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I Honestly Can't Decide If I'm Done Having Babies

Beautiful, happy, young mother introducing her Big Brother toddler to the new baby in the hospital. Infant in blanket
Photograph by Getty Images

Everywhere I turn, it seems like people are talking about babies—more specifically, whether or not to keep having them. From sneaky signs you're not quite done having babies to the definite moment women knew they were done having babies, it seems like everyone is pretty sure what the future holds for them in the baby-making realm.

Except me.

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Because the truth is, I honest-to-goodness can't decide one way or the other. And it's driving me nuts. Most days, I'm 100 percent sure that we are done having babies. We have four children after all, and I feel immensely grateful for that. I know that's not something to take for granted. I know we are lucky or blessed or whatever you want to call it. I know that some women would long for even one baby and here I am with four. I tell myself that it's something like stopping while you are ahead. We have so much, we should just be content with what we have instead of wishing for anything more.

But then, there are the other moments.

Isn't it a big wrong for me to imagine that picture-perfect family, especially when I already have the perfect family?

When I see the ways my kids' faces light up around babies. When I remember those sweet, precious moments of siblings meeting for the first time, when I see my husband hold a baby in his arms, when I think of the simple joys of watching those first newborn smiles ...

In those moments, I waver.

Because didn't someone once say that you shouldn't have your family based on how many babies you want, but by how many people you want at your Thanksgiving table? That you should plan your family not just for the addition and excitement of a new baby, but for adding an entirely new family member, from birth to beyond? And in my mind, there is nothing more you could ask for out of life than a full and bustling family.

But then, on the flip side, isn't that a bit, well, presumptuous? There are no guarantees out of life. I feel uncomfortable thinking that I could think of having a baby as something so "simple," like I just imagine a Norman Rockwell holiday table, snap my fingers, and it happens. I mean, really. Life doesn't work that way. Anything could happen. And isn't it a big wrong for me to imagine that picture-perfect family, especially when I already have the perfect family?

It's an exhausting debate in my mind almost every day. One second, I'm convinced that we are absolutely, 100 percent done with having babies. And then in the next second, part of me thinks for the teeniest, tiniest of seconds that we could have one more. Just one more. And then, I will be really, really done.

It scares me to wonder if there is even the slightest chance that there could be another family member "out there" meant for us that we would never meet, simply because I'm too afraid.

Honestly, I feel like I struggle the most because I know precisely what it feels like to not feel ready for a baby—only to get pregnant anyways. And it's those memories, of having my breath taken away by the humbling gift of motherhood when I least expected it, that I remember. It's the knowledge that sometimes, the best parts of parenthood are the parts we don't plan.

Part of me wonders what would happen if I let fear stop me from welcoming a new family member. What if my fear that I won't be enough, that I'm not a good enough mother, that I won't survive without enough sleep, prevents me from accepting another beautiful gift? It scares me to wonder if there is even the slightest chance that there could be another family member "out there" meant for us that we would never meet, simply because I'm too afraid.

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But I know how crazy that sounds, honestly. I know that women can trust their wisdom, to know when they are physically and emotionally "done," when they have to honor that inner calling to take care of themselves and the family they already have. I admire women who just know when they are done and I wish so much that I could become one of them.

So I guess until I figure it out, I'll just be over here sniffing your baby's head while simultaneously telling myself that I really, really am done having babies. I think. Maybe. Probably.

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