Thursday, August 2, 2012

About Being "Done" [For Now]

We're lying in bed.  Brian places a hand on my swollen belly.

"Last one, Love," he says to me.

"Is it?" I ask, "How do you know?"

And thus starts a very good discussion of us hashing out the future of our family and what it means to each of us.

One of the first things you might overhear me saying as I'm announcing that we're expecting our fourth child is that this is "it" for me.  I'm "done" after four.

But every time I say it, it comes with a tinge of regret.

I needed this conversation with Brian to organize my thoughts.  My feelings.  And what our family is really being called to be.

I remember taking premarital classes with Brian and the teaching couple talking about how all married couples are called to be open to new life.  I secretly laughed at this in my head knowing that I would have no problem accepting new babies.  Babies were my absolute favorite and all I ever wanted in life was to be a mother.  This teaching would not be difficult for me.

And now here I am, eight years and four babies later.  At age 31.  Years of fertility still ahead of me.

With each pregnancy I have found myself saying phrases like "next time" or "with our next baby" or "when we have another."  I've saved every baby gadget.  Every piece of blue and pink clothing.

But this time, for the first time ever, there's a tiny whispering in my head to savor it, soak it up.  Cherish every bump and kick within my womb.  Rub my belly.  Close my eyes and really listen to the whoosh whoosh on the Doppler.  Be truly in awe of the image on the ultrasound machine.

There may not be a next time.

I've been having a hard time figuring out if my "done" feelings are because it's what everyone else wants to hear and going for five would make me clinically insane or if the number four is really the final number our family is being called to be.

I explained the guilt of these fighting secular versus sacred ideas in my head to Brian.  And he, ever my voice of reason, rephrased what I was really trying to say, "Jenny, you've have a baby every other year for eight years.  No one is going to accuse you of not being open to life.  We are done.  For now.  And we don't owe anyone an explanation if we have a change of heart later on down the road."

For now.

Those were the words that resonated the most with me.

Up until now, whenever we've had a baby, we knew we'd be right back in the same place a couple years (months?!) later.  It's happened every single time.  Except this time.

After much prayerful consideration, I now have peace in my heart that we are done.  For now.

What does that mean?

I'm not really sure.  Of course one can only be so certain they are done when they are participating in the types of activities that make babies.  Ahem.

But I think, for us, being done means that while we are overwhelmed with four kids age six and under and doing the best we can to take care of our own mental and emotional health and, most importantly, our marriage, a new baby is not something we will be actively considering.

But is it off the table?  No.

The door is closed.  For now.  But it's not locked.

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