Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How do you know when you're done?

a.k.a.
Stop at Four or Have One More?

The question of being done having children never came up until this pregnancy. Eric is more than happy to close up shop--and he's volunteered to have a vasectomy whenever I ask. I don't have a strong feeling either way. We both grew up in big families. Eric was one of 7 children, and I was one of 5. I've always had this magic number in my head of a nice, big (but not TOO big) family. 3 kids definitely seemed way too small, 4-5 was just about right, and 6+ was way, way too many.

It's strange to think of being at the end of my childbearing years. I feel like I barely started! I know some women who absolutely know they're "done" and never look back. I don't know if I'll ever have that strong feeling. Instead, I'm just going to have to decide and go with it, as bittersweet as it might seem. I mean, it's really sad to think that this might be my last pregnancy, that it might be the last baby I ever nurse. 

I've really enjoyed the years of not trying and not preventing between Zari's birth and now. After "preventing" for 5 years, we then "tried" for several years before I got pregnant with Zari (up to and including IVF). I didn't mind being on birth control, but I hated those years of trying. My body naturally spaces children between 2 - 2 1/2 years apart, so we haven't felt the need to do anything in particular until now.

But I am definitely not okay just "letting things happen" indefinitely. My mom is turning 60 this year, and she STILL hasn't hit menopause! So I can't assume that my fertility will naturally wane in the near future. 

So it might be time to stop. I'm 34, Eric is 38. I don't feel old, but I certainly see the benefits of being a younger parent and grandparent. Eric is ready to move on to the next stage of our life. I'm not 100% certain that I am, but I am willing to take more long-term preventive measures in the meantime.

Here's our short- and long-term plan:
  • Have an IUD placed some time before my fertility returns (probably around 8-10 months postpartum). I don't want anything I have to think about: no condoms, no pills, no diaphragms, etc. I'm definitely leaning towards the Mirena over the copper IUD. I really don't want heavier periods & cramps, which often happens with the copper IUD. 
  • In a few more years, when we're really, truly sure we're done, Eric will have either a vasectomy or--if it's available by then--RISUG/Vasalgel. (RISUG is 100% effective, less invasive than a vasectomy, and reversible. Clinical trials have been going on in India for many years, and they will likely start this year in the U.S.) 

So tell me how you knew you were "done"? How did you and your spouse/partner come to this decision? What methods did you use for birth control? Did you change your mind down the road?

47 comments:

  1. Rixa,
    Our daughters are 2 years apart and we are done having kids. My husband felt really sure about being done with 2. I have had a harder time accepting that this is the right thing for our family. Financially and physically, it's the right thing to do, but it is bittersweet to have that part of life behind me. I don't think I could tolerate another horrible pregnancy, or more fatigue! Our kids are pretty high needs, and I work FT out of the home now. I think at some point it becomes more about "why have more" than it does with "why stop now." Our family feels great as it is. Having more kids would be a big gamble. I feel wistful having just weaned my youngest and being done with this chapter in my life, but I bet that even Moms of 10 kids feel a little sad to be done. I am def. not a "I'm DONE!" kind of Mom, but I can see that this is the right time even if I still have pangs.

    FWIW, I have a mirena IUD and love it. It's been in place for over 2 years and after a few months of light spotting, I don't get a period at all anymore. Which is awesome.

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    1. Ugh, this is only semi-coherent. Sorry! Terrible sleep last night.

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    2. No, makes sense to me! And thanks for your input on the Mirena. I wouldn't mind having light or no periods. I don't *hate* having periods (especially with my Diva cup) but it's not like I *love* it either.

      What was the insertion like? I think I'm more worried about that than going through labor. I've had some stuff done during the IVF treatments that was pretty awful, even though the nurses said "oh this will just cause minor cramping." Yeah right.

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    3. I'm on my third Mirena. The first time (before any kids) the insertion was horrible. I almost passed out in the office and after I made it home (luckily I lived just across the street) I could only lay in bed for almost an hour while I had the worst cramps of my life. The second time anticipating the same experience I had one parent take me and another stay at home with my son. I barely even noticed the insertion (basically felt like getting a pap smear) and was completely fine. The third time after my daughter was born was the same; no pain and I was fine immediately afterwards. I discussed it with my midwife and he said that if your cervix has never dilated at all it's quite resistant to doing so (hence the pain of insertion) and if you've never had a pregnancy of a significant duration your uterus really isn't happy with anything in it (hence the cramps) but once those have happened most women don't have any issues with an IUD.

      As a multi-para I wouldn't expect you to have a problem but you can ask that they put a topical anesthetic on the cervix if you're concerned.

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    4. Insertion was very uncomfortable, but not painful, and over quickly. I had some period-like cramping for the next few days, and spotting for what felt like FOREVER (I used cloth liners and it was fine), and then in a few months I was period-free. I think the only possible negative side effect is a lower libido, but it's hard to know if that's the IUD or fatigue/stress!

