The Last Baby.

When I was a little kid, my favorite board game was the game of Life. I begged people to play Life with me, and then, when we played, I would get mad if I didn’t hit every single space that gave you another kid. I wanted twins, boys, girls, it didn’t matter: I just wanted to fill my car (and often a second one) with babies. When we played house, I had 10 kids. I would tell people that, when I grew up, I was going to have 10 kids, whether my future husband wanted them or not.

Fast forward a few years to real life. In real life, as an adult, I have four kids: Six year old twins, Cade and Avery, five year old Sienna, and 18 month old Adele. When people ask if we’re done having kids, we now say yes, because we don’t plan on having any more babies. What changed between those board games of Life where I hoarded children as though they were shoes and now, where we have decided to stop not even halfway to my goal?

Kids.

Kids are different than babies. While babies exhaust you physically by keeping you up all night and getting into everything, kids exhaust you mentally. From the time we wake up to the time their rotten sweet little heads hit their pillows at night, they take up every. single. little. bit of mental acuity that I possess. From arguing about food to challenging my responses to their questions to reminding me that I said we don’t eat sugar (so why are you eating cookies, Mama?) to debating why or why not it is or isn’t okay to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, my kids wear me out. I used to think that when they slept through the night, or when they knew that they shouldn’t shove their little fingers into outlets, life would be easier. I was sure my life would slow down when they were older and I would have more time to myself (HA! What’s that?!). Clearly I didn’t spend enough time around young children when I was a teenager, because I was completely delusional.

Despite this, I love my kids. We have more good days than bad, and I love seeing their personalities grow and develop. As I’m mourning the end of one phase in their childhood, I’m blown away by how fun they are as they enter the next phase. I haven’t experienced a stage that I didn’t completely love yet, and I don’t think I ever will. Some ages are a bit more trying than others (age three has been the toughest at our house across the board), but they all have unique qualities that make them enjoyable.

Even though we are certainly done having biological babies, and I know that that is the right decision for our family, I have days where I flat-out bawl like a baby that Adele is my last. She still nurses all night long at 18 months, because every time I consider night weaning her, I start to cry. The thought that she is the very last baby I will every breastfeed is so incredibly bittersweet for me. I look at her and realize that even if she night nurses for another year or two, it’s fine with me, because after that, I am closing a door on this chapter of my life. I can’t make her sleep in her own bed yet, because there’s not another baby to take her place. I am allowing her to be a baby as long as she desires, because I believe it’s what is best for her, but also because I am simply not ready to be done with babies.

I don’t want this to sound like money is everything (and believe me, it’s not to us), but I do believe that parents have a responsibility to be financially wise when it comes to having children. Kids are expensive! I feel like we are already stretched with the lifestyle we like to live and the financial responsibility of raising four children, so more (at this point in our lives) just doesn’t feel right or fair to the kids we already parent. So in the spirit of full disclosure, the cost of having a large family did factor into our decision.

A big part of deciding to be done having babies is simply that I know my limits. Right now, the needs of my four children challenge me to the max. I think there are plenty of parents out there who can handle a large family of six or eight or 10 kids and give them exactly what their children need. I, however, don’t think I turned out to be cut from the cloth that is capable of doing so. With four kids, I already have to be very conscious of how much time I spend with each one, making sure a child isn’t feeling isolated or neglected in the midst of the busyness of raising our family. I want them to have as much love, affection, and time from Carl and I that they each individually want and need. Those requirements are different for each child, but I want to be there for them however they need me to be, and I know that by adding more children into the mix right now would make that impossible for me personally. Also, because we don’t spank our kids, discipline requires a lot of thought and time. Some days it takes hours to work through issues that the kids are having behaviorally, and I don’t think I could take the time needed with each one of them if I were to keep having babies.

So as you can see, a lot changed between those games of Life and now. We do hope to adopt from Africa one day, but have put that on the back burner while we allow our kids to grow a little. We are hoping that by the time the twins are middle-school age, we will be ready, but we’ll see. I figure that if I still have the desire for more children and a large family in four or five years, and it’s God’s plan for us, then we will add to our family in a different way than we already have. And while I probably won’t breastfeed our African babies, I can wear them, co-sleep with them, and love them the same as I have my first four. For now, I am trying to remember to enjoy my sweet little ones and remember that maybe someday I’ll have my family of ten (or maybe just eight).

Do you want a big family? Why or why not? Leave me a comment and tell me why!

