*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Durex.
They're universal parenting questions aren't they?: How do you know when your family is 'complete?'
"Are you finished having kids?"
I am faced with these queries constantly and it is asked by both myself and those who gaze in awe at the size of my family. Being a Mum to six children means you are a kind of 'public property' wherever you venture. Everybody is curious about large family life and most don't hold back asking about it either!
Back before I became a Mum, I was adamant that when the time came to start a family, I would be more than content to have just two children. Ideally I wanted a girl first, followed closely by a boy and then that would be that - Back to the career and whatever joys life held for me down the track.
While I did get my pigeon pair and in the desired order too, this initial plan clearly wasn't to be.
I really adored being a mum of two. Two was a perfect little nuclear family and I was truly bowled sideways when the pangs for a third child began to grow from a barely perceptible passing thought into a fully-fledged mission. Anyone who has ever wanted a child knows just how strongly and deeply those desires are felt - they're all-consuming.
Sadly, our third pregnancy turned out to be ectopic and emergency surgery was undertaken just 12 hours after I discovered that I was pregnant at two months. It was a tremendously disappointing and sad time but it was also a defining moment for me.
Post surgery at the hospital that night, as I gazed upon my two, quietly concerned babies who were visiting me in the ward, in that moment, I felt many things but most of all, I felt cheated.
Was I really destined to be a mum of only two children?
Did I really want only two children?
It suddenly all felt wrong and I mean, wrong at a soul-level.
From that point on I became determined to have more children and quickly I conceived my now 10 year old son just 33 days after my ectopic surgery left me with only one fallopian tube.
From my third child onwards, my new desired number of children (whatever that was to be), kept me crazy-busy and with each successive pregnancy I would think to myself "This one has to be the last..."
I was always quite certain that each subsequent pregnancy would provide the final addition to our family that I craved and found myself feeling equal parts of frustration, surprise and even embarrassment (while secretly being overjoyed) when that old 'clucky' feeling came creeping back to nip at my soul once more...
So how do you know when the door to children has closed for good?
For years I asked this same question to both myself and to so many women, especially those that were adamant that they had reached their 'magic' number of children.
How did they 'know?'
Why hadn't I experienced this feeling?
Why the hell was I still going?!
It seemed for many to have been a mixture of reasons to 'close shop.' Some sensibly looked at the financial side of things entirely - they didn't want to stretch the family funds too thin. Others were led by external forces such as living too far away from supportive family and friends. Some were stopped by ill-health or just a partner who had decided that enough was enough. There were so many justifiable reasons that either didn't or hadn't yet applied to me.
What fascinated me most though, were the many who said they felt finished when their heart said no more.
When I became pregnant with my sixth child, for the first time ever, I felt different from the moment she was conceived. I felt this sixth baby was to be my last - and I mean, I properly felt it with a stronger conviction than I had ever experienced and not surprisingly, it has stuck.
Finally I too could say what so many women had explained to me over the years:
"I am finished."
That's not to say that my heart no longer desires babies: I still feel very 'clucky,' but I have accepted that I will probably always feel this way and I am honestly fine with that. When I look at the bigger picture now though, I see the stretched funds, the full house and car, the enormous work load involved in raising my beautiful six and I am finally, completely and utterly content.
For me, knowing my family is complete has been a mixture of heartfelt knowing as well as a practical decision.
Experiencing this contentment has been my second most defining moment as a mother. That's where I am at right now and I am ready and willing to carry this attitude and my freedom from reproduction into the future, with the family that I already have by my side.
Whether you've finished your family or are still on the fence about it, make sure you're protected and that you know how put on a condom! Visit the Durex website to learn more.
So how about you, have you finished your family?
Did you 'feel' the moment when you were done having babies too?
What reasons did you choose for completing your baby-making days?
Recent posts on Six Little Hearts you may have missed:
Linking up for IBOT