One And We’re Done

She was absolutely positively sure.

“I always said one. I probably could have had none. I’m glad we had him and I wouldn’t change a thing, but this is it. No more. One and we’re done.”

Her son was beautiful. He was loved, content, and as a family they all appeared to be incredibly happy.

I thought about a night at the Adelaide Fringe Festival years before. Australian comedian Wil Anderson had talked of being the eldest, when he mentioned his siblings “I like to refer to them as the spares“.

My girlfriend felt no need for a spare. One and we’re done.

We became pregnant with one, planned a second, had a surprise third and swore we were done – until I began to think about a fourth. While taking a photo of my three I’d peered through the lens and felt that someone was missing. Three suddenly seemed uneven, incomplete.

It wasn’t that I envied people who just knew, I just wondered how it felt to be so sure that that was it. The urge to float back towards the world of baby had been strong for me at times. Although I hated being pregnant I loved the excitement of a new person arriving. An addition, a new member to the team. Could I go back there again?  Back there.

“Sometimes I think it’s just easier to keep having babies” said a fellow mother of four. We’d made ourselves comfortable in a corner of the coffee shop. We were surrounded by biscuit crumbs, a debris of crushed cheerios and stewed fruit half squished from a tube. Her shirt was covered in little tiny fingerprints of babycino froth.

“Easy? What’s easy about it?” I giggled.

“When you’re having babies you’re in a world of baby. Once I admit that that part of my life is over I’ll have to move on. I’ll have to decide exactly what I’m going to do next. That’s much scarier than having a baby”

I’d never thought of it that way. I’d gone back to work when my fourth baby was five months old. A lack of funds had made the decision an easy one – eat, or stay at home and starve. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that drastic, but it wasn’t far off. I’d considered going back to the world of baby a few times in the following years but never seriously, it was more wistfully, nostalgically.

For some of us going back to the world of baby is exactly that, a step backwards. Back to pregnancy, back to sleepless nights, back to maternity leave (however brief or long), back to being a breeder, a milker, a feeder. And as wonderful as the new project or addition would be, it means returning to a life which sometimes feels similar to being in a holding pattern, unable to land and get moving. When the children are a bit older we’ll go…When we’re out of nappies/diapers we’ll be able to…When everyone can walk and we don’t have to take the stroller…

Whether it’s one and we’re done or a house full of spares, we all exit the world of baby eventually. The next exciting addition or project perhaps your most important – you.

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