‘How do you know when you’re done having kids?’, is a common question asked by mothers, even a question I USED to ask. I read copious articles, said many prayers, asked many wise women, but never really found an answer. When I had number 4, I was 90% sure I was done, but there was always a part of me that felt heartbroken at the thought of being done. I wondered if this feeling would always remain. Would I always have this feeling of incompleteness?
I’m relieved to be able to share that I feel done, I feel complete. Before I fell pregnant with #5, I was 98% sure I was done, but still grieved the thought. How can a woman simply and peacefully say, ‘I’m done’, without any regret or any uncertainty as many of my friends have been able to do? How can the woman or man make such a permanent choice by undergoing surgery to stop pregnancy from happening? With the phone number for the Urologist on hand ready to go for the snip, I fell pregnant with number 5. I was in shock. Unlike with the previous pregnancies, it took several months for me to get used to the idea. Whilst I will always see pregnancy as a blessing, even now with a 3mth old, I have less patience than I used to with things like sleep training. I also find myself getting excited about further study and job opportunities. Now when people announce their pregnancies to me, I’m thankful it’s them, not me. I can so peacefully say now, ‘I’m done’, without any uncertainty or any chance of regret. I’m so proud to be mother duck of my tribe. I’m so blessed to be their mother, what a gift, but I also feel a sense of completeness. I feel excited about the next part of our journey together. So for me, the answer to, ‘how do you know you’re done?’, is ‘oh, you will know’. I write this with much peace, no regret, and a whole lot of thankfulness for this peace and my beautiful family.
Part of my day to day navigating life business, I navigate a silly amount of food allergies. Some for me, some for the kids and our baby. As part of finding gratitude in all things, I have to say I’m thankful that none of these are life threatening. However, if I slip up and give one particular child foods he shouldn’t have, my own life is threatened. He loses all control and turns into an aggressive, mean beast, and threatens to kill me. Nice!
The most difficult part of dealing with food allergies and kids, is actually breastfeeding a baby with suspected allergies. The early days are the trickiest when you aren’t sure exactly what is upsetting their system. You cut out the usual suspects of chocolate, dairy and soy (most of this family can’t handle those foods). The reflux and unsettled behaviour improves, but you can tell something is still upsetting them. They have a particularly bad day and you blame yourself, desperately trying to analyse everything you’ve eaten in the last few days. This is a rather difficult task when you are so sleep deprived. You are already doing silly things like accidentally reaching for a nappy to put on yourself instead of underwear. Trying to remember what you ate yesterday is a hard task, as is remembering to write down everything you eat to help you track it. Anyway, I’m over having to analyse what I eat and trying to cut out suspect foods. I’ve been doing this for 8yrs and it doesn’t get any easier. So far, we are dairy, soy, chocolate, banana and gluten free. That’s all the good things. But, oh the guilt you experience when your baby has a flare up and is chocking because they can’t breathe because of their reflux response to whatever you’ve eaten, helps you stick to this silly diet. I’m trying so hard. It’s just hard to see milk that should nourish this little guy’s body, cause pain and discomfort. It’s not fair. Even if I decided to give him formula, the hypoallergenic one he’d need is about $40 a can. That is just not an option.
So, as I starve because I’m out of food ideas to eat, and plough through the food detective game filled with guilt and sadness to see a little one in pai, I will continue to work on being thankful for our little guy and foods that we can actually eat without pain. Just praying that all milk he drinks will be a blessing to his little body. Who would’ve thought breastmilk would need this kind of prayer?