On October 14, 2019, I gave birth for the second and last time. Since that day, my husband and I have come around to the choice to limit our family size to these two children.

I will never be pregnant again. 

We did not come to this choice as a result of a traumatic pregnancy or birth, or by order of my doctor to preserve my own health. We did not make this choice because we were sure we could not financially support a third child or because we would not be able to make room in our home. We have chosen to discontinue our procreative efforts simply because we both feel we are done.  

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It feels counterintuitive at times to end in such a controlled and pragmatic way this era of our lives that has felt so uncontrollable and bursting with all of the impractical, fanciful, sentimental, and hormonal.

It is strange to think we can choose to put a hard stop to this phase that has been the beginning of everything. 

It is confusing to speak to our bodies that we once feared could not be trusted to complete this one divine task of humanhood and say, “Thank you for your service.  That’ll do, uterus. At ease, ovaries. Your work here is done.” 

It feels, at times, ungrateful to not continue to celebrate this ability, this miracle that our bodies can perform by continuing to reproduce. And yet, we are done. The bassinet has been handed down. The consultation has been scheduled. 

I will never be pregnant again. 

This proclamation is both hopeful and sad for me. I have now made the choice to move out of the child-bearing years of my life and into the child-rearing years of my life. It is a relief to know we will never start over from day one with a new baby and go through all of the emotion, exhaustion, and haze of the newborn phase. I feel no desire to return to life in those first 4-6 months with a new baby. The thought of it still fills me with dread and triggers all of the difficult feelings that came with the postpartum period in my memory, including the depression

I joke that the “newborn phase PTSD ” did not pass after my second child the way it did after my first . . . but there is truth in my humor. When I recall those early days of becoming acquainted with a brand new babe, I can confidently say I do not think I will miss it.

I will, however, miss the excitement of learning that everything in our lives is about to change again. I will miss the warmth of sharing the news with loved ones and soaking in their excitement and hope at the promise of a new addition, of a baby to snuggle, of a new little human to delight in and watch grow. I will miss experiencing my body doing what it was made to do, what it has always done surprisingly well, despite medical professionals’ best predictions, as it nourishes and creates a new life. 

I will forever miss the flutter in my belly as my precious cargo makes itself known. 

I will miss the anticipation of adding another member to my family. I  think I may even miss the anxiety of not knowing exactly when the baby is going to come and trying to sort out care for my other children in preparation for the moment of truth arriving. I will forever miss the moment when labor becomes birth, when the child makes its entrance, when I get to meet the new love of my life face to face for the first time after 10 months of feeling it within me. 

RELATED: When the Diaper Days Are Done

It is incredibly bittersweet to give up on these miracles of human experience for the rest of my life, but it is hopeful in that it comes with the promise of once again viewing this life as mine someday. Watching my two beautiful children grow rather than adding to my family means I can return to focusing on my career and my practice.

It means I can begin to view my body once more as an instrument for my own use and enjoyment rather than just a vessel and comfort object for my children.

It means I can begin to let go more as they age and take more time to do things that nourish my whole self rather than just my mom self. It means I can begin to include my children in the service of others that is such a part of who I am, but for which I  have struggled to find time amidst the all-encompassing, day-to-day responsibilities of mothering. 

It means I can devote my time with my kids to enjoying and fostering their growing independence and compassion for others as well as their emerging personalities. It means I am growing ever closer to considering mom to be just one part of my multi-faceted and ever-evolving identityan identity I hope will include being able to hold my head high while I say confidently and without a trace of sadness, guilt, or indignation, “I will never be pregnant again.”

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Patricia Bernstein

Patricia Bernstein is a stay-at-home mom and a part-time mental health counselor in private practice. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, two children, and two cats. https://www.instagram.com/betteroffsaidcounseling/

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