Now that I have three boys, the occasion is pretty rare that I get through a conversation without being asked the question, “so are you going to try for a girl?” or the somewhat less risky question “are you done?” If someone misses the opportunity to ask, it’s usually because something more interesting is happening nearby, like leaf-blowing or grocery shelves being stocked. But it doesn’t bother me. It’s a natural curiosity that frankly I share about others’ reproductive agendas, even if I can’t work up the nerve to ask outright or find a way to sneak it into a conversation about French onion dip. But the decision to be “done” was a little more tricky in the making. Within our own household, the conversations were no less awkward than the ones with strangers, mainly because my husband and I viewed ‘being done’ just a little bit differently, even when we agreed our family was complete. And it stands to reason that, since men and women differ in their contribution to the reproductive process, we’d have different feelings about its conclusion. Here’s how my husband and I viewed being done, through its various stages:
‘Trying’ for that last baby
For him: ‘If it’s meant to be, it will happen.’
For me: This has to happen. My family is my masterpiece, and this is the finishing touch.
The last pregnancy
For him: The end of late night ice cream and antacid runs.
For me: The end of cute maternity clothes and an excuse to sit down from time to time.
The last birth
For him: It’s almost over and I get my skinny wife back.
For me: It’s almost over and I’m pretty sure there’s no way I’m getting skinny again.
The last hospital stay
For him: Yay, pretty soon I get to sleep on something bigger and more comfortable than a club cracker.
For me: Please don’t take away the magic button that brings me an hour of sleep, a turkey sandwich, or a dose of pain meds.
The baby gear purge
For him: Sweet! Space for the giant toolbox/vintage car/beer fridge I’ve been eyeing since last Christmas.
For me: The empty crib and outgrown baby swing are a metaphor for how my children are growing up and no longer need me.
Back to birth control
For him: We are so done. Wait, you want me to do what?
For me: We are so done, but I am not doing that, I don’t care if I am ‘already on the table.’ I can live with a .09% risk of having a 4th if you can.