Motherhood

One Thing That Has Surprised Me About Parenting

One Thing That Has Surprised Me About Parenting

So, something weird is happening…

As I’ve mentioned, Alex and I have agreed that we are done having children. Sometimes it seems like we can barely handle the two we have! For many reasons, I’m confident that this is the right decision for our family.

But I’m still sad. What gives? Is that normal?

The sadness of being done having babies hits me at random times: When the boys play by themselves, so independently. When they’re fast asleep, all sweet and sweaty. When I imagine them going to college. Our friends brought over their new baby last night, and watching him sack out while drinking milk made me crave a similar weight in my arms.

I truly believe that two is our number, and our family is complete. The children we have are the great joys of my life; my heart swells whenever they walk into the room, and I find them utterly hilarious and beautiful. So, who wouldn’t want to extend that feeling? I’ll get that pang, and will joke to Alex, “Let’s just have a quick one, just a little one really fast.” Will that broodiness ever go away? A blogger named Sarah called it “The Ache,” and it feels just like that.

The other day, I stumbled upon this quote from a mother I know:

    There is a mother I watch who has a child on her lap and she holds the child’s long hair in her hand. It fills her fist, a limp rope. The mother is absentminded, exposing the child’s neck is an unconscious instinct. Cool the child: lift the hair. Like other parent-child touching, this gesture is so soft and common it is maybe unfelt, like ones own sweater against ones own skin. But watching her I wonder how long it has been since I have felt that exactly: the weight of someone else’s hair in my hand. A long time. I would like to feel it now. Today I felt the weight of a handful of cilantro. I wonder if it’s similar.

That moved me so much. This parenting thing can really throw you for a loop sometimes.

Do you hope to have a certain number of kids? When it comes to being done, can you ever make an unambivalent decision? If you aren’t having more kids, do you ever feel The Ache? Sending love to all those who are done having babies — and also all those who are trying to have one, as well, especially if it has been hard.

P.S. Five women on deciding NOT to have children, and how did you know you were ready to have a baby?

(Photo by Meg at Old Farmhouse.)

  1. Amanda says...

    I didn’t feel done until my youngest of three ( three boys 13,11 and a baby boy who we lost at 2 months old) was 10. I knew i didn’t want any more when he was four or five but last year i really knew, i was done (there are moments I am actually a little put off by babies and kids) but even with all that certainty there are also moments when I am swept away with the idea of a certain weight in my belly, breast and arms. I do secretly daydream about being a grandmother!

  2. LMH says...

    The struggle is real. I have a 6 year old girl and a 4 year old boy. After I had my son everyone told me “one of each – perfect, you can be done!” But I never felt done. And I TRIED SO HARD to feel done. I gave away all of their clothes…toys…our glider…the crib. With each item I gave away I thought “Maybe now I’ll stop wanting more.”

    I didn’t. My husband didn’t. And even though realistically, two makes the most sense for us – we live in a small house and are far from wealthy – we couldn’t stop The Ache. So we decided to try again, and lo and behold got pregnant our first month. I’m 8 weeks today. I’m terrified and excited and we are keeping it to ourselves for now (besides announcing on this blog, I guess – oops) because I’m not quite ready for people to tell me how crazy we are. We might be crazy, but I also think we made the right decision for us.

  3. Vero says...

    Oh! I feel THE ACHE all right. I have three beautiful children and they are more than enough, I rationally know that. I’ve had infertility issues in the past, I also had a miscarriage, so now it feels weird not wanting to have any more children. I really understand every comment about the anxiety and grief you can feel about the possibility of not having a child ever. That’s scary and very much more complex than this ache Johanna is talking about. Nevertheless, the ache is very real. My youngest one is three, and whenever I see my brother’s babies I get it badly. But then again, the other night I was baby sitting one of them, trying to make her sleep at three in the morning, and that really reminded me of my decision.
    So, I don’t think it gets easier, but I keep trying to remind myself why I know it’s right for us.

  4. Becky says...

    My g.f. never quite felt like she could commit to her family being complete. She struggled very much to get pregnant due to fertility issues. So when her 3rd baby was 5 years old and she still questioned if he was it her and her husband made the decision to adopt. They are in China as we speak! Coming home tomorrow with their 4th and it finally feels final.

  5. Becky says...

    While I was pregnant with my second I knew he was it. I didn’t enjoy being pregnant. Financially 2 would be more than enough. I didn’t like the idea of being outnumbered kids to parents. And really my most favorite age was under 6 months. Realistically I knew kids grew up way to fast to keep having them for babies sake. But to actually make that final decision was difficult. My dear friend said to me “As a woman I will always have that desire to have my arms full with a babe.” And after I heard that (still pregnant with my second) I realized I could have 4, 6 10 babies and still want more. (I call it the Duggar effect) So 2 months after my second was born my husband took care of things. And when he came back home I was sad. My first thought was “Now im ready for grandbabies!” So now I’m committed to the decision which really helps. I can go enjoy other people’s babies without to much pain. And I can think IF it were to happen if by some miracle welp then for sure it’s God’s will.

  6. Joy Steele says...

    My firstborn were identical twins, and I loved them. But I loved being pregnant too, and I wanted one more child. So we did it: had a singleton whom I love as much as my firstborns. That scratched my itch; I was satisfied, and never wondered if I wanted another again. It must be hard for you to ache sometimes; I cured that by having that next child. I don’t want to urge you to do something you and Alex have agreed you won’t, but… you might find that you love it, and that you are thoroughly satisfied then.

  7. Caroline says...

    I always wanted several children (2, 3, 4?), but when we started trying to get pregnant, we ran into fertility problems that took several years to figure out. I had my first child at age 33, then my second at 35–a girl and then a boy, after which my husband was ready to be done. But I wasn’t. The ache was almost constant. Years went by, then an accidental pregnancy that ended in a miscarriage that broke my heart, as I was turning 40 and knew my husband didn’t want any more babies. That was a very difficult time. But lo and behold, after he relented and two more years went by, we had our third beloved child! She was born when I was 42 and my husband was almost 46. She is a delight (although we of course worry about how long we will be around for her). But I want to say that once I gave birth to her, the ache went away. I still adore babies and always will feel a little pang when I think of how quickly they grow up, but for me, the baby ache that was always with me truly went away.

  8. Sara says...

    This reminded me of a conversation I had with a taxi driver once, many years ago when my first son was still a baby and parenting was very new. The taxi driver was older and his two kids grown up but when he found out I had a baby he got all nostalgic and talked about how much he enjoyed his own kids’ childhood days. “I have one regret,” he said, “and that is that we didn’t have more kids. If I could do it again, I would have had more than two.” At the time I thought “are you crazy? I’m barely coping with one!” but now as my own two boys rapidly move through baby and toddlerhood, and the school years seemingly fly by, I so appreciate what he means. For my partner and I, two has been enough. But I can’t help wonder, will I too look back one day and wish we had more?

  9. You have managed to put into words exactly how I feel. I have two boys ages 6 and 4, and I have the ache. I am done having kids. We are done growing our family. I sometimes feel like I’m drowning under the weight of my two, crazy, wonderful boys. But it’s the weight of those little babes that has a way of grounding us in the moment. Thank you for another beautiful post. I look forward to your email every week, as I have for years and years.

  10. Kristin says...

    After 3 years of infertility I gave birth two our twins this past March, and while we feel sure that our family is now complete, my heart feels The Ache. I think so much of it is the rapid shift from trying for so long to being done…and from going from no children to two, but only experiencing it all one time. All of my firsts are also my lasts. There are definite perks (I will never be this tired again! I tell myself) but I can’t let myself really think about how quickly each stage is passing or I will melt in to a puddle of tears. These two are the only ones I need and I love them enough to fill my whole heart, but I think I will still always have The Ache for all the other little what if babies, and quite honestly for myself, for the parts of it all I have loved (the post you linked, when your friend mentioned never breastfeeding again, made me immediately long for something I still have but know I will miss so, so much). For some reason just knowing The Ache might always be there, not trying to fight it…feels better. Thank you, and I truly wish you peace in your journey ❤️

  11. Anna says...

    I have one – a ten year old boy. I love being a mother so incredibly much and I don’t think I ever imagined not having at least one more. I do an emotional balancing act every day: on one side is the gratitude of being a mother and having this beautiful boy in our lives at all – and all the benefits of the extra time and flexible lives we have because we are a family of three. On the other is the sad feeling I have when I think I won’t ever have the experience of those little hands again, or when I see siblings having fun together and think that my son won’t ever have that. Or when I hold a newborn baby. But then, if I had two, maybe I’d still feel this way? If we had three, maybe I’d crave a forth? Maybe we always want more of the wonderful things? I wonder if it’s hormones too… coming to the end of my thirties and that realisation that at some point soonish I’ll be “too old” to biologically have any more. So so heartening to see the huge number of comments on this post and to know that others feel torn about this too.

    • Anna says...

      PS. I can’t think of a better description for this than “the ache”… perfectly put.

  12. Cynthia Miller says...

    I just had this discussion with 2 of my childhood friends, one of whom I hadn’t seen for over 35 years. She has 10 children, and didn’t feel done until number 9. The other has 4. I have 3. After my first 2, the timing wasn’t good, and then because of some health issues, I thought I wouldn’t have any more. I was sad! I always wanted 3. Well, I guess I knew 3 was my number (so far!). Our youngest came along when our middle child was 6.
    Normally now I feel a small pang when I see a new baby, but then remember dirty diapers, and it goes away.

  13. P.S. Sending love, light and hope to all those trying, all those suffering loss, and every stage in-between. Life can be heartbreaking, confusing, frustrating, wondrous and awesome all at once. Please know, whatever you’re currently experiencing, you are not alone. Please reach out if you need support, or extra love. ?

    • Miranda says...

      Thank you. ?✨

  14. Jo, I feel EXACTLY this. My oldest will be 4 in November (he missed my birthday by 90 minutes; he’s the day after mine) and my youngest will be 2 in February— I am feeling THE ACHE for sure. For me, hyperemesis gravidarum is my pregnancy problem— so worth it when the babies arrive! I don’t want to endanger my health (the babies are always perfectly healthy and fine, I just end up sick, miserable and fighting to keep weight until they are born) but I FEEL IT KEENLY– children are so amazing — as my husband says, “Looking at the little brand new beings, who wouldn’t want to experience it more than once?” I am enjoying my boys as they grow; each phase is new and interesting, but sigh…. breastfeeding and snuggling and tiny hands and feet…. sigh…. I often imagine what type of adults they’ll grow up to be too, but the baby stage (like every stage of childhood and parenting) is amazing.

  15. Ellis says...

    My husband and I decided we were done after our first two. Two mad the most rational sense. Then I was at the chiropractor and was listening to her say to a pregnant patient “the next time I see you, you will have your baby!” I started tearing up and couldn’t stop for much of the day. When I talked to my husband about it he said “you know, we can have another baby!” That was it. Another baby (and another miserable pregnancy) it was! Now I am super content with three. Two just wasn’t quite enough. I also finally got a girl!

  16. Kim says...

    All these comments are amazing. This is so timely for me, I have a 3.5 yr old and 12 month old and my husband is going in for his vasectomy in a couple of weeks. I’m conflicted but two feels like the right number financially and physically for me. I had two c sections, both pregnancies ending in preeclampsia and it was frightening. Recovery was hard and the thought of going through it again is scary no matter how much I wanted a third. I keep asking my husband if we should put his appointment off but we know it’s the right decision for us. It’s so hard and the ache is so real. My friend always tells me you just know when your family is complete and I have to trust in that. It’s freeing in a way, knowing that these two people are the two people I will dote on for forever. I try to look at it that way instead of acknowledging the ache for too long.

    • M says...

      I know this is an old post but the comments always feel like a convo w good girlfriends and thats missed these days for me

      I have 2, a 2.5yo and a 15month old. It has been insanely hard to have two littles 15months apart. I always wanted kids and i thought 3 or 4 but my husband though a loving is a nonexistent parent. I spend 14hrs a day mostly of taht alone with both of them including on weekends. I love my kids but im burned out beyond belief without help other than maybe him helping at naptime on occasion (and usually because he wants to nap too). I tell him.i dont want a third because it would mean a third CS (unable to give birth naturally) but the truth is i think i juat dont want a third with him. And while ill never admit that to him and im beyond in love with my first teo i often wonder what it woukd be like had i married someone who is actually present in our lives. I dont feel the ache (because im drowning in the 2 i have tbh) but i feel the ache for the other life i couldve had if that makes sense. The patient happier mom if i had a partner who actually showed up at all. Remembering how much worse it could be helps to lessen that ache but it always rears its ugly head especially when I’m feeling like a big failure as a mom which is pretty often these days because we are in the tereible twos plus a baby who also needs attention so i often have 2 acreaming at me at once and its wearing me down. Everything will pass. I try to remember to breathe. We will all be ok even if we arent ok.

    • Anne says...

      Dear M. I see you. I want to give you a big hug that is probably longer than you feel comfortable with. I want to take your little ones for a walk in the neighborhood and talk about flowers and butterflies while you take a long bath and scroll through buzzfeed. I want to shake your husband by the shoulders and say “can’t you see she’s dying?” and I want to tell you that you need help and that is ok. Friends, family, neighbors, anyone!!