No Comments

  1. Stacy -  August 30, 2012 - 5:04 pm

    As you know, I have a large family. With four kids (8,6,4 and 6 month) our house is very busy and feels as if it is shrinking. I love the stage my oldest two children are in now, the art and science projects, spelling bees, teaching them to be more self sufficient. But I love, love, love babies! Ben is nursing right now and even thinking that he is my last baby makes me tear up.

    • Kelli -  September 4, 2012 - 10:01 am

      I seriously tear up nearly every day just thinking about it! However, like you, I am really enjoying the stage Cade, Avery, and CeCe are in so I know what you mean. I know I’ll enjoy not having any babies around anymore, it’s just so bittersweet. It’s so hard to let go sometimes!

  2. Stephanie -  August 30, 2012 - 5:49 pm

    Growing up I always wanted a big family. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that I am an only child. While I was pregnant I said MANY times how I would never have any more, that I NEVER wanted to be pregnant again. While in labor and for the first week or 2 I also felt like I would never want to be pregnant again or have any more children. Now at 3 months postpartum…. I WANT MORE! SO MANY MORE! I see pregnant women and I’m jealous. I know it sounds crazy because I just had my baby but I dream of the day I can give her a brother or sister. I feel like I was fairly well educated about pregnancy, labor, birth, babies while I was pregnant… but I’ve learned sooooooo much more in the last 3 months… I can’t wait to do it again (well I can, and will) and do it with more confidence. But there is a few things that need to happen before I have #2: have to finish school, need to be financially ready and most importantly my DH needs to be on board… So it probably wont happen for at least another 4 or 5 years… but I really hope it happens! I want AT LEAST 2… but really I want many more.

    • Kelli -  September 4, 2012 - 10:05 am

      Isn’t it funny how that changes?! After our third, CeCe, life was so rough that I thought we’d probably never have another. However, as time went by, I just couldn’t ignore that baby fever. 🙂 I’m SO GLAD we had our fourth. Now I can’t imagine my life without her. And 4 or 5 years will fly by for you!

  3. 1_stefanie -  August 30, 2012 - 6:09 pm

    If I could I’d want a whole bunch of kids. Right now I have 1 and she’s .8 months old. My dh and I agreed on having at least 2 more. I only had one brother growing up and always wanted another sibling. That’s my reasoning on wanting a total of 3. As soon as I had my lo though I wanted a whole bunch. I dread the day I have my last one. I am enjoying every second with my lo and can’t wait to experience every stage with her and hopefully give her some siblings too. My reason for a total of 3, you can still drive a sedan, well, I guess depending on carseats and you can still travel comfortably, hotel rooms usually accommodate 2 adults plus 3 kids in one room. Lol. Who knows where the future takes us.

    • Kelli -  September 4, 2012 - 10:06 am

      I only had one sibling, a brother, growing up until I was in high school and my parents adopted. I always wanted more siblings as a child, so I know exactly how you felt! 🙂

  4. Amber -  August 30, 2012 - 7:06 pm

    I was that girl too! I made my family play life just to have babies!!! I played house until middle school (ok maybe 8th grade) and I always answered my teachers question of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” with “mother”. I told my
    Mom that until they have college for mothering I will grow my family first then attend college. Now I have my first child and although I always wanted 4 children of my own and then to go on and be a foster mom, I now feel I may only want 2-3 and spaced out! I always wanted close babies, like Irish twins close. Now, I want to enjoy each baby and watch them grow. But I will be a foster mom someday and I will be pregnant again! Oh I can’t wait!

    • Kelli -  September 4, 2012 - 10:07 am

      I’m glad I’m not alone! 🙂

  5. Heidi Prucker -  August 31, 2012 - 12:52 am

    I love babies but hate pregnancy! That is my biggest reason for stoping the growth of our family, second is the number of individuals in our family. I don’t want a huge van or SUV. I’m happy with my average size SUV we have two boys and two girls, I don’t want an uneven number. But mainly I’m just being selfish and don’t want to MAKE anymore babies. We are seriously considering fostering children when ours get older though 🙂

  6. Kelli -  September 4, 2012 - 10:09 am

    I felt that way too, Heidi, until I had Adele. My first two pregnancies were SO HARD, each ending up on bedrest and the first ending way too early. I was miserable and it was hard on my marriage. However, things just worked differently with my pregnancy with Adele. It was easy, enjoyable, and I felt better than I ever have. It’s crazy how different each pregnancy can be! Since you guys have four together, though, I understand that. Four kids consume your time, and we drive a Honda Pilot and if we had had another, we honestly would have felt like we needed a bigger SUV, which I really don’t want. So basically, I totally get where you’re coming from. 😉

