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Complications of Conception and Choice

By Leslie Graff

pbwWith my 18 month old firmly transitioned to his new bed, I packed away the crib last weekend. I put the screws in a Ziploc bag and handed the pieces of railing to my husband up it the attic. I jammed the lids on the over-full Rubbermaid bins loaded with onesies, blankets, and tiny clothes and passed them up too. I am left wondering, will I ever pull them down again?

As a child, I envisioned marriage and children-rearing through a relatively naïve, idyllic lens. Experience has since shown me the complexity of reality. Some of my friends have not married, others married later than they had hoped, or experienced the death of a spouse, or divorce during the mothering years which impacted their childbearing and family size. Others encountered infertility, pregnancy loss, heritable genetic conditions, or their own complicating mental or physical conditions or those of a spouse. A few found they were not on the same page as their spouse when it came to family size or were surprised by their own feelings of ambiguity in their parenting roles. Some found themselves feeling limited by economic circumstances, and others found themselves raising a child whose care and needs required a more than a typical allotment of family energy and resources. Not as simple as the song went, “When I grow up, I want to be a mother”.

It is seems to be such a tenuous exchange of choice and well, lack of choice and a complex set of mediating factors.

For me, I had my first son, followed by years of difficult miscarriages. Then finally a diagnosis, and a solution, but it brought with it a hefty regimen. It proved successful in the birth of my second son. I then opted to try for a third, the pregnancy proved complicated; my son was born after a high risk of loss in the 3rd trimester, and with a life threatening condition discovered after birth.  My house is now bustling with these three vibrant sons and I am left wondering is our family done or not.

I contemplate what having more means. The shots every day, the cocktail of 15 pills I have to down nightly, not to mention the exhaustion, the vomiting, the incessant doctor appointments that come with high risk monitoring. The daily paralyzing fear calmed only by the wooshing heartbeat sound coming from my home doppler. 10 months of intense stress like a string on a guitar being twisted tighter and tighter.

Then I think of my boys. My experience as a mother is profoundly deep and defining. Truly nothing is so exultant and joyous to me as holding a fresh baby. I dream of those days in the hospital when all the world seemed to melt away and it was just me, my baby, and warm white blankets. 

Still what would another pregnancy mean for my family? Are the risks to great for me? The condition and treatment that complicates my pregnancies does not come without risk to my health. Barring that, is the price too high for them of having a mom in semi-working order for 10 months. It’s hard enough keep up with my 3 busy boys far away from family.  Would it have a negative impact on our family or is it just a passing inconvenience? Could I handle, emotionally, another pregnancy with a less than desired outcome? Risks, rewards, feelings, sacrifices, agency…they aren’t simple to balance and weigh.

For many years I didn’t have a choice, no matter what I did my body would not stay pregnant. Now I find myself on the other side of the line, having choice. Trying to weigh difficult, complicated unquantifiable risks and family costs against life’s supreme joy. Knowing the decision is ultimately mine, when to say “all done” and walk away forever.

My dilemma does not come form some external pressure or feeling a “need” to have more children but, the love of the children I have. The end feels so finite. I have heard grown women talk about their children. Some say they regret they didn’t have more. I don’t want that to be me. Still a part of me is shell shocked from many traumas on the childbearing front. While I know it isn’t such a matter of chance, I wonder if I can  really “roll the dice” again.  The future of our family hangs in the air while I am left, still pondering the fate of the piles in the attic. 

Share with me your story. Did life go according to plan when it came to having children? What were some of the bumps or unexpected things you encountered regarding child-bearing? What decisions surrounding family size did you find surprising or difficult?

About Leslie Graff

(Art Director) In her pre-diapering days, Leslie earned an MS in Marriage and Family Studies from BYU. This entitled her to mold the minds of impressionable college students in rambling six-hour lecture courses and travel the world as child life specialist. She now passes the seasons in a quaint Massachusetts town with her husband, Allen, and three young sons. She spends her days encouraging play, championing global causes, and whipping up a mean R2D2 cake. She savors her nights, stealing away to her studio to paint.