      I wish I could be right there with you cause I’ve been there and I know what it is like not to be able to see the light. All I can do now is to see you and tell you that you are NOT alone.

  17. Caitlin says...

    We have been trying for about 5 months for our first, and the ache is very real for me, especially after I’ve watched friend after friend get pregnant and give birth. God is never late, and I’m learning patience in the waiting.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m rooting for you, caitlin. xoxo

    • Sarah says...

      Caitlin,

      I’m so sorry you have to go through this. We tried for two years with treatment after treatment before we finally got pregnant this Summer. I know — so well — the ache and quiet inner struggle you feel. It can be heartbreaking and discouraging to get “no” month after month. And it is so hard to see friend after friend get pregnant — especially those that get pregnant right away.

      Hang in there and try to stay hopeful — which is so much easier said than done. It will happen for you! Good luck! Sending hugs. xx

    • Dana says...

      Been there. Sending love.

    • Stephanie says...

      I remember that feeling Caitlin. Hugs to you ❤️. And what a beautifully written sentiment in your last sentence. I am writing that down.

  18. brooke smith says...

    My daughter is 21 years old. From the place I am as a parent, I think too many women get swept up in the feelings that you are writing about. A child is just not a baby or toddler. Some of the most challenging times will be in the future. You need to have love, energy, patience, understanding that goes way beyond your own needs for the unconditional love and beauty of infants. That time of life, that sort of love is unparalleled. But it also runs so deep, that it stays with you forever. And does not need to be duplicated over and over again, once you feel it slipping away, unless every part of you is ready to take on the responsibility of another child.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      the funny thing is, i really really want an actual child. i find the baby part the hardest by far because of postpartum depression; i would skip it if i could. but i love love love the rest of the parenting part. my thought is, if you can create people who are the absolute loves of your life, wouldn’t you want one more? :) but for other reasons, i think it’s a no go for us.

  19. With two wonderful daughters, we are also done. While I don’t find myself wondering what it would be like to have another, I do find myself feeling nostalgic for the babies we won’t have. Our two girls are such marvelous little people, each in her very own special way. Imagine how wonderful all of our other potential children might be! It makes me sad to think of all these incredible little humans we’ll never get the joy of meeting.

  20. Amber says...

    I was there, had the ache, but my husband and I felt like we had our two children and were done. Long story short, we have been fostering our third child for about a year now and are working towards adopting him. Our biological children are 8 and 6 and our foster is 3. It has been an incredible experience in countless ways. It has also been hard, but fulfilling. The best part has been watching my two oldest love this little boy to pieces and to watch him bloom in their affection.

  21. Laura says...

    Thanks so all for this important, honest conversation. It’s opened my heart a lot, and reminded me that we’re not alone- even when our situations around children are so completely varied.

    I come from a family of 5 kids- spread over 19 years with the same 2 parents. Though they loved it, it was also a huge strain and eventually led to them divorcing once most of us were adults. I would have loved to have had more of my parents’ attention- it was very divided.

    I have one 2-year-old, and would love to have another. I feel pretty much ALL of the conflicted feelings, especially since my husband suffers from pretty serious depression, and we went through a horrible year when our kiddo was 1 where most of the strains of parenting (and making income) were on me due to his illness. It’s amazing our marriage survived it, and I feel very grateful and humbled (and traumatized).

    I will share what I know to be true for me as we consider a second kid:
    – I want my child to have two parents that have enough time to do things that light their hearts on fire- outside of parenting- because I know how important this is.
    – I want to be mindful of my partner’s energetic limits, because these are real, and I’m not doing any one of us a favor by ignoring them.
    – I will not bring another child into the world if we aren’t both 100% onboard.

    Thanks, all, for sharing so honestly and beautifully- including those of you dealing with the challenges of infertility and adoption.

    • Laura says...

      One more thing that I feel like Joanna beautifully articulated: I think it’s ok to feel the ache and not do anything with it. Decisions are hard – even when you know it’s the right one- because there are consequences.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      you sound like a really incredible, thoughtful, empathetic person, laura. wishing your sweet family all the best as you make these decisions xoxoxoxo

    • Dana says...

      Laura, I empathize with you and appreciate your thoughtfulness. <3

    • Anna says...

      A really beautiful comment. Thank you.

    • Joey says...

      Thank you for this, Laura. I am in the same place. As much as I would like more kids (we have 2) my husband’s mental health is a huge consideration for me. It’s heartening to hear I’m not alone.

  22. I had my one quite young, and then infertility and complex life means the book is closing fast on the possibility of another. Now my son is quite nearly an adult, and either path now means giving up something vast. I’ve mostly decided to be content with my one, but even though it is my choice, there is definitely an ache. It is still a bittersweet twinge when I see sweet babes or hug my young nieces and nephews.

  23. Amy says...

    I have two daughters, 4 and 7, and I feel completely content with just two (those pregnancies were fraught with complications, and severe postpartum depression and those babies full of colic), but I still feel The Ache and look into every stroller I pass to see those new babies and hold their little feet. There was a darling baby riding the train with me this morning and it was all I could do not to ask to hold that mama’s beautiful babe. They are the light of the world and everything that is pure and beautiful and holding one, even if it is not your own, is total joy. My daughters would love a sibling, but we are content to offer-up babysitting to the new mamas in the neighborhood, so they can get a break and we can all get our baby fix.

  24. Jessica says...

    I loved reading these comments. My husband and I have two beautiful children (ages 3 and 4) who bring us immeasurable joy. My husband has always wanted a large family. I have been the one reluctant to add another to the mix due to the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy and a newborn. Not to mention all the logistics required for raising a group vs. a couple of kids when both parents have careers… But… in a moment of weakness…we decided to go for it. Tomorrow I go for my 8-week ultrasound. Sometimes the best decisions are not rational.

  25. Jen D. says...

    We had made the decision to be done with two kids. My son and daughter were only two years apart and best friends, I was 36, we wanted to be through with the diapering/napping/helpless years and onto the family adventures years… 4 days before my husband’s vasectomy, I texted him a picture of a positive pregnancy test. We felt nothing but joy in our hearts even as the weight of more sleepless nights and diapers and the shrinking of a world that was just beginning to widen a bit settled in our minds. Yes, life is exhausting and harried and uncertain and our worlds a little smaller. But this is a finite season and its cost is nothing compared to the beauty and exquisiteness of watching another human life unfold. He has colic and reflux and will sometimes only sleep in the baby carrier, which means I’m wiping poop and changing diapers and snuggling my older two kids while I have another baby on me. I’m exhausted and overwhelmed. But this is a finite season and looking at his pink sleepy cheeks and fist on my shirt while he nurses squeezes my heart like few things could. This is a finite season and watching a smile light up his whole face when I finally make eye contact after he watched and waited for that moment, for a glimpse of his Mama, this is a gift too great to question. Would things be easier with two? Certainly. A little less harried and messy? Absolutely. But now that we have our third baby, life would seem to be missing something were he not here. My twin sister and her husband recently decided to try for a third. She was leaning toward another, he thought they should be happy with two. In the end he said, “I would never regret another baby if we had one, but I think maybe there might be a piece of you that would regret not having another one.” Their third is due this December.

  26. Sarah says...

    This is such a timely post for me. I have the ache. I couldn’t figure out what was going on until I read this. Thank you for these conversations and this space. Joanna, your blog is one I truly connect with.

  27. Tricia says...

    I think maybe the ache never really goes away. I always remember how much my grandma loved to hold babies! You could see the joy and love in her face as she held them. I would guess she felt an “ache” for them into her 90s. Especially in the presence of a beautiful new babe… the soft hair! The little toes! The smell! I think I’ll always ache for another little one a bit. Those early days are so sweet and tender… seems natural to long for them again here and there while still being “done” and greatful for the family you do have.

  28. We, like you guys, have two boys and I am SO done! I feel I am in my mothering ‘prime’ (they are ages 5 and 10) and my biggest joy is being their mom. I honestly think I rock as their mom and feel like a third baby would jeopardize that. I can be ‘all in’ with two and that is the type of mother I want to be. Three would push me over the edge ;)

  29. Katie says...

    I have two boys the same age as yours and had the baby ache BAD up until a year ago. I used to beg my husband to have another! But since then I have started yoga five times a week, taken on a fulfilling, hectic job, and made a real effort to reconnect with a whole lot of my old friends who I hardly saw. The ache has gradually gone! Turns out I didn’t want another baby, I just needed to keep a little busier, and really appreciate my time with the wondrous kids I’ve already got.

    • Blandine says...

      That is such a constructive comment ! There are a million ways to be fulfilled !

  30. Sarah says...

    I got the ache for a third when my youngest was finally in preschool.

    Then I got a surprise.

    But We decided to not go forward with it. Why? Mostly money reasons. I ached throughout that decision and I ached in the aftermath. Still do when I think of it years later. Nothing is simple.

    My mantra throughout has been: “I have enough.” This always makes me feel grounded and grateful. And it’s true! We are living the busy, cheerful school-aged years now and it is just so rich.

    I try to remember that the longing that comes and goes is part of being human, part of each life stage.

    Thank you for this post. This topic is close to my heart and I love the discussion.

  31. ChewyJ says...

    I have one beautiful, amazing, and strong 4 year old. I have The Ache and she, too, has The Ache for a little brother or sister. Unfortunately, my husband and I have been trying to have another for 2 years and it doesn’t look like it will happen. For us, we didn’t get the chance to decide when we were done. My body seems to have decided for me. Yes, there are other beautiful ways to bring another little one into the family, but that’s for another comment because I’m still dealing with this ache.

  32. Elliesee says...

    The only cure I know is having twins – it’s like having a little bit too much of a good thing. I still sometimes would like a fifth child (I’m only 41!) but there is no ache.

  33. Shena says...

    In my opinion, if you are aching for a 3rd, go ahead and have one. I was aching for 3 years for a third. I didn’t give away baby clothes and saved the stroller. Our 3rd was a surprise and I was so happy. After Amelia was born and grew, I gave all the baby clothes away, completely satisfied with being done. I like holding babies now and I do miss them being little. But I do NOT get that ache. Now I am like, I am soooo not ever having another child!! We live in an 850 square foot house with 5 of us, two cats and a white lab (thankfully we have a nice big yard). Our small house is filled with love and I can’t imagine life without my 8-year-old Amelia. She is my love, love, love. In my opinion, if you can have babies until the ache stops, do it. The world needs more people in it like you and your husband :)

  34. My baby just turned 7 months old, and I feel a mix of excitement and sadness multiple times a day. I love looking forward to him crawling, walking, and talking. I love imagining what he will be like at every age. But, every time a new tooth shows, or another month anniversary hits, I’m very sad inside. I LOVE him being a baby. I LOVE holding him to me and carrying him around in a baby carrier. I savor every single moment.

    I think a big part of my sadness is wrapped in being a full time working mom. When I was home with him for 2 months after I had him, we were completely bonded and connected. It was the happiest I’ve felt in a long time because I could focus on one thing – him. He was my only project, and I had the luxury of only multi- tasking for the sake of him. Now that I’m back at work, as a director in a creative agency, I have to fight to not let work overpower everything. I have to divide my attention among numerous projects. Going back to work has accelerated his baby-ness, because our time together has been reduced. I feel so sad that I miss out on his life when he is at daycare. I imagine that he must look out for me all day – but I’m sure that’s not entirely true.

    At 7 months, I still don’t know how to be all things to everyone. 100% focused at work and ready to engage. 100% focused at home and not drowning in laundry. 100% focused on my husband, and 100% focused on my baby. I’d give everything up just to be relaxed, and with him all day. And yes, even thought I’ve always said he was my one and only baby, its goes so fast that you find yourself wanting to repeat those swift months with another.

    • E says...

      WHOA Amber, we have the same life, and you’ve articulated my feelings SO, so well. I want more kids, but damn the struggle of being stretched too thin.

  35. Jean says...

    I would be very interested in knowing your “many reasons,” Joanna! I know it’s a personal question. :) We have our reasons for not trying for a third baby, too, but I can debunk almost all of them.

  36. Brooke says...

    Since I met my husband I had always wanted just one child. We are already such a team, and the idea of really blowing up the roster seemed a bit crazy, like it might stop all of things we love to do from being possible. While pregnant, with my one, Otto, I read Modern Lovers by Emma Straub. One of the families in the book is a trio, Mom, Dad, son. I felt so connected to that book, that story, while reading aloud to my belly. And now he is here, and we are a trio. I hope my vision of the three of us against the world becomes reality.

  37. Kerri says...

    My husband recently asked me what we will do with our time when we are older and greyer, when our current babies are no longer that and we can do “whatever we want”. I responded with, “Have more babies?” ☺️ I don’t think I am the type of person to ever be “done” having young children, they are just absolutely magical! I can see myself finding young moms with little ones and investing my time and love and energy into them just as my community of women have done for me.

