To Procreate or not to Procreate… that is the question!

I love babies. No, I mean… I really love babies. Since I stopped teaching baby class a couple of months ago, I have realized how much I indeed love and miss babies. Pretty much any time someone asks me about my experiences teaching baby class, I tear up. That job was special. I got to share a very important transition with many parents in Corvallis, take my own babies with me to work, and love on other babies when I no longer had a baby anymore.

I am really enjoying my new job, but I’ve kept wondering over the last month why it is that I get so emotional when I think about no longer teaching baby class. Could it be that I am mourning the idea of letting go of a job, but also kind of mourning the fact that I probably will not be having any more babies? Chris and I are pretty sure that we feel good about being done with having babies. I haven’t been feeling the urge to get pregnant like I was way before this time when Sofia and Gabe were small. I feel very content when I look at the little family that we have created.  I think that I always imagined myself having 4 kids, so it has been weird for me to be open to possibility that we really may be done at 3. I think that baby class was a built in baby fix that I no longer get to have anymore.

Every childhood stage has its’ joyful and frustrating parts. I have to say, though, I do love a baby. Especially a newborn. When I see older babies or toddlers, I definitely think they are cute but…. when I see a newborn, it physically does something to my body. Tears often well up in my eyes and my eyes and heart almost can’t handle the cuteness and purity. I swear that the non existent milk in my breasts starts letting down. I love babies in general, but those newborns really hit me right in the heart.

So why do I love babies so much?

Could it have something to do with the fact that there is not time in the history of my marriage when I love my husband more than right after I give birth to a child? It’s like our love multiplies a million times. Chris and I, who have different personalities, work in harmony together to labor and deliver a child that we created. I guess that we will just have to go on dates or something normal as I can’t just keep birthing babies with him for the sake of a  little marriage enhancement.

Could it be their cute little heads that smell so delicious?

Could it be the love that fills your heart when you watch your baby sleeping peacefully or when you nurse them?

Could it be the joy in watching my babies experience new milestones?

Could it be the comfort and peace I felt holding my babies close to me?

Or maybe even more precious… watching my husband carry our babies around?

So my questions for all of you lovely mamas?

  1. How did you decide how many kids you would have? Prayer, logic, an ideal set when you were a kid,  finances, fertility? I would love to hear your experiences if you are up for sharing. Did you have more than you thought you would? Less?
  2. What is/was your favorite part about babies?
  3. When you felt like you were done having kids, what helped you to make peace with the idea that you would never have your own newborn again?

Thanks for sharing!

Rachel - May 10, 2013 - 10:15 pm

Another good post! I will follow this one. I have to say that all of your pictures about the first year with babies did not bring forth a single bit of sentiment in me. I am just not a mom that does well in the first year. But, I am very sentimental about years 2-4 right now. :( I came from a big family and always wanted one of my own. I am sad that we are done with two but I just can’t do another pregnancy and first year right now and if we wait any longer, I would be at high risk for a baby with medical problems. I just can’t do that considering our current situation. So, I think we are done. But, if someone told me I could give birth to healthy one-year-old without having to be pregnant, I’d do it in a second!

Adrienne W - May 11, 2013 - 12:07 am

Oh, babies! I also love babies, but I haven’t really had a chance to get baby hungry, because I always have my own. I’m really lucky to have super easy babies, which makes newborns so enjoyable for us.
When I was young I always wanted lots of kids, because I enjoyed being one of six kids, but by the time I got married, I always thought we’d have four. And now I have five. So in some ways I have more kids than I thought I’d have. I wanted to be done at four, but we both felt like we weren’t done and that was hard for me. But I knew that I would hate to live with the feeling that we should have one more. The timing of a couple of our babies has been a surprise, but I KNOW they were supposed to come when they did. And of course I wouldn’t change anything now. It is crazy at our house, but I really do love it most days. And five kids isn’t a whole lot harder than three was. It’s all hard work. In some ways I feel like this wasn’t my decision, but the Lord’s and I am willing to accept that. And enjoy it!
As far as being done… We just got rid of all the baby stuff we aren’t using and it felt really good. It didn’t make me sad. I think we’re done, but with our crazy fertility, I have to know that more babies are a possibility until something REALLY permanent is done. And if we’re supposed to have more, then we’ll deal with it. We’ve discussed becoming foster parents when our kids are a little bit older. We have friends who foster only babies and we’d both like to do that.
I feel a lot of judgement from others about my tons of kids, but I don’t let it bother me. I also sometimes feel jealous of others who feel they are done at 2 or 3 because of logisitcs (housing, travelling, one on one time, etc), but I just try to focus on the blessings that my babies are and be the best mother I can be.

Sarabeth - May 11, 2013 - 12:25 am

I, too, adore babies. Audrey is turning 1 on Tuesday, and it’s pretty much killing me. I want more babies. Well, my heart wants more babies. But my head tells me that 4 is plenty. And Steve definitely does not want more, so I think we’re done. But I still have a ways to go before that does not make me sad. However, I think a lot of my sadness comes simply from the fact that my having-baby days are over, and I think that will make me sad even if I had 15 babies. Know what I mean? Like I think I will need to face those feelings at some point, regardless…I’m not just going to keep on having them just to avoid that sadness. When having babies was the biggest thing i looked forward to my entire life – and now it’s over – it’s hard to not have that to look forward to any more. Part of it, too, is just accepting that I’m getting older. Boo! Oh, and though I’m ecstatic to see my sisters both about to have their own first babies, I admit that it makes me ache for me to hold my own newborn again.