33 thoughts on “Complications of Conception and Choice”

  1. I don't know if you can ever get over the feeling of wanting more. After three my husband and I decided that the risk was far to great and we were done. I cannot have any more children. And yet as I watch my 10 month old master his world, leaving the world of babyhood for toddlerhood, I find myself longing to hold another baby. Just one more. That is not to say we cannot adopt, but my point is the longing is real. The longing to be pregnant, to feel the baby's movements within, to hold a newborn, all very real. No baby is coming, but the feeling of want is just as tangible. I don't regret our decision or even doubt it, and it was one of the toughest decisions we made together. It doesn't change the desire.

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  2. I've never commented here before, but this post shares a lot of my own feelings. When we were first married my husband and I both dreamed of a large family, but we struggled for nearly a year to get pregnant with our first, who was delivered by emergency c-section. Following him I had two miscarriages, and then another son who required another c-section. Another miscarriage, and then learned I have PCOS. After taking the medication my doctor prescribed, I was able to deliver my third, a daughter (of course, a c-section by this point). Because of the scar tissue I've built up from three c-sections and three miscarriages, my doctor STRONGLY expressed that another pregnancy would be a health risk for both myself and the baby. After a lot of prayer, my husband and I decided to follow my doctor's advice.

    I am sorry that we're done; we love our children and would love more. But I find myself being grateful for these things:
    – that we were able to have three, when many women in my situation have none
    – that I knew my daughter was my last right from the start, and was able to savor and enjoy every milestone with her

    I know all children are miracles, but mine really are! Each one was the result of so much prayer and fasting. I can't really say I'm grateful for the trials we faced, but I do think the experience has made me that much more grateful for a loving Heavenly Father and the blessings he gives me.

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  3. Like Michelle, I have PCOS and so my three children are miracles in my life. We struggled to get them and the struggle makes me appreciate them so much. My three C-sections left me pretty scarred up and the last one left me with complete paralysis in my right leg. After intense physical therapy and enormous blessings I have my leg back again. Yet I would have done it again. It would have terrified me, but I would have. Unfortunately, we prayed and prayed about it. We went to the temple and received our answer. We are done. Closing that door is so hard for me, but looking at my three boys and remembering the doctor telling me that we would probably never have any children makes me grateful everyday for what I have.

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  4. We were told after three to not have any more.
    What? I'm on a roll now! After secondary infertility after our first child, I was finally able to get and stay pregnant. I was not done. My family was incomplete.
    I knew it.
    I wasn't devastated by my doctor's advice,
    I was unfazed.
    I'm having more, I told myself.
    And I did.
    The fourth pregnancy was the worst yet with complications and pre-term labor but thankfully, a healthy baby was born only one month early. We were lucky.
    Even as I lay in the hospital room giving birth, well, we all know I wasn't laying. As I was twisted and contorted in pain from an emergency, no-drugs, early delivery, I knew that it was the last time I'd be in that situation. And as weird as it sounds, I knew that we would complete our family through adoption. It wasn't my own unsatiable desire to have more and more babies. I just knew that not everyone in my family was here yet, and that there would be a way to make that possible. (This is not to say that I did not cry my own personal tears as I savored my newborn son, thinking about his recent birth, nursing and bonding with him and knowing this would be the end of this chapter in my life.)
    When we started looking into adoption, people thought we were crazy. We already had four, no way were we going to be able to adopt. All the agencies we talked to told us the same. I am a doubter and a worrier by nature, but somehow, I was not brought down by this. I knew it would happen. There's a lot to this story I will leave out, because it is already a novel here, but withing 6 weeks of signing contracts with the agency that finally did help us, miraculously rushing through the home study process, we had our birth mother. (She had been looking at hundreds of files with 3 different agencies. Our agency hadn't seen her in a while and thought she had gone with one of the other ones. But she showed up at their door the day our file became eligible for birth mothers to look at.) Two months after that, our daughter was born. There's so much more to this story. We are living it. Nothing about my childbearing turned out the way I thought it would. But I feel so incredibly blessed to have what I have.