  38. Abby says...

    I love all your posts on motherhood, especially when you write about making big parenting decisions (like this one). What we’re struggling with right now is when to have a second baby (or if!). Originally we wanted two kids two years apart, roughly, if possible, since both my husband and I grew up with siblings two years younger than we were, and it was great. But now that the “deadline” to start trying again is looming, it feels insurmountable. We’ve both made some big life changes recently and don’t live near family; I’d love to live closer to family but it’s not feasible for the next few years. We both feel like we’re just starting to get the hang of parenting a one-year-old, and like we’re already stretched to the breaking point. I’m also recovering from postpartum depression. I’d absolutely love another child, but now might not be the time. Anyway, I guess it’s an ongoing process…

  39. Lindsay says...

    I just found out that I was pregnant completely unexpectedly and unplanned. The most difficult thing that I’m processing right now is the fact that this will be my last baby and I’m not ready to be done. I wasn’t ready for the pregnancy, i’m not ready for the infant but I’m really not ready to put this stage behind us. I’m mourning the loss of what hasn’t even happened yet and focused on missing something that still hasn’t come. It’s bizarre and difficult and of course yes, we could have another but I really only ever wanted two… I feel like I can’t focus on the now and the joy that is to come because I’m so aware of the disrupted plan and idea of what the future years would hold.

  40. TARA says...

    Answer the ache.

    Halfway through a doctoral program, with a 12 year old son and 8 year old daughter, the Ache began. So I made a list of pros and cons. So many cons! We were settled with two, both in school, things were humming along, money was OK, I was moving on in my career. The Pro side? One word: towhead. And so the ache that overwhelmed me many sleepless nights won and the very reasonable con list was thrown away. My husband and I were 38 and we were thrilled and excited for another baby, who became another daughter, who became my son’s goddaughter. Today that towhead (because she was one and still is) is a junior in high school, loved and adored by her older siblings who text her daily and give her guidance as she navigates the teenage world. She is the light of our house, the one who bridges all the age gaps here with her humor and kindness. I rejoice in seeing the sisters together as friends and as my son said the day he held her at her christening: “Mom, I always wanted to be part of a big family. Thank you” The doctorate? Never finished. And I’ve never regretted it.

    • Liv says...

      Beautiful- so many tears reading this.

    • Nat says...

      loved this, so much. pregnant with my third, damn the cons list and all :) some decisions are not meant to be rational, which just makes them extra special.

    • Alison Norris says...

      Yes! I could not love this more.

    • Michelle says...

      I’m 24 and was a surprise third child, my siblings are both 14 and 16 years older than I am. I have in the past wished to have a sibling closer in age but I wouldn’t trade mine for anything! I have been, and continue to be, loved, supported, and cared for by them in a way siblings close in age don’t experience. I feel really fortunate for it.

  41. Liv says...

    Was it here that I first read the essay ‘Baby Weight’ by Cheryl Strayed? About missing the weight of a baby in your arms. I don’t think it ever goes away. I hold my last little one- he just turned a year old- and I already miss him. I know it’s important to be present- I think that’s why I feel it though- I am so blissfully contented and exhausted right now but it goes too quickly. That’s finally why my husband and I decided on a third. We knew it would be hard but we just couldn’t resist. We have three gorgeous boys now and the ache is still there- dull and heavy and settled- we’re done.

  42. Sarah says...

    I always hear “I wish I had more” but I never hear “I had too many”.
    I have 3 and my daughter had a baby girl last year. I’m only 39 and have thought about having another but I told my husband the only way I would is if I could quit my job. I don’t want to have another in daycare. Our daycare is great…it’s just personal preference now.

  43. Kari says...

    Posts like these are hard to read when looking at it through the lens of infertility. 1 in 8 couples struggle with this. 12-13% of readers have probably undergone fertility treatments (fertility meds, IUI, IVF, embryo adoption, etc.) I try so hard to read posts about motherhood and family planning and not get hurt — I certainly know it’s just a topic of communication and means no harm — but so many families don’t have the luxury to think this way. So many families pray and hope to have the joy of experiencing ONE kid, and that one child absolutely is planned and paid for well in advance. We can’t just “decide” to have another kid. Just some food for thought. I know you can’t be sensitive to all people — then you wouldn’t be able to write anything! :)

    Have you thought about doing a story on a couple who created their family through embryo adoption? My husband and I are currently pregnant with what will be our first (and only) child through this process. 3 years and $20K later, we are happy and content to just have one.

    • andrea says...

      I hear you! I was only able to have one child, and even now he is 15, I still feel a bit hurt when I hear of others’ pregnancies, or choosing if/when to have another child. Not having that choice is gutting.

    • Karyn says...

      Thank you for this.
      I’m 42 and had my one and only at 41, after 5+ years battling infertility and $30k later. I am so in love with my daughter and thankful for her everyday. But yet as she grows and reaches new milestones, a part of me is sad knowing I won’t get a chance to experience these moments again. I also know the pain of thinking you’ll never get to experience these moments though – so I am grateful for what I have. My heart goes out to all those that are struggling to build their families.

    • Colette says...

      I’m so sorry you are going through this. My best friend was going through this when I became unexpectedly pregnant due to a medication mishap unknowingly rendering my birth control pill useless and chose to terminate, as I’ve never wanted children. I was afraid to tell her, but I was so grateful that she received my situation and decision with understanding and love, and I’ll never forget her words. She told me that I wasn’t taking a baby away from her, and that all of our journey’s are our own, with their own obstacles and blessings, and we could either walk them frightened and alone, or courageous and together, regardless of the circumstance. She could have resented and abandoned me, but instead she embraced me with selfless love. She is my role model in life!

    • Anonymous says...

      THIS x 10000000. While I can objectively understand the “struggle” behind this decision, don’t forget that many people would see this as a gift, not a struggle. Coming from someone about to go through IVF, I can only hope to reach this dilemma at some point in my life. That said, I do have to thank you for featuring Matt and Doree a while back – their podcast is hilarious and has provided many laughs!

      @Kari – congratulations on your pregnancy !

  44. Lori says...

    My husband and I decided our family was complete after our second child and we were quite sure. But that hasn’t stopped me from occasionally second guessing the decision and having pangs for a baby. I’m convinced it’s totally normal and that’s why I look so forward to friends having babies. It’s a chance hold and love a baby without, you know. EVERYTHING ELSE.

    • Jaclyn says...

      We have two and I would love a third but logistically and financially it seems impossible. I don’t want to regret the decision to not have one though, you know? My mom always said she wishes she had 3.

      But will I feel the same after a 3rd too?

      No matter how many children you have, if you have that feeling after 1, you’ll have the same feeling after 3.

  45. I recently had my first child, a delightful baby girl who is close to six months old. Unfortunately I had a less than examplary pregnancy with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (in fact, I wrote about it on my blog) and a less than exemplary labor ending in an emergency c-section. As the doctors told me I probably won’t be able to give birth naturally in the future, and that the odds are very high I’ll have HG during a next pregnancy, -and- the fact I won’t be getting any younger by the time I might mentally be ready for a second child, I think my daughter will remain my only offspring.

    Although I’m not at all planning on having a second child, the idea of being physically limited in what I might want for my family in the future feels like an itch I can’t scratch. It literally annoys me, in an inexplainable, even on a physical level. Is it hormones? Who knows, but I could definitely describe it as an aching. And this while me and the Mr actually thought (and still rationally think) one child might very well be sufficient for us.

    It’s a strange sensation I’ve been struggling with. So this article is definitely interesting to me!

  46. Theodora Matta says...

    I am the mother of 2. My daughter is 37 and my son, 35. They are 22 months apart. Parenting, it was all I ever dreamed it would be; happy, chaotic, challenging and fun. When they were about 4 and 6, I started to feel the “what if”. We thought about it for months and months and in the end decided we were good with our children, just the two of them.
    We lost our 35 year old son just 10 days ago and in reading this article it made me go back to the time, we were thinking of three. Two was perfect……

    • Jessica says...

      This is devastating. My heart pours out to you.

    • Sarah says...

      Oh my. I am so sorry.

    • Grace says...

      Theodora, I am so sorry for your loss. My heart aches for you.

    • Joanna says...

      I’m so deeply sorry for your loss. What a great loss it surely is.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m so, so sorry, theodora.

    • Christine says...

      I am so sorry for your loss.

    • Susan says...

      Sending you hugs and strength. I am so terribly sorry.

    • SW says...

      We lost our oldest daughter at 35. Her sister is now a new mom and wishing she had more aunties or uncles to introduce to her sweet baby.
      Her philosophy now is the more, the merrier!

    • natasha says...

      Oh I am so devastated for you and grieve with you. We lost my brother at 21. I am lucky to still have two brothers but always wonder if it were just Grant and me. I have two now and this constantly plays in my mind.

  47. Lizzie says...

    even after a sleepless night with my sick 1,5 year old and endless negotiations with his 7 year old sister, with no space or budget and my husband decidedly done… i still find myself sometimes secretly hoping for a surprise baby.

  48. Kimberley says...

    Ok so what about the Pre-Baby Ache? I do not yet have any babies, but The Ache is real. I’m in my late 20’s and it’s come on pretty strong recently, but (in the last year of my PhD) we are not in the right place to think about it yet. Sigh. Reading all these comments has certainly not helped ;-)

    • Liv says...

      Seconding this. I’m 25 and single but the Pre-Baby Ache -henceforth known as “the PBA” ;) – is so real.

  49. Felicity says...

    I’m of no help at all because I totally think you should have another one! I know, that’s totally weird to say, but how cool would it be to meet another new little person? Perhaps because we had so many struggles and we are totally done (after two) and it’s not even possible now (I’m 45!) I’m totally into other people having more. :)

    • Jen says...

      Don’t mean to be rude or overreact but here are just some reasons some people might be choosing not to have another kid… maybe you’ve had these or other struggles too, so why put the pressure on other people, even if it’s jokingly?
      – Rough or dangerous pregnancy
      – Rough or dangerous delivery/birth
      – Tough time with postpartum mental health
      – No relatives or close friends nearby to support
      – Finances
      – Want to focus on career
      – Want to focus on a hobby, passion, or something else for the betterment of oneself, one’s community, or heck, the whole world :)
      – Open to loving other small (or not-so-small) people the same way you have found love for your own small people… meeting interesting, wonderful people who don’t necessarily share your DNA
      – Physically unable to due to age, infertility, etc

  50. Theresa says...

    We had a difficult time getting pregnant, three years of unexplained infertility, miscarriage, IUIs, etc. Finally, fertility acupuncture helped us conceive naturally, but I was 40 by then. I knew we’d only have one because of my age and difficulty conceiving. I always felt I was a one child person and being an only child myself, it didn’t feel unusual. My daughter is now 3 1/2 and recently I started feeling sad she won’t have a sibling, cause she’s so amazing and would be the best big sister. I think I might always wonder now and again what it would have been like to have two, but I am so grateful for our daughter, I quickly move past the sad moments.

  51. Kate says...

    I have 3 kids: 6 yo girl, 3 yo boy, and a 1.5 yo girl. I am pregnant with my 4th and for the first time, I’ve had feelings of not wanting to do this again. I always thought I’d have 5 kids… I wanted my house to be the crazy messy party house where all the friends wanted to come hang. My pregnancies are easy and low risk, I’m 33 (not “too old” yet) and I think I have the personality that suits me to not needing to be in control of everything.. which would be a disaster if I tried at this point. I’ve always (through every pregnancy) thought there’d be more. So it is weird and unexpected to me that I have this peaceful done feeling- like this will be my last pregnancy.

    It makes me wonder and not trust myself- will I just turn around in a year and have this “ache” or will I stay this way? Also, I’ve always wanted to foster/adopt…. is this just done for my body or is it done for all kids?

    I agree with what others have said- There is a total difference between wanting to relive the baby years and wanting more. I looked at my 6 year old sleeping in her bed tonight after all day school and gymnastics practice… she has grown, she doesn’t fit in my arms, she is so strong and has none of that soft chubby baby feeling left to her body. I am pregnant currently and I still ache to go back to her first days, months, and to the sweet moments we shared when she was an only child. But I am also longing to know how this 4th baby will fit in our family. What will he/she be like, the personality, the relationships with siblings.. I want to know this baby and I want to go back.

  52. Annie says...

    I think it’s natural to want another baby, even if you’re done, especially around a newborn- they are enticing for a reason, it keeps them alive! I knew I was absolutely done though (after my third) after an incredibly miserable pregnancy where I felt like my body was pushed to the breaking point. Now when I have that newborn nostalgia (trademark?!) I remember how I longed to have my healthy, nausea and pain-free body back (and self back, in some ways) while pregnant! I don’t think I’m wanting another baby, I just think I’m missing when mine were in that stage.

  53. Kp says...

    I hope you go for it if that’s what your heart feels and if your husband agrees.
    I’m 41 and my husband is 48. We’re trying for our 2nd now especially because we want our daughter to have a sibling. She’s 3 1/2 now and she’s the best thing that’s ever happened to us! Why wouldn’t we want that again?
    My only advice would be to act sooner than later if you do! I’m nervous at my age trying to conceive but I know lots of people in 40s do have healthy babies so trying not to worry too much. But I’m regretting not trying earlier because we’ve been trying for months now.
    Actually several days ago you wrote a post (days before this one) but I don’t remember what it was and after I read it I thought to myself, “I hope she has another baby.” I probably shouldn’t be so forward! But I just felt like I could hear your heart and then you wrote this!
    I’m sure there are lots of things we could analyze about whether or not people should have more babies but I think it’s sad when decisions about having babies boil down to “whether or not they leave too much of a footprint.” I’m sorry I don’t mean any offense to those who commented such, I admire their ability to think selflessly, but I don’t think creating new life should be used in same sentence as overcrowding earth, reducing footprint. Creating new life is beautiful and what a gift! The animals have it easy- they don’t even have to think and agonize over it!
    Anyway, I wish you the best, whichever way it goes!

