In a world without financial considerations I would have been glad to pop out a baby every year or two. I loved being pregnant. I was blessed with three easy pregnancies and births, and nursing suited me more-than-fine. (Hey, you get extra calories every day!) As a child I envisioned having six children, though that was probably because I liked naming things.
Life in the big city being what it is, we stopped at three, which was what we could handle responsibly. But that didn’t keep me from wanting to be pregnant again or (especially) gazing longingly at infants. It didn’t erase how good I felt when I was pregnant, or how empowered giving birth and nursing made me feel.
There is no intellect involved in my desire to be pregnant, especially now that my youngest son is 19. It isn’t about logic; it’s about an instinct that for some reason, has stuck with me waaayyy beyond what you’d call my child-bearing years. It is completely visceral and rarely expresses itself in my day-to-day life. But I dream about being pregnant about once a month.
It almost always goes like this: Yippee! I’m so happy! I feel the baby kick! I even feel Braxton Hicks contractions! And then: Ack! What am I thinking? I’m in my late 30s/40s/50s! (I’ve been having this dream for a long time now.) When I wake up, I bask momentarily in the remembered sensations, and then roll my eyes at myself.
Do most parents-to-be already know how many children they want?
So I wonder, if you are similarly blessed with mostly effortless reproduction, how do you decide to stop? Do most parents-to-be already know how many children they want? Is it usually about money and responsibility—about recognizing limitations? Are there other women who look back on their pregnancies and think, “I’d love to do that again, but I choose not to”?
For me, the counterintuitive answer—the answer that gave me peace with our decision—was knowing I was never not going to want to do it again. If I had four, I’d want another one, and that would go on and on until the pregnancy/birth/nursing experience stopped being wonderful because I’d be older and my body would be depleted. I guess I’m lucky I figured it out before that happened. And I also think I’m very lucky that I can still dream about it.