Momania Flashback: Sadness overwhelms as life’s next stage arrives

This is the sixth in a series of stories to celebrate the five-year anniversary of Momania. We are flashing back to some of our favorite columns and blogs. We often talk on the blog about passages and new stages in life for us and our kids. Giving up my maternity clothes and weaning my last baby were very difficult for me. My childbearing years were over and many moms related to those feelings.

By THERESA WALSH GIARRUSSO

I never gave away any of my maternity clothes in between my pregnancies. I always knew I wasn’t done yet. They sat in plastic containers in the attic waiting for the next addition to our family.

But now with our last baby born and a move to another house upon us, I have no excuse not to part with these oversized garments — except that I haven’t quite been ready to give them up.

Parting with maternity clothes is acknowledging that your childbearing time is done. It’s the passing of an era: No more excitement of taking a pregnancy test hoping to see two lines show up; no more joy of hearing a rapid little heartbeat at the doctor’s office or seeing that little butter bean inside of you; and no more planning how to surprise your husband or your family with news that another miracle is coming into your lives.

All of that is over, and it makes me sad.

It also makes me feel old. Somehow if you’re still having babies, you seem young. But if you’re past childbearing, then you’ve moved on to menopausal.

I turned 35 in April so in theory I could have more babies, but I don’t think I could handle four kids, and this last pregnancy had its scary moments.

Even in college when we talked about getting married and having babies, it was always three. Even though I feel like our family is the right size now, it’s still a little heartbreaking to know I’ll never feel another baby kick inside of me.

As I was packing up my stuff at the hospital preparing to bring our last baby home, I cried because I knew I would never be back at Piedmont Hospital again for a happy reason. There are no more good things that can happen in my life at a hospital. I don’t plan on having a face lift or boob job, and even if you’re pleased with those results, they couldn’t rival the joy of giving birth. All that’s left now are heart attacks and cancer.

I got brave a few weeks ago and called the Quinn House, a homeless ministry in Gwinnett. I started crying on the phone when I asked the woman if they could use my maternity clothes. She assured me she had lots of mothers who could benefit from my donation.

About a week later the kids and I drove out there with the minivan full of maternity clothes, boy baby clothes and toys. During the trip to Lawrenceville, I kept preaching to my children the virtues of giving to the less fortunate. (I think I was trying to bolster my own confidence.) I started crying as my van was unloaded, and was still crying as we drove away. The kids wanted to know why. I told them while it was good to give our clothes and toys to other mommies who could use them, it was hard to let go of things that reminded me of when they were inside of me and when they were babies. I told them I was sad that time in my life was over.

I keep trying to convince myself there are benefits to knowing you’re not going to get pregnant again. For one, we can start making plans. We can say now, “OK in three years, all of the children will be old enough to travel to Europe.” We can actually start getting rid of toys and clothes as our baby passes the age she can use them. I can lose my baby weight and not feel like it’s an exercise in futility because I’ll just be putting it back on in a couple of years.

I keep telling myself that even if the childbearing is done, there is still lots of child rearing to go. I’m trying to focus on the joys that lie ahead as we help our children grow.

How did you know when your childbearing time was over? How did you feel? What are the benefits to know that time in your life is over? What were you sad about? Did it make you feel old?

Thursdays Flashback: Our introduction to helicopter parents.

More Momania Flashbacks

19 comments Add your comment

I knew it...

October 27th, 2010
1:34 pm

…when my husband said “you are too old (at age 36) to have anymore kids, so I am getting snipped”…

catlady

October 27th, 2010
1:39 pm

I wasn’t sad to quit having babies. I was sad when it was no longer POSSIBLE to have babies (ie, hysterectomy). Until then, it was just a “probably”.

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JATL

October 27th, 2010
2:24 pm

I can identify with this! I have absolutely no real desire to have more than two children. My husband had a vasectomy this summer, and I’m glad. However, I think watching that last baby turn 2 and get bigger and bigger every day just kills me! I call it the “I’ve turned 40 and my baby is getting bigger blues.” I do look forward to all of their stages in life, but I have a near anxiety attack at how fast my youngest is growing. Getting rid of the baby swing and some of the other infant things made me bawl. The portable swing had a specific tune, and just to think of it makes me weep. It snaps be back to fast to when my first was an infant, it’s unbelievable. It didn’t bother me to get rid of maternity clothes, but some of their clothes and certainly a lot of the gear takes a little piece of my soul with it as it slowly goes out the door.

TechMom

October 27th, 2010
2:34 pm

Wow, I never had those emotions- certainly not about maternity clothes! When I had my son, I figured I would eventually have more children but I was waiting for the ‘right’ time to do it again. And so far my life has become like the saying, ‘if you wait for the right time to have children, you never will’. I’m sure the hardest thing for me will be him moving out after graduation (in less than 3 years!!)

