On being finished with the baby years

'So are you done having kids?'

Short answer: Probably. Yes. I think so. Yes, we are done. I think. Yes.
Long answer: So many thoughts on this, get ready for some classic Julia rambling.

I often heard this question when we were a family of four, before Porter was that second line on a pregnancy test. 'You already have one of each, why would you want another?' they would ask. 'They' meaning a lot of my patients who are known to lose their filters with age, the same population that has always produced the most shocking statements during my pregnancies.

Actually, let me elaborate on the filter-less declarations I've heard from patients. Ah, the crown jewel in the collection of observations on my pregnant body might have been from a patient who birthed seven children of her own. So she *knows* how pregnancy works, okay? And when she asked me if I was absolutely sure that Porter was a boy in the third trimester of his pregnancy, I said yes. She then informed me that I was carrying him 'right in the back' gesturing to her butt, and she knows that is how people carry girls. Not boys. So I had a fat butt while gestating a boy, which did not follow the guidelines. Good to know. Another patient once told me when pregnant with Cecelia that, 'I can tell you are normally a fit person but your face really looks pregnant right now, just kind of puffy.' Ah, good times. I love how pregnancy and babies tend to bring out the best, most kind comments from others!

But I digress.

The assumption that we would be done after one boy and one girl brings up numerous other issues, such as the notion that the sex of your children should determine the size of your family. We weren't done of course, even though sweet Porter wasn't exactly planned. In fact, Nate would have been quite content with two kids (hate to say this now that Porter is here, I promise Nate is super happy about our third baby!) as both he and I grew up with one other sibling. I have always said 'two or three' for my desired number of offspring and I'm so grateful we've been blessed with the greater of those two options.

Now that we have three children, I think everyone assumes we are finished growing our family. And they are probably (very very very likely) correct. Of course I can't quite slam that door shut and say with 100% certainty there will never be a number four. But I can say it with 99% certainty.

There are so many reasons to be finished having babies.

First and foremost: one of the very first things Nate said when I told him I was pregnant with Porter? "Well, we are NOT having a fourth, though." Hahahahaha. He is really 110% finished, guys, and obviously his feelings on this subject really do matter to me. I like to tease that he wasn't sure about having a third and look who was right on that choice (Porter is the besssssssst), but in reality I know he's seriously done now.

But also, I do feel incredibly blessed with our three healthy children. I hate to be a pessimist but I worry that trying for one more might be asking for too much. I know the chances for having a sick child don't necessarily increase with each subsequent pregnancy but it still feels risky. We could surely handle having a child with special needs and we'd love that baby with all of our hearts, but it would mean adding challenges to the lives of everyone in our family.

And I'm not getting any younger with my 34th birthday rapidly approaching in a few weeks. So yeah, 'advanced maternal age' would be my label should I actually get impregnated with mythical baby number four. And being AMA does mean a few more risks for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Obviously, things might also turn out TOTALLY NORMAL but some part of me believes it might not be the same experience of a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby four times.

Ah, pregnancy. I still truly love being pregnant but I think it has become less and less 'magical' each time, with more and more kids to care for while pregnant. Plus I need my beauty sleep with age and newborns are killer for the whole 'well-rested' concept. The first year is hard, man. Freaking awesome but also really hard.

But one of the biggest reasons I am nearly certain we are done is because I feel content with Truman, Cecelia, and Porter. It doesn't feel like someone is missing from this group. I feel happy and like I couldn't ask for much more in life with these kiddos in our house. This is a relief because when I was pregnant with Porter, I wasn't completely sold on that being my final pregnancy. Even when he was born, I sort of held onto the notion that maybe…..just maybe we could do this fantastic thing of pregnancy and birth and meeting a newly formed human being one more time.

And it's not that Porter has been particularly difficult, thereby changing my mind about a fourth. If anything, he is just so frickin edible and (dare I say it?) perfect that I can't imagine needing another. Which is strange, since I know a lot of moms love their babies so much that they want to do the baby thing over and over (and over and over) again. It's like saying, 'MAN I love this child so much, I never want this time to end and I never want them to grow up and change at all. Because this is the best. If I can't freeze time I just want to keep doing this same thing repeatedly since it's the bomb.' I completely understand that concept.

