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I Kept Having Kids Until I Was Finally Done

Photograph by Twenty20

The reality of the end is becoming more and more real for me.

This is my last baby, the finale of our family.

I’m 30 weeks pregnant now, and I’ve known this would be it for me since the moment I saw the positive pregnancy test. All the lasts were on their way: the last bout of morning sickness, the last gender reveal, the last time I resurrect my box of maternity clothes from storage. The thought can make me both jump for joy and collapse into a puddle of tears. And, in reality, pregnancy hormones sway me from each extreme most days.

Is this really—really?!—my last?

Am I ready to never be pregnant again? To never feel those tiny kicks? To pass on so many baby clothes, to sleep in a master bedroom without a crib in it?

After my third baby, despite another strenuous birth, I knew I wasn’t done. I wanted to be. Almost desperately. My arms were full. My husband would have agreed. And every cell of my torn and bruised body wanted to believe that the ring of fire was forever in my past. But my heart knew there was space for another little one. Our fourth. Our youngest. Our last.

For 7 years now, I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding. The birthing years, as I’ve dubbed them, have been my everything. My entire life. Day and night, night and day. These years have been variations of the same—swollen belly, leaking breasts, broken sleep, crazy hormones, weight loss, weight gain, tears of happiness, tears of frustration.

These have been years of the sweetest memories, too. Snuggles, midnight moments, first smiles, growing personalities, immense pride and more love than I ever thought possible. I’ve tried to catalog and document it all, because Lord knows my hazy memory will fail me when I look back on this brutally beautiful season.

Of course, I can't wait to hold our last little one, to name him, to know him. Yet I’m holding on to this pregnancy in a special way. In life, we don’t always know when lasts are passing us by. But with this experience, I do. And it’s making me all the more mindful. These lasts are terrifying. For so long this is all I’ve done. This is what I’ve built my life around. This is what fulfills me and makes me who I am.

Who will I be when this baby doesn’t need me?

That question stops me in my tracks. Also? I excites me. I’ve shelved so much of me during this all-consuming season that, some days, I’m practically clawing at the walls. I’m eager to raise up independence in my children, so I, too, can feel a little more independent. Even though I’m mourning all the lasts, I’m actually ready for this. This new phase of mothering excites me. It leaves me dreaming. What will days be like when naps don’t rule and everyone can articulate what they need?

So while I'm excited that, soon, the door on gestation will be closed, I can’t help but lament the end. Just like nothing really prepares you to become a mother, nothing quite prepares you to purposefully say that your role as mom is transitioning from life-giver to life-sustainer.

I’m on the brink. I’m ready. But first, this one last birth.

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