Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Buddies and How Many Children Do You Want?

On Saturday I got to go to lunch with two of my favorite high school buddies (and middle school buddies. You know, buddies I've had for a lllooooooonnnnngggg time). Emily and Steph met me here at my house and we went to Mimi's Cafe. I noticed some things while we ate/spent time together:
*The obvious one --we are all pregnant! (Steph with her 2nd, Em with her 4th, and me with my 5th).
*Our personalities haven't changed much.
*Our experiences and maturity HAVE changed much.
*It's fun to talk about the past, but we always tend to waste time talking about labor stories and our children (why is this? oh, yeah! Because it's OUR LIVES).
*I love high school buddies.

On another buddy note, the kiddos didn't have school yesterday, so I drove them up to northern Utah to visit another middle school/high school/forever school buddy, Julie. We met Mother of the Wild Boys for lunch, too, and so it made for a fabulous day! I love being around friends and just enjoying their company --especially life-long friends who have seen me at my worst (puberty?) and my best (college?) and know that I'm not completely insane (yesterday?).
How Many Children?
The conversation always begins with simple words, but the answers are never simple:
So, how many kids do you think you'll have?
I never know how to respond, even though I've been already telling people this baby will be our last. I thought for sure this baby would be our last.
I need this baby to be our last.
But complications arise when I realize a couple of things:
*Brandon wouldn't mind having more children (and he's a fabulously involved father) --but he doesn't stay home and take care of them everyday, right?
*We could afford more children --but only because they get to pay for their OWN college education (aren't we just mean?).
*We have enough love for more children --but not necessarily sanity.
*I love my children --but I love being able to do BIG things with them. Honestly? Being out of the baby stage (well, when I am in another year or more) is amazingly appealing to me. It's basically out-of-this-world-could-I-be-any-happier!? appealing to me.

Now, don't get me wrong --I enjoy babies. I love babies. I adore babies. I do! I'm looking forward to this beautiful infant and nursing and snuggling, etc. But at the same time, the baby stage is really hard --mostly the 10 to 24 months stage. It's because we can't just go and do things --camping, theme parks, hiking, playing at the park, etc. becomes difficult when there's a crawling/toddling baby involved. Does that sound so selfish to enjoy the camping, theme parks, hiking, park playing, etc. with children who can actually do it? With kids who are potty-trained? Who can dress and feed themselves?
See, I've figured something out. I'm the kind of mother who might actually be better at the emotional and mental problems thrown my way, rather than the physical tediousness of taking care of a child. It might be because of my tendency to enjoy being a "therapist" when others seek out my advice --or maybe I just understand the angst better? Whatever the case, three of my four children are completely out of the baby stage. My fourth child is very close (we only have potty training left!), and then I'm starting over with the 5th.

Having a 6th child just might do me in.

But then again --would it? Honestly? Would it? I'm not fooling myself when I say I want to be done, and God knows it already. He's heard my prayers and He knows my situation. But I believe in Him and His will enough that if He told me to have a 6th child, I would do it.
I would.
I know I would.
But I don't want to.
I want to give away the baby clothes. I want Brandon to have...ummm...a certain procedure...Ahem. I want to KNOW that this is my last child so I can savor all the facets of pregnancy, labor, delivery, and having an infant in my arms. I want to know so I can move on. Ooh! That's it!
I want to be able to plan.
Because I'm a planner. Just ask my family --ask my husband. I come from a long line of planners and we like to know what we're doing and how to go about doing it and we don't deviate from the plan unless we have to!
I also come from a long line of worriers (on the other side of the family). Combine worry and planning, and what do you get?
Psychotic Cheryl. Ha!
So, here's my predicament: I just don't know. I just don't have any answers right now. And until I've had this baby, I --of course --really shouldn't know, anyway, right? How could I know this far in advance? people ask me, and then I remember: I knew --KNEW --that I was supposed to have Five children when I was pregnant with #3.
People may not believe me, but I knew it. I knew #4 wasn't the last. It was just so obvious to me. But now? I'm not sure.
I just don't know! I guess I need to wait for the answer.
So, dear reader, wish me luck as I try to stop worrying about this right now (baby's not born, yet, Cheryl. Baby's not born, yet...) and just enjoy the here and now...