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  2. Just a thought about cars: if you're not sure that four is where you will stop, then you should consider getting a car that fits 7. Since you might need it in 2 1/2 years anyway.

    As for knowing when to be "done", I feel like I won't know until after this baby is born. When my third was 10 months old, I felt like we were missing someone in our family. We waited a few months (since I get pregnant on the first try) to get pregnant and I definitely feel like this baby is part of our family. Maybe I will get a definitive "you're done" feeling, maybe not. Somehow I feel like five might be just the right number for us. But I would be sad to see my childbearing years coming to an end in just a few years.

    Good luck!

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  3. I guess the summary of that rambling response was to go with your instincts. If, after this baby, you feel like four is the right number for you, then there's your answer.

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  4. I had the Mirena for about six weeks. For me, it didn't work out. I could always feel it there even though you are not supposed to. I never got over the slightly crampy awareness of it, so I finally just had it taken out. I also bled that whole six weeks. Maybe it gets better if you leave it in longer, but I was done dealing with it.

    We just had out third child and I haven't hit that I am done feeling yet. We may be done, but I can't stop that niggling feeling that there might be one more. I know so many people that have had three or four and than had a surprise baby when birth control methods fail. So if I have a fourth, will I end up with five from a surprise baby, or should I stick with three so if a surprise baby comes along I will be happy with four. Or will that not happen and I will always wish I had gotten that fourth baby? I don't know.

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  5. My husband would love 8 kids. I was ok with 4 when we got married. After my second's birth, which was intense, I felt "done for now" but not all the way done. It was a weird feeling- I was very happy with our two, but when I imagined having adult children, I couldn't imagine having only 2. So we decided to use fertility awareness and held off the third until we discovered that apparently my husband's sperm can live for over a week and found ourselves unexpectedly pregnant with our third. Now I feel mostly done. And my third's birth was so recent my brain hasn't erased it yet- and I don't want to do that again. At all. Also, there's something nice about being "done" at 27- I'll be only 45 when my youngest is 18! That is very attractive to me.

    However, being young. I could do another in the future if I suddenly feel "not done." I can't imagine feeling that way, but hey, I'll leave the door open for that possibility. I'm leaning towards a copper IUD because I'm very paranoid about breastmilk supply, even though I've never had longstanding supply problems. I do lose my supply a day or so before my periods and it comes back once my period happens and my hormones balance out. Because of that, I do wonder if the hormones in the Mirena would be an issue. I know it's supposed to be safe while breastfeeding, but I've seen moms with particularly sensitive supplies be affected by the minipill and Mirena. I'm not one of those moms, but helping so many moms with low supply has made me paranoid about supply. I really don't want to mess with it.

    I have read about periods being more intense on the copper IUD, as well, and that is a concern for me. But breastfeeding has made my periods lighter, so maybe it'll just move my periods back to "normal" for me. Of course, "normal" meant some pretty rough days curled up on the couch as a teenager, so I don't know. As soon as RISUG is available, we'll go with that. I'd only need an IUD for 3 or so years since RISUG is supposed to be available in 2015.

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  6. You are in the spot I am! Although I want 6 kids (just 6, no more..) My husband had mentioned being *done* after we had our 3rd. I was truly heartbroken. I always desired a "big" family. Big family dinners, vacations, card games and family holidays etc. That was my ideal and to realize that I might not get that really made me mourn. I even went through all the baby clothes I'd kept and started donating them. Then by some miracle, my husband changed his mind to having one more. Now we're pregnant with #4 and I too am coming to terms that this will most likely be our last. I'm 28. I feel so young!! I'm not ready to stop but I do want to respect and honor my husband's decision. Possibly my husband will be getting a vasectomy. I've already had an IUD (copper) and ended up getting pregnant and miscarrying. I didn't like it for other reasons as you stated (cramps - my uterus felt like ground beef.) It makes him nervous that it won't work though. I'm a vasectomy baby lol (9yrs AFTER the fact lol) It's hard to be confident in a procedure when the product of it is staring you in the face. ;)

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  7. I thought I wanted two children, but after my daughter was born, I knew our family was complete.

