Probably the #1 personal question I get is “are you going to have more kids?” And I get it. I wonder that often about people that I follow. So I figured it was time to give you the answer in my usual 3,794 word, “quick to the punch” way (eek that metaphor might make the male audience feel queazy upon further read). Buckle up, because we’re about to go on a bumpy ride.
This post is not about vasectomies (well, it is a little at the part when Mr. Brian Henderson makes a guest blogging appearance). No. It’s about the hard conversations you have with your spouse after a psychic tells you that if you leave your “door open,” a new soul is going to climb down into your belly and then out of your vagina. It’s about knowing your limits, more specifically me, knowing MY limits.
You might be scratching your head a little about this, but, here’s how it went down.
Two years ago, I got my palm read, and she said that I was going to have a third child. Haha, hilarious.
Then last year, I went to a tarot reader on my girls trip to Ojai and the second I sat down, she said, verbatim:
Her: How many kids do you have?
Her: You want a third?
Her: Then you need to close that door because otherwise, you are going to have a third kid.
I freaked out and said, “well, am I supposed to have another kid?” And she said, “No! Not at all. There are souls looking for an open door, you simply need to close your door before one comes down! They’ll find another door.”
Now, there is a lot to unpack and explain here. First off, do I believe this? I don’t NOT believe anything. I’m open to literally all religions or non-non-religions and there were other things that certainly were convincing in both readings. I’m currently shopping for a belief system, but open to all. But what it did do was make me really ask myself that question: Do I want a third child?
When Birdie was 6 months old, my period was 8 days late. EIGHT DAYS. After day 3, I was physically trembling with fear, and I would sob and sob to Brian, saying “it’s like I’m awake, but living a nightmare.” Look, I love children, and this might sound like hyperbole but at the time, I was so swamped with caring for my two TINY kids coupled with my intense desire to be a super involved mom despite my increasingly demanding career. And I DON’T WANT TO PHONE IT IN AS A MOM. I want to be an excellent mom. Maybe even the best. I’d say that my desire to be a great mom far surpasses my career ambitions. I was raised Mormon in a family of six by an excellent mom (and dad). My standards for myself are high, and I want to meet them.
I knew that a third kid—3 kids under the age of 4, specifically—would mean that I would have to shift my parenting goals in order to keep my career. Or shift my career goals to be the type of parent I imagined. It’s not that it hasn’t been done (bravo and applause for all the moms and dad out there that are doing it), but I was already drowning. I didn’t know how I would possibly manage unless we seriously packed it up and moved to Portland. I’d write the blog but stop pursuing more work. We’d live off the profit from the LA house sale for a while and I’d start designing houses and maybe flipping. I didn’t know…but this is what went through my head. Not being an active, present parent just wasn’t a possibility for my particular personality, again, because of how I was raised. (It would be like being raised by academics and not caring about your intellect; we are taught what to value early and that shit is hard to shake even though there is not one right answer).
But, this time, it was just what felt like a close call. It turns out that going vegan (which I’m not currently but was at the time) affects your hormones so I was in fact just VERY ALARMINGLY late. (I had taken four tests and they were all negative, but still, EIGHT DAYS IS REMARKABLE for me.)
Okay, so cut to two years later when madame tarot card told me my “door was open,” and I had flashbacks of the whole “living a nightmare” episode. I told Brian, and while he’s far more of a skeptic about anything spiritual, because it was the second time that this theoretical third baby came up, he freaked out. You see, at this point Birdie was over 2 and while most people give 2 a bad rap, my kids are great PR for 2. In contrast, if they were sent on Good Morning America to represent what being 3 is like, they would inspire a generation that put their 3-year-olds in a one-year boarding school, ’til age four. THREE IS NOT THEIR BEST AGE. But when Birdie was 2 and Charlie was 4, we were in a REALLY good place and I, well, kinda missed having my baby bird.
It’s not that I wanted a third child specifically, it’s that I LOVE HAVING A FAMILY. I love babies. I love being a mom. I love the sibling relationship. I love traditions and rituals, and feeling like this unit that is impermeable. I love how young being a mom with a newborn makes you feel. I didn’t want a third kid, nor did I want to be pregnant (I HATE BEING PREGNANT) but I wouldn’t have said “no” to a newborn little baby if it landed in my lap (uterus?) at that point. But Brian REALLY didn’t want a third. He was and is extremely happy with our two kids, with our family of 4. He feels satisfied, happy and in his mind, it’s a “why rock the boat?” situation.
So after months of being not as smart as we should have been (and the memory of this “open door”), Brian finally made “the” appointment. He felt that after I had already gone through two births, he should be the one to have surgery near his privates. I didn’t disagree. Plus, I was feeling less motivated to prevent a third. The recovery was a bit rougher than we expected, but not a big deal and now the option is taken away.
It seems like an appropriate time to throw to the man of the hour. The male with the two-kid trail. The worm with no more sperm (DEAR GOD I HOPE SOMEONE ELSE EDITS THAT OUT)—Editor’s note from Arlyn: that’s too good to take out, sorry Em—…
Mr. Brian “no-more-kids” Henderson…
EH: Why did you want a vasectomy? How did you know you were sure that two kids were enough?
BH: We were in the thick of two kids that both needed a ton of attention and time, and it was daily chaos. We had a toddler who was transitioning into being a big kid but was still having trouble sleeping or doing things on his own without meltdowns. And we had a smaller toddler who still needed a TON of attention and focus. And I think I may be a bit of a helicopter parent, which means I focus on them a lot. We both do. But when you focus on your kids so much, it can become overwhelming. It felt like we deserved a bottle of wine to congratulate ourselves every night when we finally got them to fall asleep. But like each of us though…a bottle of wine each.
The idea of adding another child into that mix felt like adding a jetpack to a skydiving trip, which is already terrifying enough. So we talked about it then and decided it would probably be a good idea, but I kept forgetting to book an appointment. So cut to us slowly getting out of the dark kidscape as our kids grew up a bit more, and the chaos was less, but still, adding a third kid just never felt right to me. I came from a two-kid household which probably influences the decision, but I think it always came back to the fact that Emily and I are constantly trying to find ways to reduce the chaos of our lives, sometimes by doing rash things like swearing we’re going to move to a mountain town permanently and raise our kids in the forest, but also we were really happy with our four-person family. I also just knew that my wife needed me to take the option away so that she didn’t have to manage even more because her personality insists on doing a lot herself. I admire that, but it’s a lot. We were GOOD.
