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7 Things Every Mom Needs to Do After She Has Her Last Baby

Photograph by Twenty20

The other day, my 4-year-old asked, "When are we going to get another baby?" I looked at him and his 6-year-old brother and felt that familiar twinge of longing for a sweet little infant to snuggle. But that was quickly replaced by the memories of sleepless nights, constant exhaustion, endless diapers and the knowledge that two children are enough for my husband and me. I'm done having kids and our family is complete. I've known it for some time, but it took a while for my heart to catch up with my brain. (Which may be why I still have two boxes of maternity clothes sitting in my closet.)

If you're like me and you've had your last sweet little bundle of joy and you're sure your family is complete, here are a few things you (ahem, we) might need to do:

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1. Give away the maternity clothes

I know, they're comfortable—especially those stretchy camisoles and flowy shirts. Trust me, I know. But it's time. If you have a particularly sentimental piece, consider saving it and turning it into a pillow or fabric squares for a quilt. And if you still have maternity underwear, throw them away!

2. Ditto the baby gear

Isn't it amazing how one (or two) little babies can accumulate so much stuff in just a couple of years? The crib in the garage that you keep bumping your shin on. The high chair that hasn't been used in a year. The Boppy, the Baby Bjorn, the onesies and pacifiers and baby bottles. It's time to let them go, too. Save a few favorite things to pass down to your kids and find good homes for everything else.

3. Unsubscribe from all of the maternity mailing lists and websites

Aren't you tired of clicking "delete" on all of those emails geared toward pregnant women? You won't be needing maternity clothes or infant gear anymore, so take an hour and remove your name from those endless mailing lists that you signed up for during your first pregnancy. And if you have any subscriptions to websites or magazines that you no longer need or read, cancel those, too.

4. Schedule annual exams with your gynecologist and general practitioner

If you haven't seen a doctor since your last postpartum visit, now is the time to schedule those appointments. Your health is important even if you aren't pregnant or planning to be come pregnant. (And if you're over 40, schedule your mammogram.)

5. While you're at it, schedule vision and dental exams, too

My eyeglass prescription changed while I was pregnant with my youngest, but I was too busy being pregnant and taking care of a toddler to see the optometrist. Get your eyes and teeth checked!

6. Decide what you're going to do about birth control

If you have a birth control method that works for you, by all means keep doing that. But if you're not happy with your current choice, or it doesn't seem like the right option for the rest of your potentially fertile years, talk to your partner and your doctor. A long-term or permanent solution might be the best (and cheapest) option for you.

7. Commemorate your perfect family

Schedule a professional portrait or go the DIY route and create a piece of art that reflects your family. Or treat yourself to a special piece of mother-child jewelry, whether it's a charm bracelet with your kids' birthstones or stackable rings with their names and birth dates. Whatever you choose, it will be a beautiful symbol of your family as it is now—and as it always will be. At least until you have grandchildren.

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Even when you're sure your family is complete, it can be difficult to accept that you will never be pregnant again, never feel the kicks and flutters of another baby or the anticipation of a new arrival. Let yourself feel all of those emotions and realize it's completely normal to have mixed feelings about it. (It's also OK to feel nothing but relief and joy!)

And who knows, maybe you will change your mind in a yea or two. And that's fine, too.

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