Today call me arid. Like a desert of barrenness. As in, “I will host no more babies in this womb.” Such an announcement shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me and it doesn’t signal any permanent shift in my ability to produce more children. At least none I’m aware of. It is, however, an attempt to emotionally accept what I’ve intellectually known for quite some time: that I won’t ever again grow a human being from zygote to person in my otherwise productive body.
So why is this fact so difficult to absorb? Why harbor secret (well—not anymore) desires to be pregnant again? To gaze into the eyes of a newborn I made? It’s an unsolved mystery, especially since most of my dear friends and family are content to be done. In fact, their “doneness” is a well-established goal they share enthusiastically. I, however, can’t let go of the nagging wish that I weren’t.
Done, that is.
I’m aware women have babies at my age and beyond, and I haven’t yet shown signs of menopause or whatever comes before it (besides, unfortunately, more crow’s feet and less collagen). But my children are thirteen and eleven. If I were to succumb once more to procreation, I’d be in the cabin doing the mommy bounce instead of skiing with my son. I’d be changing swim diapers instead of monitoring my daughter in her new bikini. I’d miss some of the remaining moments with the kids I already have trying to do justice to any new ones I might make.
So I’m not going to. Make new kids, I mean. Instead, I’m going to treasure the fact that the two I have still enjoy being with me. That they stumble over each other to tell me about their days when I pick them up from school. That they haven’t finished talking when I tuck them in at night.
If I were rocking a baby in the nursery, I’d miss at least some of those moments. And one day, their doors will shut. And their backs will turn as they text their friends about their school days. And then? Then, they will be gone.
The choice is simple, really. I choose to embrace my children now before these arms are empty.
Still. I didn’t realize when I held my baby girl that she would be my last. I tripped through blurry days with two children and a husband and a job. I wasn’t pausing to breathe in the joy. And I certainly wasn’t sitting around thinking, “Damn, you’re good at this, Julie. Quick! Keep Procreating!”
But I likewise didn’t think the window would shut so quickly. That one minute I’d be cradling my four-and-a-half-pound daughter on my lap and then next I’d be slipping a tube of mascara into her Christmas stocking.
I wish I’d known the last time I nursed her it would be my last time nursing. Ever.
Maybe we’re not meant to know these things. Perhaps it would be too difficult to move forward if we were continually looking back at what we’d left behind.
So what if I never get over it? My need for more, that is. I’ll sow seeds of fresh opportunity. I’ll gestate new novels. I’ll give birth to stories and blog posts.
In the meantime, my lap might feel empty. My body may ache a bit. It’s a hollow feeling. A longing I must acknowledge. Of course the well of love for my children is never dry. My uterus, however? It’s sliding toward arid, for sure.
But then? My babies burst through the door, stumbling over each other to tell me about their days.
And I find my arms full.
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