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  8. This is an interesting topic and one that I've thought about *a lot* over the past 15 months since we've had our 4th baby. I think a lot of this is hormone based, too.
    After we had our first two bio babies, we decided to adopt. At that point I felt "sure" that I was done having bio kids. I was even a tad bit judgmental - "how can people bring more humans into this world when there are 13 million orphans living without parents?" We were *this close* to having my husband get a vasectomy. He was 41 at the time, but I was only 28. My friends in their 30s urged me not to do it, that I was too young and might change my mind.
    After we adopted I realized how complicated - and need of serious reform - international adoption is. It's also very expensive. While I am still passionate about advocating for orphans and widows, we decided to use some of the money we would have spent on a subsequent adoption to support birth families staying together through organizations like Compassion International. We have also chosen to donate to their mother-infant baby program, which supports, obviously, mothers and babies. Every year, we also make one large contribution to a family who is adopting a special needs child. And we decided to grow our family one more time, the free (for us) way - biologically.
    Before this decision, even though I worked at a homeless shelter/transition home for new moms as a postpartum doula and lactation counselor, I had no interest in going back there. I was *relieved* to not be there. When we adopted, I had been nursing for 5 years. I had been nursing or pregnant (or BOTH!) for 6. So it felt really, really great to have my body "back", to be sleeping through the night, to sprawl out in my bed, to have the freedom to go on dates with my husband, and to wear what I wanted to wear without thinking of if I could nurse in it. I felt so passionate and creative and it was great. When we decided to start trying to get pregnant, I was actually very open to getting pregnant OR possibly adopting again. But we got pregnant after our first month of trying.
    After I got pregnant, things shifted. I suddenly felt super sentimental. Suddenly I LOVED being pregnant. I thought I would grieve not being pregnant. After our daughter was born, I LOVED having a baby in the house again. I LOVED nursing and co-sleeping. But I think, like the author of "Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies" says, that's because "this was my brain on drugs" (um, hormones!) and as she said, the baby was the fix! I obsessed about the idea of - would I ever be okay being "done"?

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  9. (part 2 - my comment was too long!) :0
    Now our baby is 15 months old and while I think we will probably have one more baby at some point, I could also see us not. I kind of dread the idea of going through pregnancy, morning sickness, fatigue, and the postpartum period again. I don't really want to feel that saccharine-sentimental all the time. I don't have the same energy with my other kids in those periods (1st tri and newborn). I'm realizing, now that I'm 31, almost 32 with 4 kids that while I am drawn to the miracle of a new baby (why I became a doula, lac counselor, and orphan advocate!) it's not the same when you have a big family. There is no pampering yourself, there is no slowing down. I have a husband who works a lot. We don't have any family support. The pace is unrelenting. My "pampering myself" now is folding laundry while listening to a podcast. Seriously.
    Anyway, if it's any encouragement to you - don't be surprised if you find yourself focusing on having "just one more" after your baby is born... and if that feeling subsides after he/she grows a bit. I'm not sure what we will do, but now that our babe is 15 mo old, I want a year to enjoy having the old me back. The me that's fun and funny and creative .... and not crazy sentimental all of the time! The me that wants to have fun with my husband and that nurtures our relationship (and sex life, too!).

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  10. Very timely - we were just up late talking about this issue last night. In our case we have three (youngest is 14 months) and are debating on a fourth. My husband would like to be done - he would go have a vasectomy tomorrow, but I just don't know. I have dreams beyond children (med school perhaps) that are not compatible with having a fourth. I don't crave a fourth baby in the way that I craved the first three, however, I have so loved the pregnancy, nursing, and breastfeeding stage of my life it is hard to imagine being done. (I am still nursing the baby and will let her self wean but that will happen eventually). Oh and I am 34 as well.

    For now we are preventing pregnancy but it is somewhat complicated for us in that we are hyper-fertile. Our third baby made it through using the fertility awareness method (the timing was supposed to be "safe") + a back-up condom. The pill is not an option while nursing and IUDs are not a good option for me either.

    So for now we try our best to prevent but I wonder if I won't end up with that fourth baby no matter what. It would be fantastic if the RISUG procedure were available now. I think by the time it is approved we will have made up our minds one way or the other.

    It is a surprisingly hard decision. I hear so many mothers say "you will know when you are done" and I certainly don't think I will ever be totally ready to say goodbye to those years of my life.

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  11. I have no idea when we will be done. I am focusing on being a student right now. I can barely handle one child and taking a full+ course load at a university let alone two. I am young though. I have time. Unless something happens my oldest and my future child will probably be 8 years apart. I can only hope they will be close as adults..
    When I got mirena after my daughter was born.. it was awful. It definitely worked as birth control because I had zero interest in sex. I had 5-6 cm contraction like waves for 45 min to an hour daily. I was just on the floor laying next to my infant hoping my body will adjust.. it didn't. I became a hormonal rage monster and I truly believe on top of everything else my Mirena made my PPD worse. (I had had problems adjusting since she was born but I was 20 when I had her and felt incredibly lost.)But instead of my moods leveling out when I got it put in at 6 weeks postpartum they got worse. In July my (now) husband demanded that something be done otherwise he was taking my daughter and moving in with his parents. When I got my Mirena out on August 26,2009 it was the BEST thing I have ever done for my family. Within a full (but short) cycle my moods evened out. And I could say I loved my daughter for the first time in her life. She was 9 months old. I use NFP now mostly because I am terrified that hormonal bc will just turn me into a monster again. But that isn't a walk in the park either. Still not a lot of sex because I am worried about what would happen if we got pregnant. I have cycles that are about 35 days long. So from day 1-23 I really don't like having sex (I mean what if I actually ovulate early for once?!) because of the possible factor of conception. We are barely comfortable now. Having another would throw us back into the system for assistance. So unfortunately we have kind of taken the approach that I should have probably listened to as a teen: If you can't deal with the consequences don't have sex. <- not what you were looking for exactly.. but I thought my experience with Mirena is worth getting out there, just so people know.

