Have I mentioned I’m obsessed with Michelle Duggar? She is the lady in this picture, currently pregnant with her 19th child. This photo was taken when she ONLY had 14 kids. SHE’S HAD 4 MORE SINCE THEN and is pregnant again because it is, as she and her husband say, God’s will. I love the caption on this photo – if you can’t read it it says “Vagina: It’s Not A Clown Car” (although it’s not written by Michelle who does not strike me as a vagina-joking kind of gal).
Vaginas are not clown cars. Indeedy.
So while Michelle and her husband continue to pump out more people as, well, a clown car, the rest of us are not so sure. When announcing her much-wanted third pregnancy recently, Sarah Murdoch commented that this pregnancy may not be her last and that “I don’t know how people stop having babies”.
Some nights? Around 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am or 5am? I think I know. And then other times, I don’t. Other times I want to have a million babies. Hello hormones.
Like when I was at my school reunion and one girl brought her newborn and it was all I could do to stop myself going over and having a big sniff. OH THE SMELL OF A NEWBORN. It is my crack.
In the past few years, I’ve become fascinated with the following question: when it comes to having babies, how do you know when you’re done?
One friend answered like this: “Today, I’m not done. My three year old slept the entire night, dressed herself this morning, ate a good breakfast and didn’t howl when I dropped her at creche. But on other days, she tries to crawl into my bed four times during the night, then in the morning she refuses to get dressed, eats no breakfast, demands rainbow paddle pops and ends up being dropped at crèche in her pyjamas looking like something DOCS should investigate. On those mornings? I’m done.”
Cate Blanchett recently admitted she’s not done. “I have a huge array of Spanx [control underwear] in my wardrobe for after my next baby.” Nicole Kidman often speaks of wanting more kids, even if her plans sound a little like a fashion shoot: “I’d like to be a mother again,” she told US Vogue this month. “I always thought I’d eventually live on a Fijian island. I love the idea of being in a sarong, with hair down to my bum and kids following my around and hanging out.”
And Russell Crowe told 60 Minutes he was hoping for a third child but admitted it was a delicate time to mention it to wife Danielle since she’d only popped out their second a few weeks earlier.
Can’t blame her. When you have a baby, one of the first things people ask is when you’re having another one. Often before your internal stitches have dissolved. And it never stops. Mums of young children frequently ask this question of each other, often as a way to sort out their own plans and feelings. I know I do. Just like single women will often ask married women “how do you know when you meet The One.”? I’m constantly asking other mothers “but how do you know when you’re done?”
For many, the question is not one of choice. Nature or circumstance may decide how many – if any – kids you have. But if the choice is yours, where do you draw the procreation line?
Is it a financial decision? “We can’t afford more than two lots of private school fees” one father told me. A practical one? “I couldn’t bear to buy a people mover and we want the kids to have their own rooms,” said a mother of three. An emotional one? “We’re already so stressed with our full-on jobs and juggling the needs of one child,” admitted the parents of a five year old. “The three of us are a happy little unit. Adding another baby would spread us too thin.”
For some, it’s a question of gender. “If our second had been another boy, I would have gone again to try for a girl,” admitted one mother of two. “But having one of each…. I was happy to stop. Although my husband would have liked at least one more.”
When one partner is done before the other, it can be problematic. A few years ago, when a mate told me his wife was pregnant again, I was surprised. When we’d spoken about it before, they’d said their two children were enough. She’d wanted more but he said no way. So when I heard the news about number three, I asked him what changed. “I like having sex with my wife,” he shrugged. “She went on strike until I agreed to bin the condoms.”
Ah, never say never. “At my six week check up after having my daughter, my parting words to my obstetrician were: ‘I hope I never see you again as long as I live’” remembers one friend who had a very bad birth. “But you forget the pain and the horror, don’t you? And there I was back in his office again two years later, pregnant with my son.”
One way to make sure you put a full stop after your last child is to go for the snip. I’m not sure if it’s a growing trend or just an anecdotal one but I know half a dozen men who have trotted off for a vasectomy in the past couple of years, all willingly.
“Oh we’re so done, the kitchen is most definitely closed,” laughed the wife of one of these men. “Not only is it closed, the electricity has been disconnected and the appliances removed.” Never say never.
If you don’t have kids yet, how many are you planning?
And if you have do have kids, are you done? How did you KNOW? Do you and your partner feel the same way about this subject?
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