    And you're right, Kellie. Making the tough decisions and even feeling at peace with them, never, never erases the desire. Best wishes to you, Leslie, and thank you for this post.

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  5. There's always the adoption option, Leslie! My husband and I knew we'd adopt – after we'd had all the biological children we'd add. After I had my first son, and everything bad post-partum you could have, we decided to go the adoption route early. And assumed that's the only way we'd add children from then on, to ensure I (and my family) wouldn't have to go through the postpartum hell again. Last May, our 3rd child, and 2nd biological one, was born. Thankfully everything was ok, and she has been a joy and blessing, of course. We've gone the permanent birth control route (for my husband) now, and are excited about a future adoption…years in the future. Or so we think.

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  6. Thanks everyone for your stories on this personal topic, but sharing our varied experiences with like quandries and dilemmas I think can bring a sense of support.

    Julie- Adoption is wonderful! (in fact that is our UP CLOSE focus topic each usnday this month is Adoption!), both my husband and I have adopted siblings, we actually began pursuing it earlier in our family building years, it may come around again. I have seen it's blessing in the lives of many families.

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  7. Life did not go according to plan, regarding children and most everything else too! Getting pregnant has not been easy for me so my children are 14, 9, 7, and 2. People who meet our family for the first time try to figure out our abnormal timing. We don't have any other explanation than to ask God what his purposes are in it all.

    There was a time where we had to make a decision about intense fertility treatments. We decided not to go that route. For me, leaving the timing to God has been important. Now I'm having health issues I never imagined could happen to healthy, strong, independant me. My 14 year old helps with babysitting and doing dishes, the 9 and 7 year old clean up after themselves, get along splendidly, and love to play with their little sister. My two year old is an easy-going child who brings brightness to my days when I otherwise might not get out of bed.

    Now I see the beauty in our strangely timed family. Back when I struggled with secondary infertility, I would have given anything to make things my way. God knew best and loved me enough to let me suffer so that our family could be what we all needed, not what was expected.

    As far as mourning not having more children- remember the eternal and bountiful blessings of posterity promised to the faithful. Do not doubt the magnificence of those blessings that will be received in the future. The future is bright for eternal families of any size!

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  8. From as far back as I can remember I knew I'd be a Mother. It's all I wanted. I loved babies. I babysat nonstop. I nannied. I chose Pediatrics as my career.
    When I married, my husband warned me he may be sterile. But my patriarchal blessing was VERY specific about having children…and how they would come, very specific. I went off the pill 6 months after we were married. A couple of short months later, I was in a rollover car accident–my car rolled over me on the freeway and crushed my pelvis and caused internal injuries so severe I required a hysterectomy.
    Now what were we going to do? I was ticked off at God.
    Two years later, we adopted our Oldest….we ended up adopting 3 children in 4 years.
    If I could have, I would have had more.
    I've found joy and meaning in our situation, that's what counts.

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  9. After I had four children I felt so strongly that there were people missing from our family that I still wanted to try for more children even after having a stillborn baby and miscarriages at 11 and 17 weeks.

    My life/health was never in jeopardy, so it was more a matter of if my heart wanted to risk it by trying again. I didn't want to end my birthing career on a such a sour note, so I kept trying. I was blessed with two more healthy babies one year apart and during the last pregnancy I KNEW we were done. I'm glad, but I still feel very sad that I will never be pregnant again. It's such an exciting, unique experience.

    It seems like fertility and pregnancy never go as planned for anyone. It's the refiner's fire for many of us women.

