to have another within the next couple of years, we'll be making the same decision. I'm not looking forward to it. The finality is painful. I hope you will start feeling better about it soon, and seeing the bright side.
mama to two teens and two tots madly in love with DP
Wow, I'm sorry your husband made a unilateral decision. I can see how that could complicate your grief. I can understand what you said about not wanting another baby, but feeling the loss of fertility. It would almost be easier if I knew I was already infertile, and of course, at 39 1/2, it's possible I am.
I hope you can come to terms with this and that your marriage doesn't suffer too much from it.
Thank you jennyanydots! I am already feeling significantly better. The grief and anxiety have lifted quite a bit and I am feeling hopeful about the future, and once again in touch with all the good reasons we felt we had for not having more kids. I'm sure I will always feel a bit wistful and wonder about what another child might have been like. But I suppose even mothers of 3, 4, 5 kids or more have to deal with some of those emotions as well.
You know, I think it's common for us to mourn the end of our childbearing years...seems like we should have a ceremony or something to mark that shift. It just happens relatively un-noticed but we feel much grief. What about a special trip when your daughter weans with your husband or girlfriends in similar situation?
I think I'll always want "one more" and I'm hoping I go right into grandmotherhood fairly soon after I stop having my babies!
JENNY, 38~ preschool teacher, birth activist, sun worshiper, singer, married for 17 years and mom to
Karan 15, Fiona 12, Bodhi 10, Bjorn 6, Devon 3, and Robin Taylor born January 16th!