  54. Megan says...

    The “ache” began when my baby was 8months old. That was 12 years ago. With time, it became less and less. Graduating to a faint pulse, settling into a random thought. Will it ever leave? Probably never. But that is okay. I am okay. Maternal instinct is a feeling, emotion, and process that will be carried in my heart for eternity. Motherly love.

    • Sandra says...

      This touched me. Those words are perfect.

    • Such beautiful words.

  55. Emily says...

    I have always wanted to have two children. I had my first a little over a year ago and despite the challenges just loved having a baby around. We are now trying for our second which will likely be our last and I already feel bittersweet about it, as if I want to post-pone having the second so my baby-years won’t end too quickly!

  56. Luísa says...

    I feel exactly like you Joanna, especially after I see that “Oh, no! The woman is having a 5th!” When the baby blues strike I just feel grateful for having had two beautiful kids and having the time, health and money to devote to them.

    I feel better when I realise how much better it is for the world that I don’t have another one. Think Harvey and Irma and…

    Something I read recently :
    “This is a topic that’s highly emotionally charged, for obvious reasons. People love their kids. People want kids. People like to think their kids will be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Some of those kids will indeed be part of solutions to any number of environmental and social ills. The vast majority of them will be fine, admirable human beings. Some will cure cancer. Others will fight crime.

    And each will add to the total of humanity’s sheer numbers. Each will be one more consumer of transport miles and disposable plastics, one more occasional waster of electrical power, one more set of footprints in a world that can little afford more human footprints.”

    I find this is a very important message. It makes me stop thinking of having kids and start thinking of what I can do fir the ones I have and our global community.

    Check articles on the environmental impact of having kids and you’ll feel great about your decision.

    Xxx

  57. Cousa says...

    My mother was told that she would never be able to have another baby after me, and when we found out that she was pregnant after 7 years of that dreadful diagnosis, we went crazy! My brother became the fun baby of our family and I’m so glad he is here. I remember my mother crying with joy and getting excited for the new baby smell she longed for a very long time. It’s been almost 30 years since I was born, and my mother says still she feels she could care for another one, or many more. Motherhood is weird, beautiful and deep.

    I don’t have children and I don’t think I ever will. Please don’t think I’m comparing my situation to motherhood, but I get “an ache” when I look at my dog. I know she’ll probably be my only dog, and I will never have one like her. Knowing that her puppyhood had passed so quickly and even though I may get another dog in future, it won’t be the same. The desire to relive all that time from the day we first met, is so strong. Do other people feel the same?

    • Colette says...

      Cousa, I too plan to remain blissfully childfree, but despite having 2 dogs and 2 cats, I always have an ‘ache’ for more, especially when there are so many who need homes! I also wish I would’ve been able to know all my pets when they were babies, but they were all adults when I rescued them. Sometimes I picture them as little puppies and kittens and I can’t even imagine how cute they were in real life :) I know parents of actual humans may scoff at us, but I’d lay down my life for my pets just as they would for their kids!

  58. Nicole says...

    Oh, this got me! I have a six month old, and as I am on the older side of the fertility spectrum, every time he does something for the first time, I find myself thinking that this could be the last time I go through these first times. So much joy accompanied with a touch of melancholy.

    To me, this is the central lesson of adulthood- realizing that people and the decisions we make are not black and white, but rather most aspects of our lives exist in that grey area which is full of contradictions. No one or no one decision is 100% good or right or bad.

  59. Kelley Anne says...

    Oh this is the eternal question, isn’t it? I have two kids, aged five and two, and talk to my mom friends all the time about this topic. Some friends are done at one, some at two…and some, like my husband and I, can’t help longing for another, despite the concerns about money and sleep and space and time and schedules. I know exactly what you mean, I long to hold one more baby of ours in my arms in the middle of the night, feeding it back to sleep. Many of our friends think we might be crazy, everyone’s finally sleeping through the night most of the time, but there it is.

  60. We were so sure that we only wanted two kids that when we were having our second via cesarean birth, we had arranged to have my tubes tied as well. And then, unexpectedly, I felt sad almost as soon as we left the hospital. That whole first year as I nursed, I thought, this will be the last baby I nurse. And it continued like that, this will be the last… until he started school and I had more time to pursue work and other passions and the ache feels mostly distant now. But as with all wonderful things that end, it’s still there and think it will always be. I even wrote a poem once to help myself cope with that and other losses, including the ability to have convos with my dad after his stroke. I’ve come to think a big part of savoring life’s sweetness is the ability to feel the inevitable losses too.

  61. Lisette says...

    My husband and I always wanted to have three children. After our son was born 2,5 months early, and both my son and I were staying on NICU/ICU I thought I would never even dare to think about a second child. Now our beautifull son is almost 4! Nine months ago our doughter was born, 2 months early. Now they’re both big and healthy :-) and we decided we are done. I’m so super gratefull for the fact that we’re all still here, alive and healthy. Most of the time I feel that this is the only good decision we can make and it feels good, and sometimes I secretly wonder…I hope that feeling will just fade away…

  62. Annie Green says...

    As soon as I had delivered my first, I wanted another baby: immediately. Less than two years later my daughter was born and I knew straightaway that I was done with it. Now they are grown, I often yearn to have them back, small, for just a weekend. Just…one….weekend…

  63. Sladjana Ivancevic says...

    I was the only child in my family (infertility problems) So I always wanted to have big family. I have four kids and when I gave birth to my third I thought that’s it,I’m done. But after four years I found myself thinking about having baby again. Maybe after five or ten years I would feel sorry for not having one. So I decided to do it one more time.
    My life changed in so many positive ways. His love is so intense and I am so relaxed in mother role ,enjoing every minute.
    Now I know my number is four. If you feel like missing something in your life just do it. You can’t decide what number is right but you can feel it.
    PS. Sorry for mistakes ,my english is pretty rusty :)

  64. Victoria Haynes says...

    My younger child just started a 2s preschool, and this is the exact moment in his sister’s life when I became pregnant again, so it feels like there’s something missing. My husband always jokes to people having their third child “make it look easy!” because he would like more, but I definitely think two is the right number for us. I have been so excited for more time to myself this fall, but now that they are both at school (for three days a week, at least), I hate to think too long about the prospect of never having a baby again. I’m tearing up just writing this! But I know if I had another it would basically just be be away of putting off that moment where I realize the baby stage is really over, and of (not to get too dark or anything) staving off my own mortality.

  65. june2 says...

    Use that energy to deepen intimacy with the ones you have. They need it, especially as they grow into teens, then men.

    • Joey says...

      I love this. Thank you.

    • Stephanie says...

      This made me cry. Thank you for this reminder.

  66. This hits home today. My younger son turned two last week, and I’ve been going through old photos to finally catch up on (the last 18 months or so) of his baby book. Really aching for those milk-drunk moments and toothless smiles that I was too exhausted and cranky to absorb. Thanks for nailing it, as usual.

  67. Kelly says...

    i always wanted 3 kids but after years of unsuccessful infertility treatments followed by years of adoption paperwork/waiting, I’m so, so happy and done with our 2 beautiful daughters! My girls are 7 and 17 months. I was almost 44 when number 2 came home…and while she is a super easy, happy baby, and I truly love seeing her through each new milestone, I look forward to our future lives that don’t revolve around a nap schedule and constant monitoring of toddler craziness. I want to travel more, shed all the baby gear, ditch the nanny payments, etc etc.

    but of course I mourn how brief and fleeting her tinyness was and that all of the hard earning wisdom of how to be parents to infants is no longer needed! every time baby grows out of clothes i both can’t wait to get rid of them and feel that catch in my throat that she doesn’t fit into them anymore. then i feel a catch in my throat over the fact that we’ll be paying college tuition in our 60s, gulp!

  68. Desiree says...

    For me, I know I am done. Kitchen is closed!!! I think if parents had teenagers they wouldn’t want another one! I have a 11 and 15 year old. It is SO hard! I think 2 is a great number. But to each his/her own.

  69. Em says...

    This post and all the comments are fascinating to read. When I was younger, I just always assumed I’d have kids (2 boys) because that’s what you do. College, start a career, adopt some dogs, get married, buy a house, have babies! I never felt pressured to do that, that’s just how I assumed my life would go. I grew up babysitting and enjoyed spending time with kids. Now, though, I’ve checked everything off the list except for the babies, and I’ve come to realize I’m not sure babies are part of my future. They’re cute, and we’ve got some sweet nephews we get to hang out with and borrow for the occasional weekend, but I’ve never once felt that “oh-my-god-ovaries-exploding-have-to-smell-that-baby’s-head” ache that I’ve seen my friends get. Luckily, my husband is on the same page. We’re open to the possibility that we’ll want kids someday, but as we creep towards our mid-thirties it seems less and less likely and we’re fine with that too.

    • To be the fun-loving aunt and uncle who provide occasional respite for the parents and good times for the kids is a wonderful gift. I had that with my sister and her husband and when they called for a weekend kid fix it was a joy for all. Even if we couldn’t afford to go out for dinner, browsing used book shops, getting coffee, and sleeping in felt like a long-lost dream!

  70. Oh my ache is potent these days – six weeks after the birth of (most likely) our final baby. If money was no object, I’d keep on having babies but this little guy was our frozen embryo – our one and only after having twin IVF babies six years ago. So he’s our third little miracle but god does it ever hurt thinking that I won’t give birth again.

  71. Cori says...

    EVERY SINGLE DAY! I have two and my husband is done, but I am not sure I will ever be (well until Biology of course).

    • Silver says...

      Hopefully you will become a much loved grand-mother.

  72. Chloe says...

    Fantastic post! But, actually, I think that the Ache could come from fear of aging, and also probably fear of not feeling loved as much as when your baby was a newborn (instead of the love from a more mature and independent child.). I think that one way to make the Ache disappear is to fill out that “fear and loneliness” hole by focusing on what you already have in your life and be happy. I do not want to sound harsh, but I really think that this Ache is actually a bit selfish. Shoudn’t we feel complete and happy without the need to have more babies?. I feel that instead of beating this fear, we indulge ourself by telling us that this feeling is a maternal instinct or even a human instinct. So many of us have more babies to actually “save our marriage” or even sometimes because one of our child has turned out difficult to raise or just because our kids grow up and we do not feel loved by them as before. I think maybe it would be a great example for our daugthers (and sons!) to overcome our own fears by living life fully everyday, enjoying what is around us and raising the children that are already here, so they can grow up and become amazing adults. ;)

    • Lara says...

      What an awesome comment! You’re a wise woman, Chloe. :)

    • Joey says...

      I love this. So true. When I think of having a third baby, I think of small hands and baby smell, but I also thing about yet another year (or more, let’s be honest) of not having enough energy for my husband and the kids I do have.

  73. Sherri says...

    I feel like this, although we are definitely not having more… but it’s hard to consider that, it feels so final. I have been thinking of looking into more permanent birth control (ie, tubal ligation) but that makes me ache, too. Can you do a post on birth control options when you know you aren’t having more? xo

  74. As someone who got married late (35), had children late, tried to squeeze 2 kids in before I hit 40, and now, at 42, feel all the risks of delivering a baby in my mid-40s, I guess I have trouble understanding why women would stop having babies before they cannot have babies anymore.

    If I could have a baby today without all the risks associate with “geriatic pregnancy” I would have babies till I couldn’t anymore. I would have 4 or 5 kids. I never thought I wanted baby, though I was always open to the idea, then when I had a child, my world changed. I changed. I thought I would love my baby so much that I wouldn’t have room for 2, and then I had another and discovered the joys of seeing my children play and love each other. I can only imagine what having more children must be like and how even more joyful it would be.

    • Jen says...

      “I guess I have trouble understanding why women would stop having babies before they cannot have babies anymore.”

      Sorry, I realize you might not be completely serious and it’s more of a rhetorical question, but taken at face value this is a pretty misogynistic worldview. Why women would stop… because it’s each woman’s choice on what she wants to do with her body and what she wants to spend her time, energy, and money on? Because a woman is not simply a vessel for the production of babies? How ‘handmaid’s tale’!

  75. Jenny says...

    I have a 2 and 4 year old and that’s it for us. I’ve always been curious about the potential puzzle piece of a third… the way #1 and #2 added so much to our family that I wonder how we even existed without each of them… what would the next perfect little face look like? Or the perfect little personality that I didn’t even know our family needed?

  76. Oh my goodness, I think I feel the ache everyday. I wonder if it has anything to do with our kids physically starting to pull away as they get older. I went to cuddle with my four year old on the couch the other day and she told me, “I just want some alone time right now, mama.” It broke my heart. My younger one is also 21 months and I would’ve been pregnant with him when his sister was his age, so I think it just feels like something is missing, even though we’ve decided two is our number. Sigh.

