I’m staring at a box of maternity clothes tonight, wishing it would release me. It’s just pants and shirts made of polyester and cotton, but somehow their grip on me is tighter than iron.
I don’t even like these clothes. By the end of both of my pregnancies, I hated them. That huge red T-shirt that was the only thing that would fit around my belly by the end. Those laughably large front-paneled jeans. I was so ready to strip them all off and never see another elastic waistband as long as I lived.
But when a friend of mine returned this box of borrowed clothes to me yesterday, I had a choice to make: Do I keep them or donate them? I have written in the past about my pregnancy-related heart failure and my doctor’s strong recommendations that my baby-making days be put behind me. In fact, around this time last year I wrote of how my doctor scrawled “CHILDBEARING COMPLETED” in bold letters in my chart.
And yet, here I am a year later still grappling with that decision. Here I am, staring at a box of maternity clothes that have somehow become the ultimate decision for me: If I throw them out, I am not having more children. If I keep them, maybe there’s still a chance.
Of course, the maternity clothes are not the real decision. The bigger one is that because of the dangers of getting pregnant again, my husband and I should be considering permanent birth control in the form of sterilization. I haven’t been able to take that leap yet. I mean come on, if I can’t donate maternity shirts that are seven years out of style, how am I supposed to literally snip away the possibility of more children?
Yet tonight, I am bidding farewell to these clothes and to that possibility. It’s not an easy thing to do, but words of wisdom from a good friend today have emboldened me. When I lamented the finality of a vasectomy, he said, “Final? What does final mean anyway?” He then reminded me that final in this earthly life isn’t final in the eternities to come. What seems final here is only a step in progress in the more eternal scheme of things. My children need me alive and well.
I know he’s right. I have more mothering in me, for my own children and for those who I hope to adopt. I am excited about adoption, although also a little intimidated by the whole process. Perhaps what I need is some finality to close this era of child bearing and move into my next stage of adoption.
So as I look at these clothes tonight, I’m thinking of the common phrase that “Sometimes when God closes a door, he opens a window.” Except, I think sometimes God needs us to close that door all by ourselves before he can bust open that window.
So tomorrow I’m closing the door. I will donate the clothes and schedule an appointment with a doctor. It’s time. And in all the tomorrows after that, I’ll be preparing so when that window flies open, I’ll be ready to welcome a baby that was never meant to come through the door.
When did you know it was time to stop having children? Have you faced the decision of permanent birth control?