Sometimes I have nightmares that I'm pregnant. But even on my darkest of days, even though I sometimes joke, I don't really want to be done having kids.
Physically, I need a break. I had a miscarriage in 2013, Eleanor in 2014, and Theodore in 2015. My body and my hormones need a break. And the toll that postpartum depression takes can be debilitating. Add in daily life: three kids in diapers, three kids who can't put on their own shirts, three kids who have trouble scooping up rice with a fork. It's exhausting. If I added a pregnant belly and then a newborn into the mix, I think I'd have a nervous breakdown. Sometimes I get really mad at the Catholic Church's stance on contraception. I furiously search Google trying to find some authoritative source somewhere that says that I am in serious enough straits to warrant something else. I never find it, instead usually stumbling upon something more uplifting. Somehow God always gives me the strength to persevere. We're doing a "belt and suspenders" method: mucus + cervix + the Clear Blue Fertility monitor. Theodore is now 12 months old and we are definitely not pregnant.
But I don't want to be done yet either. I don't want Theodore's first word to be my last first word; his first steps to be my last first steps. I'm not ready to sell the bassinet and part with the newborn clothes. I used to want to be a young mom, done having kids by my early 30s, but then I read a really interesting article about the benefits of having a family that spans a wider age range, and now I'm thinking maybe I want Eleanor and Theodore to be teenagers with little siblings at home and it be cool for my future babies to have older siblings as role models. A lot of lessons in love and compassion there. A lot of wisdom and responsibility to be taught. I need to carry more little newborns around in my carriers, milky breath and sleepy eyes.
But first I need Eleanor to be able to contribute a bit more. I need someone who can feed the dog, take the trash out, sweep under the table after dinner. Someone who can brush her own teeth and wash her own hands. I need Theodore where Eleanor is now: mostly listens to my commands, is able to fetch his own coat and shoes, can take his own plate to the sink. I don't know where Abigail is going to be. I think it'd be great if we could make it through 2017 without getting pregnant. Then for our 10th anniversary in April of 2018, maybe Matt and I can go away. A little all inclusive vacation package somewhere really fun, like Hawaii. Theodore will be 2.5, maybe he will even be potty trained? Or close? We'll leave all three kids with relatives for a few days. Then we'll try again. I'll be 31, that's not too old.
Anyway, I leave this out there for any other Catholic moms struggling with church teaching, finding it hard to keep going at times, contemplating the possibility of sitting in the pews instead of going up for communion. We can make it. I can make it. You can make it. We'll preserve.