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  12. After reading the other comments, the insertion felt like another pap, the removal felt like a pap. That was the easy part =P

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  13. When I was pregnant with my fourth child my husband announced that we were DONE. I didn't feel the same sense of completion, and it was a hard time for me both physically and financially during that pregnancy. Long story short, I had a tubal ligation. It was a huge mistake on my part and made me very sad that I had lost my fertility when I didn't feel "done". I ended up having a reversal, and was pregnant a couple months later. We now have a beautiful 6 month old girl that I gave birth to right as I turned 42. I'm still ebf and my husband is talking about #6! Sterilization is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. You won't be fertile forever, and circumstances change on a dime. Vasectomy is also not without it's problems. Have a blessed day.

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  14. I had a tubal ligation, which failed two months later. One tube was left open, proven via HSG. It's not a form of birth control I'd recommend because even though my experience was very unusual, the likelihood a tubal ligation will fail increases rather than decreases over the years.

    We're using condoms because I can't use hormonal birth control and have no interest in a copper IUD for reasons mentioned above, and my husband doesn't want a vasectomy. This has impacted our sex life very negatively, but given that he's the one who doesn't like condoms, not me, we're at an impasse. The new male BC is intriguing, but I'm not sure my husband would go for it. I think he is planning to wait until I hit menopause, but based on family history, that will be 10-15 years in the future.

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    1. Mine wasn't interested, either, until I explained that it wasn't *exactly* like being neutered, which is what he thought (he's a vet's son) - HA. He watched some videos, and I promised him three days of absolutely no responsibilities (which is more than I've gotten after childbirth, ha). I was willing to "pay" it, though, in order to not have to worry about getting pregnant because I know I'm done, I wasn't willing to do a tubal, and I can't take HBC.

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    2. Mine talked to one of his friends who has had a vasectomy, and his friend recommended vasectomy. One of his best friends is a physician, and I'm sure he's talked to him, too. He still doesn't want a vasectomy because he thinks he'll feel like less of a man. This attitude of his has also negatively impacted our sex life, no doubt, because in my opinion a real man takes care of his partner.

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  15. I knew in my fourth pregnancy that I was done (and that was before she went to nearly 42 weeks, and before my blood pressure skyrocketed). I just felt complete. Interestingly, she was the only of our 4 children born with any hair at all, and it was dark - just like I dreamed when pregnant with our first. My husband says I had to keep going until I got my dark-haired girl. ;) He had a vasectomy a few months ago, and I still feel no twinges at all. We have both thought that, much later, we might want more children, but we will adopt if that's the case. Pregnancies are DONE.

    As for the Mirena, I'm one of the weirdos that HATED it. Everyone I know has loved it, but I bled every.single.day. for 6 months and was what my husband and I like to more politely refer to as crazy biscuits. It was horrible, and was the reason we went for a vasectomy after our 4th (the Mirena was between the 3rd and 4th). I was told it would get better by month 3, and "everyone" was awesome at month 6, but on exactly 6 months I called and said, "GET.IT.OUT." I mean, I definitely wasn't getting pregnant on it, but that was more because I was ragingly hormonal and didn't want anyone to touch me - not exactly the intended method, I think. Note, though, that I have always exhibited hypersensitivity to hormonal birth control; even the Nuvaring was enough hormones to show effects in my mood. :/

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  16. My husband wanted to be done after #3, and said so when he was only about a week old. I thought he was just tired and brushed it off for a while... but when teh baby was about a year old he was still saying it. I wasn't sure if I wanted to be done, but we were unemployed at the time and I knew I wanted to wait, so I compromised with an IUD.

    I bawled the whole next day after it was put in. I felt like I had lost a major piece of my womanhood...like I'd voluntarily entered menopause at 29. I had to do some serious mental work to deal with that.

    I have had mixed feelings about having only 3 kids... DH comes from a family of 5 kids, I am one of 9. I was thinking I wanted 4-5...but here we are with 3. I have felt at times like I *should* have more, because I'm a capable loving mother and kids deserve a good home and all that. On the other hand, I do have at least one very intense high-needs child, and pregnancy is very hard on my mentally (I get severely depressed during pregnancy, and have post partum anxiety). I realized that I would be a better mother to the children that I have if I do not have any more.
    I still have mixed feelings sometimes. Occasionally I dream of having another (like actual nighttime dreams). But I do feel strongly that this is the logical best thing for our family. Maybe we will take in foster kids someday, but right now my baby is toilet learning, and you know, the idea of soon not having to wipe any butts but my own? THAT is an exciting thought!!

