As my third child, Molly, approached her first birthday, I found myself thinking more about that word that had been dancing through my head since her birth: complete.
I didn’t know when I would feel complete, when my heart would be full. My husband and I thought our Baby Number would be three or four. I wanted so badly to know, to be able to make that decision, to picture our Someday Family. But I couldn’t.
There were too many unknowns: Would we have three kids and feel a hole in our hearts? Would our third child overwhelm us? Would it take too much time, or medical intervention, to get pregnant? Perhaps our decision would be rooted in finances…or the health of us or our kids.
At some point, we’d just know.
While pregnant with Molly, it occurred to me that I should, more than in either of my other pregnancies, take it all in. Pay attention to everything. Write more. Focus more. Reflect more….because I knew that it might be the last time my body did something as big and beautiful as growing a baby. And once my labor started, that sense continued. I was lucky to be able to enjoy a fast and easy unmedicated labor.
In the final moment, that instant before my baby breathed in her first breath and was handed to me to for the first time, an awareness filled me: This is It, I suddenly knew, Remember Everything. You’ll never experience labor again. Before I had a chance to process this new knowledge, I heard that baby girl cry and I was swept into the present. I was overcome with love…my heart now three times divided, but more whole than it had ever been.
In the days that followed, those words echoed in my head. This is it. I knew it hadn’t been a conscious thought I had during Molly’s birth…it was the pure and raw voice of my heart. My heart was finally full.
Our family of five.
I told my Mom that Molly is our Last Baby. “Really?” she replied, “You’re sure? How do you know?” She wasn’t questioning the truthfulness of my statement or debating anything…she was truly curious. My parents have eight children. The youngest was born when my mom was 39…and not just 39, but 39 with seven other children. Her body and her head told her that eight would be enough. The truth is, if her heart had the final say, she may have had more.
Other friends of mine have decided before they have even begun to have children: “We’ll have two kids,” they say, and they stick to it because their heads and hearts and spouses all agree from the start. Others come to the decision for practical reasons…age, healthy, money, space, level-of-chaos in the home, etc.
And for some, the choice is made for them: Their bodies can’t safely handle another pregnancy. Their bank account can’t afford another round of fertility treatment. Their spouse is Done. And, for whatever reason, they must stop before they are ready, before they are full. Their heads and hearts carry around a feeling of incompleteness for some length of time…maybe forever.
I feel so lucky that it was my heart that told me. (And luckier still that my husband reached the same conclusion I did.) I’m usually a thinker. A planner. A list-maker, researcher, explore-every-option-er. And sometimes, after all that thinking and deciding, I’m left wondering if I made the right decision. Once you’ve thought your way onto one path, you’re still left with the knowledge of what almost led you down another. It’s different when the heart decides. There’s no second guessing….there’s only one path, so you follow it. You know it’s right. It feels free.
I’d like to offer up a wish to the Universe: Let me learn to sometimes quiet my head and follow my heart. My happy heart, divided by three, but finally full.
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This post was written by Sarah Harris exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.