When to consider sterilization

After a very good checkup with my doctor the other day, he casually dropped the bomb and asked if I want to undergo sterilization after this birth. I was totally surprised because it hadn’t even occurred to me that we are already at that point? But then after three children, I guess it was a valid question.

He was asking from a medical point of view. I will have had three deliveries by cesarean after this third baby. While he assured me that I am medically fit for more babies, he needed to know if I have had enough. Apart from the medical aspect though, my feelings around this topic had my mind spinning for weeks! Am I ready to say that I’ve had enough children to consider sterilization?

How do you know if you’ve had enough children?

How do you know if you’ve had enough children? I look at my kids and feel this  baby stretching in my tummy and my heart feels so full. I have known what that longing feels like to have a baby. It’s indescribable. How do I know I will never feel like that again?

Truth be told, when I started this pregnancy Ashley mentioned that he would get a vasectomy. He joked that it would be his birthday gift to himself this year and I joked that he SHOULD be the one to do it because after three births, “I have suffered enough“.

I never really considered that he would actually go through with it. I was definitely not going to make the arrangements for him. It somehow felt wrong in a way to remove the option of having babies completely when so many people would give their right arm to be able to conceive as easily as we do.

Now that I’m discussing the very same thing with my doctor I’m feeling a bit bereft. Same discussion, different option.

Do I want more children?

I’ve spoken to a few other moms about how they decided on how many children they wanted. Some cited medical reasons, others had difficult pregnancies and most decided based on practical or financial reasons.

Although hearing their opinions helped me to consider the whole of it, it hasn’t decided things either way for me yet because our experiences/situations are so different.

My doctor says if you’re unsure then you’re probably not ready for sterilization. Regardless, I’ve decided to be quite candid about how I’m feeling about this.

Sterilization is not something I am taking lightly or doing because it’s convenient!

Why not to have more babies

1. We are young parents

Ashley and I always knew we wanted to be young parents. Our parents are young parents. We always wanted to be young enough parents to have the energy to do stuff with our kids as they grew up.

The unexpected benefit of starting our family so young was it gave us plenty of time to decide on the size of our family. We had two kids in our twenties and are now having a third in our mid-thirties which we feel are still our prime years.

Our plan worked out in that we really do enjoy our kids! As thirty-somethings, we have all the energy for the many activities and responsibilities that come with having school-aged children. We have so much fun with them, we have so many inside jokes and are able to communicate with them on their level. We get their jokes and we give just as good as we get with the sarcasm that come so naturally to tweens!

Our kids teach us all the latest dance styles they learn at at school like the Hammer, the Shoot and the Floss. They know they get their rhythm from us although we do pull a muscle here and there! If we were older parents, they’d just think we were lame but right now we’ve still got it!

Starting our family when all our friends were still partying was the best decision we ever made. By God’s grace, in another ten years we will have our eldest child at university, our middle child finishing high school and our little will be in primary school. Perfect.

Would we still have the same energy for a baby in a few years?

2. Our children’s age gaps

Our children’s age gaps are pretty darn good as it is! At eleven, seven and newborn, some people might say it’s too big. For us it’s been well-planned and a blessing. With baby#3 our older kids got to experience every stage of pregnancy and be in on all the excitement. How amazing it’s been to have them see and understand new life developing. They’re also old enough to be quite excited about helping to take care of the baby and having a third sibling to play with.

Although I longed for a third baby for years, God’s timing in this was absolutely best! They’ve each had a turn to be the ONLY baby in our home. We’ve never had to double-spend on diapers, etc.

In a few years, our eldest child would be WAY older than a new baby. They wouldn’t be able to relate and would miss out on growing up together.

3. We have already been blessed three times

I’ve been so blessed with three amazing pregnancies, good births and healthy, PERFECT children with ten fingers and ten toes. As can be expected, I’ve had less energy carrying baby#3 than the two I had in my twenties. All in all, the whole experience with our kids from planning them to raising them has been wonderful.

Will I have the energy to have another baby in a few years time? Should we really tempt fate or simply enjoy the three blessings we already have?

4. How manageable is a larger family?

In terms of child safety, I am usually out alone with my kids. Two to three seem manageable to me. I’ll have two bigger kids to hand-hold and I’ll be baby-wearing the third or pushing a stroller with a child on either side of it.

I would be a nervous wreck with having to manage 3+ kids by myself in public.

5. Our resources

Our resources are not infinite. Our kids don’t wear designer clothing, they don’t have the latest gadgets or the latest expensive toy craze. We don’t by any stretch of the imagination consider ourselves to be “well off” but at this point we are able to provide our children with everything they need. They attend good schools and we have a comfortable lifestyle.

Will we be able to provide the same quality of life with 3+ kids? Will we have the time, money and attention to give to any number over three kids? 

For example, our two big kids have already outgrown all their clothing. They need new Summer clothing which will have to wait until after the baby arrives with all the medical and baby expenses. We’re already compromising.

6. How will a larger family affect our marriage?

Lastly, years ago when we started our family, my husband and I talked about how nice it will be with the kids being older when we’re in our forties. We talking about how much more free time we’ll have while we’re still young enough to start dating each other again. We dreamed of the odd travel holiday sans kids and our marriage getting it’s “second wind“.

My sterilization might be my decision but I have to honor our agreement and consider my partner in this.

On the other hand

1. What if enough is not enough?

I’ve always relished the idea of having a big family. I’ve dreamed of being a mom with a table full of kids and one day grandchildren all together on special occasions. I had an intense longing for a third baby from the time our middle child was getting ready for big school.

What if that longing comes back? Or will I feel at peace after our third baby? 

2. Can’t get enough of this baby phase

I LOVE being a mother and have had it pretty easy so far. I’ve had joyful experiences with each pregnancy. The baby phase is my absolute favorite despite the sleep deprivation, the initial soreness of nursing and the never-ending responsibilities and self-sacrifice. That 100% dependency on me might be the most exhaustion I’ve ever had but oh so worth it!

I’ll be sad to see this baby part of my life come to an end after baby#3. Really sad.

3. I can’t tell what the future holds

WHAT IF….my main problem with sterilization is the permanency of it. My doctor keeps reiterating that I need to be 100% sure I won’t want any more children. How can I know what the future holds? In the back of my mind I’m panicking about something happening to my husband and having to start over one day. Or maybe we’ll win the lotto and then we’ll be able to have the means to support a very large family.

We don’t know what the future holds but it would be sad if we in a position to have more kids but couldn’t. 

I even shared these neurotic thoughts with my doctor and was slightly appeased when he said that technically, all procedures are reversible. Although he would rather recommend IVF instead of a sterilization reversal. It will cost about the same and has a higher success rate. But it IS possible.

How did you know when YOU’VE had enough children?

I am going to pray about this A LOT! I often become anxious and forget that I have direct access to the One who CAN see my future. It should be so obvious yet I always get myself into a twist before asking the Lord for guidance! Duh!

While I am pondering and praying over this, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how YOU decided on your family size. Please no horror stories! Keep it positive and remember that your personal experiences might not be what another new mom needs to hear as it is totally unique to you.

Please drop me a comment below and let’s discuss!