But in reality, I can't keep having babies forever. At some point we all have to be DONE with this baby gestating/birthing chapter in our lives. It's hard to admit I'm done having babies, but it's not all about me and how much I adore the scent of a newborn (intoxicating, I tell you). Babies turn into two year olds, babies grow into actual human beings that need to become productive members of society with their own lives to lead.

Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in this season of motherhood with small kids and think this will be the best part of the gig, that the peak of motherhood might have already happened sometime between hearing a baby's first cry and seeing his first wobbly steps. It's all I've ever known as a mom to be pregnant, nursing, pregnant, nursing, then pregnant again and nursing again. But now that I'm not nursing, not pregnant, and not actively plotting to become pregnant I find myself in this new, exciting stage of life. My body is finally my own. We are sleeping (!!!!) and finding our groove as two parents outnumbered by three kids. I'm realizing that our time as parents has really just begun and our kids keep getting more fun by the day.

I'll miss the impossibly small newborn sleepers but there are shadow boxes for that. I'll miss haze of the first few weeks with a baby but I've done my best to document that time here on the blog. I'll miss the anticipation during pregnancy of meeting a new member of our family, but I know the anticipation also drove me certifiably insane when it was actually happening. All of the firsts, the milestones, the innocence that comes with another baby will always hold a special spot in my heart. But instead of feeling like I'm losing something by admitting the baby years are over, I have to remind myself that there has been much to celebrate. And there's many more celebrations in store for us, too---newborn sleepers or not.

But that (highly annoying) 1% of me who entertains the notion of a fourth likes to whisper 'never say never' and 'these kids are amazing, you need another' and 'you're up for the challenge.' I hate to even admit there's a tiny part of me that would welcome a fourth child because I don't want it to seem like I'm fishing for people to say DO IT, or YOU COULD HANDLE IT, or whatever affirmation us moms sometimes like to gain from the internets. Because really, I'd probably feel a little wishy-washy about being finished with babies no matter how many children we had.

Three is a good number. Babies are magic and I'm glad we've had three particularly awesome ones complete with hundreds of memories and blog posts. I'm only showing one itty bitty baby Cecelia picture in this post because LOOK AT HOW TINY OMG THE SWEETEST GAHHHHHH.


Anyone want to let me borrow their newborn sometime? I can't be held responsible for any head sniffing that occurs.


  1. One of my favorite comments so far was when I told a co-worker that my due date is August 2 and she asked 2015 or 2016. She's had two children. Surely she knows humans aren't pregnant for two years???

  2. Ugh, such a tough decision. Something I think about ALL THE TIME. Gah.

    On one hand, I also feel like pregnancy has gotten harder each time. I'm editing Titus's pregnancy album right now and reading back over my weekly posts makes me say NO THANK YOU! It was really not all that fun the third time around.

    Also, three kids is hard. I love it and we have a ton of fun, but they also kick my butt numerous times a week, so can I really handle another? I'm not so sure.

    Chad is kinda done also, though I think he'd be easily persuaded to add another.

    And yes to the little kid era not being the peak of motherhood. I like the little kid ages, but let me tell ya, 5 is awesome. Like, super duper awesome. And it's so very exciting for me to think of a time not so far away when I will have kids who can do things for themselves and sleep for more than 4 hours at a time and not need a boob every 3 hours and who don't melt down because they want their apple sliced, but OMG you sliced my apple!!!! Outside of a tiny 2 month break, I've been pregnant or nursing since May of 2009. That is 6 years. What?! That sounds ridiculous now that I've typed it out. And I've got at least 6 more months ahead of me of nursing. No tiny humans sucking the life out of me? Yeah, that'll be nice. Haha.

    BUT. BUT.

    Hearing my new baby's heartbeat for the first time. Baby kicks and rolls. The completely awesome and gorgeous baby bump. The anticipation of a new baby. Meeting my baby for the first time. A sweet new baby. Tiny, squishy, lovely deliciousness. The feeling of a new tiny baby asleep on my chest. Carrying my baby close to me all day long in the sling. The hazy emotional days of having a newborn.

