“Mommy is this our last baby?”
Yes, this is our last baby, I responded to Quentin.
“But what if this baby dies?”
Then it will just be you and Theo.
“And then we would be really sad?”
I have unintentionally drawn a line between my pregnancies. I noticed it when writing the other day. I referred to my “previous pregnancies” but I meant only my pregnancies with Nelle and Iris. I wasn’t referring to my pregnancies with Theo and Quentin.
Now I need to make another decision: do I want a tubal ligation with my c-section?
I remember some friends talking about their decisions to be done with kids (in a permanent way), after I had lost Nelle and I was newly pregnant with Iris. I cried at hearing them talk, laugh, joke about being “done.” How easy it was for them to say “we are done” while I was still struggling for the family that I wanted. Now facing that decision ourselves.
We have said from the beginning that “this is it” no matter what the outcome. An early loss, a later term loss – either would tip the odds against us and we would know that a third child is not in the cards. If we had not already determined that three children was it for us, the stress of this pregnancy would certainly be the deciding factor. There was a brief period of time, when I was pregnant with Nelle, that we talked about a fourth, but that rapidly disappeared when we lost her. It became a fight for a third.
My head knows that this is it. But when I spoke to the doctor about making that decision permanent I asked… can I decide after I hear the baby cry? After I know that everything is ok? Somehow if something happens in delivery, I don’t know that I would have the mental capacity to say “this is it, forever” even though I can say with 99.9% certainty that this would be the case. But in the event that something goes wrong, to say in that moment that I would cut off the possibility, forever? I couldn’t do it. I know that the immediate moments after birth are not going to be the end-all determination that we have a healthy baby, but that is the moment of decision. That is where the line will be drawn.
I was told to make my wishes known to the delivering doctor, and to have him confirm the decision with me in the operating room before proceeding.
A co-worker asked me recently “so is this it for you?” (with kids). It was asked from a place of genuine caring, so I responded “Yes. The stress of this has been unbearable. I cannot go through this again.” You would think that my quick, decisive response should have been all I needed to confirm what I know is true: this is it. Head and heart not aligned again. Later that same day, Theo said to me “I think that this baby will be born alive!” He has said things like that with increasing frequency. His confidence is easy. It matches the doctors watching me and so many people surrounding us. They are confident of the outcome. Everything points to “healthy baby.”
It feels strange to say that this part of our lives is “done.” That the end is less than 48 hours away.