Plus, I was getting tired of having to find ways to NOT get Emily pregnant, none of which are fun, so off to the doc I went.
Emily: Were you scared?
Brian: I wasn’t scared of the procedure because I talked to my friend Paul about it and he said the most painful thing he remembered was that he forgot to shave, so they had to do it at the doctor’s office and they only had like a generic Bic razor and water, so he got razor burn. So I took care of that before I got there. I was fine. But then sitting in the waiting room, I started thinking about what I was actually about to do and I asked for the “relaxing drug” that they had previously offered me. I think it was Valium. I don’t do well with drugs, so I only took half, but I should have taken the whole thing because as soon the doctor settled in next to me and I saw the needles, I definitely started cold-sweating.
Emily: Did it hurt? Any surprises?
Brian: The first step is the shot. They rub iodine all around your junk and then shoot you with what I will call novocaine for your nuts, or nutocaine. They do it on both sides and it sucks. So they shoot you up, then test to see if you still have feeling in your ball bag, then they make the cut. First side, totally fine, no problem, the Valium was doing its work, my right nard was numb and the doctor finished up quickly. The left side, not so much. He shot it up with the same amount as the other side but when he started cutting, I definitely felt it. And feeling a slice on your nutsack is kind of up there with fear of drowning for most men, so I made it very clear that I needed more nutocaine. He obliged. Nope, still feel it! A little more, and one more shot for good measure… and then I felt nothing. Snip snip, burn, and sew it up. Oh did you catch that I just said burn? Yep, that’s not a mistake. They cauterize the tube so there’s no chance of it growing back together. I actually live streamed the puffs of smoke on my phone to some of my more squeamish friends. They didn’t think it was as funny as I did.
Emily: How did you feel after having it done?
Brian: I was sore for like a week after. Actually much more sore than I had expected. I had to lay down a lot and ice myself. My baseball night was like a week away and I really didn’t want to miss it, but the doctor said no strenuous activity for a couple weeks, so I had to call it off. That was the biggest bummer of the whole thing. Not to get into the details too much, but it took a while for things to feel normal down there. Like it didn’t feel as good as it used to, if you know what I mean, and I was worried that that was the new permanent normal. But I’m happy to report that it only a took a few more weeks for things to get back to how they were before and now there’s absolutely no difference. Mentally there’s a big difference, in a good way. I no longer have a fear of an accidental pregnancy, so in a weird way it takes out a mental roadblock that I think all people have, which has made things a lot more fun and spontaneous. God, this sounds like a Cosmo article. Let’s just say I have no regrets about it. It only hurt for a bit, and the pros have outweighed the cons massively for me. I know it’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely made things better for us which is ultimately better for our family.
Well, Brian feels GREAT (and yes, he’s been tested twice and it worked). Here’s how I feel…
Me? I’m so relieved. I also feel genuinely satisfied, in fact overwhelmingly satisfied. I didn’t feel like there was a third out there that would somehow complete our family. Maybe I’ll feel differently later but my two children are exactly what I want in life. I know that my inner desire to keep going was mostly selfish. It’s kinda fun to have that mountain of attention that pregnancy, birth and newborn-hood brings. It’s also fun to fantasize about a different version of your life, one that involves three kids. But ultimately having three under 5 would have potentially been extremely unhealthy mentally for me. I would have survived, because what other recourse do you have, but at what cost (for me, personally)?
I know that love multiplies, but TIME DIVIDES. I already didn’t feel like I gave each child, and my husband, enough one-on-one attention and that gave me stress. Add in a third that young and one of us would have had to stay home full time, though neither of us wanted to take that role, so really, adding another little human would have been actually irresponsible for our family. It’s a very individual situation whether you have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or like my parents SIX. ON PURPOSE
I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again, thinking about life in opportunities is helpful. Yes, having another child would have been eventually potentially great, but what about the opportunity to spend more time with the family I have now? What about prioritizing the kids I have today and being solid and okay with where we are? It’s one thing if I had started a family earlier, at 25 (instead of at 34). Sure! I’d probably have four kiddos by now, but imagining that now, with my career and personality type is the situation I’m talking about that I know wouldn’t have been optimal. (Obviously, I’m very sensitive about others internalizing this and feeling judged by having more kids than my family chose, but please know it’s really about your personal situation and what you can handle—I can only handle two).
It’s hard for me to know my limits. I’m an optimistic enthusiast who sprints until I crash (but then sprints again). So while I knew I was drowning, it took Brian to really ensure that I get closer to land.
While I worry this might be a hot button topic (seriously, I was texting my team last night to read and re-read this to make sure it didn’t come off in a way I didn’t intend), I really don’t think it should be because I’m only sharing my own experience. The hypothetical situation of running a company, financially supporting my family with THREE CHILDREN UNDER FIVE while actually wanting to parent with a heavy hand may have been almost impossible. I have a very strong maternal instinct that is already a source of disappointment for me. Add in another small child and I seriously think I might have had some mental health issues, or scaled back drastically at my job. If you believe that kids need their parents to be present and around, then you’ll have no choice but realize that someone like me probably should stop at two (unless we had spread them out by starting earlier but we didn’t and I’m almost 40).
So yes, Brian getting snipped was the best decision for us and no, we are not having more children (naturally). And you know what is even better? We can always foster and adopt. It’s something we’ve talked about consistently for 15 years and while we aren’t ready yet, we feel like it’s in our future when we are ready and the kids are a bit older. If/when we want to expand our family, that’s how we’ll do it. My family did it (they fostered a lot, no adopting) and we feel like we are well, a solid family that can make a huge difference in the lives of some who have none.