CNB

October 27th, 2010
2:46 pm

I am a mother of 1…will probably only be 1. I have mourned every stage we have passed so far and she is only 16 months old!! I have also cherished every moment and am sad to see it go by so fast.

FCM

October 27th, 2010
2:53 pm

My 10yo looked at me last night and said “Why does the babyhood part go by so fast? I remember being little but it seems like it was a short time.”

WOW!

I told her, you think that, I am sitting here thinking 11 years ago I was pregnant with you and where did that time go!!!! I said it just makes us remember we have to do our best to make memories worth thinking about.

Kate

October 27th, 2010
3:06 pm

Everything about being a parent is so bittersweet. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who feels that way. With my first, I looked forward to every little milestone, sweetly oblivious to just how quickly it would pass. In the blink of an eye that little baby is 8 years old. Still a sweetie, but obviously very different. Now that I’m on my third I have finally learned to cherish every single moment, but it certainly hasn’t kept him from growing just as quickly.

Photius

October 27th, 2010
3:52 pm

You have three kids…. a husband who provides…. three healthy intelligent children… your health…. you are looking at it through the wrong end of the telescope. If you’re this emotional now, wait until Menopause.

Jeff

October 27th, 2010
4:00 pm

Sadly, that time is here for me as well. I wish I could do it over again, because I think I would enjoy it more now, but that window is closing with the 40th birthday this year. Oh well. Sometimes that’s the way life works. I’ll focus on the time I DO have with the munchkin.

catlady

October 27th, 2010
5:44 pm

Hardest for me was the eldest going to college. It didn’t help that her little sister was frantic with missing her, too (brother didn’t seem too bothered) . Little sis would call her and beg to let her come sleep on the floor and eat scraps from the cafeteria. The pain lessened for both of us over time.

Second worst: Wait till the baby graduates from college and moves thousands of miles away! I was a basket case for about 3 days–could only wail and cry. After 6 months she came back (about 80 miles away) and that seems like almost next door.

Enjoy each season of their lives, Theresa.

CDD

October 27th, 2010
6:49 pm

It was weird with me. I didn’t mind getting rid of much of anything after my babies weren’t babies anymore – at least the first 3. Then a divorce, so I didn’t plan on any more children. But after my current husband & I got together and had a child, I had such a hard time parting with her little things. Maternity clothes weren’t an issue (I hated being pregnant and my body stretching to outrageous proportions; loved the feeling of them inside me kicking and turning though.) But I sat on the couch and cried when I knew she had nursed for the last time on her first birthday. I just recently got rid of the breastpump I had & she’s now closer to 3 yrs. I love all my children but I think now that I know for sure that there won’t be anymore (tubal & hysterectomy – double sure!) some milestones are bittersweet. I’m enjoying them all at their various stages though.

Kim

October 27th, 2010
7:03 pm

I can COMPLETELY relate to this. I only have one right now but we’re contemplating a second. Just thinking about the time that’s passed since our first was a baby (she’s 5 now) makes me long for another little one to cuddle. Whoever above said that “parenting is bittersweet” was exactly correct.

Emmuh J

October 27th, 2010
7:24 pm

Very poignant! It’s funny what ends up bringing us to tears, and what doesn’t.

gpkbsin

October 27th, 2010
8:56 pm

i was very happy to be giving away all the maternity and baby stuff. i was overjoyed to clean up all the mess and oversized things like crib and swing in the house. i have saved up all the stuff that my older one used for the little one… so have to store away too much. i am sad that my baby is growing up fast and soon there won’t be a little one clinging to me at all times. the clinging and wanting used to bother me with the first kid but now i love it with the second one. i know now when my mom says “i want you to want me”.

LM

October 27th, 2010
9:25 pm

I packed away my daughters baby stuff always thinking we would have another. Some how time passed and another child was not in the picture for me. She is now 18 and everything is still packed away.

motherjanegoose

October 27th, 2010
9:37 pm

No tears for me. We still have the BARBIE Castle in the basement closet and my daughter ( at UGA) just recently mentioned we may need to haul it out and get rid of it. She was 5 when we moved here….the time has FLOWN but I love getting to know my kids as adults. We have always had a relationship that I never enjoyed with my parents.

PhotoMomof4

October 28th, 2010
8:30 am

You know, I wasn’t sad when I decided not to have more children. I really didn’t enjoy either of my pregnancies, but that was due to the situation I was in at the time. Years later, after marrying a good man, I have wished many times that I could have another one and really enjoy the pregnancy. However, with him I gained 2 more great kids so I don’t get down about it.

Light

October 29th, 2010
10:29 am

Let God will be done thru this blog http://lightoftheearth.blogspot.com/