Neither of them want a third child, so why does Susan Marshall* feel so sad about her husband's planned vasectomy?
It was a baby in a TV advertisement that did it. The sight of a tiny, wriggling, yawning newborn made me turn to my husband Nick* and suggest he shouldn't get a vasectomy after all.
I've got two healthy, beautiful daughters, aged three and six, who I love very much.
Nick and I only ever wanted two children – and during our eldest daughter Emily's* first year, we even discussed just having one, given how tough we found new parenthood.
But that feeling passed and pretty soon we were making plans for number two; Rose* was born just before her big sister turned three. When I held her in my arms, my family felt complete.
Of course, some people only want one child, while others want three or four. Then there are people who can't have children at all. Or who have one child but want more.
I have a friend who, in the space of two years, married the love of her life, had their son and then found out her husband had cancer.
His treatment has probably left him infertile, so she's resigning herself to the fact their son will be an only child (she had always wanted a large family).
So why, when I know how lucky I am, do I feel panicked about Nick's upcoming vasectomy?
Why – when I've spent the past three years rolling my eyes and saying, "God, no," when people ask if I'm having a third – do I feel so sad?
After a minor pregnancy scare, Nick suggested making our "two kids only" rule (something we'd agreed on for years) final and taking the hassle out of contraception.
We discussed it like most working parents tackle major decisions – between putting the kids to bed, making dinner and putting the washing on.
He saw his GP a few days later and she referred him right away.
In the cold light of day, I know I don't want a third. I know our careers, finances, house, sex life, social life, marriage, sleep, my body – all the things that are back on track for the first time in six years – would be blown apart bya third. I know all this.
Yet within me there's this sadness that I'll never be pregnant again, never get to tell my mum she's going to be a grandmother again, never again hold my own newborn baby and kiss its head, taking in that dreamy newborn smell. I'll never do any of those things, and that makes my heart dip a little.
It also dips when I give away another bundle of little cardigans or a once-loved toy that the girls now deem too babyish.
And lately it dipped when I saw a mother walking along with her grown-up son. Because while I've always loved having daughters, our decision has thrown up the realisation I'll never have a son.
Seeing my husband do something sweet for his mum, or watching my older brother hold the door open for our mum when we're out to lunch, reminds me I'll never have a tall, handsome son to take me out for lunch.
But that's that. That chapter of our life – pregnancy, childbirth, newborn cuddles, tiny Babygro's covered in spit up, even tinier little bottoms and night feeds – is over. And while we know we're making the right decision (unlike me, Nick hasn't had a moment's doubt about it), it's only now I realise that having babies – which at the time felt so exhausting and relentless – really was the best thing we ever did.
And we'll never do it again. •
*Names have been changed.