  77. Lacey says...

    Our daughter is 2.5 and for the majority of her life I have felt like we are complete as a family (my husband is not entirely in the same boat). I can’t say I anticipated that feeling – it just happened. There was a brief period a few months ago when holding a friend’s new baby where I became less certain of my “one and done” mindset but those feelings eventually lessened. For many reasons, I just don’t know that another one will make sense for us- financially we’ve had a really difficult time and I finally went back to work last month. I FINALLY felt ready to return to work – to get pregnant anytime soon would really thwart any career goals I had already put a pause on. Plus, we could never afford daycare for two and I certainly do not think I could stay home with two without having a mental breakdown (sort of kidding, sort of not).

    I think that once my daughter is in school, maybe we will revisit it. My husband is on board with that – he and his brother are 4 years apart and he liked that age difference. I can’t say I imagine my mind will change, but it certainly won’t until pre-K or Kindergarten (and consequently, I will be a bit older, like 35-36).

    Anyway. I just tell myself that if I start to feel differently -that maybe our family is not complete – I will let myself feel the feeling for a bit (like I did a few months ago) and see if it passes or remains constant for a while (like when we decided to try for a baby).

  78. Gwen says...

    I had this overwhelming ache after having two boys. I felt our family was incomplete somehow but I didn’t want to push fate either. We tried for years and nothing. I was sad but could move forward with our beautiful two…then I wanted to try “my last time” and give it my all to try to get pregnant again. This meant one final surgery…it happened!
    We were blessed with our third baby, our miracle boy.
    The birth was by far the easiest and I momentarily suggested to everyone that our family might just expand again.
    Our baby is now 6 months and quite honestly I am complete and quite frankly I am sure he is our last.
    I am now 40 and i didn’t anticipate the challenges that came with having a baby at this age. He is beautiful and such a dream…don’t get me wrong…but he has reassured us that he will be our last baby.

  79. Jenny says...

    Our boys are 5 and 2 and I definitely feel The Ache, even though we are finished having babies. I get warm fuzzies when I drive past the hospital where they were born, and I get excited about my well-woman exam just because I get to see my OB/GYN and spend a little time with him reminiscing about the magical moments of birthing my boys. But I remind myself that college costs a fortune, we live in a very small house, and surely these feelings are just hormones designed to keep the human race going. Recently we got a puppy, which is a nice reminder of the difficulty with sleepless nights and working with a subject who cannot fully communicate his needs and wants.

  80. Lexy says...

    I have two small children and my husband and I are facing separation. I am blessed with the two I have and know if we part ways, life will be hard enough with two, but that doesn’t make it any easier to let go of my dreams of a third.

  81. Karen says...

    I would love a post about people and couples who have yearned for a child but had to come to terms with a life without kids. How did they change their lifes? Does the pain get any easier? How can you go from couple to family even if you unfortunately don’t become parents? It hurts when people call my husband and I a couple instead of seeing us as a different kind of family.

    • Rachael says...

      I would be interested to see a post like this. We have been blessed with a beautiful baby girl, but I have a few friends and family in our lives that haven’t been as fortunate. I ache for them daily and often wonder how they move forward in life without children that were deeply wanted. As a friend and family member, something like this would be helpful.

    • Rachael says...

      Also, I would like to say, that I’m so sorry, Karen. My heart aches for you that those dreams didn’t happen for you. You and your husband are absolutely a family, regardless of what friends/family may say. Love and hugs!

  82. Y says...

    Goodness. I think I’m feeling an ache from every aspect of life right now. Just about a month ago, I sat my husband down and told him that I would like one more child and that the timing would be perfect if we started trying now. His face became very serious, he almost looked like he was going to cry. He told me that he doesn’t want another child because he doesn’t see us being together for much longer. He told me didn’t love me or care about me anymore, and that he wants a divorce. I knew that our relationship was struggling, but I thought that it was because we were still adjusting to having a baby and becoming parents (our child will be 2 in a few months). I had no idea he felt this way. I found out about a week ago that he’s been having an affair so for past 6 months or so. I’m aching not only at the loss of my marriage, but also because it is very likely that I won’t be having another child. I still feel like I’m living in a nightmare that I wish I can wake from. CoJ Team, can you do a piece on divorce? Would love to read about the experiences of other women going through this painful process.

    • krystle says...

      Y my heart hurts for you. Sending you love in this difficult time.

    • tessa says...

      what a horrible conversation that must have been! i’m so sorry you are going through this. good luck with everything.

    • Maureen says...

      Hugs…

    • Beatrice says...

      This hurt my heart too. Thinking of you. Your life will be full of happiness again one day, even though right now you’re feeling such pain.

    • Annalisa says...

      I’m so sorry. You must be hurting so much. My thoughts and prayers are with you. xoxo

    • Christine says...

      I am so sorry for all your losses from that conversation. My thoughts go out to you at this difficult time.

    • giselle taminez says...

      I am so sorry you are going through this. I went through a similar situation when my oldest was the same age as yours. Except he was never honest with me and he lied for over a year. It was the darkest time in my life going through a divorce with a young child, however life gets better and you heal. I’ve now remarried and had another baby 10 years later. The divorce was painful but I learned so much about myself and gained a new perspective in life. For a while I was saddened that my daughter wouldn’t have a “family” but years later, when her friends’ parents started getting divorced, she said she was grateful to not remember that time. Sending you lot’s of prayers and strength. You and your child will be ok.

  83. Maria says...

    … just wondering if this would be the same ‘ache’ a woman who could not have children feel as years pass by? Reading this article was kind of devastating for me. Due to a very serious condition and medical reasons, I made my decision to have a full hysterectomy in my very early 40s and it is up to now that it hit me while reading this article.

  84. Margot says...

    i don’t have (yet) any kids and i was never the one who always knew for sure when, how many and what their names were going to be. however, with time and relationships, in my mind, i have said goodbye to the possible babies i could have had with my former partners…it feels strange and bitter sweet at the same time…

  85. Beth says...

    Thank you, Joanna for sharing this and nailing exactly how I feel right now. Our daughter is 3 1/2, and will be our only for a number of reasons, but I’m watching a number of her peers have siblings and my daughter wants one so badly. I know that for us (and for her in the long run) it’s all for the best- and there’s no way we could handle two!- but I’m aching for her, for another baby for us, and for her to be littler again, if just for a day.

    • Maria says...

      I feel the exact same way! My daughter just turned 5 and wants a sibling so bad, and as friends have babies (plural) I ache for another one as well. Peer pressure? But, as you said, for many reasons we will not be having anymore. I feel the ache pretty strong but feel that our family could be complete, too.

  86. Lisa says...

    We went through IVF for our baby. The first embryo didn’t take, but the second one did, and we now have the most beautiful baby boy. We have 5 more fertilized embryos in the freezer, and we have agreed that no matter how many of them are successful pregnancies (or not), we’re going to go through them all. So, we may end up with six kids, or we may end up with just the one. But we’re going to take a chance with every single one and be thankful for whatever comes our way.

    • Sarah says...

      I admire your decision. I have three frozen embryos. I’m thankful that I have two healthy children, and would like to transfer another embryo to grow our family. However, I struggle with what to do if I am left with any remaining ones . This indecisiveness keeps me worried, guilty, anxious, and sad. But, I also have faith that whatever decision we make will be an opportunity to trust God and face the fear of the unknown.

  87. Kelly says...

    I’ve got the ache for the first one and it just isn’t happening for us. Seeing a great RE but this is definitely the most painful thing I’ve ever been through. Every day feels like I’m just searching for hope, desperately.

    • Claire says...

      So sorry for your pain. Wishing you well.

  88. Sarah says...

    I’m curious if other readers who have gone through IVF to conceive think about the decision to have more children based on the number of remaining embryos. I have two children (15 month old and 3.5 year old) and for me, this highly emotional and complicated decision to have another child weighs heavily on my heart every single day. We have three frozen embryos and I feel guilt, anxiety, sadness and confusion on what do with this situation. I would love to hear from other readers who are struggling with these feelings and choices….

    • Anna says...

      I definitely have these same feelings of guilt and sadness about our remaining embryo, and haven’t decided whether we can even afford to try for another child. If we don’t, I know I will mourn that embryo – I’m crying just writing this here! It’s so complicated and odd, and incredibly fraught.

    • Leah PS says...

      Yes, I have 2 remaining embryos. Both girls. I think of them and how / if they will grow our family all the time.

    • L says...

      We did IVF and also had embryos stored for future children. We got pregnant the second time on our own and never went back for our embryos. I have a family history of a disease that is seeing great progress as a result of stem cell research. My husband and I decided to donate our embryos to a research facility and it feels like exactly the right decision for us. Like they are still fulfilling a great purpose with great love. Even though this is what was right for our family, I cried when we made the donation and think of them from time to time. It’s such a strange thing to have to consider. I hope you find the solution that feels right to you.

  89. Joey says...

    Ahhh…this is so me right now. I was sure we were done with 2. And sometimes I feel done. Other times, I see another baby in our lives. The trouble is I don’t think my husband’s mental health would do well with a third, so I think I have to pick my marriage. It’s important, but also bittersweet for me.

    • Maud says...

      I wonder, if my parents were starting their family today, would they have had as many children? Like many, they’re from an era in which you had as many children as you were blessed to have. I know the strain this put on my mother, in particular. I really believe her quality of life would have been better if she’d had fewer children. And I don’t mean materially, but psychologically. The world is different now, we have more choices, we’re less judged, we’re more educated. We don’t need to sacrifice our entire selves for the pursuit of raising children.
      Some people can run large businesses, some are better managing small business. And, generally, healthy businesses have managers that are best suited for the size and type of the business. Neither manager is less of a person or less successful. Maybe not the best analogy, but I hope you get what I’m trying to say. It starts at the top, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the management team, which is a partnership. Set your business up based on that and your success will know no limits. You’ll be able to manage whatever comes at you.
      Bravo to you for choosing what’s best for your entire family, even when it’s hard. Try not to look back, but live in the now, with a forward view.

  90. Cindy says...

    Oh, that ache…does it ever, ever go away? I’ve felt that ache since the delivery of my twin boys who are now 22. Their biological father and I separated when they were 6 and I didn’t play the “another baby will save the marriage” card though sometimes I wish desperately I would have. When I finally met the man I knew we were destined to be a family with, I had difficulty conceiving, had 2 miscarriages with the last being a blighted ovum/anembryonic pregnancy when I was 39. I’ve never been in a depression as deep as I was after that. Though I wanted another child so badly, my fear of losing another child was so. much. greater. That relationship ultimately failed and I am so thankful to have the wonderful, healthy boys I have. Thrilled they grew up to be independent, capable men (even though now I wish they were waaay more dependent so I felt needed!). Yet every day I yearn for another baby. To feel it grow inside of me, to know that her/him and I share wonderful secrets that no one else will ever know, to plummet into love so deeply at first glance. And to breathe in that incredible baby smell and kiss those scrumptious baby toes one more time.

  91. Crystal says...

    My kids are 4 & 5 and I am always feeling the ache…luckily my two siblings recently had babies and I was reminded why we are done having babies! When I feel the ache I just try to focus on all of the fun stuff we are doing now as a family and why doing these things would be so much harder with a new baby in tow.

    • Bean says...

      This is my strategy, too.

      I also abhor 90% of the newborn/infant phase, so there’s that.

  92. Christine says...

    We are in the thick of it – a 4.5 year old boy and 18 month old girl. She still does not sleep through the night, is STILL nursing (will these boobs ever be mine again??), I work full time, daycare costs are drowning us, I had preterm labor and was on bedrest with both pregnancies, had serious PPD with BOTH and I’m so sleep deprived I wonder if I’ll ever sleep again. We are done having children – another one would push us over the edge. We are good parents now, I don’t think we could be our best with three kids. I have one of each gender and that has been fun even though I would have been happy with two boys (or two girls).

    And yet, I still feel the ache. That picture above with the baby all snuggled up to its mom made my entire body ache. :) Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment?

  93. Isabella says...

    I think it’s important to distinguish between wanting another, or going back in time to have yours all over again. I get The Ache too, even though I was very unsure about just having one, but I know in my heart that it’s very much the latter for me.

    • Amy says...

      That’s a really good point.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      such a wise perspective, isabella.

    • Elisabeth says...

      This exactly. I don’t really want another baby, but I do want to go back and “visit” with my son at earlier ages: to hold him at the newborn stage (and the toddler stage, even the twos) again, this time without so much anxiety.

  94. Jenna says...

    I have two little boys. I feel that ache sometimes but I think it’s largely because I know that my husband and I could have an infinite number of babies and I would love every single one of them…but I keep reminding myself that doesn’t mean I *need* to have all the babies! Our youngest is almost 3 and so many parts of our family life are starting to get easier. I think that I need more of my favorite people to expand their families with babies that I can love and cuddle (and having gone through the tougher times of caring for a newborn myself, I think I can be there for my sister or my best friend and their newborns in ways that I couldn’t know how, years ago).

