“Do you plan on having any more children, Maria?” my OBGYN asked me from behind her surgical mask. “I realize this may not be the best time to make this decision, but since I’m here and all…” she trailed off.
No, it probably wasn’t the best time to make life-changing decisions. Less than 24 hours prior, I was sitting at Panera with my mother and 2-year-old daughter, biting into a steak-and-white-cheddar panini, when my water broke. Following 22 hours of steady progress toward that elusive 10-centimeter mark, my hopes for a VBAC were dashed when I backtracked from an oh-so-close 9 to a 7. After allowing myself a few sobs of disappointment, I was wheeled into the OR, grinning from ear to ear, eager to meet my new baby girl.
“I could do a tubal,” she offered, snapping me out of my anesthesia-induced haze.
“Um, yeah, I don’t think so,” I said, catching my husband’s eyes over his own mask. If he remembered the conversation we had months before that I was now forgetting, where we concluded that if my VBAC was unsuccessful, I would get my tubes tied during the C-section, he wasn’t about to bring it up. As my sole support person, Dad knew his role in the labor room: shut up and agree.
The plan was always two kiddos. Even when we received the news that we were having a second girl, we felt that we were destined to be a family of four, despite my initial desire to have a son. From the moment we found out about Sabine, my family felt complete. I don’t know why I passed on the convenient tubal that sunny morning in August. Given my hormonal status, I probably would have ended up in tears struggling to choose between two different shades of blue.
Yes, this was not the right time to make a life-changing decision, which left us with Plan B: the vasectomy.
“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” I asked my husband a few weeks later, deep into the sleep-deprived blur of newborn living.
“Yeah. I’m like 90 percent sure,” he revealed.
Wait, what? Boom, just like that, 10 percent of something I couldn’t exactly pinpoint, something very much resembling hope, started seeping into my heart. At the same time, my head stepped in to remind me: No, our family is complete. Two girls IS perfect. Still, 90 percent didn’t sit right with me.
But, as the months went by — the long nights nursing, the daily blowouts, the jealous sister tantrums — I didn’t seem to really want that boy anymore. And as I struggled to lose the baby weight, the idea of being pregnant again didn’t exactly appeal to me either.
Meanwhile, the IUD didn’t deliver on its amazing promise to put an end to my monthly periods; in fact, it gave me month long periods and killed my sex drive completely. Needless to say, my man’s 90 percent number started to skyrocket.
But just as my husband reached the 100-plus percentage, Sabine turned four months, that magical age where your colicky newborn transforms into an adorable, inquisitive, melt-your-heart baby. What’s more, my Facebook newsfeed was suddenly taken over by an influx of birth announcements. Specifically, I had an overwhelming number of friends becoming mamas to three girls. Misty-eyed, I stalked their matchy-dresses, flowery photos for hours.
Three girls. Just the thought of it made me giddy.
I came up with name possibilities. Ruby Louise? Louise Pearl? I brainstormed witty announcements. I debated on who should share a room, the older girls or the younger ones? I worked the idea on my husband. But his original 90 percent blew past the recommended 110 and showed no signs of turning back.
Somewhere along the way, it dawned on me: I will always want another baby. It’s normal to crave that newborn scent, those gummy smiles, the excitement of anticipation. If I gave in to that urge after every child, I’d end up with five or six kiddos, which may be ideal for some families, but our house — and our budget — is really built for four. And I really don’t want to move. I love our home, our girls, our life.
And so the appointments were made, the consult came and went, and the big day was scheduled for December 16. Pick him up in 45 minutes, the doc instructed me. I drove around, feeling the weight of what was happening, letting little Louise go (or maybe Julian Floyd, if my third had been a boy). I returned to the office fifteen minutes early and sat on the carpeted floor of the waiting room with my little ladies. My three-year-old, Violet, pointing out the ornaments on the seasonal Christmas tree. My one-year-old, Sabine, running up and down the hallway.
Ding, the elevator doors opened.
“DA-DA!” Sabine yelled, toddling toward my husband, Violet catching up behind her.