How did you know you were done having children? Did you know? Was it a choice you made and then felt spiritual confirmation? Or was it the other way around? Was the decision difficult to make, or pain-free and easy? And, did you even have a choice when it came to having to stop having children? Was it a medical one? How many children do you have? Do you want more? Do you love being out of the baby stage or do you prefer the baby stage?


Julie said...

I have been in the baby stage non-stop for 5 years and I'll tell you what: I don't love it. I love babies. I do not love the baby 'stage.'
Who knows if I'm done? I always wanted 5 or 6, but now I feel like my well is running dry at 4. Who knows, though, maybe I'll suddenly want more in a year. Not now, though.

PS, Loved hanging out with you yesterday. And with MotWB!

Annette Lyon said...

One of the toughest issues EVER, for sure.

The baby stage has its perks, sure, but now that I'm out of it, I'm LOVING having kids older who can do things for themselves, hang out with me, have intelligent conversations--and we have a built-in babysitter. Boo-yah!

Deciding how many, though--hard, hard, times.

Ann said...

I LOVE the baby stage. Seriously....I don't mind getting up to nurse at night (it's actually one of my favorite times) and I don't mind diapers and all the other "baby" stuff.

Maybe that's why I keep having more. :) And for me, the thought of "being done" is extremely saddening. Brent will be ok with having a 6th, but he's pretty set that that will be our last. I'm not ready to say that yet. I don't know if I'll ever be.

I feel like we're strong, healthy people who love and take good care of our kids. We can afford them, and most importantly having children is a commandment of God. And I know He doesn't expect some people to have as many children as others, but He has blessed my body to be able to handle pregnancy/birth extremely well (totally not trying to brag, it's just the way it is....I have an "easy" time compared to most women). So I have to wonder if He expects me to have a big family because He has blessed me with the physical ability to do so.

Now the mental ability is another question altogether. Whether or not I can mentally handle more than 6 kids is unknown. I "feel" like I can, but I don't even have 6 kids yet, so who really knows? I think the decision is an extremely personal one between a husband, wife and God. And the answer is definitely different for everybody.

I'm a planner too, but right now I'm just trying to enjoy the pregnancy here for baby #5 and I guess we'll see what happens a couple of years down the road! :)

Amanda D said...

Through different stages of my life, I have wanted a different amount of kids. Once I had a kid, I decided that two would be enough. Thank goodness Heavenly Father knew better because I'm so blessed with our youngest. I ocassionally think about adopting another, but in reality, I know that we are done. Three is enough (I always vowed I wouldn't have an odd number of kids!) and I love that my kids are past the nursery, bottle, diaper stage.

Does that make sense? probably not, I am totally rambling. Try not to worry too much about your decision, it will come in time.

Also, I'm so jealous that you got to hang out with high school friends and Julie and Shauntae. SOunds like a blast!

April J. said...

I can so relate with the baby feelings. 6 was our magic number it was nice to know that this was my last pregnancy, hard when I had nursing problems with my last baby...awesome when everything went well. Final is so..well final. I to am ready to do all the things we have put off because we had little ones. I look forward to the fun times that we can have with older kids. I have been in the baby/toddler stage for so long it is nice for a change. I honestly feel that I will feel times of sadness and desire to be pregnant again or hold my new infant in my arms but reality is I think this is it for us. After I had #5 I cried thinking it would be my last when ever I thought about it. When we found out we were prego with #6 it mad me sad but not missing someone sad just sad that it was the end of that particular journey. Just wanted to let you know that I have the same feelings.

blogging and bliss~ said...

Well I would have told you I was way way done last year with #4 but he has been such a joy that I keep thinking that maybe I could do one more... I need to loose some weight though. I get diabetic and I had to do insulin and I hated that. I am so grateful for that cutie though I think Heavenly Father will let you know when that child bearing journey is over.

Anonymous said...

We've had this conversation, but I'll just say again I don't think you need to worry about it. You're a pretty in tune kind of person. You'll know it when you get there and you'll feel good about it.

