Throughout this, my 3rd pregnancy, I’ve been miserable and so glad this is our last planned baby. I’ve been physically and emotionally a wreck, and very vocal about it. I haven’t enjoyed this pregnancy, which I find incredibly sad and I know I’ll soon regret it because I’m already starting to. I’ve anticipated moments of sadness about this being our last because I have really loved being pregnant and the baby stage in general. But mostly I’ve just been counting down the days to when I can get some version of my body back. But I’ve known it was coming, that ‘now what?’ feeling when I officially become ‘done’ with having babies.
It doesn’t help that I just scheduled our c-section and got THE question you get when you schedule a c-section. It’s the “would you like fries with that” of motherhood: You want your tubes tied? Ack! The pressure! ‘That’s a huge commitment‘, thought the woman about to have a 3rd baby, thereby tripling her chances of literally being committed at some point. But contrary to my usual drive-thru tendencies, I declined the upsell and opted for the IUD. Karen Alpert of Baby Sideburns just wrote a hilarious and informative post on this subject and funny story, my OB recently used Karen’s exact terminology for birth control during my last prenatal checkup, which is precisely why he is my OB. Anyway, the decision having been made to make my non-baby-making status slightly less permanent, let ambiguity and emotion reign! It all got me thinking, a little too much.
Yesterday as I was walking through my local whole foods body care section, a particular smell wafted through the air. No idea what the scent was, but at the same moment a young woman with a beautiful body came into my view. And it hit me. I suddenly felt panicked, sad, regretful. What would my body be good for after growing and giving life? I thought about the breasts I have insulted in the mirror so many times, and I felt sad for them. They used to be pencil-test perfect, right up to my 30s, before I had kids. I thought about my c-section scar and the little bump above it I never can seem to get rid of. I used to swear if I ever won the lottery, I’d get a lift and a tuck. But yesterday, I felt defensive at just the idea of someone taking away my badges of motherhood. Suddenly every hard-won stretch mark and scar was my prized possession. I felt protective of this body, even proud, but at the same time so very sad for it like a little stray kitten I’d found on the roadside. Here it is this sacred vehicle, beautiful in the most profound ways, yet after all is said and done it is about to become a used up shell, empty of the life that had thrived within it. Will I ever be able to feel sexy in it again without missing the process of making babies? It’s not like my perfect 36C’s are going to come springing back into lacy little bras. And that made me wonder, what of the entirety of me?
How I feel about my body after babies may just be how I feel about my life after babies. What’s next? Is it good? Is it as satisfying? Is it worthwhile? Or is it just a series of progressively larger incontinence panty liners ending in full-on adult diapers? Of course I know my babies, and my husband, will continue to need me in evolving ways for the rest of my life, and I know I have more to contribute to this life, but this next phase is scary. I’m scared of the cliches, mostly of becoming one or more of them. I’m scared of getting old, I’m scared of not having pregnancy and breastfeeding to cling to as my key, maybe only, accomplishments. I’m scared of moving on.
I would love to hear from you mommies who are recently, are about to be, or have long been ‘done’ making babies. What was your experience? How did you move on? How did you handle the transition?