  95. Talia says...

    I have two adult daughters and always thought that two was perfect amount. When I hold my granddaughter (9 months!) I hope my daughter has a lot of babies – she is just the sweetest and I selfishly want to have a baby in my arms for the rest of my life!

  96. Thank you for posting this!!! I’m going through it now… big time.

  97. Anna says...

    I ache everyday. I always wanted two children. We have an amazing 4 year old son, and just marked the one year anniversary of losing our second pregnancy after I was diagnosed with cancer. I had very aggressive treatment and am doing ok – about to start a promising clinical trial. I’m so grateful that I have the chance to fight this so that I can hopefully see my son grow up. And, I’m so sad and angry that this cancer took away the family I’d hoped to have. The door isn’t closed on adopting one day, but it’s hard to feel confident enough in my future to feel like that’s the best thing for our family. Time will tell, I hope. In the meantime, I try to focus on my gratitude for the beautiful family of three that we have, and to live a life worthy of the baby we lost.

    • MBT says...

      I am so sorry for your loss, and for your struggle with cancer. You sound very brave and strong, and I wish you and your family a long and happy future!

    • Pat says...

      I am so sorry. I hope you will be ok. I lost two pregnancies trying for baby no 2. I was devasted. I felt our family of three is not enough. And then my husband was diagnosed with GBM (very bad brain tumor). Now I cherish my family of three as long as I can/ am given. But it is so different now. I hope for us all.
      With love to you Anna.

  98. Jessie says...

    I thought we were done at two. Then a year later (After we gave away all the baby furniture) I wanted another one. My husband and I decided since I was an only and he was one of 5, three would be the perfect amount for our family. After I gave birth I knew I could do a 4th and that ache was there. About a year and a half later our neighbor gave birth to her first and suddenly that ache went away. Overnight it was gone. I thought to myself thank goodness I’m never going to be pregnant, I never have to wake up in the middle of the night for feeding or changing diapers. I was thrilled I never had to go through that again. Suddenly I could look forward of moving on. It will go away it just might take time.

  99. Emilee says...

    What a timely post. Husband and I just celebrated our 11 year anniversary and were talking over lunch how the ache was attacking us both. We have two amazing boys, 7 and 9 and it seems that there may be one still missing. We have gone back and forth over the years, but we were never on the same page at the same time. Perhaps that is the sign. Oh but our hearts, they ache for a little girl. I always denied this when asked if we wished for a girl, “oh no,” I would say, “we are perfectly content with our boys.” Which we are, but now that my mother is gone and my aunt, and I have no sisters the desire to have a namesake is so strong. DH years for a girl to, but that is another thing that makes us pause. There’s no guarantee of the baby’s sex, would we be just as happy with another boy? I don’t think the ache will ever go away. It’s comforting to hear that we are not alone in the “ache.”

    • natasha says...

      I feel this so much and really appreciate your honesty.

  100. Kate says...

    We thought about our bonus baby for ten years before giving into the baby ache. He’s our FOURTH BOY and he has been the best decision ever. We nick-named him “the fun baby.” He’s eleven months old and chunky, and giggly, and wobbly. Some of our best family moments are cheering him on as he eats baby puffs, one by one, off the kitchen table. He claps; we clap; everyone claps at his major accomplishment of feeding himself (or throwing a ball, or petting the guinea pig, or attempting to walk) — everything is exciting! With three big brothers (a teenager and two tweens) he does not lack for attention. The Fun Baby owns our collective family heart.

    • Rue says...

      I am unmarried and have zero children and this comment suddenly makes me want to have four kids, including a Fun Baby as #4.

    • Boymomma4ever says...

      We have a surprise #4 on the way! As a girlie-girl I was secretly hoping baby #4 might be that little girl as we have three boys, but…we have been blessed with another little man! I’m both thrilled and anxious so I hope our 4th is that happy easy-going babe!

    • Louise says...

      Oh how wonderful! 4 Boys! Imagine all the love! I just found out I’m expecting a fourth baby. I wouldn’t mind another boy. I have found mothering three boys to be so joyful and exciting. FOUR BOYS must be amazing!

    • Jeannie says...

      AH I loved reading this!!! What wonderful family dynamic!

    • Anna says...

      I loved this! What a lucky little person to have so many adoring fans :) I am thinking if we have a third s/he will be at least 6 years younger than our 2nd, and 9 years younger than our 1st. If we have one, this is the dynamic I hope we’ll have – thanks for sharing :)

  101. Elise says...

    Totally identify with this! A good friend and I were talking about this exact feeling over the weekend, and she said something really wise: that she thinks this ache is about our own desire to feel like a young mother again, that as watching our kids grow up we are facing our own aging process, and having a newborn feels like turning back time a little bit. This is echoed in the wistful looks I get from older parents/grandparents, who always tell us to enjoy this while it lasts…

    • Bean says...

      THIS! Yes!

    • Chloe says...

      I TOTALLY agree with you! I really think that the Ache comes from fear of aging, and also probably fear of not feeling loved as much as when your baby was a newborn (instead of the love from a more mature and independent child.). I think that the only way to make the Ache disappear is to fill out that “fear and loneliness” hole by focusing on what you already have in your life and be happy. I do not want to sound harsh, but I really think that this Ache is actually a bit selfish. Shoudn’t we feel complete and happy without the need to have more babies?. I feel that instead of beating this fear, we indulge ourself by telling us that this feeling is a maternal instinct or even a human instinct. So many of us have more babies to actually “save our marriage” or even sometimes because one of our child has turned out difficult to raise or just because our kids grow up and we do not feel loved by them as before. I think maybe it would be a great example for our daugthers (and sons!) to overcome our own fears by living life fully everyday, enjoying what is around us and raising the children that are already here, so they can grow up and become amazing adults. ;)

  102. Anna says...

    I am lying in bed at 5:30am listening to my two month old grunt from his crib and with little toddler feet tucked behind my knees. It was a long night of feedings, bathroom breaks and water runs. Finally, I brought the toddler in bed with me and haven’t slept since. Yet, in all of that, there is the moment where it is quiet, warm little feet against you and a sweet grunter making me laugh that erases every hard moment and makes you feel overcome with gratitude. I love babies and joke about a third but this is my family and it feels complete.

  103. Amanda Nielsen says...

    Love this post… Obviously not alone in the aching.
    I have a daughter just turned two. I needed fertility treatment to get pregnant and that time was so hard… The fear of never being a mom. Then I got pregnant and loved it! I feel so comfortable and beautiful being pregnant. Like 200 percent woman.
    Then when my daughter was 11 months and my maternity leave was over I felt solo tired… Couldn’t believe it was so hard to start working again… Then I took a test and was 8 months pregnant ?
    Now I have a two year old ang a five month old baby. It’s hard work!!!
    But I still feel the ache even though they drive me crazy and I crave time to myself…
    I can hardly cope with the thought of never being pregnant again… To feel the little kicks under my heart ❤
    I think we will test our luck ang try having a third in a few years….
    Someone told me you never regret the children you have only the ones you don’t have…

    ❤?☺ Amanda, a reader from Denmark

  104. Meg says...

    We’re done making babies, most likely. For me the ache is more of a bruise that just won’t heal. Usually I don’t feel it, but occasionally something will bump up against it and I’m shot through with a dull throb of sensation. Sometimes I roll over onto it in the night and it wakes me up, and I lay awake thinking, “what was that?” and my womb is all “oh, it’s just me feelin’ lonesome.” But those little moments of pain or wanting can add such richness to life, like salt to a dish – the little hurt always always reminds me of what I do have and it makes me grateful. It makes me pause and take stock and be intentionally glad of my life. It’s a gift.

    • Christine says...

      Your comment moved me so. Thank you for sharing it. You articulate my ache in a way I could not.

    • Beth says...

      Beautifully put!

    • Alex says...

      This is so beautifully written. I want to read a whole book about your bruise.

  105. Dottie says...

    How well I know the “ache.” We were older parents when we had one baby. Having a baby was the best decision of my life. I often ached for another one. When I was perimenopausal, I was so sad. Women kept telling me about the freedom that accompanies menopause, how great it was to be menopausal. I agree that there are many great things about menopause, but I was sad about the physical reality that I could have no more babies.
    Thank goodness for younger people having babies. I get to hold them, rock them, smell their heads and that wonderful baby smell.

    • Silver says...

      You sound like a lovely woman

  106. Janet says...

    Such a lovely conversation you’ve started, Joanna! During my first pregnancy, I already knew that there was one more person after this baby who belonged in our family. Fast forward 4 years, and baby number 2 arrived. He has brought the balance we needed and our family is complete. For now. The thought of going through pregnancy again keeps the ache at bay, but I know that we still have room to love another, and if life takes us in a direction where we can provide care and attention to a foster child, we will in a heartbeat. All children need a warm loving home, and since my husband and I, and our own 2 children, were lucky enough to be born into that, I hope we can pay it forward some day.

  107. Beatrice says...

    I understand the “ache” when it is truly decided you’re done, or otherwise know for a fact it’s the last baby. However, it appears to me having read your posts on this before that you simply want a third baby and that’s ok! Have him/her now before it’s too late. You obviously long for a baby and you’re already parenting two others so the logistics will work out. Think of the excitement for your boys to become big brothers. Don’t close the chapter of baby-making yet if you’re aching for a baby greatly…. you’ll only live to regret it. Best of wishes to you!

  108. karen says...

    We are still hoping to get pregnant and have our first child! The wait is painful and very isolating. I don’t have the first idea how our life will look like if it doesn’t work out and that scares me. I love my husband and enjoy my career but just feel that so much is missing in my life.

    • Jo says...

      Hi Karen, I just wanted to say that you are not alone in this. I know the wait is painful and seemingly isolating, but you are not alone in this. At the start, I cried many secret tears only to realise that sharing about my infertility doesn’t make me weak but in fact, encourages others in their fertility journey too.
      My “ache” to have a baby continues so we are looking at some fertility options now.

  109. Trisha says...

    All of these comments have me tearing up. So beautiful. How does the COJ team know exactly what to post?? I played hooky with my almost 2 year old yesterday. We watched Daniel Tiger and he got a new baby sister! I thought Sonny was really excited because it was a baby. Well, before bed she is walking around the house saying, Mommy, Daddy, baby sister. I said, you don’t have a baby sister, Mommy is not having any other babies. She said in the saddest little voice “Ohhhh noooooo”! LOL! Of course I guess she doesn’t really understand, but I have struggled with this decision so much! I can’t imagine not having my sister and my brother. And when I watch Sonny play by herself, it makes me feel proud and achy at the same time. Will she be lonely? Will she be alright with just her Mom and Dad? What about when we are gone? So many questions. I too long for the baby time and feel like if I got another chance I could do better. Take more pictures, be kinder to myself and to her, be more patient. Enjoy the baby time more. Every little moment is slipping by so fast. I just keep telling myself to live in the now and enjoy it all. But it is hard and definitely a struggle. Love to all the parents out there! What a wild ride it all is!

    • Melissa says...

      This comment made me laugh because I watched that same Daniel Tiger show with my 2.5 year old son and I kept looking at my son thinking, is he going to comment or understand that he doesn’t have a sibling? Eek!
      I always like watching shows like “Justin Time” or “Dot with him because the main character is a fun, smart, only child and it makes me feel less guilty about him not having siblings:)

  110. Heidi says...

    My former boss (who has three boys) told me, you know that you’re done when you want to start selling/ giving away the baby stuff.
    I have an 8-month old baby boy and cannot give away anything – probably not done yet. ?

  111. Sarah says...

    Feeling quite the opposite actually…after years of trying to get pregnant, we discovered over the summer that we are expecting. We had always planned on one child, maybe two down the road. Well…our triplets are arriving in January!!! Not a bit of our life’s plan has gone to plan, so we’re more ‘go-with-the-flow’ at this point…

    • Carol says...

      Wow, what a surprise that must have been. Congratulations and good luck!

    • Sarah says...

      Carol,

      Thank you. It was a very shocking, very happy surprise. I’m still not sure I’ve come to terms with what my life will become. I only have to think of the years spent without a baby to remember that this is an enormous blessing for me and my husband.

      Sarah

    • Christine says...

      How exciting! I’m sure the beginning will be a lot of work, but those babies will each have two best friends for the rest of their lives. One of my college friends is a triplet, and they have such a special bond. Good luck!

  112. Is it a human condition to wish for that which we “can’t” have?

    Do we deliberately or subconsciously have to be dissatisfied to keep growing?

    I have one. I dreamed of having many. I hated how I felt when I was pregnant being sick from conception to birth. And I hated that I hated it. Life circumstances made it that a single child was the only possible financial choice and frankly – emotionally and mentally – for a long time. Sometimes, now that he’s 9, I consider adoption. So many kids need a home especially older ones and I feel badly for my son growing up without a sibling. But as a single parent do I have the energy? Will I take away from my son doing that?

    Since I can’t decide, I haven’t decided.

  113. Ally says...

    Wish it wasn’t so, but sadly it’s not a choice for all of us to “decide” when we’re done. Would so love to have more (or at the very least for it to be ourchoice – “secondary infertility” is tough….)

    • Shannon says...

