Dear Dr. Meg,
My husband and I have been married for 8 years and it has gotten better and we’ve achieved more faith through Christ every year. We’ve been blessed with 3 children, right in a row. After number 3 we decided together to have my husband get a vasectomy. For the first few months after, everything felt ok. As our 3rd child has grown the aching for another child for me has grown. When I see other moms pregnant or see families with 4 children my heart aches for the entire day. This is consuming my thoughts everyday. I have spoken with my husband often and shared my feelings. We’ve even discussed a vasectomy reversal but he does not want to do that. He feels very confident in our decision and is very content as a father of three and does not want more children. He hurts for me and is very much there for me but clearly does not want to change anything. I don’t know how to go on with this hurt?
Hurting Mother of Three
Dear Hurting Mother of Three,
There are many mothers I have met in my practice (and I am one of those mothers) who always want one more child. So, your hurt is not unusual. There is something inside of us that yearns to carry, nurture and love more children than we have. I don’t really understand it, but I have seen this repeatedly.
My advice to you would be to do what I did myself (and what I encourage other grieving mothers to do) and that is to first, focus on what God has given you (your three children) and not on what He hasn’t given you. This will really help. Sometimes we grieve the maturity of the children that we have and subconsciously want to stop their growth because we don’t want them to leave us. This is normal; so I encourage you to face it and ask God to help you embrace their maturity, not grieve it. I can honestly say that for many mothers, life with children gets better and more fun. Yes, this can happen even during the teenage years! Many teens are fun and engaging and don’t go crazy like we expect them to.
Second, ask yourself what is it that you want from having another baby? Is it being pregnant, delivering a baby, having four instead of three children? (I can hear you say- I want all of these things!) But seriously, push yourself on this question and dig down to figure out what you feel is missing. I will bet that it has nothing to do with a fourth baby. You need to figure this out because the truth is, even if you could have another baby, if you don’t get to the root issue regarding what you feel is missing in your life, you will never stop grieving. The truth is, even if you had another baby, you will probably still want another.
If you have time, reach out to other mothers and offer your help. Spending time with other babies might actually help you, not make you feel worse. I have four kids and always wanted a fifth. I lost a baby and grieved for years to have another. What I did instead was to spend more time with the children in my practice and help other younger mothers and this really helped me.
It is important for you to know that your grief will end. You won’t always feels so badly and as I said, you are not alone. Many mothers feel an emptiness after their final child is born, whether that child is their second or tenth. Something in your life has come to an end and that’s hard to face. But you can do it because many other mothers have survived it before you. Once you grieve it and close it, then enjoy all of the wonderful things that you have ahead of you with your children. You have many wonderful days ahead of you so write me in a year and tell me about them!