Childbearing Completed

Childbearing Completed.

That’s what my OBGYN wrote in my medical file this week after we discussed my having more children. She wrote it in huge letters, underlined it and read it out loud to me twice.

Then she punched me in the uterus and did a flying scissor-kick to both my ovaries.

OK, well that last part didn’t happen, but she did make it very clear to me that she thinks my baby producing days are behind me.

I have to admit, it was hard to hear. I knew it was coming, but it still hurt to see those words – Childbearing Completed – in my chart.

I’ve written before about a heart condition I have that was brought on by my first daughter’s birth. I was blessed enough to go on to have a second child, but now my cardiologist says I should thank my lucky stars and not push that luck any further.

I agree. I want to be around to raise my two daughters. At this point, trying for another baby seems selfish — and dangerous.

Rationally, that all make sense. But emotionally, it’s hard to say it’s really over. I will never be pregnant again. I will never feel a little heel jabbing under my ribs, or stay up at night to the rhythm of hiccups coming from a little person I haven’t yet met.

So right now I’m trying not to focus on those overwhelming words in my chart. Instead, I’m dreaming of the new experiences we will have as we try to adopt a child to complete our family. It may not be the 9-month experience I’m used to, but I’m sure it will have it’s own precious moments and irreplaceable memories.

And really, I’m feeling lucky to have even had the experience of bearing my two children. I’ve been blessed more than my fair share.

My chart may say my childbearing is completed, but my mothering is far from over. It will never be. That is a gift no chart, doctor or heart disease can ever take from me.

When did you know your childbearing years were over? Was it an emotional or difficult decision for you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

16 comments

  1. Ann

    We decided that our sixth child would be our last one. As time went on I knew that was the right decision, but I still mourned. I loved caring for my babies, I loved being pregnant. In some ways I felt that the best part of my life was over. But it was right. I needed to raise the wonderful children I had. And as the older ones became teenagers I again knew that we had been wise to end our family when we did. My baby is 18 now. I have three darling wonderful grandchildren. And the time I am in, now and forever is the best time of my life!

    • Erin Stewart

      Ann,

      It’s interesting that you use the word “mourn.” That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling. It sounds strange to someone who hasn’t gone through it because I haven’t technically lost anything, but it still feels like a loss. I think it’s OK to take the time to mourn the passing of an era of life, and maybe even healthy to do so instead of acting like it’s no big deal. Thanks for your thoughts. -Erin

  2. Jeannie b.

    I was lucky to have 5 kids by the time I was 31. After I misscarried #6 I knew I was done. I couldn’t go through pregnancy and childbearing again and even though I felt that way I was still very sad. My last pregnancy had been particularly hard and at 4 months our baby had to have major surgery. I was busy with the crew I had and very tired.

    Later that fall I was out in our garden starting to clear it out for winter’s comming, and still struggeling with the fact that I was done, when I noticed that our tomato plants had little green tomatoes on them. I wondered why the plant was still puting out little green tomatoes that would never ripen because the season was over. It then struck me that even though physically I could have more babies, my season was done as well – and it was ok. I finally felt peace about my decision.

    My youngest is now 12 and I have discovered that the next season is just as wonderful.

  3. Cat

    I made my decision while I was pregnant with my last (#6) child. I went back and forth on how I felt about not having any more kids. When I realized that mentally I couldn’t handle worring about all the awful things that can happen when you’re pregnant (the heart thing that Erin sufferd from was in the news all the time then) and that the bed rest and post partum depression wasn’t fair to my family, it made it a bit easier. Basically, I was a bit of a basket case during my last one. Also I was 40 and I already had 6 kids. #6 was already a surprise pregnancy and I wasn’t sure if I could go through it all again. After much prayer, pondering, talking with my husband and talking with my mom, I knew in my heart it was time to be done. Since I seemed to have no control over when I would get pregnant, I made it permanent. Despite feeling good about my decision, I still worried a bit if I was making the right decision for the right reasons. I guess I was mourning the loss of that part of my life. Now that I have 6 kids ranging in age from 20 to 4 and the post partum depression has developed into chronic depression, I know that I made the right decision for me and my family.