Cardalls said...

The question of the hour at our house right now. I feel to old to have another, i want another and i don't want another.... i'm not sure my body can do pregnancy again, the last one was torture. i'm not sure my sanity can hold up for 5, i'm not sure i have the energy. But i will also do it if i feel the Lord wants me too...but just for the record if it was up to me 4 is our magic number.

Lizzie said...

So.. all your readers have like a million kids each! Ok, obviously not a million, but this a 'big family' bunch. For me, grovwing up it was just me and my sister and my half-brother who lived out of state and came to visit for three weeks in the summer. My sister and I were also cutthroat enemies for most of that time, so I always thought it'd be great to have lots and lots and LOTS of kids because the more kids you have the more options they have to find a sibling buddy. So Wayne and I always talked about having like 5 kids (Yes, to a Seattleite, that's a LOT of kids). Then I had Lexie. For a while there, I was seriously considering having her be it. Now, granted, she's special needs, and that weighed heavily on opinion. She still to this day takes 85% of my attention and heartspace. Then Seth came along, and he was BEYOND a surprise. So now I'm at the stage wear I'm adamant that we are DONE having kids. Done done DONE. Bu then again, when Wayne suggests selling our baby stuff, I'm keep stopping him saying "Well, you never know, maybe I could do ONE more... in a LOOOOOONG time from now." So let's just say, I'm on a very perminant form of birth control, and I'm ok iwht giving away our baby clothes, but I think we'll keep the big-ticket items.

Just in case.

Sara said...

I used to say "five" without hesitation, but now when people ask I'm more likely to say "As many as I can get" because, hey, at this point, I just want to get to #3 -- which is taking awhile!

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

My situation is obviously different, but I didn't get to choose when I was done. The injury I sustained during the birth of our 3rd son made it so that I'm unable to have any more...I just wish I would've known beforehand.

I'm not too disappointed, I love my 3 boys and have enjoyed watching them grow up together. I also believe that my hubby is more of a 'quality over quantity' type of guy. So, it works for us.

But, I can't guarantee that I won't drool all over every baby that I see...all the logic in the world can't quiet a mother's longing.

Michelle said...

I'll always want another baby-- BUT I have horrific pregnancies and colicky babies(and I'm almost 40). So I'm done. But I'll always miss the baby stage.

tamrobot said...

Stop worrying!!

"It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end."

-Ursula K. Le Guin

FoxyJ said...

I can totally relate to your feelings--I'm totally a planner and worrier too. I only have two, and my younger one is about to turn 3 so we're rapidly leaving the baby stage. It's really nice now that my older one is in kindergarten and I'm beginning to see the future of having older kids. We really thought we were done with just two, but I keep having a strong desire to have one more. Like you I'm undecided and I feel frustrated by the fact that I want to really be 'done' but I don't feel like the decision is finalized at all.

For us, a lot of it has been medical as well as other, more personal things. With my first we found out that my uterus is misshapen. This is actually fairly common and for some women it doesn't pose a problem. But for me it means that my first was breech so I had a c-section, and then my uterus wouldn't contract down afterwards very well and I kept bleeding afterwards for 2 months. And then my second came a few weeks early because of a detached placenta. So both my births have been very scary and complicated, so my husband is reluctant to have another. But when I talk to doctors they insist that those are things that raise my risk, but don't neccessarily mean that I shouldn't have more kids. So anyways, even though the future is uncertain, we'd like to possibly have one more. I'm feeling good about it and like we're not done, but the medical factors and our life right now are making us hesitate.

Julie P said...

We have said 4-6 since we were engaged, and we're still saying the same thing. I know we have one more girl coming for sure. Sometimes I feel like 5 will be our number, but I just don't know. How many kids I'd like, and how many I feel I can mother well are two different things. I would love a huge houseful of children. But I know I wouldn't be a good mom to 7 or 8 kids. I'd say "we're taking it 1 by 1" but this next adoption will likely be our last for financial reasons, so we will need to decide while we're working on it if we'll persue 1 or a sibling group. It's hard. Nathan *has* had that "certain procedure". It has brought SO much peace of mind to me, I can't even tell you. I know I can not handle being pregnant again.

