Just over a year ago, my husband and I welcome a fourth baby to our family. Possibly because all four of our children are girls, we get asked all the time if we're planning to have another.
For the record: No. We are not planning on it. Four children, regardless of their gender, is PLENTY for us.
I agonized endlessly about whether to have a fourth or to quit with three, but this time? No agonizing. I feel DONE.
Aside from the emphatic answers my husband and I give whenever someone asks about our family planning, here are some other signs that we're done.
1. We get rid of baby things the moment she's done with them.
A month or two ago, our daughter took her first steps. The next day, we donated the walker we'd had for five years to the thrift store. Months before I finished nursing, I handed my beloved, expensive nursing pillow off to a friend, telling her she did not need to return it and to pass it along to someone else when she was finished. Needless to say, I'm not the person who is saving baby things for her future grandchildren (my mom held onto two baby car seats for a decade and a half after my brothers grew out of them and then ended up tossing them, unused, after she discovered that you're not supposed to use car seats after five years, let alone three times that).
The last eight years have felt like we were in the throes of the baby-having cycle.
2. We're constantly saying things like, "Two years from now, we'll have NO one in diapers!"
A few months ago, we took a family trip to visit my sister. While our baby was napping at my sister's house, my husband and I took the other three girls back to the hotel to get changed for an event that evening. As everyone buckled themselves into their car seats, got dressed in outfits that didn't involve diapers and put on their own shoes, we kept saying, "This is what it's going to be like in two years!" I'm sure I'll miss the sweet baby stage, but my other kids are pretty darn fun, and I won't miss scheduling my entire life around two daily naps.
3. I feel like I'm in a new phase of life.
After my husband and I got married, the five years before we had children felt like our pre-baby years. The last eight years have felt like we were in the throes of the baby-having cycle. Getting pregnant, pregnancy, nursing, newborn, rinse and repeat. Now, I'm no longer wondering if a dress is something I could wear while pregnant. I don't look at upcoming work conferences and think, "Will I be pregnant and unable to go?" It's a strange and liberating new feeling!
4. For the first time in my entire adult life, I'm actually interested in other people's babies.
I have never, at any point in my life, been baby hungry. I got pregnant and had babies because I wanted to have children, but I never felt that ACHE for a baby. And other people's babies? Not even. I didn't understand why people wanted to hold other people's babies, and especially once I had my own babies, my interest in other people's children was zilch. Now, I'm like, "Whoa, that baby is so cute and I would like to snuggle it." I basically don't recognize myself.
5. I snuggle this baby a little bit more.
Knowing that there are no more babies coming to our family and that this baby is our last makes me pause a little bit longer before putting her down for a nap. She'll always feel like my baby, even she's way too old to consider a baby.