My husband and I recently welcomed our third and final little girl into the world. We are head over heels in love with our newest bundle of joy, bringing or household to three kiddos under three. We are filled to the brim with princess dresses, singing, and all the cookie baking you could imagine. Her sisters are over the moon, and we are knee-deep in newborn bliss.
We prepared for this final chapter, and everything went smoothly. Our nights are sleepless, and we are covered in babies (and loving it). We go to bed each day completely exhausted and sometimes defeated. Our hands and hearts are full.
And yet, I don’t feel done.
We are maxed out with three babies, and the plan was always to stop at three.
We are capped out financially. We have just enough bedrooms and seats in the car. Vacations are possible and we can all (mostly) fit into restaurant booths. We are so fortunate to have healthy kids that make every day an adventure. We are exhausted, and our patience is tested daily. There are days I feel like I don’t know how we made it to bedtime all in one piece. Our plate is overflowing, and it makes sense that we are done having babies.
And yet. That nagging feeling that there is one person missing is still there. Whenever I surface from the fourth-trimester fog and terrible twos long enough to take a breath, I am hit with the overwhelming feeling that we are not yet complete.
Being done having kids is the right decision for us. It allows us the means and attention we need for our three kiddos. It aligns with our future goals and allows us to move into the next phase of parenting. We may be complete as a family of five. But as the mom, I am having a hard time.
Being done having babies is an identity crisis for me.
I always imagined I would know when our family was complete. I would soak up all the lasts just like I did with all the firsts, and I would feel relieved to know I would not have to endure pregnancy again. No more morning sickness or cluster feedings. No more breastfeeding struggles or postpartum hormones. But I realized with my last baby, that these challenges are part of my identity.
We all have multiple parts of our identity. When I became a first-time mom, I remember hearing so many people tell me not to “lose myself” in motherhood and maintain the other parts of my identity that make me, me. For me, finding my identity as a mom was one of my greatest joys, and a part of my identity that I feel is the strongest. Trying to conceive, tackling pregnancy, and getting to know myself as a mom to my babies have been a huge part of my life for the last three years. Growing a family with my husband has allowed me to love myself as a mom, wife, daughter, and friend more than I ever have before.
And now that time is coming to a close. Instead of losing myself in motherhood, I feel a sense of lost identity as I enter the next stage.
What parts of myself will I identify with the most in the next leg of my journey? What other parts of me need to be nurtured as I navigate into our new normal? Will I feel as confident and overjoyed in the next phase as I feel now?
My husband is confident in our decision to stop at three. Society tells us four kids are too many. My head tells me we are absolutely making the right decision to move forward as a family of five just like we planned.
And yet, I don’t feel done.
For now, I keep moving forward. I keep getting to know myself again and learn who I am now in this season of life. Every day, I keep loving on those three babies and cherishing each and every last. I am hoping my heart will catch up to my mind. Until then, I will wait for the done feeling to hit me.