  4. Candace

    May of 2011 I had a hysterectomy. When I first heard the news from the doctor I felt a stab of sadness. My youngest child was 10…it wasn’t like I was planning on having any more childern but the option was taken away. I did in fact grieve but only for a moment. I am enjoying every minute (well they are teenagers, so maybe not every minute) of my childerns next phase. They are learning to drive, dating and becoming wonderful people and my mothering is far from over. AND…I have grandchildern to look forward to…in 25 years 🙂

  5. Robyn

    My doctors told me that I was done having children after my 6th child (at age 30) because of a pituitary tumor. And I was okay with that, I had 6 beautiful children and I thought my family was complete. 🙂 However, Heavenly Father had other plans… I had a beautiful daughter at age 36 and a wonderful son at 39…(Drs were complete flabergasted that I even got pregnant!) then a hysterectomy at 41… Now I really am complete and very happy with my 8 beautiful children and 4 sweet grandchildren.

  6. Julie

    I just had the same issue that culminated in the big snip for my husband. I went to my OB last fall to have my IUD removed. We were pondering maybe one last chance at a baby. I’m over 40 now, and it’s likely too late, anyhow, but it was something I was considering an effort at just to see if it would work. My OB asked me to get a mammogram before we tried to conceive.

    The mammogram was not normal, and resulted in several more procedures until I had a small surgery to remove a lump of tissue. I don’t have cancer, but I’m now in a high-risk category. I’m strongly encouraged to take tamoxifen, and not certain what a pregnancy and all of those hormones would do to my body.

    So the decision has been made, and I’m trying to be okay with it. I have two beautiful children, and I’m happy with that. I might think about adoption or fostering in the future, however, I still think we have a spot in our home that is waiting for someone.

    • Erin Stewart

      Thanks for sharing, Julie. It’s funny how you really do feel there is an open spot in the family. And I’ve heard when your family is complete, you feel that too. Thanks, Erin

      • Cat

        It’s funny that you say you know when your family is complete. My husband thought it was complete at 4. We were both positive it was complete at 5. Then we had #6. Based on other things, we figure that the family he was supposed to go to couldn’t have him but that he needed to be here at this time. We are ever so greatful and blessed that he’s a part of our lives. We often feel bad for the family that didn’t get him, but we wouldn’t give him up for the world. He’s also the one that just when you think you have a handle on how to raise kids, makes you have to come up with new ideas.

  7. amy

    This story is mine word for word. My doctor told me my days for child bearing were over 4 years ago when they found a blood clot in my liver. I was also able to have 2 children and they are the joy of my life. You do go through the stages of grief when you here something like that and you do become sad. But now when I see a newborn, instead of mourning what I can’t have, I am joyous for the grandchildren that I can have.

    • Erin Stewart

      I just wanted to say thank you for everyone who read this article and commented or left me a note on Facebook or sent me an email of support. It’s so wonderful to get notes of encouragement from good friends and people I don’t even know. Thanks! – Erin

  8. Kathy

    I am so happy to have found this 🙂 I have been feeling so very sad and am mourning the possibility that this stage of life could possibly be over. I guess I am needing moral support. Thank you to everyone for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I am still in the decision making process, but sadly it’s not looking good. I’m just glad I’m not alone!!

  9. Egg Mom

    After setting aside my family plans to work my way through school and be able to support my mother and grandmother after my father died, I found out that 20 years of being on the pill had turned my uterus into a rock 3.5 times its normal size (the artificial progesterone had grabbed the testosterone receptors, so my uterus had to absorb the testosterone, and having a huge rock in your abdomen is NOT fun). I almost died from a simple mistake made by a student doctor during its removal, but after 27 days in the hospital, and much upheaval afterward, my personal and professional lives are now inifinitely better than they were — and I’m no longer all hyped up on testosterone, and not in pain! I’m finally getting to experience what everyone else kept bragging about all these years. Wow.