    Also, I've been seeing ads about class action suits for problems with mirena. Do your research carefully. I personally went for the copper because I didn't have terribly heavy/painful periods before, so I figured I could handle it. It was pretty awful for the first few months, but has alleviated a lot. I have recently learned some things about copper toxicity though so now I'm worried about that, so now that we are sure we're done, my husband is planning a vasectomy as soon as we can afford it.

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  17. I have been "done" 3 different times. The first time, our youngest of 3 had special needs and I was definitely not up to another one for a long, long time. Four years later, I miscarried an unplanned pregnancy and was so devastated by my empty uterus that we tried for another. After our 5th (also an unplanned pregnancy) I was seriously done. I decided to go back to school and apply for med school. During that process, that feeling that there was a girl missing hit me hard (my previous 2 were boys), so I took time off school for a short while, and had number 6 exactly 5 years after number 5. I was SO DONE! Plus, I had gotten accepted to med school, so why would I have another? Well, 4 years later, here I am expecting number 7.- Turns out that I still felt that missing girl feeling, and I was not getting any younger. It had been so fun for the whole family to welcome a baby boy 4 years ago- my 14 yo bonded with that baby like he was the mother, and my role was simply to breastfeed him, lol! It is so much different to have babies when you have a house full of older children who are both helpful and as enthralled as you are by baby's every milestone!
    This WILL be my last (I promise!), as I am 42 and my husband is 47.
    BTW- I used the copper IUD with both my last spacers and LOVED it- my cramps were actually better, and I love being synthetic hormone-free!
    Just saying that you never know when you're done;)

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  18. My first 2 were very close together, 16 months apart, tandem nursing, what felt like zero sleep for many many months. My husband said we were done early on after the second was born and I immediately mourned. I was an only child and wanted a big family, 5 kids or more. He was one of 4 and I kept begging but he was a firm no. So finally when my kids were 7 and 8 I got rid of everything but the crib (it was out of the way in the attic). When they were 10 and 11 I found out I was pregnant with #3!! We got sloppy with our birth control and got our bonus baby! He is now almost a year old and while I *think* I'm done I still feel a bit bad he won't have a close sibling like my first 2. But I will say I enjoyed every minute of my pregnancy/birth/and all the babyiness. In fact all of our friends are enjoying him too since our kids are now all 11 years old or older! LOL! No permanent methods for us at this time, I only have one tube from an ectopic and #3 isn't nursing so I'm currently on the pill. I will turn 40 this year, so I told myself I need to decide by the time this baby is 18 months if I really want another or if I'm truly done. I'm leaning toward done.

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    1. Oh and I should add that my husband adores #3 too and is so glad we have him even though he was "done" after 2. :-)

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  19. I had no idea you struggled with infertility. Did the IVF work? How did you conceive Zari. Did you ever figure anything out? I find peoples stories so interesting. I also find it crazy how many of us struggle with infertility.

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    1. I always wondered the same myself after reading this blog for many years and getting small hints here and there of how long Rixa tried for. Always been interested too esp since the other 3 after Zari seemed to come so easily!!

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  20. We had our first baby as a surprise! Even the day after I had him I knew I wanted more. To do childbirth, nursing, etc. all over again, I couldn't wait! We never went on anything either after I had him and I began cycling again when he was almost a year old. I thought it would be super easy to get pregnant but I was SO wrong. We TRIED (timing, everything) for 7 months until we finally got pg again (and I KNOW this isn't as long as it is for some people including yourself Rixa but for me I was really blown away and everyone who has TTC for any length of time knows that it gets old FAST!). Anyway, 6 days after that positive test I miscarried. We TTC AGAIN... 6 more months... finally pg again... I carried that baby until 6 weeks and 3 days and miscarried again.

    Soooo we are DONE. That's it. Suddenly I just felt that our family was complete with our little guy (he's now 2.5) and I haven't looked back. I don't know if we'll choose a method of permanent sterilization, but for now I am more than happy to continue avoiding using the Fertility Awareness Method as described by Toni Weschler in her book "Taking Charge of Your Fertility". There is NO WAY I want to do anything hormonal (most are contraindicated for me) and the thought of having something like an IUD just totally does not set well with me at all! Condoms kind of suck but really with following FAM you don't have to use them your entire cycle (just when you are fertile) and knowing more about my body is really empowering, and the method is so easy it's well worth it. I'm only 27 now so if I choose to follow it until menopause I know it could be a long time.... but I really feel like it's the most natural thing for me to do. :)

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  21. My husband and I are currently in disagreement about optimal family size. He wants to be done with the two we have now, and I'd really like one more (or at least not to make any decisions at this point) though intellectually I know that we'd be in a much better financial situation with just two. :(

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  22. I have two teen boys and we are biologically done (I'm 41). Sometimes I think there may be an adoptive daughter in our future, sometimes I think travel and other things are the next stage.