But for now, my door is closed. And it feels soooo goooood. It’s also been GREAT for our marriage. Knowing that we are past that point kinda gives us some freedom to enter the next stage of parenting, with kids, instead of babies and toddlers. It’s exciting and empowering and we can see a light at the end of a tunnel. I’m back to being ambitious in my career, thinking about projects that I want to pursue, not just the ones that fall in my lap. I have a bit more mental space because they are actually sleeping and it’s exciting to actually use parts of my brain that were too tired to function the last OH SAY THREE YEARS.
It’s a lesson that sometimes your partner, whom you trust, might know what’s best for you more than you do.
So that’s where we landed. Two kids, a solid marriage, and we are still struggling to stay afloat. My best advice when it comes to how many kids you should have is to stop when you are happy. I KNOW that having a third (under 5) would have brought more happiness in some ways, but possibly decreased other happiness. The Hendersons as a family of four are happy and that’s how it will stay (unless that door didn’t fully close and we have a vasectomy baby which happens all the time but he tested it twice and no sperm-o so we should be fine, right? right? RIGHT???)
Thoughts? Feelings? DO YOU WANT MORE OF MR. BRIAN VASECTOMY HENDERSON ON THE BLOG????
But wait, there’s more…before we “wrap it up,” a few inquiring minds on the EHD team had two, ahem, logistical questions about the “after” here, and because I felt like maybe you might have the same questions, we squeezed it in.
Team EHD: When you get a vasectomy…can you still…ejaculate? (I feel like Carrie Bradshaw.)
Emily: Ha. Yes. But it’s clear…if you are lucky.
Team EHD: Can it be reversed?
Emily: It can technically, but it’s really hard. The first question they ask before it happens is “how is your marriage?” in an “are you sure you aren’t going to marry a younger woman later and regret this choice because you are exhausted right now but maybe it’s because you are actually unhappy in your marriage” kind of way.
Granted, these questions were asked in an “EHD After Hours” text chain with far too many inappropriate puns and eggplant emojis, but we’re all adults here.
So, again, thoughts?? Feelings?? I’m dying to know what you guys are thinking about…it all. Xx
I think you wrote this in a very inclusive abd (regardless of your circumstance) relatable way.
So honest. Well approached. Personal and intimate sure, but that’s the Emily we love. I miscarriaged a “we’re supposed to have a baby now” baby, and got divorced shortly afterwards. I wouldn’t have chosen it that way but it may well have been for the best. From a very young age I wanted 6 kids, but after years of therapy I know that what I actually wanted was to have had a better childhood myself. In a committed relationship now and turn 40 in a few months. I’m still not completely, completely, completely shut down on having kids, like you were I guess, but for me and my life it wouldn’t be the best choice. I’m still coming to terms with that and this blog may help. I know I won’t be able to foster or adopt as my health wouldn’t get me through the application stage (I work in government and know all the rules), so shutting down my likelihood of pregnancy definitely means no kids at all. But that does mean a freedom, as you’ve said, to do things the way that works best for you. I think this may be a post I reread a few times.… Read more »
Oh my god this had me chuckling away over my breakfast! Brian is hilarious xx
I knew I didn’t want a third child when I had a meltdown in the hospital the night my second child was born, and I thought to myself, “What the hell have I done? I don’t want to do any of this again.” — and by that I meant the nursing, the months of sleeplessness, the everything involved with raising a second kid. Fortunately I snapped out of it and Kid No. 2 is awesome but the idea of No. 3? No freaking way. So I am in sync with Emily’s admission that having a 3rd kid would have been “mentally unhealthy” for her.
Kudos to Brian. A lot of men still seem to think this issue is the woman’s problem to handle.
Yah, I have to say the fact that he insisted instead of me having to take care of it was a huge relief. enough has been done to this body in the name of reproduction 🙂
Your last point, gahhhh. I will never understand that mindset from men – the anxiety I would have over putting a responsibility like “preventing pregnancy” solely on my spouse would be insane. I love and trust my spouse, but sometimes he forgets to take out the trash, run errands, etc. (AS DO I), and expecting/demanding that he never make a mistake, otherwise we could both be sidled with the responsibility of a child is terrifying and rough on a marriage. At least if I’m the one who has to be virtually perfect to prevent risk, then I would have control over that aspect. Lets just say getting an IUD was beneficial for my mental health, my husband’s mental health, and our relationship because it took the pressure off of me, took the anxiety away from him, and removed a sense of tension between us. If there were a long term temporary option like that for men, I’m pretty sure a large portion of the male population would be like SIGN ME UP. (Please, no responses about whether an IUD is a healthy/moral option – I made this decision with the help of my doctor, my SIL who is an OBGYN,… Read more »
Copper IUD for the win! Had one pre baby no 1 and got a second one 8 weeks after I have birth. Best thing ever. Insertion and first month with my pre-baby IUD was rough, but post baby was literally nothing at all. Highly recommend to anyone who wants long term temporary that’s hormone free.
I have read every single word on you blog for at least 3 years, probably 5…so I’m making a heartfelt genuine request that in your search, you read the gospel of John in a reader friendly translation of the Bible such as ESV or niv. ? Might be a weird, manipulative – sounding way to ask, but it’s in hopes this comment will catch your attn. You’re going to have 860 comments on this post!
OOH, I will take that challenge 🙂 thanks for reading. xx
great!! 🙂 (And I just remembered, there’s also a word-for-word Netflix The Gospel of John. It’s pretty amazing if I remember correctly. It says 2014, but I KNOW I saw one in the theaters in 2004.)
Emily, I would never bring this up out of context, but since you said you were actively searching, my husband and I have been reading books and listening to a podcast that has completely opened our eyes, spiritually speaking.
It is not a religious theology but a spiritual investigation and practice, and seeks to tie science with faith giving us a greater understand of who God truly is and who we are in relation to Him.
A quote from the website “Theology explains who God is while science explains how He works.”
What started us down this path was Steve McVey’s book, “Beyond an Angry God”.
His website is http://quantumlifewithstevemcvey.com.
He’s teaching these theories/principles but encourages everyone to do their own research and come to their own conclusions (lest you think this is a cult of some kind!).
PS– Brian’s vasectomy recount was hilarious! I would totally welcome the occasional Brian Hendo guest post.
This is a great suggest for your
spiritual search, Emily.
