The morning after my second daughter was born, I watched a beautiful sunrise from my hospital room window. I glanced over at my surprisingly quiet baby sleeping and felt a calmness in my chest that I have never felt before. I can only describe it as a feeling of being complete. It was so distinct that it left no question as to whether or not I would do this again. This was my family now.
Unexplainable feelings surrounding motherhood don't happen for everyone, but they did for me, as well as my friend Angie.
“After my third son, I knew right away I was not done,“ she says. “I felt like I was meant to have a daughter. I can’t really explain it, but I told my husband we were having kids until we had our girl.”
After suffering a miscarriage, she thought her feeling was wrong. But a few months later, she was pregnant again — and this time with a girl, who would be her last.
Other women have a plan which changes inexplicably and causes them to reinvent what they want from their families. Joan thought she had made a decision regarding how many children she was going to have.
“We decided that we would just have one child — my daughter who was already three — so that we could dedicate what little money and time we had to her,” she says. “ We signed the contract on our house and that same week, my company announced they would be downsizing in the fall. One month later, despite using birth control, I was pregnant with my son and gave birth at the same time I got laid off. It was a difficult pregnancy and a difficult time financially and emotionally. The birth of my son wasn't originally met with the enthusiasm he deserved. The decision on whether to have a second was made for us, but I knew there could not be a third.”
Jenna was also taken by surprise by baby number three. Six years after her second child was born, she wanted more children but was advised not to by her doctor due to a heart condition. She and her husband accepted the news and she focused on growing her business.
“We were very happy with how smoothly our day to day was going and enjoying life, “ she says. “I guess a bit too comfortable, because I went in for a checkup thinking I had a flu bug and was told I was 11 weeks pregnant!”
While her third child was a surprise, Jenna knew then she would have a fourth. “Our fourth child was planned so my third would have company, since my first two were so close in age.”
While these two women adapted to sudden change, there are some of us who just know when to throw in the towel.
“My husband and I both wanted two children,” Kyra says. “ I didn't care if they were the same gender or if it was one of each.. But after having them, I definitely knew I couldn't handle anymore. Physically, financially, emotionally: I hit my limit.”
As my husband and I prepare for my younger daughter to enter kindergarten, we are excited to be done with the “baby phase” and are looking forward to all the wonderful things that are to come with our family of four. I can firmly say in the days, weeks and five years that have passed since that morning in the hospital, my husband and I have never wondered if we made the right choice to stop having children. Life gave us exactly what was meant to be.