When You Don’t Know If It’s the Last Pregnancy

The end of my first pregnancy couldn’t come fast enough. I was uncomfortable, weary and anxious to meet the little person who tumbled and kicked his way through nine slow months inside me. Whenever people asked how much longer I had left, I automatically rounded up. Seventeen weeks was presented as “almost halfway;” six weeks became five or, depending how eager I was in that moment, “just over a month.” I was in a rush to breeze through the race in anticipation of the gold medal waiting at the finish line.

Now, with only a matter of weeks left in my second pregnancy, I find myself holding tight to this moment, wishing time would slow down rather than speed up. Not because I’m more comfortable, have more energy or feel less anxious to meet my second baby. Because I have no idea if this is the last time I will carry a child inside me.

It’s a strange feeling, the not knowing. If you’d told me several years ago that I might be done having children by 28, I’d have laughed in your face and explained that you were sorely mistaken. If you’d said that I’d only have two kids, just 17 short months between them, I’d have told you all about the three or four we planned to add to our family, each appropriately spaced at least two years apart.

Two and done was never the plan.

But neither was a crushing miscarriage with my first pregnancy. Or the inability to produce enough milk to feed my firstborn. Or a uterine bleed that lasted most of the first and second trimesters of my current pregnancy and had me so subsumed with worry and anxiety, I suddenly stop seeing a third baby as a foregone conclusion.

Several months ago, as I lay stretched out on the examination table, waiting for the results of the ultrasound to tell me whether or not those dark spots near my baby’s brain were the cysts the doctors thought them to be, I was convinced this was it. “This will be our last baby,” I thought, without a trace of doubt. “I couldn’t take this again.” I clutched my swollen belly and I just knew.

Now, after those days and weeks and months of tear-filled anxiety recede in the rearview, I hear myself starting to talk about a third baby again. “I’d need years to recover from this pregnancy,” I tell my husband, “but maybe I could do it with enough time to forget.”

And then the other unknowns rear their ugly heads, the endless white noise filling up my restless brain.

Right now, there will be one child for each of us. We are not yet outnumbered. That means mommy can take the oldest to Saturday morning swim class while daddy brings the youngest to karate. It means we can split up at the water park so the boy under 36 inches can play in the splash park while the taller one accompanies daddy on the fast slide. There are enough rooms in our house, there is enough space in our modestly sized cars; right now, there is enough of everything to go around. But with three? Maybe not so much.

Money is tight enough with one baby, let alone two, or—someday—three. Would it be irresponsible to bring a third child into our lives if it meant less of everything for each of them? Or would we be so happy to add another child to our family that we wouldn’t miss the family vacations we can’t afford to take, the extra items on the grocery list that aren’t in the budget this week, the summer camps and sports teams we just can’t make work this time around?

My husband grew up with next to nothing but has a childhood full of memories that revolve around his two brothers. I grew up solidly middle class—rarely wanting for anything— with only one sister with whom to share my parents’ love, attention and finances. And yet I longed for more siblings, for the chaos of a life like the one my mother in law describes from my husband’s childhood. What will my children want? What will we want? I clutch my swollen belly and I just don’t know.

I realize how preemptive this line of thought seems; I am not even finished gestating my second baby and already thinking about whether or not there will be a third. But a small part of me worries that I will have wasted the end of my last pregnancy complaining about lower back pain or glossing over those oh-so-often rib kicks that I may never feel again. What if this is it and I’m not savoring every last second?

I am a believer in God and I know His plan trumps mine; He is probably up there laughing at my incessant wondering and worrying, because my life’s plot has already been written, without need of my input. But I’m a planner, too, a thinker and a grand-schemer, and something about the unknown of a might-be-the-last-but-not-quite-sure pregnancy is unsettling to me.

The many mothers who have come before me say, “you just know” when your family is complete. And I firmly believe I will know when that time comes, whether that’s in 20-something days when our second son is born or many years from now when we welcome a third to our family. But, at this moment, it’s all coming up question marks.

So, for now, I will regard my swollen belly with reverence and count the kicks with awe, just in case it’s the last time. Because, living in this beautiful, tangible moment makes more sense than worrying about the unknown future. And maybe I’m just not meant to know right now. 

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Melissa Mowry

Melissa Mowry is a stay at home mom to 3 year old Chase and the slightly younger guy, Sam. She is the main voice behind One Mother to Another, which she started in July 2014 as a way to connect with other moms who felt just as lonely as she did some days. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Adam, and they live in their home state of Rhode Island. Melissa's work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Mamalode, Coffee + Crumbs and Mamapedia, among others. Her book, One Mother to Another: This Is Just Between Us is for sale on Amazon.
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18 Responses to When You Don’t Know If It’s the Last Pregnancy

  1. Jen July 14, 2015 at 3:19 pm #

    This was a really lovely post! Thanks for being so honest!
    Jen

    • Melissa Mowry July 16, 2015 at 10:58 am #

      Thank you so much for reading and for the kind words Jen 🙂 They are very much appreciated!