I’ll start reading John with you, Emily! Love your heart for your family (as it is!) and for how you serve those around you!
Yes! John is a wonderful way to dig into the love story between God and us.
Yes I agree that is a great place to start! I love the New King James Version…the Bible has seriously transformed my life. So good! And I’m with ya Emily, two kids are enough for me personally!! 🙂
I feel bad that we live in a world where you had to explain this. But I also feel jealous that you can put your decision out there with all your reasoning and now people will (hopefully) stop asking. I wish every time someone asked me about childbearing that I could point them to my blog answering their question rather than have to listen to “oh it’s because you value your career too much” or “if you just had one you would definitely love it.”
Also, I’m no doctor but I do know someone who had a vasectomy reversed successfully. So it’s possible!
What an honest, insightful way to deal with a potentially awkward topic. Great post.
I really appreciate the aspect of your blog that directly or indirectly talks about being an ambitious female business owner and careerist. And this topic of deciding on additional children is something working women deal with – since childbearing obviously falls on them as well as a lot of post birth physical changes and work. Thanks for sharing. I too wanted a third and realized I couldn’t handle one and still work – and I love working and it’s the right thing to do for me and our family even though I love my children far more. I’m glad your daughter (and son) will have an ambitious, talented mama as a role model.
I thought this post was great. My boyfriend and I know we don’t want children and the vasectomy discussion has come up several times. Hearing someone else (even in a different context) share there experience on a “taboo” subject is something that I personally always find informative and perspective broadening. So thanks Emily!
I could write a million positive things about the post but for a positive comment on another subject —
East coaster here: I really appreciate how your fresh post is up by the time I get up in the morning all week. Kids get their breakfast, I pour my coffee, read EH post and day begins!
ah, thank you thank you. i have an excellent team 🙂
ME THREE! Fellow east coaster, and blogs and their ‘optimized scheduling times’ drive me bananas. I know I can always count on yours to be up.
Thanks for the honesty, Em. As a childless 36 year old, I sincerely appreciate reading about the decisions that go into having or not having kids. We are each entitled to do what’s best for us. xo
Oh, I get where you are. I was there too. I hear your pain. I don’t know your journey, but I can guess it’s been hard.
We did IVF four times. I was sad and angry that getting pregnant with my husband wasn’t something I could study for or save for.
I’m a mom now and YOU WILL BE A MOM too. You just will find your way. Follow you gut. Have faith. It all works out in the end. I promise. 🙂 it might now be how you imagine. It might be even better.
-signed the mom of a 12 year old boy and a 5 year old girl.
Oops! This was originally under another comment. I hope she sees it.
LOL I was all “wow jen really read into my psyche there! ” 😉 I hope the original commenter sees it to, a sweet and encouraging message.
Love this post. Love the honesty. And I’d love more Brian on the blog, he’s hillarious. I’m sure posting this was terrifying but it’s your truth and I think many will benefit from this. Keep up the good work!
I am nearing 30 and have been struggling with infertility for several years. One of those souls is welcome to climb down into my open door ?
Must be nice to be terrified of unplanned pregnancy!
I’m sorry to butt in — and im sorry you’re having this experience. I can believe it must be really painful and I hope you get lucky and have a kid real soon if you want one.
That being said, please don’t put it like that. It’s not nice to be terrified of an unwanted pregnancy. It’s awful because feeling terrified is awful no matter what.
It takes a lot of empathy to understand that other people can absolutely hate the idea of something we want so much, but people are different and our feelings are completely valid. I don’t want kids, never did, doesn’t seem like it’s going to change. The fear of getting pregnant I feel is really bad for me.
Again, hope you all the best and that you can become a mommy soon!
You said that a lot more diplomatically than I would have, so thanks & 100% agreed.
I agree empathy is important. I do think Emily’s post could have been more sensitive to those stuggling with infertility. There’s no recognition that having children is not easy for everyone, and although Emily is comfortable talking about politics no recognition that it’s inappropriate to ask anyone about having children. I would have appreciated a deeper discussion about why she felt the need to answer this question publically, as well as recogniztion that for many due to miscarriage, infertility etc. answering this question can cause a lot of trauma and grief.
Sending warm thoughts to the original poster. Infertility is really, really hard and I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. It truely sucks and oftentimes our friends and family say things meaning well but causing more harm than good.
Emily’s post was clear that it was only about her lived experience. I think asking her to encompass everyone else’s lived experiences, by expanding it to discuss things like infertility, is an unreasonable expectation. It risks shutting down discussions like this entirely, because people will be so scared of not accommodating everyone that they won’t say anything.
Thank you, Jess. I thought long and hard about having children and am very supportive of (and thankful for–we’re overpopulated!) those who choose to be childfree. I think it’s hard to understand the extreme pain of infertility, however, if you’ve never felt that deep longing for a child. I know I never imagined it would feel like this when I thought it would be as simple as going off birth control. There are many relatively quick, affordable options if you don’t want a child. There are no quick, affordable options if you do but can’t.
? But…it’s not nice.
As someone facing similar struggles, this is a very unkind comment to make. Your personal issues do not mean others are not allowed to feel the way they feel. Every person and situation is different. And Emily made that very clear in her post.
It’s tongue in cheek, as in, I would welcome the break from worrying about my financial, emotional and physical devastation to worrying about pregnancy, the prevention of which has many, many options and solutions. But sure, I’m unkind.
Bethany – I knew that line was meant to be humorous. I suspect that a lot of other readers did, too.
My daughter was born with two disabilities; spent her first two months in the hospital; and had four life or death surgeries during those two months. It was the worst time of my life. But one day I saw the humor in one aspect of what was happening and said it out loud. It was dark, dark humor, but it was humor, which was healing. Knowing that I could find a bit of humor let me know that I could get through the experience.
So I think it’s great that you were able to find a bit of humor in your situation. Brava! I think you are a courageous and strong woman.
I pray that a soul finds its way to your open gate very soon.
