My last baby just turned one and I didn’t expect it to be so bittersweet

Bella Brennan

Bella Brennan

Bella is a writer and editor with over a decade of experience in women’s publishing and digital media. In her spare time, she loves making up dances to the Wiggles with her two little girls, swimming in the ocean and trying to sneak away from her family for a cheeky nap.
Updated on Apr 30, 2024 · 6 mins read
My last baby just turned one and I didn’t expect it to be so bittersweet

I am 100%, hands-down done with having babies. Done, done, done-itty, done. The shop is well and truly shut.

I’m excited for this next chapter of my life, getting to watch my two girls grow up and start preschool, big school and beyond. I can’t wait to watch their sisterly bond unfold while they become their own little people at the same time.

I’m excited to get my body back. Not in a physical look-at-my-ripped-arms kinda way. But not having to share it with a growing human for another nine months and then feed them with my boobs. I’m excited to get strong again – both physically and mentally after not prioritising my well-being for the past 12 months.

I’m excited for the day when we all stop bed-hopping and share an uninterrupted night’s sleep next to my partner instead of an upside-down toddler with a foot in my mouth (surely that day is just around the corner, right? RIGHT?)

I’m excited for the day that every family member can wipe their own bottom and dress themselves.

I’m excited to jump back into my career and sink my teeth into new projects and opportunities.

There’s something so liberating about emerging from the newborn trenches. As the fog starts to clear from those months of cluster feeding, hobbling about with a tender C-section scar and days spent in spew-stained pyjamas with greasy, unwashed hair, there’s so much optimism (and conditioner) as I look towards the future.

And yet, when my last baby Matilda turned one just the other week, amongst the joy and pride I felt when we celebrated our divine baby girl, there was also an unexpected moment of sadness. A vague twinge in my tummy of closing the chapter on officially having babies (that’s a guaranteed fact, btw. My partner’s vasectomy is booked ✂️✂️).

I’m never going to be pregnant again. I’m never going to get to feel those fluttery butterfly kicks in my belly. I’m never going to watch my body grow life from scratch (the most insane superpower on earth, in my humble opinion). I’m never going to relive the magic of giving birth, in all its painful, wild, beautiful glory.

Sure, I’m definitely looking at it through VERY large rose-coloured glasses and there were a lot of things that were really bloody tough to get through in my pregnancies, like the unexplained spotting I suffered from during my first trimester and the morning sickness (more like all-day sickness) that hung around well into my second trimester.

If I’m being totally honest, there was also a longing for a son that never was (Alfie Allexander (yes, double L after his uncle Allex) or Freddie James, depending on my mood I would fluctuate between these two names). I will never be a boy mum – something I always pictured I would be. I know this is greedy and you don’t get to hand-pick every element of your life.

I am beyond blessed/lucky/grateful/all of the disclaimers one must put before voicing their longing for a baby of the opposite sex to what they already have.

I adore my two little girls more than life itself and wholeheartedly understand that gender is just a construct. They could turn around one day in the future and tell me they don’t identify as a girl and my partner and I would love them unconditionally, no matter who they are.

There was also a sadness that they won’t come from a ‘big family’ of siblings. I am one of four kids and have been so lucky to be close with all of my siblings, sharing a unique bond with each person individually and together as a whole. I always wanted my kids to have that same dynamic. Will they get that with just each other?

Pre-kids, I thought I always wanted to have three. Post-kids, knowing how hard just one was, I quickly changed my mind. My partner needed no convincing either. We were both content with having two children. After running the newborn marathon twice over, I couldn’t imagine going back to the very start all over again.

Logically, I know this is the right decision for me and my family.  A third would push us in every way. Financially having to stop working for a third round of maternity leave (bye bye super), physically (they’d probably have to sleep in the hallway), logistically (triple the sick days, more kids than adults, what kind of car would we have to get etc etc) and not to mention the stress and strain another child would put on my relationship (there is nothing that puts more pressure on a relationship than having a child, anyone who says it doesn’t is lying through their teeth). I take my hat off to people who have big families. I truly do look at you in awe, and I’m envious of the large family dynamic your kids will get to enjoy. And I know I’m not alone in this contradictory feeling of tension between my logical brain and my heart because it’s a conversation I’ve had with so many girlfriends too.

So how do I make peace with never getting my Freddie? I let myself mourn the little boy that never was… but also sit with the fact I wouldn’t trade either of my girls for him. We were meant to be together and I can save my adorable boy names for the family puppy we’ll get one day. That’s not weird, right? OK, it’s a little bit weird. Maybe I’ll force my boy names onto expectant friends. Any takers?

The best thing is, I know that my little girls will be raised in tandem with their cousins on both sides of the family, who will be just like siblings and that’s pretty bloody special. Bring on the bunk beds and sleepovers!

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