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  10. I'm in the same situation as you; it's not an obvious choice to stop having children, but it's really hard on my body to keep having them. When my husband and I first married we thought about having four or five. My cycles are very regular and I conceived our daughter right away. Everything in my pregnancy was totally normal until ultrasounds revealed that my uterus was rather misshapen. For some women this is not a problem, but it's caused problems for me. My daughter was breech and could not be turned, so she was delivered by c-section. After that we couldn't get my uterus to go down and I bled for over two months. Three years later we had my son; he came a few weeks early when my placenta came off suddenly and I started bleeding heavily. I had a lot of trouble recovering from his birth, including severe PPD. At that point we decided not to have more, but right now we're trying for a third. We both know we're done after this one, but it does feel bittersweet to be going for the 'last' kid. It's been hard too, because the doctor doesn't feel like there are obvious risk factors; my next pregnancy could be great or it could be even worse than the last two. Even though we feel peace about being done, I still feel some sadness that this baby (hoping I get pregnant soon) will be the last. I also feel envious of my friends that recover quickly from having kids. It takes me a few months to feel mentally and physical better.

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  11. I am surprised that I am happy with three! But it just feels like the right number for us. I feel done, but as a young woman I always thought I'd have four or five. I also feel guilty, especially on this comment board, because pregnancy and delivery have been extraordinarily normal for me. That is all very unexpected.

    There are two pieces of advice that I found helpful and that I don't hear very often (take it or leave it). 1) Aching for another baby and feeling nostalgia for your child's babyhood are two different things. Be sure your baby cravings aren't just nostalgia. And 2) No one ever, EVER admits that they had one more than they could handle. But I have seen plenty of children whose parents were clearly not interested in parenting anymore. I personally think that each child deserves a mother with their head in the game.

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  12. From the time I was 20 weeks pregnant with boy number 3, I've wondered about that fourth pregnancy and whether it would happen. My pregnancy experiences are the polar opposite of yours with each child born almost to the week of when we wanted them, but the answers aren't any easier when childbearing seems to be something your body was made for. My window will pass this month for the "perfect" time to get pregnant. For three years I've looked for an answer that still eludes me and my husband. There may not actually BE a perfect time.

    My sister just found out she was pregnant with her third boy, due in August. Her longing for a daughter in a household of jocks is acute. She cried a little and called me after her husband said, "No worries, babe, we can just try again." But to her, it is months of trying to get pregnant, nine months carrying the baby and about a year of nursing and sleeplessness. He comes from a family of nine with a mother who capably handled every aspect of her home; my sister is interested in continuing her work as a nurse and has a temperment that stresses easily. To him, this one time, try-again-babe event represents three years of immediate sacrifice and a lifetime of responsibility.

    I think we will all be surprised by how pleased the Lord is with our best efforts, especially when it comes to this motherhood-thing. His embrace will one day sweep away so much self-imposed guilt. The tenor of your post alone tells me that you will make the right choice.

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  13. Red- I like your thoughts about too many. I have seen that same thing (another taboo topic) parenting overload. Having your head in the game is a critical component.

    Nan- I have often thought that for those who have things go relatively smoothly, it would almost be a more difficult decision? There isn't some other factors there that help make the decision for you.

    I am alwasy in awe of great parents, whether they have one child or many!

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  14. I am in the I-know-I'm-not-done phase. Getting pregnant with #1 was easy, but #2 took a while. The economics around the situation aren't helpful either–where is the line between brilliant faith and sheer stupidity? Maybe it's just between me, my hubby and the Lord, but it's hard to get us all on the same page (or to even find the book). Still, every time I hold a baby I want to take them home with me.

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  15. Leslie,
    Lovely, thought-provoking post. I wish my sister were in better health right now; Ironic that the very thing that keeps her from being able to contribute is what you've touched upon… she would have a lot to add to this forum.

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  16. My daughter-in-law is in a similar situation. Her third child just turned one, and she has decided not to have more because the pregnancies are so difficult she literally cannot care for herself (or her other children) during them. The last time, she was so ill she had to have home care daily from a nurse…along with a permanent iv port.