      I am in the secondary infertility boat, too. The most painful thing is your own physiology robbing you of the choice to grow your family. I never knew that my son (now 8) would be the one and only baby I would ever have. I always wanted two kids, and my husband and I spent 5+ painful years trying for a second. Weirdly, I get pregnant easily, but my babies never survived beyond the second trimester. No answers and twelve miscarriages later, I am too afraid to keep trying. We are done, but I ache every day.

    • Mimi says...

      I’m sorry, Ally. Secondary infertility is so difficult and not talked about enough. For me, it was hard to reconcile the feelings of being thankful for what I had (my son), but also so very sad that I couldn’t have another. I felt incredibly guilty knowing that there are many people who would do anything to have just one. I felt very alone for fear of seeming selfish.
      I hope that you can treat yourself kindly during this time and best wishes to you….

    • Sarah says...

      Ally,

      A good friend is learning to live with secondary infertility now. It isn’t talked about enough, and can cause people to say very insensitive things. I am so sorry you’re going through this…it sucks. Know that someone in Virginia is thinking of you and your partner right now as you suffer through this.

      Sarah

  114. Amelie says...

    I have two (3 and 11 months). And as my youngest reaches her first birthday I would definitely love a third but my husband not so much. Sometimes I wonder if I don’t really want a third, it’s just that I’m nostalgic for the baby days of the two I have. It’s hard to say goodbye to that phase!

  115. Anonymous says...

    Oh Jo I completely understand and agree with so many of the comments too.
    I love my two boys and am so grateful and lucky that they are healthy, life enhancing, wonderful people. We are done too, for all the reasons mentioned here, but the ache is raw.
    I do wonder if it is partly because…I always really wanted a girl. Some of the yearning is grief for a future I pictured that I will never have. Boys do great things too of course ! but they are hardwired differently. This in no way reflects how I feel about the boys, but the grief it real, I wonder if it will ever pass. This feels like a taboo subject, I feel awkward admitting it.

  116. Christie says...

    Oh gosh, I know it so well. We always imagined having at least two.
    We have one beautiful amazing life-changing healthy daughter. We tried for 4 years to have a second, through many losses and trauma, until I was told I wasn’t capable of having any more. Eventually I just accepted The Ache was going to be with me forever, and I moved on so I could enjoy the wonderful life we have, without all of that wondering ‘what if’.

  117. G says...

    I had three, and felt the same way. We had decided we were done, but having two boys and one girl was fodder for the occasional joke between us :

    “Shall we try for one more? Just to make it two-all?”

    “If you want, I don’t mind.” That would always be my husband’s calm response.

    He died suddenly one day. A few weeks later, I found out I was pregnant. A girl.

    • KWM says...

      Oh my goodness, G… Your story gave me chills. I hope you and your four babies are well <3

    • Liza says...

      Oh goodness I’m so sorry for your loss. How heartbreaking for you and your family.

    • Avalanche Lake says...

      Oh, G. I am so sorry for your loss. How are your babies now?

    • Christine says...

      I am so sorry for your loss. Sending positive thoughts to you and your children.

  118. Jen says...

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m trying to edge myself out of The Ache. In my mid-40’s this should easier, right? If only logic governed this subject. We have two beautiful, engaging, complex children, and after the second was born I was overwhelmed by a vision of the two of them running down the road with a little brother or sister between them. We love them so fiercely, and we wanted more of that, wanted a fiercely loving clan. The desire was likely spurred by the loud ticking of biological clocks and the knowledge that if we did not take the plunge we would miss the opportunity altogether. And so my husband and I embarked, at 40 and 42, on a quest for a third that took us through some of the most devastating terrain we’ve walked together: many early miscarriages, and one late stillbirth that broke our collective hearts. We are still working to find the upsides, and some days this is the hardest of work. But there are some. Our understanding of the possible difficulties couples confront with fertility/childbirth has expanded x-fold. And we feel ourselves so very lucky that our 2 came into the world with such ease, and only joy surrounding their arrivals.

    • Maureen says...

      So, so sorry for your unimaginable losses and happy for you that you have two wonderful blessings.

  119. We have two kids, and it was all clear to us immediately that two is enough. That our family was complete. I must say I never ache for another baby. I am so sooo glad the youngest is almost three now and a very independent girl and going to school and that I, for myself, can breathe again. That is how it feels for me. That there is more space for myself again.

    • Amy says...

      Exactly how I feel! Mine are 20 months apart and the younger is now 20 months. I feel like things are starting to get easier and I can’t imagine starting all over again!

  120. Lara says...

    This was a really comforting post for me to read, perhaps in a strange way… I feel an acute ache for children right now, and the “problem” is that I haven’t yet met a partner I’d like to make them with. But this suggested to that maybe even when the partner and the children happen, the ache might still be there–not because I did anything wrong or things didn’t work out, but because this ache may just be a part of me. To say it another way, I usually assume that those who wanted kids who now have kids are walking around feeling satisfied, and I envy that satisfaction; with this post, it’s like we are all going through something similar, albeit at different spots on a spectrum of similar feeling. So thank you to Jo and all for sharing this perspective. :)

    • I love this perspective, Lara, thank you for sharing. In the years I spent yearning for a baby I assumed that as well, that people with babies were content. Now that I am pregnant with my first, I recognize that it’s so much more complicated than that. And when my husband and I were struggling to conceive, my mom was also aching for a grandbaby. She was so sad for me and resentful/jealous when other people got pregnant easily. And she felt so ashamed of those feelings! It is so multi-layered.

  121. Kate says...

    I was 44 when I had my son after a miscarriage and four rounds of IVF. My husband and I feel so, so grateful that we were able to get pregnant and give birth to this one! He is the light of our lives, but I (guiltily) admit that I feel “the ache” constantly. As one of five kids, I always wanted a similarly big family. I cherish my siblings and wish my son could have even just one. My yearning is so great whenever I spend time with friends with babies that I imagine I appear cold; it’s everything I can do to hold in my feelings of loss of what can never be.

    • Karen says...

      We are trying for our first. Since today with the help of a new doctor. Keeping our fingers crossed! I understand so well how you fear to seem cold. I apparently only have two settings- acting cold or starting to cry. Both not good and quite isolating. I wonder if you can talk to your friends about this? All of our friends have kids and are busy with their lifes and we feel very alone with this yearning and the frightening ivf route. I love that cup of jo talks about such different topics, but sometimes I wonder what happens to those of us who don’t have parents they could ever be friends with (older post), don’t have strong own families, can’t wonder if they should have another child as they are still praying to even start this path. How do you manage if things don’t work out and you have to live with that pain every day? How do you find peace? I wish everyone could find a happy balance!

  122. Amy V says...

    When we spoke of having babies someday, both my husband and I entertained the idea of 2 but settled on 1 as we would like to be able to afford travelling and the cost of living in Auckland, NZ is high compared to our salaries, especially going down to one wage (at least temporarily).

    Now that Leo is five months old I already feel a pang at the thought of him not having a sibling to grow up with. I feel sad for him that he won’t have a ready made playmate. Every now and then I waver, and although I’m sure we could manage financially with two kids, it’s actually Leo’s start in life that gets me back on track. He suffered from colic and reflux very bad in the fourth trimester and still has gut issues we’re trying to solve. It was a dark time and I’m certain I had PND on top of a lot of other worries and no family around to help out. My husband is more certain than ever we should only have one. I just have to make sure we get a dog!

  123. Diana says...

    I feel the ache for a baby so bad that it’s completely consuming at times. The problem I am facing is that my spouse is 100% against adding another member to our family. We have two beautiful children (6&3), and I feel so blessed to have them, but I don’t feel as though our family is complete. It’s heartbreaking for me, and I’m having trouble accepting that we will not have anymore. If anyone else has been in this situation I would love some advise on how to move on (or talk my husband into another kid ;)).

  124. Emily says...

    This makes me want to cry a little because this is exactly me. I have two boys (4 and 2) and my husband and I have decided to stop at 2 for so many good reasons. My mum always said “two was never enough but three was too many!”
    Im certain this would be true for us. But I ache for a third. When I held my second baby as a newborn I wept at the thought this was my last. I’m 39 so I hope this will feeling will soon pass.

  125. Cath says...

    We have a 5 year old son. Last year I was lamenting not having another because my husband was decidedly unkeen. My dear friend listened for a bit , and then he decided to drop a truth bomb on me. He said that I have a gorgeous kid and husband, but I’m chasing this dream of two kids, chocolate labs and a picket fence etc. He reminded me (very bluntly I might add) that I was missing out on what was because of what I thought could be, when even if I fell pregnant unexpectedly it would never pan out like I had imagined. In my case it would have been a recipe for resentment, financial strain and stress. It has been quite a weight off my shoulders to realize that, because now I feel like I can move on. My husband went for a vasectomy, and I feel like I’ve made my peace with it. I feel a twinge every now and then, but on the whole it feels good to have drawn a line in the sand.

    There is always the nuclear option, which is to work out a budget for an extra kid in terms of education, larger cars, homes etc. ? That is usually enough to scare me.

    Be gentle with yourself Joanna. Xo

  126. Carolyn Reny says...

    Many of the comments are very emotional, lovely and bittersweet. Some are simply breathtaking. I do think about the feasibility, practicality and financial responsiblities of having larger families and what that means for moms, our mental health and the communities that we choose to call home.
    I do worry about the world that my 13 year old son will grow into. We are in the process of adoption because we ache for the children who are here now and need families to love them and think about their futures and what could be instead of what could have been. I think more about this now than I ever did, perhaps because of what I see on the news everyday or where I live (The Middle East). I’m not sure but I did really want to share and thank all the commenters who have shared their thoughts, feelings and hearts. Conversations like this matter; motherhood is never an easy straightforward path but it is one we walk together.

  127. Shannon says...

    I’m pro-kids, but I get that it’s totally a personal decision and I think it’s really important to respect everyone in their personal needs/wants/beliefs.
    When it comes to the environment, I’m just relieved that Elon Musk’s mother chose to have three children. ;) Imho, the problems in the world we live in can only be solved by humans who are devoted to solving them. And those humans have to exist first so that we can teach them that devotion. Existing = the best.

  128. Jessica says...

    Our son has just turned one and I feel so much ache for him as a newborn, excited for who he is now and who he’ll be, fearful for what it will be like to eventually introduce a second child into our trio, and sad if I think about us only having “one.” It’s the most wonderful heartache!

  129. Becky says...

    When I was in my first trimester and very, very sick, I told my husband, “If I ever say I want another baby, just remind me of this time.” And boy does he remind me! Our son turns six months today and I have had The Ache since he was about 3 weeks old. It was a complete surprise for me: I figured we’d always just have one kiddo and after a miscarriage/partial molar pregnancy, a high-risk pregnancy, complete with prenatal anxiety/depression (both times!), and a less than ideal delivery, I never thought I’d long to be pregnant again. But I miss my growing belly and I miss those kicks and somersaults. And while I didn’t have the labor and delivery I wanted (60 hours, induction, C-section), I am grateful for my labor as it showed me a side of myself that I don’t often, if ever, let myself see – strong, capable and tolerant of pain.

    I don’t know if I ache for another baby or for my son’s tiny days gone by. I don’t know if I ache for a sibling for my son or if I long for a second chance at childbirth, to have my physical effort bring baby into this world and to have that squirmy, screaming little one laid upon my chest the moment he or she arrives. I don’t know if I ache for a family of four or for the opportunity to nurse a baby (breastfeeding wasn’t possible with my son due to his cleft lip and palate. I pumped for four months, but that pump not only sucked out milk it sucked out my soul! Ha, I can laugh now but ugh.) I suppose I need to figure out exactly what it is I ache for….because I don’t want to have a second baby for the wrong reasons, reasons I could regret or that might not be able to be fulfilled.

    And finally, for every positive reason to have a second, I can also think of an equally reasonable reason not to (e.g., cost of living and sleep just to name two). So I guess my usual pro/con list strategy can be thrown out the window.

    I truly don’t know what we will do but for now I’ll just sit with The Ache and try to live in the present. Tomorrow is always a better day to worry and fret.

    • Jess says...

      all of this <3

  130. Sally says...

    Ive got a divine almost one year old, and can’t wait to have another, and am working to convince my husband we need at least three – I’ve felt an acute sense of time moving too fast and how precious it all is and can I really only get a very few goes at this magical wonder?*

    Very early on in his life I remember reading someone describe taking her fourth or fifth baby home and calling it a glorious grief because she knew it would be her last.
    *I of course can’t remember the weeks of vomiting, the heartburn, the sleepless nights (I know as he grows I will have different sorts of heartburn and sleepless nights)

  131. I never fully believed myself when I was pregnant and saying “this might be our last” to my swollen belly. But after two severe depression and anxiety-ridden pregnancies and post-partums, I cannot risk another biological birth with all those hormones crashing hard like stormy waves on my brain. I feel sad every day, as it was only a few months ago we decided he is our second and last baby… The strangest thing? My family doesn’t feel so complete. I can’t shake this gut instinct that I haven’t met all of my children. We are open to perhaps fostering or adopting in the future… but I don’t know. So far I’m chin-deep in The Ache and that is all there is. Thanks for writing this! You always do sensitive subjects justice.

