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Nothing Lasts Forever: When Parents No Longer Wish to Add to Their Family

This blog is about when parents no longer wish to add to their family, otherwise known as the ‘baby phase.’

A friend of mine called me the other day to tell me about something that she was going through. “I think this is it.” she said to me. “What is?” I asked. “You know, kids.” “I think we’re closing up shop.”  I knew that she was hoping for at least one more child. But her husband had made up his mind.  It wasn’t for financial reasons. Nor was it because he wanted to complicate things, but rather because he felt like his family was complete. Growing up in a large family, he had always desired a small one. But, on the other hand, his wife hoped for at least one more.

From the moment she laid eyes on her newborn, she was smitten.  It was love at first sight.  Yes, the late nights and early mornings would drain her, but she liked the idea of being a mother,  especially because she and her mom never had a close relationship. She hoped that things would be different between her and Estela.  “How are you handling this, I asked?” Not well, she replied.  “I go from feeling like I am okay to feeling heartbroken, sad, and confused.”  It seems like what you are going through is perfectly normal.  “It’s a loss that you are experiencing.”  “The loss of what could have been.” “The loss of your dreams for your ideal family.”  “And lastly, the loss of the baby phase.”   

Every mom goes through the excitement of building her family.  The baby shower, that first ultrasound appointment, preparing the baby’s nursery, reading up on all the milestone markers, parenting tips.   At the same time, there is a lot of preparation behind the scenes.  The one thing that is not really talked about is what happens after the end of the baby phase?  Is it business as usual?  How much time should one spend grieving? How do you explain what you’re going through to your partner?  And will he get it?  

The thing about this is that you won’t know until you experience it firsthand.  Some women know the exact number of kids they want, while others hold onto the possibility of one more.  But what happens when the option no longer exists?  One mom I spoke with said it felt like someone had knocked the wind out of her.  It took her some time to recover. And like all losses, this will encompass going through the different stages of mourning. Of course, some days will be better than others.  But the truth of the matter is that somehow you recover.  And while you may have reached the end of the baby phase.  You still have a whole lot of mothering left to do.  So embrace every stage and seek to create plenty of memories with your little one.  Because before you know it, they will be ready to fly the nest.

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