    I stayed on the fence about a third for many years. It was really financial stresses that made me hesitate, as well as other goals (career changes). However we left a little possibility open using the rhythm method (not NFP) for many years! It wasn't until I started nursing school and thought *not* now, that I had a Mirena placed. I love it! If you have ever struggled with menorrhagia as I did, the Mirena is a wonder. Well worth the irritating initial months of spotting. And more reliable than the Paragard.

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  23. The copper IUD has been perfect for me. I've had friends with problems on the Mirena similar to the issues raised above--hormone swings, full year of bleeding, incorrect insertion, and a surprise pregnancy. The insertion feels like a pap smear.

    I'm done with four because of health complications with my last, but I'd give--not anything, but an awful lot--to have one or two more. I think it's a wise choice to use an IUD rather than sterilization until you do feel strongly, one way or the other.

    I don't know anyone who wishes a bonus baby hadn't come along, but I know several people who regret their husbands' vasectomies (especially, I think, when they happen during the fog of newborn sleep deprivation).

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  24. I'm pregnant with #5 (due this summer) and I am feeling like the cooked Thanksgiving turkey - just about done. There's just something so final about making that leap, though, but I kind of want to move on to the "next stage" as well.

    In fact Daddy told me (and anyone who asked if we were having any more) that he thought our four children were just perfect and he felt complete... right before I got the positive pregnancy result. Ha, joke is on him! He's excited now, of course, but I think we were both in a place of "If we don't have any more, swell! If we do, swell!" But after this one it might be time to evaluate our baby-making future. We'd really love to adopt so I don't feel like I want to birth anymore little ones myself even though I do love birth.

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  25. We quit at two because:
    1. My husband (the primary daytime caregiver) said, "Going through one more infancy will kill me;"
    2. children have expenses associated with their education, care, and feeding, especially as they get older, and we have always been people of modest means with relatives in far-flung places - travel expenses if we ever want to see our families is a BIG issue for us;
    3. my boys were born when I was 33 and a week past 36, and I can tell the difference in my energy level. I am not sure I'd have the energy for a third boy;
    4. I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't be a tad disappointed not to have a girl if we tried for a 3rd and had another boy (more likely than a girl given that we are batting 2 XY);
    5. it seems like tempting fate - I had great pregnancies, fantastic births, and two beautiful, smart, funny kids. I should be satisfied with what I have;
    6. I want my pelvic floor to have some shred of integrity left. Two births seem (so far) like they were not a big deal, but again, I don't want to tempt fate;
    7. zero population growth; the planet has SEVEN BILLION people on it, and collectively, as a species, I think we are already going down;
    8. I decided that I could either go to school and become a CNM in a 3-year program, OR I could have one more child, but I am not woman enough to do both at the same time, and
    9. by the time I am done, I will be 41, and I think that is too old for my body and my risk tolerance to be comfortable having another baby.
    A little part of me mourns every month when I get my period and would secretly be just a little bit happy (but also FREAKED OUT about how much it would interfere with my current life) if I got pregnant one more time. I would love to carry, birth, and nurse one more baby if I were 7 years younger and had more time left on that fertility and healthy oocyte clock. But my husband got a vasectomy when our younger son was about 2 1/2 (last chance to do it while we still had health insurance!), so that door is closed/bridge is burned/tube is severed. But yay for not having to take pills or get shots or insert latex diaphragms and nasty spermicide and no piece of plastic residing in my womb!

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  26. I have 2 sons, 22 months apart and there are days where I feel "not done" and days where I'm "definitely done"! I have the copper IUD (Paragard) right now. Insertion was not bad-- labor and birth prepared me well. :-) There was a sharp pinch/cramp during the prep for insertion and my bleeding/spotting lasted a long time afterward (~6 weeks). For the first few months afterward, my periods were heavier: 2 days of heavy flow where before I'd had only one, but no longer. They have since evened out to be similar to what I was used to. I'm also feeling ovulation cramping now when I hadn't before, but I'm not sure I can attribute that to the IUD! I chose the Paragard over the Mirena because I'm still nursing my youngest and wouldn't want to add any synthetic hormones to my body while nursing.
    I know a lot of your previous comments have spoken on the Mirena, but not the Paragard! Good luck :-)

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  27. Hi Rixa

    We have a 3 year old, a 14 month old and I'm currently pregnant with our third. We didn't set out to have a glut of children, like you we simply didn't do anything to prevent them.

    Also like you I'm wondering if we should shut up shop.

    I've had the copper IUD in the past and while the insertion was horrible, the worst part for me was that I was always aware of it and it made sex uncomfortable so to me it's a question of "to snip, or not to snip". My husband that is, I think I've done my bodily part for our family.

    I waver between being "done" and wondering if there is room for just one more. For me it's very much a head/ heart thing. I always saw us as having 4, but I had heart failure during the last birth and it has made this pregnancy very hard work, and scary, because I don't know if one day I will wake up and my heart will have decided that pregnancy is too much hard work. Plus I'm 35 now and like you can see the benefits of moving onto the next phase of family life.