    GAH. Am I really ready to move on from that? To give that up? To know it will never ever ever happen again?!?! Geez, that breaks my heart. And while this stage of a house full of littles is hard, I am absolutely positively convinced that I will be so glad one day that I put the hard work in - Chad's family is huge and I love spending time with them over the holidays - the relationship between all the brothers and sisters and cousins is amazing and to see his grandparents, the matriarch and patriarch over it all. Man. I would love that. And really, 4 kids isn't even that many. I mean, Chad's dad comes from a family of 10 and his mom from a family of 14. 4 is not a lot! (And on the same note, his grandma was either pregnant or nursing for TWELVE YEARS STRAIGHT!!)

    My hands are full with my littles right now. I love our family. I do feel very content with our three and the thought of the future with I, M, and T is a wonderful thing. But gosh. Newborns. And the potential for the amazing-ness of a big family once my kids are a bit bigger. Man oh man. How in the world do you choose?

    1. I hear you, girl. Sounds like you have a good topic for your own blog post here---such a BIG decision and it's hard not to overanalyze and plan!

  3. Great, great post! My hubby and I have already talked about the number we want (which is 2), but there's that part of me that's not sure if I want to have 3. Definitely a big decision, but as much as I LOVE babies and everything that you get to experience (plus maternity leave!), I'm really looking forward to when our kids are old enough to take road trips, and be independent little people, who don't need constant monitoring. :)

  4. I feel like these posts are all over lately - just wrote one myself. I never knew the transition to being done having kids was such a tough one - but it's such a balance between being able to relish parenting 'older' kids with having to leave the known, much lived baby years behind. I truly enjoy reading everyone's 'story' to transitioning to being done because it's helping me process my own thoughts that much more. You summed up a lot of good points here, especially the one about finding your groove as parents of these aged children (sleeping, semi-independent ones) and enjoying this stage just like you enjoyed the baby stage.

    1. Will have to read yours soon! I think the reason 'everyone' is posting about this is because it's a big part of our mom lives right now---and such a personal topic but also something so very shared.

  5. I could have written this exactly - except with two! I tell my husband (who is done, but I might be able to convince) that I'm not 100% ready to make it a 100%. Meaning, I'm not 100% ready to make it official by having surgery for either one of us. I may be 99%, but not 100%.

  6. I'm kind of the opposite... we have a 2.5 yr old, and a 6 month old, and we're done. DONE. So done that my husband got a vasectomy a few weeks ago :) Although I can see how 3, or 4, kids would be fun once they're all over 10 (or 20... and just come home for visits with their own families), I know that we cannot handle any more kids. Financially we are comfortable with two, and also emotionally. I don't make mythical "sleepy newborns" (or sleepy babies, without sleep training...) so the thought of another newborn kind of gives me PTSD. I had the baby blues hard after the first, and teetered on the edge after the second, so I know that two is the perfect number for us. But you're right... I think it's more about the feeling that our family is *complete*, and that is how we feel. Although with two boys I hate people who assume we will try for a third to get a girl. Like you said, we do not make family size decisions based on gender!
    ~ Andrea

  7. I'm having twins within the next week or so. Come to Pittsburgh and I'm sure you'll run home screaming!

    I haven't even birthed my children yet and know that if I weren't already AMA, I would have 2 or 3 more. We were having a discussion with my OB/GYN about postpartum contraception when my husband blurted out "I'm getting snipped...we're all done". And despite being 40ish years old, I was really sad. But I know he's right, for lots of reasons...that 2 will be just perfect for us. But I did take a few days to mourn that realization. I'm sure things will work out perfectly, whatever you decide!

  8. I was feeling the tug for a 4th when she was 5 months old (when she started crawling), but now I am feeling content. I have a few friends and cousins that are pregnant and for the first time I am not feeling the "I want one of those" again feeling. If my IUD fails of course I will welcome a 4th, but I am certain we are done with the babies over here. Now my brother just needs to hurry up and have a baby so I can get the newborn baby fill and then hand them back! :)
    Also already being AMA (as I had Marra AMA) I feel like I am being too greedy and risky testing it out with a 4th. Although, both my grandmothers had their 8th and final children at 44 with no problems whatsoever. All 8 perfectly healthy kids. And yes, on both sides.

