When I was a starry-eyed tween dreaming of the man I was going to marry who may or may not have looked a lot like Johnny Depp, I envisioned a life of love, laughter, and children — lots of children. Raised in a large family, I loved the idea of having four or more kids with all the ensuing chaos and craziness.
My first hint that perhaps a half dozen children were not in my future was the adult realization of how expensive having children is combined with what I wanted to provide the ones I had. The second, though, was when I married a little later than I’d anticipated and didn’t get pregnant until I was 30. Doing the math, and allowing for a couple years between children, I realized I’d have to scale back a bit. There just wasn’t enough time to have six children and an early retirement.
Did I mention I was a planner? Life, as we know, has a way of laughing at our plans.
When my ex and I separated, I was the 36-year-old mother of two adorable children, the youngest of whom was just shy of 20-months-old. Prior to our separation, we’d begun talking about having a third baby — our compromise between my six and my ex’s firm two. I was already feeling like an older mom and while three years between our two children was great, I was ready to try for that third. Despite difficult pregnancies and two emergency C-Sections, I wanted to go for a third.
Then came that dark month when my ex and I began to struggle with the decision to separate and I realized all of my plans were being scattered to the wind while the universe laughed at my carefully charted idea of what my life would look like.
It’s been three years since we separated and as I approach 40, I realize the odds of me having another baby are slim to none. While I’m dating someone, we are nowhere near the point of talking about children and at this pace, I don’t see myself moving in with someone any time soon. As I sold the crib and changing table I’d painted for both my son and daughter, I felt a pang of loss. Folding up a bundle of lingering baby clothes to gift to a new mom, I felt tears prick my eyes. Sending my baby, my little girl, off to kindergarten, left me sobbing in the parking lot. I am so very grateful for the two healthy, happy, relatively well-adjusted children I have. Sometimes I feel as if God knew I wouldn’t be able to handle three or four children as a single, working mom and my derailed plans are a blessing in disguise. Still, there’s a little pang of loss of what might have been.
My friends tell me to never say never, but my rational, logical side has known since the day my ex told me why we could no longer stay married that for me, there would be no more babies.