Other people have blogged about this phenomenon in the past, women in my life - friends and familly - have struggled with it, or discussed it, strangers in the parents' room at the shopping mall have raised it. Now it's my turn, I guess.
The thought really struck me as I was in the shower one morning recently: My days of being pregnant are over. I won't be having any more babies. This makes me very sad. Don't get me wrong here, I love my boys, they bring joy into my life every day. For a long time I thought I would have no children at all, not necessarily because I didn't want to, but because I didn't feel like I was ready, or that my relationship was ready. Then at 31 things changed and we decided to have a child, so D'Arcy arrived in the world. That was it, we said. No more children. One is enough. It was for my (now ex) husband, but after some time I wanted to do it again, only not with him.
It's a funny thing I suppose, but I'm not really cut out to be a mother in some ways. My emotional state is fragile at the best of times, and I don't have endless patience. This last pregnancy at 38 was really tough on me, physically and emotionally, and even before I was pregnant I was saying - this will be the last one. 38 is my upper age limit for child bearing. But almost as soon as Erik was born, I was thinking "hey that wasn't so bad, I could do this again". (His birth was so easy in comparison to D'Arcy's). I am surrounded by older women giving birth. In the mothers' group I went to when D'Arcy was tiny I was the youngest at 31. The oldest woman of the 4 was 37, and she went on to have another child at 39. The others were 36 and 34. In D'Arcy's class at school is a girl who lived in our street when D'Arcy was small. She is 6 weeks older than he is. Her mum had her second baby a week and a half after Erik was born, and she is my age. One of the teachers at school has a surprise pregnancy at 41, and another parent just gave birth at 43. However, I just don't think I'm up for it.
Of course the underlying thing here is that I have sons. I have no daughter. I feel the need to grieve the unborn daughter that will now never be. She even has a name, but I can't tell you because it makes me cry too much. It's the name we would have given Erik, had he been that girl. But he isn't. He's my beautiful boy, my Teeny Little Super Guy. My last child. I don't know why I suddenly want a daughter so much (perhaps because I don't have one?) because when D'Arcy was born, I was relieved that he was a boy, that he didn't have to go through the hell that girls do, especially modern girls. And I didn't have to go through the whole pink/shiny/frilly nightmare that may have been the end of me. Instead I have a gentle, caring, thinking boy. Probably two.
It's true about the strangers in the parents' room. Yesterday we were in there changing and feeding Erik, and struck up the usual conversation with another mother there.
Her: That looks like a new baby
Me: He's 4 weeks today? How old is your daughter?
Her: She's 5 months...they grow so fast don't they? This is my last baby so I feel like I have to hold her as much as I can while I still can. Keep them close.
Me: (surprised look). Definitely.
I am lucky. I have not suffered through miscarriages, or had to terminate pregnancies. I have been able to conceive when I wanted to, reasonably efficiently. Others are not so lucky. I have close friends who have undergone fertility treatment in order to conceive a much wanted child, others unsuccessfully. I get to choose. It's a powerful and important decision, but I get to make it.