  9. I love this!!! We have one daughter and expecting our son any day (Feel free to smell his head). People make comments about now we have the perfect family. I know they don't mean anything by it but it really bugs me. Who says we are done? Just because we now have one boy and one girl? Why do people think 2 is the limit? And if they do, why can't they just keep their thoughts to themselves?

    My other peeve I guess is we haven't picked a name 100%. EVERYBODY feels the need to give their input. And sometimes it bugs me but sometimes it doesn't.

    Great post!

  10. FEELINGS!!!!!!!! So glad I don't have them!!

    1. Oh my gosh. This made me lol so hard. This is why yall are friends. Opposite attracts. Ha!

  11. Oh crap Julia I am right there with you. Except I think hubby want a 4th 60% of the time I am done 99% of the time. And then you show me the cutest picture of CC and I go to mush!! Dang girl - put up photos of sleepless nights and mastitis!

    1. I have those especially horrible mental images burned into my brain---shall never forget the sleeplessness and painful boobs!

      Also, another one with a husband that wants more kids. Waaahhhhhhh, no fair! ;)

  12. I was JUST thinking about this topic. I always wanted 4 kids but in the last few weeks I feel kinda done. So completely content and happy with my crew. And now that Henry is 4, in preschool and starting sports this summer....I feel like we are moving into the "kid" stage and I'm so excited for it. It's doable with another baby around for sure, but I think it wouldn't be as easy or enjoyable. I find that while I love ALL the stages, I am having trouble this time around straddling the baby stage and the kid stage. The kid stage can't be stopped, and I think our family would do so much better if we all moved into it together, instead of more divided with a 4th wonderful, perfect and dreamy baby.

  13. E wants 3... I am DONE with 2. SO DONE. Until I have two glasses of wine and then I creep up into the kids rooms and find it hard to imagine not having anyone ever wear those tiny sleepers again {what is it with the damn sleepers?}.

    Oh my god, my husband is so going to get me drunk in a year or so and I'm going to end up with 3. At least you make it look easy ;)

    1. I am living proof that this is a very real possibility.

    2. Husbands that want more children BOGGLE MY MIND and I'm supremely jealous. Because truly, if Nate was ever like, 'Maybe we should have four' my entire post up there would be out the window and I'd be ALL over it.

      Husbands and their opinions. Hmpf.

  14. I could have written this exact post. Like, exactly. Though I may be like 99.5%. ;) Though I can also really relate to the above comment from you - I mean, if Dave said "let's please have another baby?" Ummm, probably not going to say no to that!

    But truly, I'm realizing lately that I can't confuse being (really, really) sad with closing the chapter of pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and experiencing all the amazing things that come with babies with wanting more of them. I'm super sad to never go through all that again. To see how fast Ellie is growing. I will have baby fever til the day I die, I'm pretty sure. I LOVE BABIES.

    But I also feel like my family is complete and that no one is missing. It's fun to leave that sliver of a door open for the future, but I'm pretty darn sure we're done, and I feel good about it. The biggest thing for me that I'm realizing lately is that each subsequent baby takes me away from my other kids, and I don't think I want another kid to do that with these three I have. I spend so much more time with Ellie when I'm home since babies are needy, but then I miss my boys! I AM ready to tackle the next chapter and I'm so excited for all that's to come.

    And I'm like Anne - I just want my little bro to have babies now so that I can still have babies around!!!!

  15. So many good points and a lot I can relate to with this post. (And I actually had a post idea for this month on the same topic - ha! - maybe I will just point an arrow this way instead?) However, I am feeling way more done now that Lily is a little older. Maybe that is just from crappy sleep but I think it's more that I have stepped back just the tiniest bit from the extremely intense baby days where Lily and I were attached at the hip 24/7 (she was my first/only cosleeping baby so it really was around the clock with us) and I can see the bigger picture. This is really good. Add then add in the fact that there are several scary risk factors with me for pregnancy/giving birth PLUS the three months of awful puking PLUS I will be AMA PLUS I will be anxious as all get out given point one...I just can't. I am done :)


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