Definitely don’t want to dog pile here, but I thought I might have two cents to add. I’m genuinely so sorry for what you’re going through. The pain must be absolutely awful. I can’t even fathom what that feels like because I haven’t experienced it. By that same coin, you can’t fathom what Emily’s experience was like because you’ve never been through it. And ultimately, comparing our very different pain to others’ accomplishes, truly, nothing positive. Imagine that someone said to you— “Must be nice not to worry about accidental pregnancy!” Wow, that feels cruel, doesn’t it? I’m sure you meant no harm and simply reacted in a moment of pain, and I truly hope that you are able to have a family in the very near future. You have time! I turned 30 this year and it’s not nearly as old as it sounds 🙂
Yikes. I had secondary infertility and tried for 5 years before we had another soul join us. Now I know adamantly that our family is complete and I find myself in that place of being terrified of another pregnancy. People have different struggles and goals that change and evolve. The pain of infertility is deep, but that doe not mean people can project that onto others for their own personal struggles.
Hi – I just wanted to tell you that it took many years and many IVFs for us to have the kids we now have – 4 yo twins and a 2 yo. Those years trying without children were so incredibly painful for me and I vividly remember the bitterness I felt towards people who had kids easily or were afraid to get pregnant. I’m sorry you are in the middle of this hell. But you will have your family one day (however it ends up happening) and this will feel like a distant memory. And even though we never got pregnant without IVF, my husband still got a vasectomy after our third because I was absolutely terrified that I would miraculously get pregnant on our own. Kids are a lot of work!! You might find yourself in the same position one day even. Keep your head down, don’t give up, push through this and it will all be worth it.
Bethany, it’s ok to feel the way you do. Maybe you don’t need a stranger to tell you that, but it’s 100% ok. I had a heart-breaking/gut-wrenching struggle with infertility. Seeing someone pushing a stroller was triggering when I was in the thick of it. Seeing someone pregnant used to DESTROY me. And unless you’ve experienced it yourself, it’s hard to understand how a blog post (even a respectful, mindful blog post like this) can be triggering. Struggling to get pregnant, facing surgeries and ultimately getting a diagnosis of infertility nearly killed me. And even to this day, when I am on million percent thrilled to be a mom to an amazing, funny, brilliant, beautiful 6-year old who we adopted when she was one day old, it’s hard to read posts like this. It’s hard to hear someone wax poetic about how they have so many choices and they get to weigh all of those choices to determine the best path forward. But please know that you DO have choices, even if you don’t have ALL the choices. There are a lot of ways to make a family and my joyful little trio is living proof of that. Hang in… Read more »
Thank you so much, Jessica. I am sobbing.
Bethany – one day you will hold your child in your arms and a lot of this will make sense. You will realize that your path, however painful along the way, let you to THAT particular child. No other path, timeline, etc would have led you to your baby/child. You will realize you were waiting for each other in a sense. I know this might not help a ton now, but I just want to let you know you will not be in this pain forever. Sending lots of love and hope that everything comes together soon for your family.
Oh, I get where you are. I was there too. I hear your pain. I don’t know your journey, but I can guess it’s been hard.
We did IVF four times. I was sad and angry that getting pregnant with my husband wasn’t something I could study for or save for.
I’m a mom now and YOU WILL BE A MOM too. You just will find your way. Follow you gut. Have faith. It all works out in the end. I promise. ? it might now be how you imagine. It might be even better.
-signed the mom of a 12 year old boy and a 5 year old girl.
Thank you Jen<3
I think that the terror of an unplanned pregnancy and the pain of infertility come from very similar places- when you make a decision about your life but your body decides something else and you are left feeling wildly out of control of your life’s decisions. Or worse, feeling like you have to explain yourself to some 3rd party and justify your decision in order to get help. It’s the same for both cases and it is equally painful although most people don’t live through both and understandably have a hard time imagining the other scenario.
That makes sense, Nicole. Thanks 🙂
IVF mom here too. It was painful (emotionally, financially and phisically) and hard, but when I look at my sweet 10 m old I am grateful of that journey. Had I been able to coceive naturally years ago, he wouldn’t be here. I know, I would have another, probably three, but I love HIM to pieces. Hang in there, you will have a family and it doesn’t matter how you’ll have it. One day you will be a mom and all of this will make sense, in a way.
I just had my second child (who turned three months yesterday) and my husband and I have already agreed to go down the vasectomy path. So thanks for this post! perfectly timed! I also feel that two is the perfect number for us. And great to get the male perspective. Thanks Brian ?
I’l be the first reader to terrify you this morning:) I am currently nursing my newly turned one year old who is 11 years younger than his closest sibling. And yes, that happened 10+ years after a vasectomy and subsequent “you’re good to go” follow up appointments.
I don’t have a vasectomy in my past, but I have a 12 year old, 8 year old, and a very big surprise 4 month old. The craziest thing is — I couldn’t imagine it any other way and, despite the fact that we’ll both be 40 this year, we are seriously considering one more?!
I’ve heard of this. and you really have clean follow up appointments???? UGH. I heard of someone who had 3, THREE vasectomy babies. THREE!!!!!!! Yah. we might avoid certain times of the month…
I highly recommend asking your doc about an IUD as a backup method for the surprise pregnancy paranoid. Plus, no period. Win win.
Hah, and I was just coming to comment that my husband finally got a vasectomy after our third baby – conceived while I had an IUD! We thought we had closed our door, but it was a little bit ajar after all…!
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to continue the pregnancy. But I have had struggles with PP anxiety, trying to figure out work/life balance, etc. She’s 2.5 now (siblings are 6 and 10), and things are much better, but the first 18 months or so were tough. The emotional/mental strain is real.
I had a tubal ligation during my c-section, once I was assured my second child was healthy.
I had a little regret after, but now that he’s 1, he and his 3 year old sister keep me very busy and I have no regrets. I am already stretched so thin and I feel like adding a third would be a huge challenge for our family.
I’ve recently really reached the point where I can just appreciate babies and be happy for their mothers without desiring a baby myself. I got to do that. It’s awesome. But I’m really excited to move beyond that phase and just enjoy my kids.
Since I already see a few negative comments, I wanted to tell you I found this post very interesting (maybe because I already have two, don’t want a third, and would like for my husband to do the same as yours ?).
Thank you for sharing a very personal but important part of your life.