    I think it is a terribly hard decision for her. Her baby becomes less a baby every day, and she hasn't even gotten to the part where her friends will be getting pregnant again while (this time) she will not.

    By the way, her particular issue is not related to becoming pregnant or staying pregnant, but surviving the pregnancy itself, which makes her body react violently.

    It's sad, but I'm just grateful they have the three children they do have. She has paid dearly for each one, and I am thankful to her (as is my son).

    Good luck in whatever you decide, and my prayers are with you.

    =)

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  17. My life did not go according to my plan at all, but I did have inklings ahead of time, though things not said in my patriarchal blessing. However, the possibility of not having children isn't something you really want to face until you have to, so I set aside my worries.

    I started grad school two weeks after our wedding. I knew I wanted to be a mother, but was ambivalent about when because grad school was really important to me. However, about three weeks after our wedding, my dh and I felt that we should start ttc. I worried about how that would impact my master's degree. Little did I know.

    I have primary infertility and have never been pregnant, but have been blessed to adopt two children. I originally wanted five or six. As the years went by, it became apparent that the original dream would probably not happen. For many years I feared I would never be a mother. So to have the two I have seems like a dream come true! Right now we feel that there are at least two more coming, yet I worry about our ages. I am 39 and dh will be 46 this year. I worry more about dh's age than mine, just feeling like we need to wrap this up soon.

    Our children are four years apart, and we are putting in adoption papers again, which will make the last two at least 3 years apart. I don't mind the large spacings, in fact I've enjoyed having all the one-on-one time with each child, but like I said, we are not getting any younger.

    We've dabbled in ttc'ing several times even after adopting our first, but we've never gotten very far with fertility treatments because it just never seems right. My infertility is mostly unexplained and there is a part of me that wishes I had some closure and wonders "what if?". What if we had gone to the end of the road with treatments, would I have been able to experience pregnancy and birth? That is still a deep loss for me, though I wouldn't trade my children for anything.

    I've been really surprised by some of the ambivalent feelings I've had along this road. After the desperate longing for motherhood, I was shocked to find myself missing the fulfillment of career. Ironically, I didn't pursue my career much before we had kids because I was so focused on losing motherhood. I have finally, after 7 years of motherhood, come to a comfortable place with this, finding just enough career-related things to do to keep myself happy, while still remaining a stay-at-home mother.

    I've also been surprised that I've been ambivalent about having more children. Especially with this third adoption. I've had a lot of inner work to do to be ready for another. I never imagined during those childless years that I would struggle with feeling ready for another child. I know some of it is just fear of the process of getting them here, knowing now what that process entails for us. But some of it is also apprehension about the demands that parenthood brings, the sleepless nights, etc.

    However, I highly recommend adoption to any who are mourning the loss of more children! I'm glad there is going to be a series on it this next month. And for those who are mourning the loss of the newborn experience, you can always consider adoptive breastfeeding.

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  18. I'm 48 and believe it or not, I still have those baby longings from time to time. I always envied those women who knew it was time to be done. After I had my fourth child at 37, I wasn't ready to say I was finished having children, but the ensuing years were so busy and stressful that I couldn't bring myself to actually try getting pregnant again. Then I got unexpectedly pregnant at 39, was initially shocked and terrified, but was just coming around to being happy about this unexpected surprise when I had a miscarriage. I vowed to try again because I didn't want to end on a sad note. But then suddenly I was 40 and wondered at the wisdom of having another baby at my age. I continued to vacillate, had several pregnancy scares (period was two weeks late or so—it was actually just perimenopause), drove my poor husband crazy until he finally took matters into his own hands and had a vasectomy. Which was a relief (by this time I was 45), but the finality of it still made me sad.

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  19. This topic is very close to my heart at the moment. My first child (a daughter) was born with a rare genetic syndrome that has made life much more challenging and complicated then we had anticipated. At 2 years old she is still not walking or talking and is behind in every conceivable area of her development.

