The BIG Decision

By Karen Squires

One of the biggest decisions a woman ever makes is when to stop having babies. I have a friend who tells me that she will continue having them until God stops sending them, she has ten and will probably have more. The other day I was cleaning out a drawer that's full of old birthday cards, Christmas cards, birth announcements. I have a pile of birth announcements just from her. She has had four children since my six year old was born. I love my friend with all my heart and I'm happy that she is doing what she feels is right but it's not for me. I have a teenager besides my six year old and I feel completely overwhelmed at times. Am I a wimp? I don't think so, but I don't know how other mothers cope with more. I haven't reached the point in my life where I've decided to stop having babies. It is an amazing thing to be told you are pregnant. Woman love tiny babies and mother nature intended it that way so we'd keep having them. She designed men to love the act that makes them and so babies are born.

I was tired the other night. I had been chasing kids all day and was exhausted. Our 6 year old, Keaton, crawled into bed with us, we were ready for sleep and he was ready to play tent with the flashlight. We played for a while and then I turned out the light, informing him we were too tired to stay awake any longer. I crawled into bed, pulled the covers up around my neck to stay warm, and fell asleep before he did. He no doubt fell asleep soon after. About two hours later I got kicked in the head. He'd changed positions and was upside down, his head at my knees and his feet in my face. I turned him around, and was almost asleep when I got kicked in the head again. I turn him around once more and lay there with my eyes shut hoping for sleep and imagined the day when he'll choose to move to his own bed.

Last week my husband Russ and I wanted a few hours alone after the kids went to bed but it didn't happen. Keaton managed to sneak in a short nap on the way home from the grocery store and was not tired enough to go to bed. I looked at Russ as he sat on the couch looking disappointed that our evening was out of reach and asked him the age old question, should we have another baby? He gave me a look that insinuated I was nuts. He can't understand how I feel, he is male and doesn't have that overwhelming desire to feel a baby's kick. I'm not on birth control so I could, at any time, conceive. We both realize it so we're not actually ready to call it quits.

I try to get him interested in lovemaking during my fertile time. I'm almost sneaky about it. I do whatever it takes to make sure I have the kids in bed on time on those nights even if it means skipping the grocery store when the pantry is empty. It's exciting to wonder those last two weeks of my cycle if I may have our next child growing deep within my womb. I have a secret stash of pregnancy tests in my closet and I use them almost every cycle. I imagine nausea the last few days before I'm due and sometimes get myself convinced that I may actually be pregnant. My heart pounds with excitement when I run the test, which I do in the privacy of the bathroom when everybody is asleep or before Russ comes home from work. I'm disappointed when it turns up negative. The day I get those two pink lines will more that make up for it.

I see other women have baby after baby because mother nature has made them baby crazy too. I also know some of them feel so overwhelmed that they aren't happy any more. They complain that their lives are just one big cleanup, pickup, feed everybody, yell and scream at everybody kind of an existence. They want to run and hide. They are mad their husbands don't help enough and their husbands in turn spend more and more time at work in order to stay away from all the chaos and a wife that has become someone other than that nice sane person he married. I also see families that are very well adjusted and handling the craziness of having children very nicely. The problem is that until I'm actually there it's hard to know which way it will go. Even though my days are long and I hardly sit down from sun up till way past sun down, I'm happy. I have this fear that mother nature in her own sneaky way, is putting the pressure on me to have another baby but I'm not sure if it's the right decision. Will another child put a constant frown on my face, will I be pulling my hair out at the end of the day, will the stress put a distance between Russ and I, will I decide that a stay at home mom is too much and run out to get a job to escape the drudgery of being at home with more children that I can cope with? Or will it turn out to be a wonderful thing?

I guess the fear hasn't helped me make a decision though because I'm still trying to have a baby. I look at pregnant mothers and wish it were me. I get my maternity clothes out from the back of the closet, put them on and stuff a pillow under the shirt to make my belly big. I see a breastfeeding mother and want to nurse a child again. I want to hold a tiny infant on my chest, so small that it's head is under my chin and it's tiny bum is in my hand. I'm baby hungry.

I read an article a few days ago that having a baby is an emotional decision, not an intellectual one. Maybe that's my problem, I'm using my head rather than my heart. Still I fear that one more would be too much. For now though I'm just playing wait and see. If I have another I'll manage and if I don't I'll be sad, I guess for now I'm putting it in the hands of mother nature.

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