    Thankfully, I’d egg donated years before, and have 3 beautiful, healthy smart, athletic girls in another state. I was able to send my mother to meet them all, and one met my grandparents before they died. I was finally allowed to meet them, and helped teach them to downhill ski. I later got to cross country ski with them, and helped outfit their Scottish dancing troop with matching sweaters, just in time for their show. They are interested in, and participating in, many of the same things I was, and more. It’s been great being able to give instant answers to medical and behavioral quirks their mom has mentioned over the years. It’s all genetic ;). Their dad is a saint, and the best dad ever, and I knew instantly why his wife married him, when I met him.

    Just because things don’t work out the standard way, doesn’t mean it all doesn’t work out incredible in the end.

  10. Lisa

    I am sitting here bawling, uncontrollably, reading these posts. It’s like the floodgates have opened and my real feelings are coming out in full force. Why did I wait so long to start a family? Was the career that I so swiftly and gladly gave up and that I have no intention on rekindling really worth it? Yesterday, I went to a new ob/gyn for an annual visit, the first one since turning 40 last month. When I told her that we feel so blessed to have three beautiful, healthy children, and that I feel this pull to try for another, her reaction caught me off guard. She didn’t discourage it, but she didn’t encourage it, either. I had three amazing pregnancies, and three textbook deliveries – I guess I figured that somehow meant that I would get a high five and well wishes. Not the case. She recommended that I get my first mammogram before trying to conceive, and that if we do want to have another, we should “get going”. The ticking sound of my biological clock immediately turned to a roar, and then became deafening when the nurse at the mammogram office said that I would have to stop breastfeeding my youngest immediately and wait six months before getting a mammogram. Somehow I can’t imagine pulling the plug on my sweet baby girl, breaking both of our hearts abruptly, to sit around waiting six months to get my boobs inspected before starting the process when I will, by then, be pushing 41. What if I can’t even get pregnant at that point? I will look back on my last nursing experience and remember having it come to a screeching halt so that I could try for a baby that we never even had? Not to mention, pregnant at 41? I know there are many women who have babies at 41, but there are far more women who are long done by then. Geez, I felt like I had the words “almost a fossil” stamped on my back when I was carrying my youngest at age 37, with all of the precautions and procedures that went along with my “advanced maternal age.” Forty-one is far more “advanced” than 37. If I go for it now, then best case scenario, I won’t be able to get a mammogram until I am nearly 43, by the time I conceive, deliver, and nurse. I find myself wondering if perhaps the only responsible choice is to resign myself to the fact that it is over. To let my baby girl continue nursing, to enjoy every sacred moment of these precious years, to make the most of this time when all of my children are still young and at home, and to start preparing and looking forward to the next stage in my life. Why is it that just writing those words creates the onset of another wave of hysterical crying? Is it a deep-rooted fear of change? Of aging? Sometimes I think I have tied my entire self worth into this high, but certainly not sole, purpose of childbearing. If I allow myself this time to mourn, will I come out feeling like some of the other writers – like the next stage is just as remarkable and incredible as this one? In any event, I can’t for the life of me imagine how it must feel to be one of the many women I have met who emphatically says, “I am SO done!” I don’t think I ever will feel that way! I could have a baby for the rest of my life!

  11. Lee Ann

    Just had an appointment with my OB today and discussed the possibility of one more child. I am not sure if the odds will be in my favor especially at the age of 39 and with severe preeclampsia in my past obstetrical history, my odds keep getting even slimmer. It wasn’t anything I didn’t know already, but coming to the realization that my last child who is now 18 months old, may not have a sibling almost made me cry. In fact, when I got home and discussed everything with my husband, I then had to call my mother who live 500 miles away and tell her that I may not have another child. After I hung the phone with her I sat down and cried. The realization that my childbearing years may be over was hard to hear, but I am so grateful for the two children that the Lord did bless me with. One in Heaven and one here with me on earth. I am truly thankful.

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