While some mums 'just know' when they're done having babies, for others it's a grey area full of unfulfilled desires, irrational hormones and clucky newborn memories.
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I've been in both camps at various times. When I fell pregnant with my second son I was sure he was my last, so I set about relishing my ballooning belly, and, when he was born, his downy newborn hair and smell. 'The shop's closed' I'd say to anyone who asked if I would have another – or, more annoyingly, if I was 'trying for a girl'.
But when my baby boy hit 18 months that clucky feeling crept up on me again. It was as if by morphing into a toddler he triggered a hormonal response in my body that said 'Go on! Just one more.'
For me, the feeling was fleeting and I have decided I really am done having babies after all.
Here are the signs that meant I'm never going back to the land of maternity jeans, breast pumps and bassinets.
1. Farewell to sleepless nights
My first son was a terrible sleeper, and while my second was much better I still had a bed-hopping toddler to contend with. The cumulative effect of interrupted sleep really took a toll on this former eight hours a night girl.
Now at five and almost three, my boys only wake if they're sick or for the occasional toilet trip, which, while par for the parenting course, is nowhere near as intense as waking to comfort a crying baby – thankfully.
2. Moving on from pregnancy and baby talk
When you have babies and everyone around you has babies, conversations can easily become all about – you guessed it – babies. Brunch-time catch ups can turn into a feast of feeding schedules, sleep patterns and even steer dangerously towards nappy contents. At the time, such conversations are a necessary coping strategy and a way to not feel so alone and have a laugh about this new weird world of motherhood.
However, there comes a time when you're happy for the conversation to move back to a wider variety of topics. I also remember it as such a stage of uncertainty for me, and was glad to no longer be on the receiving end of unsolicited advice or comments about everything from the size of my pregnant belly to how I should try controlled crying. It's not a place I want to go again.
3. Life already feels chaotic enough
There are some days I feel completely worn down by the seemingly simple act of getting myself and my two boys dressed, into the car and off to school and kindy. After getting dressed I regularly experience that fleeting feeling of looking like I haven't been dragged out of a gutter only to look down and see an errant toothpaste smudge on my black pants.
I'm comforted by the fact that all mothers, regardless of the number of children they have, would have similar moments and feel the pressure of trying to fit a growing amount of responsibilities into a finite amount of time, but I've discovered that two children is definitely my personal sanity limit.
4. Upgrading would put us under too much financial strain
Going from two to three children (or three to four) can often mean the need for a bigger car or even moving to a larger home. These were the practical concerns my husband and I discussed when we thought of adding a third child to our family.
Although you can never put a dollar value on the love that a family brings, the costs involved in adding another child could put some families under significant financial strain, especially when one person will soon be spending time away from the workforce. That was a big factor for us.
5. You're happily clearing out the baby stuff
After keeping all the baby gear and clothes first time round, once I had baby number two I was giving away those onesies without a hint of sadness. While the process was still nostalgic, I was relishing my new found cupboard space, and finding more and more things I could give away. For me it was a big indication I was ready for my life to move beyond the baby stage that I'd been in for almost five years and never going back.
6. No more nappy bag
This doesn't seem like such a big deal, but it was the point of no return for me. The moment that my youngest son was toilet trained and I could safely leave the house without nappies was the moment I felt I got my post-baby freedom back.
I never thought leaving the house with children in tow and a small handbag would have such an effect on me, but it was then that I knew with certainty that my baby days were gone for good.