Ever since I was a little girl, I have been obsessed with babies. I loved their cute little toes and chubby cheeks. And, as soon as I was old enough, I started babysitting every chance I got.
Something about snuggling, feeding, and holding a chunky baby warmed my heart. I ached to sing nursery songs to my own child one day, finally using all the days of choir practice in a practical way.
So a few months after I graduated college, my husband I knew we wanted to start a family. Being a mom was what I was meant to do; there was no question in my mind. The joy I felt during my first pregnancy gave me the stereotypical pregnancy glow the movies raved about. I loved everything about being pregnant: feeling the baby’s kicks, wearing maternity clothes, and using the pregnancy pillow that took over our king-size bed.
But after having two children only two years apart … well, it taught me a few things. Namely, even though my mind wanted more children, but my body couldn’t handle it. By my second pregnancy, exhaustion took over my life as my body swelled up so much Crocs were the only shoes that fit my feet.
After having two children only two years apart … well, it taught me a few things. Namely, even though my mind wanted more children, but my body couldn’t handle it. By my second pregnancy, exhaustion took over my life as my body swelled up so much Crocs were the only shoes that fit my feet.
My first pregnancy was a relative breeze. I was active until the day my water broke and was able to breastfeed like a champ. I thought I could handle anything—until I found out I was pregnant only six months postpartum.
The shock of being pregnant so soon after having a baby left me feeling guilty that I wouldn’t be able to have enough quality time with my first child. Then after my high-risk second pregnancy had me in and out of the hospital for most of those nine months, I knew my dreams of having three children were no longer a reality. Below are eight additional reasons I decided not to have more than two children.
1. For me, pregnancy is a risky business
My children deserved to have a mother who was present and active in their lives. I couldn’t risk putting my life at risk with another high-risk pregnancy or risk ruining my mental health if I lost a baby.
I knew choosing to prevent having more children was the safest option for my family. No more worrying about overnight stays in the hospital or organizing calls to grandparents while praying everything would work out.
2. I suffered from postpartum depression
Having postpartum depression after both children was a huge factor. I had already been battling anxiety problems since childhood, so an added mental health problem was the last thing I needed or wanted to deal with between diaper changes and 3am wake-up calls to feed the baby.
PPD was one of the toughest times in my life, and I knew I never wanted to go back to that place.
Editor’s Note: If you, or someone you know, are experiencing postpartum depression, please seek help from your healthcare provider or reach out to a close friend or loved one. If you are having suicidal thoughts, or thoughts of hurting your baby, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 1-800-273-TALK.
3. Our family needed financial balance
Having children is expensive and a struggle for many families in the current economy.
My husband and I had to acknowledge that by having one of us stay home, we’d save on daycare costs. But if we had another child, we would be struggling. I didn’t want the stress of living paycheck-to-paycheck to rub off on my children.
4. I had to listen to my body
My second pregnancy had me in the hospital a lot. First, I had to have my gallbladder removed at 21 weeks pregnant. But my final straw was when I went into preterm labor at 31-weeks.
Lying in that hospital bed, crying with an IV that made my body numb for the waist down, I just knew I couldn’t go through this ever again. The fear for my baby in my belly sent me into an anxiety tailspin, and I spent the rest of my pregnancy worried and in pain.
Not only that, but I was also diagnosed with weird disorders while pregnant. At 37 weeks, I found out I had cholestasis of pregnancy, a liver problem that can be really difficult to diagnose. I started experiencing symptoms at around 20 weeks when my skin became so itchy I had to walk around with a back scratcher so I could scratch my hands and feet nearly 24/7.
Cholestasis can be really tricky to diagnose because symptoms often predate a positive blood test. So, I was itchy for over half my pregnancy with no relief in sight. Although itching is the primary symptom, there are some more serious consequences that can occur if caught too late. Cholestasis can lead to preterm birth, lung problems, or even stillbirth.
Luckily once I delivered my son, the problem resolved but was a really difficult condition to live with. And after having it once, it meant I was 75 percent more likely to have the condition recur if I ever became pregnant again.
5. I suffer from chronic illness
For anyone who has been pregnant, you probably remember the pregnancy diet restrictions (oh, how I missed cold-cuts and coffee), but also the list of medications you could and could not take.
As a person with several chronic illnesses, being off my meds for so long was practically debilitating. I knew that I would have to sacrifice my comfort and body’s health in order to carry another child, and doing that once again was simply not healthy for me to do again.
6. Birth control wasn’t an option for me
Birth control often worsens some of the conditions I live with, and after multiple failed (and traumatizing) attempts at IUDs, including one that made my endometriosis unbearably painful, I had to call it quits on birth control.
My husband and I knew we would need a more permanent solution to prevent pregnancy. When he eagerly volunteered to get a vasectomy, we had a heart-to-heart talk about all of the pros and cons the procedure would have in our life. It was honestly easier to have my husband get a vasectomy than to have me struggle with the side effects of birth control and added pain of more IUD insertions.
It’s been a year since the snip was made, and we both feel a weight off our shoulders allowing us to be the best possible parents we can be to our two boys.
7. I realized two kids was my limit, but we’re all different
Being a mom is hard work. But being a mom of more than one child is not for the faint of heart (and not like the babysitting I remembered). No matter how hard I try to make my kids happy, it seems like someone is almost always crying or upset. The baby stage was rough without friends or family close by to help, and I did not want to go through it all alone again while my husband worked long hours and overnight shifts.
Mom guilt is a real thing that makes parents almost always feel like they are not doing enough. But after the rollercoaster ride of complications pregnancy had given me, I knew this was the right decision for my family.
Other parents are more than capable of dealing with high-risk pregnancies and a whole houseful of kids, but I knew I wasn’t.
Despite my endless love for all babies, I knew I would have to satisfy my baby fever by visiting other people’s babies. And luckily, right now I have an endless list of family members and friends who are pregnant. I’m ready to let the spoiling begin!