While some people may disagree this is the wrong place to write a post like this, it’s her blog. The title clearly shows that the blog post isn’t about, don’t like it? Don’t read it!
I obviously love this blog for design, but I also love it because we’re in the same stage in life and you’re very open! I remember reading the posting multiple times about how it was hard to get pregnant with Charlie when I was having my own struggles. Now that I have two kids, we also have been discussing a third- I wonder if I’ll regret if I don’t do it, and my husband says NO more kids. I got an IUD so we still have that option open, but this post really verbalized a lot of what’s going through my mind.
Thank you for sharing this. As a satisfied and eternally grateful mother of two, in a culture of “three is the new two,” I really appreciate your honesty and insight. I went through some struggles to get to the two I have and I am grateful every day for them and for the quality parenting I know I can give, especially while working part-time in a highly demanding career. For my husband and I, three would mean quantity over quality. But that’s just me, knowing myself and my husband. I, too, have also considered fostering or adopting, especially an older child, at some point when my two are older. So, in that regard, the door is never really “closed.” Thank you, again, for sharing.
I had a tarot card reading years ago and was told I’d have 4 children (I have 3 and we are done). At the reading, though, the tarot-ist (?) said, “this is the number I get for you, but I’d have to have your partner here to get your number as a family.” I’ve thought about that idea so many times since. There was a part of me that was like, well the family number should be 4 because then that means I’m with my best “cosmic” partner and am being my true self, but also…that’s a bunch of bologna!! (Not the tarot—so much of the reading has been very true! But the feeling that “my” reading should be “our” reading) Our partners shape who we are in so so many profound ways—the way we build a family being the most special and profound so of course they would affect what the tarot cards say.
Wow, what a beautiful thing to say! I love your perspective. No kids yet but I’m learning so much from you all in the comments!
Such a genuine thoughtful post. I’m currently pregnant with my 3rd. Next month I will have 3 under 5 years old. My husband would have more children. Me? My golden number is 3 and always has been. Even though I haven’t had number 3 yet I already feel at peace with the decision and know I couldn’t handle more children. I’m sure you will get plenty of pushback for this post but I loved it. Thank you for being a voice and sharing these intimate details of your life!
Love the post, need more Brian’s Blog! I want to know how he holds down the fort while you are on work trips! I leave my hubby sometimes and he needs a virtual reassurance that he is doing ok.
My comment is to other commenters. You can tell what a post is going to be about one or two paragraphs in. If the subject is boring or not applicable or disgusting or whatever, don’t read it. No one is chaining your eyes to the screen. The team at EHD doesn’t owe you anything – this blog is FREE to you. I love to read the comments because most of the time people have great input or additional insights but sometimes they make me want to throw my phone in the trash.
I agree! At first I thought, maybe Emily could start a more personal blog separate from the design one so it would be clear to readers what they were getting, but that is insane. No one is paying to read this content and no one is forcing you to read! Close your browser and come back for incredible EDH content tomorrow!
I love this post! One of the first posts I connected with here was on sleep training Birdie, so I’ve always been down for both family/personal posts and design posts. If and when we decide to get my husband snipped, I’m going to send him this link! We currently have two little kids (4.5 and 1.5) and have recently decided we’d like a 3rd. I miscarriage an oops #3 in November and while it was extremely sad and shocking, it made me realize that we do want that for our family—so much more chaos and more crying (and poop) but more laughter and love. I’m an only child and my husband has three siblings, but…let’s just say very complicated family dynamics. So I think we are both excited to have a big-ish family in a stable, loving home. But we also know we’re making a decision thinking about what it will be like to have three big kids and then three adult children—the next few years (if we are lucky enough to add to our family) are going to be in the trenches and VERY hard sometimes! It’s such a hard decision and I appreciate your honesty—every family is 100%… Read more »
My husband had a vasectomy and we are so happy he did. It was easy ( his words) and we never had to worry about another pregnancy.
I haven’t finished reading the full post but after you said that love multiplied but TIME DIVIDES I just have to come down here and say YESSS!! I have always said I wanted a HUGE family, like 4 kids. But my husband and I both have careers, neither of us will likely ever be able to stay at home nor do I think we necessarily want to. And I distinctly remember when my second was like 6 months old and I told my husband that my soul was telling me not to have any more. And I was slightly devestated at the loss of what I had imagined for so long except that that vision would have never been reality for us. Any more children would have meant not giving every child the attention they deserve, or not giving my husband the attention he deserves, or not giving MYSELF the attention I need to have a healthy relationship with everyone else. I’ve decided that if one day, in some alternate universe, I end up having an eternity of free time and millions of dollars (HA!) I will adopt more children who need love and a family. I’ve had more than… Read more »
It’s so true. Time is the only thing that is finite in this world therefore it is the most valuable (to me at least). xx
Emily, I just want to say I really like these more personal posts. I felt like there were fewer in 2018 than in 2017, and I missed them. I know some people just want you to stick to designing homes, but I for one love the posts on marriage, raising kids, being an entrepreneur, work/life balance, etc. Great post.
thank you very much. I’m trying to do more in 2019. as the audience grows it becomes harder and harder to put myself out there, but i rarely regret it (because you guys are so supportive). Also my team reads the comments and any really really mean ones are deleted before I see it which takes away some of the anxiety (they debrief me on what they are, but I don’t need them to actually ruin my day and inhibit me from putting myself out there). more in 2019 … 🙂
Can’t wait!! I love them too. And I think I love them because you’re the writter 😉 your honesty, humor and brightness always comforted me! Keep it up. Cheers from France!
I found your story on the thought process going into your decisions about the family that works for you a very interesting and touching read. And I am 57 and never had children and that is the way I planned it. Everyone’s walk in life is unique and interesting. Thanks for sharing.
And seriously, nutocaine is one of the funniest things ever. I hope Brian visits the blog again!
Agreed! Love this post, thanks for your openness Emily!
Emily, you are just the best. : )
Another question. If you could go back in time, would you have started having kids earlier? Do you think you would have chosen to have a third in that case?