    My husband and I had always had a plan…an image of what our family would look like. Four children, spaced 2 years apart. Now here we are trying to decide weather we should have more, and if so when, and can we handle having another child with disabilities, and if we add more children to the mix what will it mean for our first who needs so much attention.

    My biggest trial is trying to undertstand the strong, natural urges and desire us women have to procreate…even when it isn't always the right thing to do.

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  20. Leslie, thank you for this beautiful post and thank you everyone for your comments. I can identify with many of your situations. I don't want to go completely into my story, except to say that we have two beautiful and precious children who came to us through adoption. I have longed for more children and I feel like there are more who belong in our family, but our situation is such that I don't know how we would ever manage it right now. Adoption is not an easy road to travel and I don't know if my heart is open to it again. What I really want to share is this: when the pain has been too much to bear, I have asked Heavenly Father to please remove the desire for more children from my heart. I don't mean that in a negative way…it's just the only way I have found to cope. And He has obliged. There are still painful moments here and there, but for the most part I am at peace with our current situation.

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  21. I was afraid this would be what you were going to talk about. 🙂

    Things have definitely not gone the way I thought they would. I got married later than I thought I would; my children came in quick succession (three in three years) (and I was MAD when I got pregnant with #3, because I thought my feelings about 'wisdom and order' (like at least weaning a child before getting pregnant again) were reasonable and felt oh-so-confused when I got pregnant, again, while nursing).

    It wasn't hard to fall in love with #3, and even in the hospital, I felt we weren't done.

    Then the health problems started, and we haven't been able to feel right or good about having more. We even started going the adoption route, and that didn't feel right either.

    We have had to consciously choose not to have more, and having that kind of power is so scary to me. I have worried and prayed and stewed. There is hardly a day that has gone by w/o me thinking about this. Sometimes I will cry out of nowhere.

    But a while back, I had the distinct thought that there is nothing wrong with enjoying my life, even if that ache will never really be gone. I was so grateful for Sis Beck when she said that that ache may never leave (WW leadership meeting).

    This is hard stuff.

    I also think that not every woman will have that 'I'm done and I know it' feeling. And so I'm left to think that this is like pretty much anything else in life. We have agency, and we will be accountable for our choices. And the Atonement is there to cover our earnest efforts to do what we feel is best.

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  22. Les. Great post! I'm almost ashamed to say that for us, conception went exactly as planned. I always wanted four kids, got pregnant when I wanted and can't complain about my pregnancies (although I do) :).
    In my world, the things that didn't go as planned have been the raising of these four little people. I sure was a better mother BEFORE I had kids. I always had answers, and knew what other parents were doing wrong. THEN, i went and had my own and lost all sense of "knowing it all" 🙂
    Mothering is hard work. For me there is a lot of guilt involved and feeling of inadequacy. I LOVE being a mother, that's the one constant goal in my growing up years. I wouldn't trade them for ANYTHING, yet the thought of adding another brings me great stress, that's how I know I'm done–mentally and physically I am done with those years.
    The memories of my time in the hospital with each of them are some of my favorite! There really is nothing quite like those first few moments.

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  23. What poignant feelings you touch on in this post. I've been very blessed with my childbearing- 5 healthy kids with few complications and I still wonder if I have done it right, we have funny spacing but I feel so strongly that the Lord has guided us. I have a caboose who is almost 6 years younger than the rest.I struggle with our decision to stop. I am almost 42 now and feel it would be foolish to have anymore but each new "goodbye" tears at me, he's almost 4 and I have found myself weeping in the baby clothes and wishing I could somehow preserve his sticky kisses. I loved the imagery of being in the hospital with just me, the baby and the warm white blankets. Some of the sweetest moments in my life and I think I will always miss them. I've had friends tell me "oh you'll stop feeling like that when you're done.". Not so! Age, economics and trying to raise teenagers with toddlers stop me but in my heart I will always miss babies. It surprises me to still feel this way!

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  24. When my husband and I were dating we talked about having enough children to be able to have our own baseball team. We talked of how we wanted to space the children and why. We agreed on the whole plan.