You are a wise woman. I have faith you'll do exactly what you need to. :)

Alison Wonderland said...

after about the first week the baby stage starts to feel like baby jail. (Ok maybe not quite that fast but I'm definitely in the jail now.) I think I'm done, I want to be done, I say I'm done. But I don't know for sure that I'm ready to make it official (surgical) yet. Some days I think so and then others...

BTW, my WV is spermu. You're welcome to derive your own meaning for that one.

Two and Two = Family said...

You know my kids are 8 years apart...not by choice.. When the doctor says you have a 5% chance to ever have kids, well, you take them when they come. Before our #2 came along I was going to a fertility specialist, but at the last minute decided that I didn't want to take the meds, so I waited a few months and did some deep soul searching and realized that I was bleast to have #1, then boom, here came #2....
After that we really hoped for a girl and tried for about 3 years, but nothing happened..
I know that you NEVER put a time limit on the Lord, however, I was getting older and didn't want to be 410 with a newborn, so...there was a time limit.
The #3/girl never came and also due to medical reasons we knew that it was time to stop.
I don't regret the choice, only that my DH would love to have a daughter and every time he sees little girls (yours included) he wishes that we had one of our own.
Our #1 is glad there isn't, but #2 would love to have a younger sibling (either sex).
I think that we need to make our own choices as to how many children we have then let the Lord confirm that choice.
You and your DH (who I think is great and my #1 loves) will know when the time is right to have or not have more....
Thanks for you blogs....they are thought provoking!!!
Have a great day!

Never A True Aggie said...

Ok. So I am writing this one handed, while I am in like my fourth hour holding baby Adam because he can't figure out if he is hungry, tired, messy, or some combination of the three. Meanwhile, my bathroom is so gross I can't even tell you. My bedroom looks like a tornado. I have three full baskets of clean laundry and three baskets of dirty laundry an a growing pile in the bathroom. My kids weren't feeling well today and they are home today. They are in their PJ's still and it is 1 PM. I was able to shower, but have not done my hair yet and it looks crazy (hoping it won't dry into this crazy state). I have jeans on, my G's and a robe. I have 6 thank you cards to write and dishes to clean and give back from meals. My boobs hurt. I am still bleeding and I got a UTI because I am wearing pads all the time for two weeks and counting (despite good hygiene, thank you very much). My four year old keeps coming up to me asking me questions and waking up his brother. So, am I done?

A resounding YES! I actually feel really good about it. I know I can be a better mother. I am getting too old body and emotions wise. I am ready to move on and prepare for grandmother good (WAY in the future). I could have another baby, but I want to WANT it too. Not that I wouldn't, but I don't think Heavenly Father works that way. Sometimes you have to just decide and wait for the Peace to come. I know Don is done. He is going to get the snip here next year. I have thought about fostering one day, but honestly, right now, with half my boob hanging out and my hair looking all crazy...I can say this is it.

Richelle said...

Even though I just had number 2 and a lot of the time don't feel like I can handle them, I know that we are not done. I couldn't tell you how many we want to have, though. I think we will have to take it one at a time and see how we feel. And pray a lot! :)

Emily & Co. said...

What a good question! Now that my baby is almost one (our #4), I'm getting ready for another one. But that will take some convincing of my hubby...he wants to be done because he wants to make sure he has time for a relationship w/each child and he feels like he won't have enough time for 5. I totally understand and respect that, but I just don't think we're done! Time will tell...

Nancy said...

My feelings have changed on this topic. I still believe and am grateful that outside of medical issues that prevent babies, we are left to decide for ourselves. Nobody can decide for another what that answer is.

As I get older, I believe that this crazy world we live in and how we parent is affecting how many children are being born. If I live more simply, I can have way more children. Simplicity comes on all levels: time, money, hobbies, gospel etc. My top age for having children used to be 40 and I've decided I'm going to raise that ceiling. Just a personal choice, that's all. Scott is a little nervous that I am obsessed with the Duggar family!