  132. Erin says...

    I have three kiddos and we homeschool them. Our plate is full, these kids are wonderful and enough, yet I ache. So badly I ache for a baby, another one. Maybe even two more. I ache to fill our house with more love, and compromise, and tender care. Even my big kids now 9 and 7 ask for another baby. Maybe we all know how wonderful connection and care feels, how the wonder of caring and nurturing another person into being blesses everyone involved. Maybe that longing never goes away?

  133. Marcia Stamatkin says...

    Oh yes the ache I remember… and you described so well. As soon as we decided I would have a tubal litigation it became more intense my husband even agreed to pay the use some of money to have it reversed. Thank God for grandbabies what a gift he allows us to relive the Wonder of babies and all of it again.

  134. Amy P says...

    When we had our third, I was confident we were still going to have a fourth like we’d always planned. But with each pregnancy, it’s taken longer and longer to get pregnant again, and I wonder at which point we stop trying for #4. Realistically, how much younger should the “baby” be than all it’s siblings?! I’m okay with setting a date and saying, “after this, we’ll stop trying.” But it’s like after we had our third, baby fever hit my husband hard and now he wants five or six kids, which I don’t think I could handle mentally or emotionally and he’s okay with settling with our original plan of four. In some ways if we stop at three, I’ll be happy that I didn’t know our third would be our last. I think the nostalgia of each “last first” would be difficult, and I’d always be worried about spoiling her as a result.

    So we’re in that awkward stage of trying to figure out how hard to try for another child – I don’t want to shut things down and leave my husband aching for more, or worse, resentful that I wouldn’t give him another baby to snuggle. But on the other hand, at some point I just need to let go of the original plan and move forward with life. I so hoped that this would be the month, that we’d be pregnant and then the decision would be made, but nope.

  135. Darby says...

    I love this post.. When my husband I were first married, we did not have children for a period of about 8 years. We “grew up” together, so to speak, and were quite young so we had many years of just being a couple. Near the end of that time, I started to feel an emptiness and ennui… Like it wasn’t enough to just be the two of us and that I needed more purpose in my life… so we had our first child (we were very lucky to be able to plan our pregnancy and time it just the way we hoped). For three years we were a family of three and it was lovely. We really considered having an only child but my husband and I both grew up with siblings and we decided we didn’t want our boy to be alone in the world, so we had another. When our little girl was born, I knew we were finished and our family was complete. Not even once have I thought that I wanted another child and I think my husband feels the same way. We figure that if we had one more, we would be out-numbered and that would be an invitation for trouble:)

    • Helena says...

      Yes, that’s exactly my thought! Afraid of being outnumbered! I too have a one year old boy and hope to have a second one. A third and a fourth would be nice too, but we are just two parents so more than two would be unrealistic. At least for us. In the meantime, we’ll concentrate one getting that second one ;)

  136. courtney schledewitz says...

    I think the ache will always be there. The memory of what you have gone through, and those little moments of early babyhood you will miss. Im going to be 31 soon, and although I haven’t even had children yet…. I have been dying for them every since I could remember. I consider this the ache. The ache of something your craving, whether or not you have experienced it or not. Every time I see a baby sleeping in a wrap so tiny and close to the mother, a first laugh, their (impressively) tiny grips on your fingers, a sneeze… Im aching for a feeling I don’t even know, but can only imagine. Congrats on your beautiful family.

  137. Kristin says...

    I had to have a hysterectomy at 44, and was happy to never have a period again, and I knew we didn’t want more children (my husband had a vasectomy years earlier) but I have since had a few moments of sadness. What really gets me is the fact that there was a last time my children sat in my lap or held my hand, a last time our son slept between us because he’d had a nightmare (though he was getting too darn big for our queen bed), and all of the other last times that you never realized were the last times. Sniff…

  138. Lauren says...

    This piece is both raw and beautiful- thanks for sharing. I have two and am wanting a third. I’m constantly feeling conflicted as part of me wants to be at peace with my two beautiful healthy girls and part of me feels badly for even wanting one more healthy baby (I’m a NICU doc so I see things though that lense)…but I so do. We shall see. Thanks again for your candid reflection.

  139. Sarah says...

    I’m almost 39 weeks pregnant with a 20 month old too, and I’m already lamenting the likelihood that this is our last. I thought we might have three but I don’t know if I can go through another pregnancy. It can just be miserable, especially at the end, and I’ve had relatively “easy” pregnancies (an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one).

    I’ve always wanted at least two, and especially a second, once I had my daughter because I loved having an older brother and I cannot imagine growing up without a sibling close in age. I have also been wondering about the dynamic between three vs two. Would two be BFFs and the other a third wheel, etc?

    • Ali says...

      Sarah, I felt this exact way at the end of my second pregnancy earlier this summer (and our kiddos have about the same age gap), and SO TRUE about ‘easy’ pregnancies – I really did not think I could go through another pregnancy and fertility process to conceive…but, almost immediately after my daughter was born, the idea of being ‘done’ was suddenly almost laughable. My desire for a third was immediate and incredibly obvious . All this to say- you might surprise yourself! And congratulations on your soon-to-be baby- all the best!

  140. Oh, I really enjoyed this article. We always said we wanted four and I thought I’d be completely ‘done’ after our fourth but it has taken me totally by surprise that I am still swinging between being happy to have our four here; and an intense yearning for a fifth – which was never part of ‘the plan’!

    I think about it pretty much daily and know that I need to make a decision soon and stop feeling so in limbo, with regards to how our family will turn out.

    For anyone considering a fourth, I wrote this:

    https://themumandthemom.com/2016/12/29/should-i-have-a-fourth-child/

    And hoping someone can answer my ‘should I have a fifth’ for me, because I can’t seem to answer it myself!

    • Peony says...

      I can’t answer it for you, but we love our “hand-full.” :) I always wanted 3, my husband wanted 4, but after we had our third I could see having five. And we did and it’s wonderful.

  141. Karolina says...

    Oh what a timing…
    We have one girl (3 years) and the second will be born in less than 4 hours (scheduled c section). So may mixed feelings… Excitement to meet the new person in our life, proud and bit anxious about my little girl becoming a big sister but also… This is it. This is our last child & my last moments of pregnancy ever… Both pregnancies were very heavy yet so special… Feeling all nostalgic here at the moment. Off to feel my belly now…

    • Joanna says...

      Good luck and happy birth day!

    • Congratulations!!! Good luck!

    • Heidi says...

      Oh I had that! When I was being induced while pregnant with twins, I knew this was my one and only pregnancy. I tried to enjoy those last few moments with all my heart. A week later I was in the supermarket all by myself and I felt so lonely! Now they’re 6 and my neighbor just had a little baby. And while I don’t envy the poopy nappies, I do miss just holding a baby. Just sitting on the couch holding and smelly your little baby.

      I hope everything went will with the delivery. Congratulations to you and your family on your new arrival. Enjoy with all your heart!

    • Karolina says...

      Thank you ladies for your congratulations! All went well and today we came home.
      Greetings from the Netherlands! :)

  142. I have three. We were on the fence about #3 and I got pregnant during a transition between birth control methods, so that decided that… We are definitely done but I get the ache, too. I realized that I love being pregnant and that is where my ache comes from. People think I’m crazy but I had three fantastic pregnancies, and I will never forget how I felt when I was pregnant–completely full of awe for my body and joy and anticipation. When I see pregnant women, I feel wistful. When I see a woman nursing a newborn, I feel so happy for her but definitely not envious at all. :) I love watching my children grow into themselves and it is a striking feeling to recognize yourself in your children. I’m really enjoying this stage of parenting, even though they drive me bananas (ages 9, 7 and 4).

  143. Dani B says...

    Mine are 10 and 5 and even though we entertained the thought of a 3rd while I was pregnant, I knew I was done right after giving birth. To this day, the baby months were my favorite. Despite the lack of sleep, the exhaustion, it all was pretty simple and lovely. I knew that feeding them, caring for them, hugging them, was all they really needed. Now it is more complicated and scary:) I do miss having a baby, but I think I miss the feeling more. My kids beg me for another, but I know that we are done. I also feel like I was very fortunate to have two that are healthy, I did have some complications (including a miscarriage in between), I am 42 now, so in a way I feel like I did my job well and I needed to quit while I am ahead:)

  144. Lilla says...

    Life seems unbelievable sometimes. My mom had my sister when she was 28. She and her husband split when my sister was a baby, and she had her “tubes tied”. Fast forward 7 years later, and my mom meets a guy she is enamored with- enough to leave the California goat farm she’s living on to move to mid-town Manhattan with her 7 year old. They marry, and eventually they decide they want to have a baby, and my mom has a groundbreaking surgery at 39 to get her tubes reconnected. She has a brief opportunity to conceive, and she does. And here I am. So THAT happened- and I thank her for it! It’s good to be here.
    Having 2 always made sense to me. Like you are replacing yourself and your spouse in this world. 2 in, 2 out. I have a 2 year old now, and my husband and I are starting to think about another. We were looking at her baby photos last night, and I couldn’t believe how adorable she was. Did I appreciate it enough at the time? It is so hard to live in the moment, there are so many distractions and things to tend to- but reading through all these posts has me wishing I could be mindful of all of my time- revel in every stage she is in, because all of it is fleeting, really.
    Random recent thought- does anyone else get a little wistful after their period each month? Like – I wonder who that egg, paired with my husband’s sperm, would’ve become? I know it’s weird. I still can’t get over where babies come from. It’s crazy!

    • Katy says...

      Ha I love your description of being wistful after your period. My husband and I are trying to conceive now and every time my period comes I think, hmm I wonder what it would’ve been like if one of those managed to make it. We haven’t been trying for too long so it’s not frantic or sad yet, but just a little wistful. Perfect description.

    • Sophs says...

      Oh I have had a similar thought about periods … Mostly thinking about my child “they are *that* specific egg. Another month, then I would have a different child”.

      Then I also think, as baby girls already have their eggs whilst they are still in the womb, my girls were inside me whilst I was inside my mum, and my future grandchildren have been inside me!

  145. Jill says...

    Susan, I would love to chat with you about adoption. Are you comfortable giving me your email?

    • Susan says...

      Yes! I will set up an account bc I don’t think there is a way for me to DM you through Cup of Jo. Will set one up in the morning. Thanks so much!! Super kind of you.

    • Susan says...

      Hi Jill,

      I set up an account

      adoption565@gmail

      If you have time to share your story I would love to hear more. We have so much love left in our hearts for another child just unsure how to think about adoption and best way to go about it. Thanks so much!

  146. Melanie says...

    Two kids for us- ages 4 & 6. The older goes to full-day kindergarten and my heart breaks a little more each school morning. Watching her run inside after a quick hug good-bye makes me proud at her new independence but I have the increasing urge to “helicopter”. Oh, how I swore to myself before having kids that I would never be “that” mom hovering over every little thing my kids did. Now my pre-schooler and I lunch without her big sis. It’s nice to have that time alone with my 4-year old and have super silly conversations.
    Financially, more kids would just be too much. My husband already hardly sees the kids during the work week- maybe 10-20 minutes a day; and that’s him rushing to get ready to go to work or trying to catch a little time with them as they go to bed. He already works more than he should. If we had more kids, I believe he would feel trapped at his current job and wouldn’t try to find a better place of employment for fear of the unknown.
    I also don’t think I could handle more. I don’t enjoy being pregnant and the constant lack of sleep is too much. We have no one to help us out.
    I’m finally feeling like I’m getting a little bit back in control of the household.
    Having children makes you feel such levels of joy and the greatest sadness.

  147. Kristina says...

    I’ve been thinking about this so much lately! Our twins will celebrate their first birthday next week and while I can’t imagine doing the newborn stage (SO INTENSE. SO LITTLE SLEEP) I also can’t imagine not carrying another baby (or two?!) again. I Ache for one more—to experience my precious little baby in my arms and those sweet cuddles and nuzzles—but I also feel so incredibly blessed to have two healthy babies. It feels crazy to ask for one more. And could I even handle it? I feel so overwhelmed and exhausted as it is, I can hardly imagine adding one more to the mix! Anyway, lots to think about and continue to be grateful for. I always appreciate these topics and the comments that follow xo

  148. Patty says...

    My three boys are adopted from foster care. Before these sons of mine came to live with us, we fostered 32 oot3ber children. They all returned home. I always envisioned us adopting another 2 or 3 boys. Alas, I reached my personal age limit of 50 with no additional kids. My arms often feel the emptiness of the children who never arrived, although my sons keep me constantly on my toes.

  149. Marie says...

    I so feel the same way. We are done at 3. I thought we’d have 4. The baby is 15 months now and I get teary as I put away his newborn clothing, knowing it’s my last time. It’s hard! I’m hoping that in heaven I can just have babies for eternity. After all, they are the most heavenly things in this world right??

  150. Siobhan says...

    My two daughters are only 14 months apart and my oldest is still under 3. I don’t quite understand how after being overloaded with everything baby for the past 3 years and being thrilled to finally have a little freedom now that they’re not super tiny, I still want another one. My heart wants one so badly and my head is saying “what the hell is wrong with you?!”

    • haha this is/was my life! we have two daughters 3 1/2 and 2. and a baby boy now 7 months. I will tell you, it’s not THAT much crazier with a third. Go for it :)