    But we had a surprise 3rd child closer than expected. Mentally, at 3 children, I found it difficult to keep everything coordinated. There was more to it than that (some of which involved therapy), but this for me was where I began thinking, maybe, this was it.

    Then the needs of our daughter, our 3rd, increased. I was able to coordinate things, but we were absolutely stretched. The thought of having a child for us at that point scared me silly.

    After that I knew we were done. We knew we were done having children. I love children, we both do. And there are many times when people will say, that I need another baby. No, I don't. I want to be able to cuddle with a baby and don't even mind them when they're crying. Love being around children. They make me laugh. But I like being able to take a break.

    I'm a grandma in training. There will be babies again in time. And OOOOhhh boy, will I spoil those Grandbabies (and then give them back their parents!).

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  25. I have a lump in my throat and shaky hands as I type this- my first post ever here. I am continually in awe of the wisdom, empathy, support,and overall sisterhood that is found here and am nervous about what I may have to contribute.
    Like a few others, I feel a little guilty that pregnancy and childbearing were relatively uncomplicated for us and happened pretty much when we planned, though our plans did change. We married very young, but chose not to start our family for about 3 years…intending to have 3 babies in quick succession. After 2 in 26 months (and continuing to work outside the home the whole time), I was whooped- emotionally and physically. We then had our 3rd, our little caboose, about 6 years later and have never looked back and never second- guessed ourselves. The Lord has blessed me with a sense of peace and knowing our decisions were right for us- for which I am TRULY grateful- even more so after reading your heartwrenching responses to this topic. This peace came to me because of things said to me clearly in totally unrelated priesthood blessings/settings apart. One of my favorite scriptures is "to everything there is a season". I have such a firm testimony of this principle and it has served me well throughout my life. My love and prayers go out to each of you who struggle with this difficult decision. Heavenly Father loves each of us more than we can even imagine and knows the intents of our hearts- remember that always.

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  26. Merry Michelle–I hear you, sister! I loved this line because I know where you are, "The economics around the situation aren’t helpful either–where is the line between brilliant faith and sheer stupidity?" My husband and I think often of whether to have another child, but I wonder if I need a "burning bush" experience to ease my worries. Thanks for being you and reminding me that I am not alone in my wondering.

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  27. This is one of the reasons I love Segullah: somehow the posts are always relevant to my needs (even ones that aren't as obvious, like this one).

    I am scheduled to have my first c-section on Monday! I turn 42 on Saturday.

    When we got married, we both felt we wanted 4-6 children. We used birth control for six months (as we were both in school) and then felt ready to start. A year later we finally went with fertility drugs. It was a heart-wrenching time. We finally conceived just before we were moving to our first home. Little did we know how related those two things would be for us.

    We have only gotten pregnant when we were going to move (the last two happened after the remodel and when we were supposed to move, but didn't). My first three are all three and a half years apart. I thought the Lord must be done sending me kids. I had two boys and a girl. I was almost 40 when I got pregnant again (this is the one that came when the remodel was finished instead of at the initial move). She came 6 1/2 years after my third. Now, I will turn 42 and two days later have my third girl (breech, thus the c-section despite my natural birth tendencies). My oldest son turns sixteen eight days later! Yes, I am the only mother in my son's high school expecting a baby. (Maybe the only one of my second son's middle school too!)

    And as far as knowing that I'm done—we have prayed about that and I feel like there may be one more. I felt like I was going to have a boy, and this one is a girl. Still, my husband is worried about Down's Syndrome and not being able to choose what our life will be like down the road. I cannot bring myself to choose to be done yet. And…we didn't end up moving with this pregnancy (even though my husband had the job and had already started commuting to UT from NY), but we plan to move in about 2 years…: )

    Thanks for all the comments about mothering. I have felt unprepared for this baby in many ways–I'm so busy with my 2 yr. old, 8, 12 and 16 year old that I haven't had time to dwell on this new person. And I am having trouble with choosing a name. I like Paisley Jane, but my husband thinks it might be too weird, even though he likes it too. I am also worried about the c-section, but have been receiving lots of support from friends.