Anyway, that was a lot of rambling. On the brighter side, I do look forward to my kids being older and being able to do fun things with them and to enjoy them gaining a bit more independence. I am truly loving these younger years with my kids, before life gets as crazy as I know it will.

Annmarie - May 11, 2013 - 12:26 pm

Kara – this is a perfect Mother’s Day topic! It has also been on my mind lately, so thanks for putting out the questions in your blog! :) I decided from an early age that I would have 2 kids. I came from a family with 2 kids, so I think that this was what I knew. I waited a very long time to have kids. I wanted to be married, to have already enjoyed time alone with my spouse, to own a home and to have our finances in order. I was very traditional in the way I went about starting a family. :) There’s really not much about my family that’s traditional. ;) Now, 5 years later, I have a beautiful 10-year-old daughter that we adopted through the foster system at age 4 and a son, who is now 3, that I gave birth to. About a year after giving birth to my youngest, I starting longing to be pregnant again. I had mixed feelings about this longing. I also thought that I would adopt, if I wanted to have more. I feel a strong moral and social responsiblity to adopt. I still very much long to birth another child. Now that I am newly divorced, this picture feels much more complicated. I don’t want to give up this desire to complete my family!
I love babies. I love how I felt when I was the Mom of a wee one! The breast feeding hormones made me feel so content, looking into my baby’s eyes while nursing, the intense bonding with other mom’s of newborns for survival. ;) It was definitely one of my favorite times in my life! Kara, you talked about how you bond more intensely with your husband during this stage. That made me realize how I reach out to both old and new friends much more in this stage. I have such a big community and stay connected when I have a baby!
I have loved all the stages since infancy, with both my kids! I would like for them to have another partner in crime to share their childhoods and adulthoods with! :)

Kara - May 11, 2013 - 6:50 pm

Rachel,
I would say that you have an exceptionally rough past few months, so I don’t blame you. If baby stage is not a favorite of yours, then cheers to you starting to move past that stage :).
Adrienne,
Way to not care what people think. Haters gonna hate girl, but you are an awesome mama with an awesome family!
Sarabeth,
Good luck in “mourning” being done. It is so true that there are many things to look forward to with our kids. I hope that we can do some of those fun things in the future together with our families!
AnnMarie,
What an amazing transition to motherhood you had! I wish you and your family lots of happiness as you find a groove with this new transition in your life. Hugs!

Robyn - May 11, 2013 - 11:36 pm

Oh Kara. So much, so much I want to say. BUT, it is late.

So let me share this one thing. For me, part of the compulisive draw towards having a newborn (that I STILL feel OFTEN) is that having a baby provides the rare opportunity to “fall in love”.

I fell head over heels in love was with Scott. Then when Tanner was born it was like falling in love all over again. Then again with Sage, and Elliette, and Asher. FALLING IN LOVE is so fun! The newness, the thrill, the giddy excitement, the discovery, the indescribable joy that comes from realizing you can’t/don’t want to live another day without them and are ready to commit your whole heart, soul, and being to them.

It’s a rush. It’s nourishing. It’s bouyant. It’s new and fun and exciting. It’s energizing. It’s HAPPY.

But just like a marriage must eventually move past the “honeymoon” phase, so too must the parenting.

The thought of having another baby thrills me. Have another baby tomorrow? YOU BET! What could possibly be better than another pure and innocent newborn? Another person to fall in love with? YOU BET! Sign me up. Another baby to snuggle, and nurse, and cuddle? YOU BET! Another baby to help and watch learn to sit, crawl, walk, talk? YOU BET! Witnessing the joy of discovery that accompanies babies is one of the greatest joys in life.

We have 4. We are done. It was a tough transition, but the right one.

So much to say . . . but that’s my one point for tonight. One of the reasons why saying goodbye to babies was tough because it was also saying goodbye to the thrill of falling in love.

kara - May 12, 2013 - 12:48 pm

Robyn,
I never thought about it that way, but is so true. Falling in love with a new human being that was literally a part of you… kind of an addicting feeling. Yes, the honeymoon ends..right around 6 weeks when my babies cry a lot :). So, maybe that is exactly what hurts.. not being able to fall in love with a human being in such an intense way again.

Carrie - May 13, 2013 - 9:42 am

This was a very interesting post for me to read because I’m at the opposite end of you, Kara, and everyone commenting. I’m newly married (well, we’re coming up on our 2nd wedding anniversary), nearly 33, and childless. My husband and I feel pulled to start our family now (especially since I’m getting older) and we have ideas about what that family will look like – how many kids, etc., but since we’ve never experienced any of it ourselves, we truly have no idea how we’ll feel about it all, how many kids we will end up wanting, and such. We love, love, love being married and we so enjoy our life together just the two of us, so I’m always wondering if I’ll be as happy when we have a family and our lives and hearts are pulled in a million different directions. It’s nice to read, though, how much all the women commenting on this post love having babies – and love their husbands throughout it all. As we embark on this stage in our lives and in our marriage, it can be pretty scary. I’m glad to have the Internet to learn from seasoned moms such as yourselves!

kara - May 13, 2013 - 12:32 pm

Carrie,
Good luck with your procreating decisions :). There is nothing in the world that makes me love Chris more than when I watch him be a good daddy, and I’m sure it will be the same for you Carrie whenever the timing is right for you guys! It really is true that love multiplies and our capacity to love expands. I’ll look forward to your updates :).