    For all of that I don't think knowing when you are done is a practical decision as much as an emotional one, especially for mums who nurse because that intimate physical connection is extended.

    Sorry this post isn't going anywhere, but I hope one day I will know and be at peace with that knowledge.

    In the meantime, good luck with the rest of the pregnancy and bringing this little one earthside.

    Tash

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  28. I opened a different browser in hopes it will allow me to comment.

    I'm afraid I have little advice for deciding on family size, as I struggle with that myself. I have only two, and sometimes wonder if our family is complete and know time is running out if it isn't. I can however, tell you my thoughts on sterilization vs. Mirena.

    As a nurse-midwife I have met many, many women and men who regretted their sterilizations. Sometimes life throws you curveballs (infidelity, divorce and death) you could never have anticipated. For that reason, I always advise people to think it through really well (imagining some of those crazy scenarios I listed) before you make a permanent decision. And frankly, the Mirena IUD is more effective than male and female sterilization with the added benefit of being reversible.

    I have inserted many, and even have one myself. My insertion was about 3 or 4 months postpartum, and while I knew I there was a speculum there, I honestly didn't feel the actual insertion. The hardest insertions are for women who've never had babies, or who have but didn't dilate due to a cesarean. The small amount of hormone is thought to act locally in the uterus and not really become systemic. My experience as a post-partum and breastfeeding woman was that I spotted for a day or two and then had basically no bleeding for years. Couple the hormonal effects of breastfeeding with the small amount of progesterone in the Mirena and you are probably looking at several years of no bleeding without the annoying spotting and irregularity that usually accompanies the first three months after insertion.

    If you still feel worried about insertion difficulty/pain you could request a cytotec RX to take a few hours prior to the insertion to soften the cervix (research doesn't bear it out but lots of CNMs/OBs swear it helps at least anecdotally). I do tell people to take motrin before hand and I've heard of providers who offer a one-time xanax for the truly nervous.

    Typically removal, even for women who had a hard time with insertion, is a breeze. I say "cough for me" and while they cough I pull the string and it's out and they say "is that it?" Of course, there are risks like uterine perforation/embedding and the lesser evil of a lost-string. That said, not even sterilization is risk free. I love that the Mirena (or other long term reversible methods) can buy you time to consider before you commit to a permanent method.

    All that said, I suppose you can tell that I am a "never say never" kind of woman, with a fair amount of commitment anxiety! So you can take it all with that grain of salt. I hope all the comments are helpful to your decision making, and I'm happy to discuss further if you have questions.

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  29. I'm writing to ask a genuine question-- not to stir the pot. I've heard other LDS women feel hesitant about using an IUD because of the post-conception effects. i.e.: IUD is supposed to prevent sperm from reaching the egg, but if it doesn't, it prevents implantation. And thus they have a moral quandary about using them. Is this an oversimplification? I'd genuinely love to hear your thoughts.

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    Replies
    1. Leslie, I've never heard any LDS woman express concerns about IUDs (or the pill) because of those reasons. Now, while I'm sure maybe there are individuals who feel that way, it's nothing you can generalize at all to our religious group. We don't really get worked up about abortion or related stuff, even though it's not commonly done in LDS circles except for rape, incest, health reasons, etc. I have no problems preventing implantation as well as fertilization--that's kind of the point of birth control!

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  30. I can so relate to exactly what you said! I worry that I will never know when I'm done. And we have the exact same plan - IUD in the short term to make sure we are ok with being done. And a vasectomy after a few years of being certain.

    I generally lean towards when in doubt, have one more. Might not be the best advice, but I always figure that in several years, if I have any regrets, its more likely to be NOT having a child than having a child. I have met so many people who wish they had had more, but didn't for whatever reason - probably just because its more acceptable not to have a ridiculous number of children. Haha. People who wish they hadn't had another child are pretty rare, it seems.

    We plan to have 4, but if its 4 boys, then we might try having a 5th. But I can't imagine having more than that.

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  31. We are still early in this process (our second daughter was just born at the beginning of the month). I think that if she had been a boy, my husband might have been inclined to be done, even though I can't imagine only having two. I feel like I've just gotten started -- I can't imagine her being my last baby! But then, I grew up in a family of seven and he was to some degree an only child (he has two much younger half siblings). I envision us having four, but who knows. We have and are spacing them about three-four years apart so that is quite a while from now.

