Before I met my husband, I wanted exactly zero kids. I had no desire to deal with screaming babies, toddlers who hid in clothing racks or teenagers, like me, who hated everything about their parents. There were times in my life when I babysat neighbor kids and spent my summer vacations caring for my cousins, but at some point their parents came home and I could run for cover. My mom would tell me how she had wanted a huge family since the time she could talk and her biggest dream in life was to be a mom. She ended up with three kids and a husband who needed as much care as a set of twin babies, so I guess she had the herd she had always dreamed of. That was not the life I wanted. For a while, I wanted to be a veterinarian, then a marine biologist and eventually a woman who lived in a big city, wore high heels and had a corner office with floor to ceiling windows. I would eat fancy lunches, shop at boutiques and go home to my chic studio apartment. Assumably with the fifty cats who would be my constant companions. Kids and a husband were not a part of the plan. Then I grew up.
When I met my husband, my biological clock had started ticking. It wasn’t due to my age, I had done everything in my life earlier than most, including drinking at age 15, moving out at 18 and having a career in a new city by 20. It happened, because I had met a man who I adored and who would roll around on the floor with his nieces and nephews. He played airplane and kicked the soccer ball around at family parties and I knew I wanted to have a family with him. After we married, we waited a couple of years, bought our first home and began trying for our first baby. I was 23. After a few months, I became pregnant and when our daughter was born, I couldn’t believe how challenging being a mom was. I was overwhelmed every minute of every day and had succumbed to the fact that I would never sleep again. Before we had our daughter, I wanted three kids and my husband wanted four. After we had a newborn, my husband wanted an only child and I wanted to see if we could trade her in for an older model. Perhaps one that didn’t shit up her back or suck my nipple clean off every afternoon. While I had an easy pregnancy and an even easier delivery, I had no desire to repeat this little episode called newborn.
After a couple of years, my daughter was pooping in the potty and feeding herself and we began talking about having another baby. It took longer this time to get pregnant, nine months, but when we found out we were expecting we were overjoyed. Clearly, I had forgotten about the trauma I had endured during the first 365 days of my daughter’s life. Most women have to block out the devastating pain of childbirth, I block out the devastating pain of crying myself to sleep at 3 am while nursing a baby for the tenth time in ten minutes. We found out we were having a boy and we started getting interesting comments from people who, for reasons unknown, feel the need to share instead of shutting up.
“One of each, you are so lucky. Now you are done.”
“It’s great you don’t have to try again for a boy. That is the worst.”
I wasn’t sure where they had heard that we weren’t having any more kids, but apparently they knew something I didn’t.
When our son was born, the reality of baby hit me like Mike Tyson back in the good ol’ days of boxing and I knew I couldn’t do this again. Our baby boy was adorable with big blue eyes and a button nose, but being cute could not hide the frightening fact that he only slept for three hour at a time and spent most days barfing on my shoulder. His big sister was in preschool and becoming a precocious little gal who loved her baby brother, but reminisced regularly about being an only child. I was exhausted. Being home with two little ones, having no career and no friends who were experiencing the joy/trauma of raising kids was more than I could handle. I couldn’t imagine having another kid, so when my son was three months old I sent my husband in for a vasectomy. At the time, I couldn’t fathom that there would come a day where both my kids slept through the night, put on their own shoes and had play dates at other people’s house. Had I realized it would get easier, I would have never asked him to make such a permanent family planning decision, but now it’s too late.
There are days I feel like I am forgetting someone when we pile in the car, I have dreams about naming a child that I have never seen and while I adore our little family, I feel like someone is missing. I don’t like the word regret because I feel like it discounts all the wonderful things I have experienced in my life, but I do wish I had waited a little bit longer to make the decision about ending our ability to have more kids. There are plenty of options to grow our family and I have investigated each one, but I am not ready to spend tens of thousands of dollars to adopt nor am I willing to send my husband in for a reversal that may or may not give us another child.
I am so grateful to live in a time, and be part of a society where I can choose how many children I have. I am also grateful for the two children I get to hug every day; I can’t imagine my life without them. I wonder sometimes, what would have happened if we had tried for another baby? Would we have twin girls or a rambunctious boy who climbed on the fridge? Or perhaps we would have been unable to have any more children and the universe would have given me exactly what I have now, a wonderful family with two healthy kids and the knowledge that someone up there knows more than I do about what I need in my life.
Mandy Brasher has been married to her partner in crime for thirteen years and together they have two kids. Since then she has changed diapers, potty trained, worked as a barista and organized events for a non-profit. Mandy loves to travel, cook, do yoga and read blogging and working on writing a book. Follow her sass mouth and unexpected adventures.