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  28. Like many, I thought children would come according to my plan. But now, I laugh at my naivete. Like many of you, illness and health problems have changed my plans. I also had to come to a point where I would be happy with whatever my family looked like, whether it be 3 healthy boys or whatever. When I'm pregnant, my chronic illness goes into remission. But it is the aftermath that is so difficult, being unable to lift the baby out of the crib, flares from relapses and inability to cope with the other demands that children make. While I do love babies, I've come to realize that ALL my children deserve the best mother possible. I'm not going to be a martyr to having babies just for the sake of having a baby. But I'm going to be the living mother to my wonderful kids, happy that I can be their mother.

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  29. Thank you, watermelanie! Your response helped me not feel faithless or alone–just human and oh-so normal. Much love to you and all struggling with this.

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  30. I find it surprising that deciding on family size is so difficult. I just don't know. It would be easiest to stop now, but would it turn out okay if we didn't? We are also trying to weigh the risks with the possible joys.

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  31. We were both in our 30's when we married and I was desparate for a baby straightaway. We had a honeymoon baby. I found I could get pregnant very easily but staying well throughout it all was another thing altogether. ibecame so ill that by 5 weeks I was off work sick, by 7 weeks I was in hospital and I never made it back to work at all. I barely made it out of bed the whole 9 months. We had planned for 4 children, 2 pairs close together and a gap in between. It looks so naive when I read this back!!

    Number 2 arrived as planned but again I was extremely ill and this time had a child to look after too as well as myself. We also moved across country in this period. Number 3 did not want the gap and arrived of his own accord about a year ealier than we had planned. I had really needed to get well before this happened and was still breast feeding too with number 2 when I conceived.

    Apart from being seriously ill in each pregnancy the births were always difficult. When your midwife starts SCREAMING for help at the top of her voice you know you are in trouble! After the births I had extended recovery tines because of birth complications, including having to go back in for surgery a few months after number 2 due to problems with the healing process. Did I mention the post natal depression that I had with 2 of them? What joys!

    I decided after number 3 that was it, ther ewould be no number 4 as I could not go through it again. My husband and doctors were all emphatically against another pregnancy too. I did unexpectedly get pregnant again but miscarried early on. That was a turning point for me though, I dearly wanted a baby then. My husband disagreed completely, and despite begging for the last few years he would never give in. Now at 44 it will not happen I know. I do feel that I have missed out but sometimes things are out of our control. I have regrets but wha tinterests me is tha tmy husband does too. He now wishes we had gone on to have that 4th baby and sees what a blessing it would be.

    Among my close friends none of us have the kind of family we had planned. Are we happy , yes, but thoughts do linger on babies several times a day still.

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  32. This post really struck home for me. However, I am in the minority of the commenters here. We just had our sixth and I have no problems conceiving, carrying or birthing our children. I have had no complications, and I'm only 32. In some ways, I wish I had complications because it would make being done so much easier. (Or so it seems.) As it is, we are going to have to make a decision that we are done and do something to prevent.

    In some ways, I am ready to be done. But it makes me so sad. I loved Reds comment on whether or not it's just notalgia. At this point, she's so new (six weeks old), that I don't think I can say. Yet I struggle with feeling guilty. I yell too much or maybe I'm not giving the other children enough attention. I wonder if I am going to be able to handle it when they are all teenagers. I wonder if my children will grow up to say they resent their big family. It seems that no matter what our issues with childbearing, they are difficult and seem to come with guilt.

    As I type this, I am crying. It's probably just all those hormones, but I think it's because there is such a bittersweet feeling that comes from being done with childbearing and moving on to the next phase of life. I know that ultimately we will consult the Lord before we make the final decision. I really wish, though, that people would stop asking me if we are done. Because I just don't know.

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