  7. Jeannie B -  October 3, 2012 - 9:40 am

    Growinig up, I wanted everyone else to have a big family so that I could be the Aunt. I am the baby of 3 girls (they are 7 and 10 years older than me) so I always knew I would be an aunt long before I was a mother (became an aunt at 13 and a half to the day) and so I always played Aunt with my baby dolls. I love being an Aunt and was never quiet sure if I wanted kids of my own. Lately, the feelings have been there…that I could see myself being a mother finally (I am 27 now) but I want to find that spot in my life that I truly want a baby more than life itself before I have one. I don’t want to be that person that decides they want a child and then when they are born realize that they make a much better aunt. Being an aunt to 4, and an honorary Aunt to 12 makes me happy at this time.

  8. Cristin L -  January 24, 2013 - 9:36 pm

    We have two. A 3 year old and a 19 month old. I have recently began feeling the pangs of baby fever. Sadly, for us right now, most of the reason we aren’t going for another is due to money. I hate that it is a factor, but like you said- IT IS! My sanity is the next reason haha with these two and being a SAHM during the day and working at night, someday’s I am not sure we are all going to make it out alive. We always do. And we always will. But I often wonder if it’s fair to add another child to our group when I already feel so strapped for sanity with just my two. I always wanted 4. I still WANT 4, but I am just not sure if that’s right. I am happy mine are still young, and I am still young enough to not feel like I HAVE to decide. Your story is beautiful, and honest. Thank you.

    • Kelli -  January 25, 2013 - 4:58 pm

      I’m so glad you can relate. I think it’s easy when you are a SAHM to feel like you are alone in these kind of feelings. It is so hard to make some of these big decisions! But you are totally right, you are young and have plenty of years to decide if you want more babies! I’ll bet you have a few more down the road. 😉

  9. Tricia -  January 25, 2013 - 12:58 pm

    I just love you, lady. Your words are ripe with honesty and I appreciate that so very much. While pregnancy and birth are euphoric experiences, as are having a newborn and nursing a newborn (sometimes), those babies grow up! They become kids that want to play sports and be in clubs. They become kids that argue and push boundaries and test limits. I think far too often, when we’re having three babies in as many years, we forget that they won’t always be compliant, cute squishy bundles. I love that you acknowledged how you desire to truly give each of your children the attention they DESERVE, and that you’ve reached your limit. Sometimes, I think women keep having babies because they love being pregnant and having babies, and they disregard the fact that this might not be best for everyone else that constitutes that family.

    You are a wonderful mama, an example of strength and grace, and I loved this post.

    • Kelli -  January 25, 2013 - 5:02 pm

      I completely agree. I always say that raising kids is SO MUCH harder than sleepless nights with a newborn. While that feels rough, what you described hits the nail on the head. However, it’s so hard to say goodbye to the baby phase. Or more accurately, it’s bittersweet. I love it, but I mourn the baby days being over. Thank goodness our kiddos are growing into such amazing little humans that are pretty rad to hang out with, because that definitely makes it a whole lot easier. Thank you for your kinds words, friend. Love you. <3

  10. Stevie -  January 26, 2013 - 12:56 am

    I have 1 18m old.. I can’t imagine never having a baby again. I’m pregnant with my second but it’s not expected to end with a baby.. It’s do so hard to accept that or to even comprehend that. I thought I was meant to have babies and that’s my calling. I didn’t know this until I had one and couldn’t fight wanting more right away.. Nothing compares to this unconditional love that I’ve never felt before. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be able to do another pregnancy. I’m so scared of feeling this heart break again.

    Thank you got your story. As much as we plan our lives to be one way sometimes there are other plans.. And that’s ok too. I’m learning to enjoy every moment.. Letting my baby be a baby.. Finding happiness in a perfect little boy.

    • Kelli -  January 28, 2013 - 10:46 am

      Oh Stevie. My heart just breaks for you! I am so thankful you have your sweet, healthy little Rebel boy. I’ve been praying daily for you, for strength, because I can’t even imagine what you are going through. I know it’s probably useless to offer, but please let me know if I can do anything for you. <3

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