Hmm… i’ve thought about this A LOT. I think if I had started earlier i probably would have a third kid, but If It meant that I didn’t start this blog 9 years ago or go on designstar then career wise i’m not sure where i’d be (and i LOVE my job). I suppose starting at 31 would have been slightly better (we started trying at 32, had a miscarriage, had to wait then gave birth to my first at 34). so many paths to happiness, and i suppose i like the one I took …. 🙂
My sister got the same message from a psychic multiple times. I think it is psychic 101, if the person has two kids tell them they “might” have a third…..then say all positive traits that the person wants to identify with…..hope and pray they don’t notice you are just being Captain Obvious. I would be curious if a momma of three or four kids get the same message.
Thank you for the open and honest conversation. A special thanks to Brian for sharing. He cleared up something both my husband and I did not want to discuss.
that’s hilarious. that actually makes me feel BETTER. ha. ok!!
Interesting, actually! But Emily, are you comparing yourself to other bloggers/designers that have many many children and seeing that version of their lives on Instagram and thinking you’re not enough? OMG no. What’s wrong with 2 kids these days?? Sheesh!! Take it from me, I have 3 (one plus twins, not my fault) in high school and WISH ME LUCK, UNIVERSE. Also, what’s wrong with an IUD? I barely get a period and it’s a no-brainer. More people should get them. I wish there was a blogger who would talk up an IUD cuz it’s AWESOME 🙂 🙂
p.s.nice to hear Brian’s thoughts. Good job Brian !!
Seriously! I preach the IUD gospel constantly. It’s among the best decisions I’ve ever made. I haven’t had a period in almost four years and haven’t worried about pregnancy before I’m ready. The insertion was truly an ungodly experience but I’d do it 100x over. There’s even some early evidence that IUD education and widespread usage can reduce poverty rates because normalizing IUD use means fewer children before a family is ready/before a family can afford them, and fewer teen pregnancies. IUDs for the win!
ME! I have an IUD and have for the past 7 years 🙂 My aunt worked at Planned Parenthood while I was in college, and she actually inserted my very first IUD. In a weird way it was a very special moment, because I suddenly felt really empowered about my body (I was raised in a family where the idea of unwanted pregnancy gave me heart pounding anxiety). I was the first person of all my friends to even hear about an IUD back in 2011. Now at least 4 or 5 of my girlfriends also have them. I’m on my second IUD now, and haven’t regretted a single day of having it. For me it means no pregnancy scares, almost zero periods (a little spotting here and there), and so much less anxiety. At this point in life my parents would be PSYCHED for a grandkid and I know my partner and I are looking forward to kids (we’re 28/29), but we need a few more years…
I had an IUD for 2 years which was definitely awesome until I had an ectopic pregnancy. I read about a blogger’s IUD ectopy experience once and it stuck with me, thankfully, because I recognized some of the symptoms in myself while vacationing abroad. This led to me to take a pregnancy test (positive) then Googling (terrifying) led me to an ER where I was pretty quickly wheeled into emergency surgery because scans showed I was bleeding internally. Fortunately, all is well now, but definitely scary, unexpected, and $$,$$$.
So yes, IUDs can be a great solution! But not without risks so def be aware of warning signs to keep yourself safe. Sorry to be a buzz kill!!
So sorry you experienced this! You are part of that very unlucky minority. I completely agree that education is so important. Thank goodness you were armed with that information (and how wonderful that reading a blog provided it to you!) I’m definitely very fastidious about my reproductive health and see my doc whenever I feel something is off. I don’t like the term “set it and forget it” when it comes to IUDs (or any health matter) because I believe actively managing your well-being is vital. Thanks for sharing you experience, and I hope you’ve found the BC method that’s right for you!
I had to have an IUD surgically removed after it perforated my uterus and lodged itself in my bladder….they’re awesome but come with risk too….after that my husband RAN to get a vasectomy!!
I have an IUD (Mirena) and I definitely have reservations about it. I got it to control some seriously out of control bleeding every month and having done the pills for years, I wanted something I didn’t have to think about. While it gets the job done, it’s also completely erased my sex drive. And getting it put in was so unbelievably painful– and they didn’t warn me that it would be THAT painful, just verified that my ibuprofen had had the time to kick in– I almost passed out. And I have a high pain tolerance! I am dreading what it’s gonna feel like when the time comes to remove it. Not sure I’d do it again.
Taking it out is very easy.
Just got my second one.
I’m also sorry you had this painful experience but i feel like i should add that i had a really good experience – for other commenters out there who shouldnt *necessarily* freak out. At insertion I just took paracetemol, and there was definitely anbit of an unpleasant cramp-like feeling but nothing dramatic. The doc gave me a ‘mini’ size as i am quite petite.. So ask if that os suitable.
Just about to get a new one after 5 years and it has really been great overall and for me sooo much better than the pill.. It is copper so still get periods (they actually got lighter not heavier) and aside from that no hormonal effects – which was the big winner.
Thank you for writing this! Exactly what I needed to hear since my husband and I have been considering the same thing. I can’t believe the other comments from people who say this is too much. I appreciate your honest approach and answering questions I didn’t even know I had!
I was definitely interested in reading this as it’s where we are in our lives, too, so it’s helpful to know what another couple and family chose and went through! From an EHD standpoint re: people saying this has no place on a design blog — okay maybe not, but it has a place on EMILY’S design blog. I think plenty of people are here for YOU and interested in your life. Also you were clear what the post was about and gave fair warning so everyone is free to scroll on by!
Before you get bombarded with allthethings, in the quiet of this moment I’d like you to know how thankful I am that you and Brian are willing to talk about this in a way that states repeatedly, “This is how we decided what is best for us and our family; it is not a prescription for every family.” For me personally, I’m grateful for Mr. Brian Vasectomy, not only for showing how men can and must relieve their partners from the pressure of family planning, but for giving an accurate account of what vasectomies are like. My husband thanks you, Brian.
And now, in the immortal words of Samuel L. Jackson, “Hold onto your butts.”
I’m about to have my second in May. Also raised a member of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints (and still a member). Mom-ing has been a huge grounding factor for me and I’ve found more purpose in it than I ever thought possible. So I definitely resonate with your feelings about being a mom and I wonder all the damn time how you, and others like you, manage to do it all so well. So all I have to say is bravo! Or brava, I guess. I admire all that you do and are doing!