  2. Gretchen Kellaway July 14, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

    Oh honey that was beautiful! And no matter what, one or two or seven, the constant worry is always there, even when it is a sure thing. Even when you say out loud, “3 is my number!” And everyone is right, “You’ll know when you’re done!” I wasn’t quite ready for number 3 but I knew after 4 years that I wanted number 4. And I told my husband. 4 and I am done. I didn’t hesitate though we couldn’t guarantee gender. I didn’t shake (too much) when I signed up for the tubal. I knew 4 was my magic number. Leave it in God’s hands and who knows what will happen.

    Beautiful piece.

    • Melissa Mowry July 16, 2015 at 10:59 am #

      Thank you so much Gretchen. You’re 100% right–leaving it in God’s hands is the only way to go. We don’t get to decide anyway, so why waste the brain capacity and worry on something that’s not in our control? It may very well be that I just won’t be ready again for years instead of months this time. And that’s OK with me 🙂

  3. Meg July 14, 2015 at 8:05 pm #

    This was such a great post. I can completely relate, my two older children from my previous marriage are now 12 and soon to be 8, I’ve never felt “finished” but as my husband and I struggle to conceive a 3rd (his first) I question if I want to start all over again. Then I feel guilty because he’s never felt that instant love that looking into your child’s eyes for the first time brings. Anyways I love how honestly you write <3 enjoy the final moments of your pregnancy and cherish them!!!

    • Melissa Mowry July 16, 2015 at 11:00 am #

      That’s such a tough position to be in. I feel for both of you and I know it will all work out for you the way it’s supposed to. Thank you so much for the kind words and I will certainly enjoy the end of this pregnancy, whether it’s the last or not <3

  4. Donna Miglino July 14, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

    One day at a time, darlin’! Enjoy every moment. The rest will present itself in its time

    • Melissa Mowry July 16, 2015 at 11:01 am #

      You’re so right. I need to get out of my own head a little and just enjoy the two little boys I’ve been blessed with 🙂

  5. Kerry July 14, 2015 at 10:27 pm #

    This is beautiful and I know the feelings well. My kids are 13 and almost 12 (17 mths apart)I am now expecting my 3rd and 39 and I could not be happier. I never had that moment of being done yet either….what will be shall be..enjoy every min…

    • Melissa Mowry July 16, 2015 at 11:02 am #

      That makes me smile Kerry. We never know the plan huh? Congratulations on your 3rd–what an awesome blessing <3

  6. pam July 15, 2015 at 6:27 am #

    What a sincere post. I love it. To me, our family was complete.with three. But after eight years being a family of five, my husband was ready for one more. I knew knew knew we are perfect just the way we are. Three is a good number. But he was puppy eyed and very nostalgic. After my suggestion to work in the nursery backfired, I decided to give it to God. I won’t stop it but I’m not trying either. Now we have four daughters, a very large grocery budget, and a tiny house. But of course I have zero regrets. God bless you.

    • Melissa Mowry July 16, 2015 at 10:57 am #

      Thank you so much for sharing your story with me Pam! It’s a great reminder that giving it to God is the only way to go–we are SO not in control and we shouldn’t pretend we are! 🙂 I’m so glad to hear it all worked out the way it was supposed to. xo

  7. Kristen July 16, 2015 at 7:40 am #

    This made me tear up because I wanted #3 but couldn’t conceive. I wish I would have cherished that second pregnancy as you have. Beautiful as always.

    • Melissa Mowry July 16, 2015 at 10:55 am #

      I’m so sorry Kristen. That’s such a hard place to be in. Yes, you love your other children, but the thought of another is always in the back of your mind. <3

  8. Susan the Farm Quilter July 17, 2015 at 12:41 am #

    Do cherish this time because even if there is a #3 or #4, no pregnancy will ever be exactly the same…3 of mine were different but I ended up with 3 beautiful daughters and 2 ended much too soon, but they were all unique. My first daughter was the one that was the most active, doing flips and stretching from my ribs on the left to my right hip (she actually deformed my ribs, but that’s all right) and ended up being the one that could entertain herself with her toys for hours at a time! Miss those years, but being a grandmother is fabulous too, in a totally different way!! Enjoy!!!!!

  9. Jules Ruud January 17, 2016 at 10:17 am #

    I come back to this post often and wonder if I enjoyed my last pregnancy as much as I should have. I find myself thinking that I could be happy with the two boys at home and that being it. I am scared at the thought of being pregnant and going through another labor, but I wonder. Will that fear go away? Will I find myself with baby fever again? Sure, I think every once and a while that I could do this again, but it’s a lot to process so I shove those feelings aside. Thank God I have you to put my feelings into better words than I could ever muster. Just remember to tell me if and when you think about having another baby because chances are, I will be too. 😉

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