    I had a Mirena IUD put in at 9 months pp following my older daughter's birth. It wasn't fun to have put in, though not debilitating, and I couldn't ever feel it afterwards. I loved that I didn't have to think about it, and I never even had spotting, so that was a huge plus. When we decided we were ready for number two, I removed it myself (didn't feel a thing) and we were pregnant a month and a half later. As far as long-term, mindless, reversible birth control, I can't think of a better option. I'm not sure yet if we'll go the same route this time or if we will let things with number three happen as they will.

    http://www.amber-hinds.com

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  32. A fellow homebirth mama loaned me her copy of Taking Charge of your Fertility many years ago. http://www.amazon.com/Taking-Charge-Your-Fertility-Achievement/dp/0060950536 When I've needed to avoid pregnancy the knowledge I gained from that book (along with the NFP course I later took) have been all I've needed to avoid pregnancy when I needed too. It's certainly worth a read since you've got some time to decide before your wee one is due. The friend who introduced me to the idea of natural fertility control was not in any way religious, she just wanted to be as nature oriented and DIY as possible. NFP of course is strongly connected to my religion, but I'll forever be grateful to my "flower child" friend for the wealth of knowledge she passed on to me.

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    Replies
    1. I love TCOYF! I referred to it a lot when we were trying to get pregnant with Zari. I wish I'd read it back when I was a teenager (not that I was sexually active at the time, but I wish I'd known more about my cycles). I hear she's written a book on the same subject geared towards teens, so that's one I'll definitely look into when Zari is a bit older.

      I'm just not okay using fertility awareness as a method of birth control. For several reasons: I have friends who used it (and the right way, not just the rhythm method) and they got pregnant both times when it should have been absolutely impossible for them to conceive. I also have a hard enough time wanting sex, so there's no way I'm going to either use condoms or abstain during the most fertile (and hence most enjoyable) parts of my cycle!

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  33. Being a SUPER fertile couple has been SUPER stressful for me the last ten years! after our 3rd we felt full and overwhelmed and busy, but I knew that I wanted one more. Four kids has still been full, overwhelming and BUSY, but we were pretty positive that was the number for us so we scheduled my husbands vasectomy... the surprise, number five snuck in, while we were being careful, before the vasectomy could happen. So, NOW, we know for sure, this bonus baby, #5 is it! (I;m just a little paranoid that the vasectomy won't be enough!)

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  34. Husband and I coincidentally both wanted 2 children and talked about it before our marriage. I wanted 2 because it just feels like the right size. I am from a family of 2 children and so are a lot of the families of friends. My husband is one of 8 children and he felt that number overwhelmed his mother and she never had time for herself, so he wanted a smaller family. We have our 2 now and as bittersweet as it is to know this is my last baby, I also know it is the right decision. Besides our personal feelings for stopping at 2, there are also strong financial reasons not to have more. My husband is from Nigeria and we would like to take our children there from time to time. Right now, plane tickets for our family will run $8K-$10K. We will never be able to go if we have more kids.

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  35. We're in a mostly done(?) spot - we have 3, I'm 34. I've also been struggling with life, and some PPD. Although I love the idea of having another baby, and I guess I hope that we can have another one (or two) when I can get a handle on my mental health for while, we are done for now. Definitely bittersweet. But, I'm really enjoying going through baby stuff and getting rid of it. So freeing to have less stuff!

    We're using natural family planning, so it always leaves the door open for future babies.

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  36. We're very definitely done. I have no relationship with my extended family and only had a half sister who's much younger than me; my husband comes from a large family. When we first started trying I loved the idea of growing my own support network for my kids and wanted a large family. And then I got pregnant. Baby #1 came with symphisis pubis dysfunction rendering me near-immobile at 10 weeks, and mild HG through the second trimester. Then she was a high needs baby. Despite all that I knew I wanted one more. Baby #2 came right on schedule but brought with him prenatal and postpartum depression, but a perfect HBAC. Plus I discovered that I'm not so fond of the newborn stage. Glad I went through it, but definitely preferring having a 3 year old to a baby.

    I'm 28 and in good health now, but pregnancy apparently brings me either debilitating pain or a strong desire to hurt myself. I don't want to risk what #3 could do to me.

    Bonus points, I'll be 46 when #2 graduates high school. We're homeschooling and by being done I'll be able to go to school and have a second career, most likely homebirth CNM, starting in my late 30s when I won't be dealing with little kids.

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  37. Our three kids are about the same ages as your three, only a couple months difference. We are taking a longer break before #4, probably will start TTC when the youngest is close to 3. The youngest was an unplanned pregnancy, about 2 years earlier than we'd planned on. Last winter, when she was a baby, I really struggled and had to grieve that my plans had changed and what that meant. I went through a period where I wanted to take a long break (5 years) then have 2-3 more, even though we've always said we want just 4 kids. My husband is pretty adamant about no more than 4, and says he could even be talked into stopping at 3. I have worked through it and am now at peace with only one more baby, as long as I am ready when the pregnancy happens. I plan on weaning when my youngest is 2 (this summer), then giving myself 6-12 months to get my body back in shape before another pregnancy. It seems really scary and weird to move past the pregnancy, baby, and breastfeeding stage of life, but it's starting to sound exciting, not just sad to me.

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