Girl! I have so many thoughts on this post. First of all, I faced infertility starting in my early thirties and could never get preggers…I now have 2 adopted children…it is kind of amusing to me that some people still have to think about birth control because that hasn’t been an issue for me for such a long time! So, I enjoyed this post, in spite of my lack of need for info about birth control, because I love the honest exploration of life choices from a working mama. I always thought I wanted three, but FO SHIZZLE after going through two infancies and toddlerhoods have also realized that another would break me mentally. I am an older mom and my oldest has ADHD, so maybe in an alternate universe three would feel more manageable or possible…
anyways, i got a kick out of this and it felt like a convo with good friends. It’s nice to put a definite answer to major life decisions…definitely clears mental space! and as I have a 2.5 year old and an 8 year, i can relate to that idea of moving forward with life with big kids! Enjoy.
Loved this! I want more Brian on the blog!!!
First of all, loved this post so much! And I’ve been chuckling and nodding in agreement. I had 3 under 5 and it was soooo hard. We had no family, no friends, I truly thought I was losing my mind. There were great moments to be sure, but it was tough. My last two were, as I like to say “the cumulative failure rate of the Today Sponge.” Yes, I’m THAT old, lol! My girls are now 33, 31 and 29. They are crazy close-we have a text group for the 4 of us, and we talk daily. No one can decide for anyone else if, when, or how many kids belong in a family. Thank you for sharing your story-Brian is hilarious!
Thanks for being brave and talking about things that (wow, reading some of the comments) a lot of people feel *shouldn’t* be discussed in shared company. I’m glad we live in a time when folks are opening up about the realities of life – it makes me feel a lot less alone to know that others struggle in their relationships, with decisions about kids and careers, with maybe accidental pregnancies, with…you know, LIFE. So I wish all the Judgy Mc Judgertons would just SHUT IT because I appreciate your authenticity.
Thank you for this. It is a funny, honest, and VERY relatable post. I so appreciate that you acknowledge that something has to give: family life / career / marriage – all require effort, time, and love. My husband and I made our decision to stop having children (sort of, medical issues weighed in as well) about four years ago. I still have wistful regrets at times but feel lucky to have the family I have and to have had a “decision” to make about family size.
3 boys under 3 here!!! It’s INSANE ?? That meme about the first child watching one educational video, second a Disney movie, third The Godfather!!! Spot on..lol
Today’s women need more of this— I do not believe we talk enough about the unique challenges of being working parents in this generation!! My hope is that the next decades will finally bring changes to make American work spaces truly “family friendly” so that being full time working parents with growing families is not the unrelenting chaos and emotional cost it is. Personally, I completely relate to this post— although we are at 3 kids, I have been wondering the same, how do we know? I don’t want to regret not having more once it’s too late— yet have the same exact reasons you do for coming to the reality that we’re probaly done. No doctor or appt quite yet but getting closer. Thanks for sharing!
AMEN re family culture. it’ll take more women-run companies but I even know some that are not helping the situation and it astounds me. Changing the culture starts by changing each individual company.
Love it. Basically every professional woman I know has had two kids. Two kids plus a marriage and career and house and life is hard but awesome. Three kids would break me.
Thanks for talking through what the process meant to you… it’s important and something we don’t always discuss as openly and honestly as we should.
Get it now in a way I didn’t at 38. As one of 8, a brood felt “normal” but when you start late, options dwindle. (Miraculously) 2 kids later I was still in “more please” mode and we did a long hard intl. adoption. At the time I was even contemplating adopting 2 at once. Our third, now a teen, is amazing, so spectacular, delicious, that I know he was a gift of gifts but now, personally, work wise I just want to be and need to be all in on my job and career. Have gone from still fleeting moments of baby crave 5 years ago to can’t wait till they’re all out of house, college, and self supporting (like yesterday) so I can do me for a change was a developmental shift I didn’t realize was coming – I’m a late bloomer I guess. I just want to explode my creative life and have always found it hard to do both well unfortunately. Good chance for kids to grow and be more independent and resilient as they should of course. Great subject/blog post!
Believe me, just because you’re out of the toddler years, you’re not done. Has anyone mentioned tween, teens, college, how many times they move back in?????
I feel like having children is such a gamble and being fortunate enough to have two seemingly healthy littles, it would feel irresponsible to take the risk at having another. I know I’d love any child I’d have but the older I get, the more likely I’d have a child with complications or a disability. And since I’m in my late thirties, I imagine my other children having to care for their sibling if that should occur. Environmentally it also seems irresponsible to keep having kids along with the very real need for so many kids out there to have a stable home. My husband and I have agreed on a vasectomy— we just need to schedule it. Thanks for the reminder!
Love the blog as always and as a mom with two small children, I related in a major way! We’re feeling like two is a good stopping point for our family as well! At this point my husband and I are able to (just barely) juggle full time jobs with raising our two girls. I loved your quote “love multiplies but time divides”, I think that sums up my feelings on the topic perfectly!
I love your design posts but these personal posts are probably my favorite because they’re are SO relatable and your writing style is so humorous.
thank you 🙂 good luck to us all xx
I can’t believe you were getting a period already when Birdie was only 6 months. I’m so sorry.
ha. its when i stopped breast feeding (aka pumping as both my kids believe in nursing strikes).
Thank you for sharing your story. Hearing about how families make decisions about family size/planning helps everyone. Knowing there is no “right way” just a “right way for us” is liberating. I hope more women will share their experiences in such a non-judgmental way.
It’s like you read my survey and immediately acted on it! Friday link ups and more personal life blogs. I did have three under four and worked full time as and engineering manager and yes, I had to step back to be the type of hands on parenting I wanted and my kids needed. (I still work full time, but my trajectory upwards has slowed). However, three under four is no joke, especially without family around, so my husband also got a vasectomy. Before he was completely cleared though, we had a pregnancy scare and it solidified my relief of the vasectomy, totally agree with everything you said! (also my psychic also made sure my husband had a vasectomy because she said we would be having a fourth if that didn’t happen).