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The Day We Decided Not to Grow Our Family

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I’m lucky. I’m a stay-at-home mom with a wonderful and loving family. I have a great husband and a smart, beautiful little girl. I’m lucky because I conceived naturally within five months of trying, and carried a baby to full-term. My daughter was in the NICU for 18 hours and I couldn’t see her. It tore me apart. It pales in comparison to the women who have to wait weeks or months just to bring their babies home. I’m lucky, and I know that.

My husband and I recently made a decision that our daughter would be our first, and our last child. People keep on telling me that “Oh, you’ll change your mind, just give it time” or “You’re still young and you don’t know what the future will bring.” That may be very well right, but this is a mostly concrete decision my husband and I have made for our family.

I was upset. It was a mutual agreement on many factors, but I was still upset. I did and I am still mourning the baby that will never be. We’ve saved all of my daughter’s baby things, and today it hit me that we will never use any of it again on a tiny baby of our own. Today, I offered my friend with a young baby a Johnny Jumper, because I knew no baby in our house will ever use it again. It might as well get some use.

The date my husband and I had set to try for a baby again was late spring of 2020. What got me through some days was looking forward to that time period. I already had it planned out. I told my therapist and my psychiatrist to let them know I will need to wean off my medications in late spring to flush my body out for the impending pregnancy. I let my OBGYN know that I would be getting off my birth control in late spring so I could conceive my second child, and to hopefully be expecting me back soon. We already had names picked out. For a girl, we had Madeline Rae, and for a boy, James Matthew.

However, the day we decided to not have little Madeline or James, a part of my world just disintegrated.

Again, I know I’m lucky to have one wonderful child. However, that day all my plans, wishes and hopes for the next baby just crumbled. The fact that I would never be pregnant again and feel that new life live inside me. That I’ll never know if the next baby would have had my father’s black curly hair or my mother-in-law’s blue eyes. That I would never be up for those midnight feedings. That I would never again hold my own baby while it falls asleep in my arms, totally trusting and safe. The fact I would never see a boatload of “firsts” again. The fact that my heart doesn’t get one more child to love as my own.

I’m more OK with the idea now. My husband and I have talked about all the things we can offer our daughter. With her being an only child we can offer her more than we could have otherwise if we were to have another child. We can give her more attention and watch her grow more presently. We can give her experiences, like vacations. We can give her a mother with bipolar and generalized anxiety who is medicated and more stable.

Some days still hurt, knowing I will never experience raising another child.

Today giving away my daughter’s things was hard, but I know this is all the right decision for our family.

I know I’m lucky for my Emma Marie, the baby that was.

Originally published: May 15, 2020
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