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Yes I am done having kids, but the reason is not what you think!

When people see me walking with my 3 children running circles around me, a preschooler skipping beside me while holding my hand and a toddler in my arms, you can just see them counting the kids. The most common question that I am asked is “are you done having kids?” I generally don’t mind this question, I shake it off. I probably hear it at least 3-4 times every time I leave the house or meet someone new so I have become VERY used to hearing it. I smile and laugh and say it’s chaos and yes, we are done. Most people think we have made a conscious choice to not have any more children, but that is not the case. Don’t forget to pin this post!

yes, we are done having kids. But it's not what you think! Why we need to stop making inappropriate comments/questions about people's family size.

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Yes, I am done having kids, but it’s not what you think!

What people don’t know is that I would have had at least 2 more children. I could have seen myself with 7, 8, 9 kids! I wasn’t aiming for 20 (in fact, I was praying that would NOT be the case) but I was genuinely excited about the prospect of more children. I think every child God has given us is such a phenomenal blessing. And as chaotic and crazy and stressful as our life was with 3, God gave us the grace we needed to handle 4. And when we were terrified at the prospect of 5, we had JUST enough strength to handle that too. I know that if God had given us more children, He would have been faithful to our family.

When my 5th baby (my last) was born, I had ongoing complications. In fact, the same complications that occurred when I nearly died with my fourth (read the full story on how a hospital’s prejudice against homebirth nearly killed me here), happened again. I was somewhat terrified when we found out we were pregnant with our fifth and we decided to drive 4 hours to the largest, most well-equipped hospital we could find to have a proper assessment and make sure we were prepared. When the ultrasound showed that I again had placenta accreta, this time with suspected increta (growing INto the uterine wall), we were forwarded to a specialist. Every month I drove the 4 hours back and forth to the hospital to be closely monitored as the baby grew. We went through tests and ultrasounds, MRI’s and appointments to discuss our options. We knew that a hysterectomy was the safest option and there was a very good chance that would be the outcome. We grieved, and yet we hoped for a miracle.

When the day came we prayed and tried to be upbeat. We were really more focused on the risk of me not making it through the surgery than what we may lose. After my C-section, my doctor poked her head over the curtain and said that she had to remove my uterus. I was devastated, I still am, but my goal was to make it home to raise these kids of mine. When I woke up in recovery I was first and foremost happy to be alive. Placenta Increta doesn’t always come with a happy ending and my outcome was better than most. They pulled out all the tubes and balloons and wheeled me to the NICU to see my daughter for the first time. My recovery was long and hard, but I had this beautiful baby girl to hold in my arms, to smell her sweet baby hair and feel complete.

As she grew, the reality of what happened that day has hit me a little more each day. By now we would have been pregnant again for sure. I have an emerging toddler in my home, and each little piece of babyhood she gives up is a piece I will never see again. We sold her crib, we gave away all our baby clothes, that part of me is done and I wasn’t ready. There’s no going back, no use questioning if we should have gotten more opinions, what is done is done. All there is left now is learning to be content with the beautiful kidlets God has given me.

The other day, I held a newborn babe for the first time since Janiah was born, I excused myself to the bathroom and I cried. Never again would I be pregnant or breastfeed or see if our little one looked more like Jonathan or like me. Never again would I feel a little one kick inside me or the joy and wonder on my kids’ face as we explored the miraculous changes as their baby sister or brother was growing. It hits me here and there, unexpected. At times I feel less than. I feel like part of what makes me a woman is gone. I feel robbed. When I was only 26 years old, my fertility was removed. I don’t know if I will ever fully recover from it.

So when people ask me if we are done having kids, I know what they mean and I laugh with them and move on, I don’t let it fester. But it is a reminder, it is painful, there is so much more to my story that I don’t want to tell every stranger I meet at the grocery check out or walking down the road with my kids. That simple, seemingly innocent question breaks my heart a little bit each time. Yes, I am done, but only because I have no choice.

The problem with these harmless questions and sayings about people’s families.

I think we say these things because it is part of our culture. Somewhere along the line, we were all programmed that it is a funny thing to say or a good icebreaker. It’s just what you do, right? Even I catch myself saying little remarks about people’s family size or asking questions. I want to spark conversation, I don’t assume there’s a huge backstory. But the problem with this is that we all have a story. I would say more often than not, that happy family has a miscarriage or fertility problems or medical issues or unwanted pregnancies or, or, or. The list goes on and on. We live in an imperfect world and rarely is the image of that happy little family you see going to be a perfect story. When we ask these things without knowing someone, that puts the person in one of two positions. They are either forced to say what you want to hear or they are forced into reality; which is awkward and often painful and definitely not what you want to hear if you are just making an offhanded comment!

We REALLY do need to stop using these little comments and jibes and questions in our conversations with people we don’t know. I’m sorry but fertility, family size, and family dynamic conversations are OFF the table unless you have some personal relationship with that person! When you really think about it, you are essentially getting up close and personal with a complete stranger’s sex life. No! I don’t want to tell you if my husband and I plan on fertilizing my next egg! It is not an icebreaker, it is not funny, it is essentially not appropriate. So the next time you run into a family, keep your comments and questions to yourself and instead say they have a beautiful family and move on! Let’s try a little positivity and encouragement instead of callous questions and remarks when we don’t know the whole story or the person behind it! Nothing can sum it up better than this hilarious graphic I found from Alyssa Geltz’ Facebook, you can find it by clicking here or on the image below!

Responses to family size questions

Do YOU get tired of hearing the same comments/questions over and over again? Do you have a story?

Comments

  1. I get it. We have 6, with no backstory. I am just DONE. It’s still annoying to hear the question. The Full-Quiver folks are shocked, and the other people laugh and say “Shoulda stopped 2 kids ago…” I had one lady say she was one of 6 kids and that it was fine when she lived in the south, but too many when she moved to California. Which I thought was kinda weird, but there wasn’t time to pursue the conversation.

  2. Our little man just turned 5 last week. And STILL it bothers me when I see pregnant women or women nursing their babies. I was sitting behind a woman breastfeeding her newborn the other day, and as I listened to the little breathing and swallowing sounds, all I could think of is I remember those sounds, I remember looking down at my little ones as they nursed and their whole hand fit around my pinky. I do feel less “woman like” since I can no longer have children. I’m not sure if this feeling ever goes away.

  3. Thank you for the personal story. Someone posted it on Facebook, and that’s how I found it.
    My story is a little different than yours, but my feelings are similar. And well intentioned people ask questions to spark conversation and show interest, but it’s most often a slap in the face, but how do you tell than that?

    My husband and I cannot have kids. We’ve been married only a few years and have been to the doctors (I’m 35,he’s 40) only to find out that there is only one small slim and very expensive chance it might work, but really we should get a donor or adopt.

    People ask me all the time whether I am pregnant, or if I even want to have kids, etc. It kills me each time because they don’t know how hard we try, and how hard the journey will be and has been already. They don’t know that I’ve always wanted 4, since the time I was a little girl. They don’t understand how every time they ask, I feel like I am incapable of doing the one thing a woman should be able to do: bear a child. Though I know the root is not necessarily with me, I feel like I have failed my husband every month I know I’m not pregnant. I cry and cry over the very possible fact that I will never be able to feel a baby kick inside me, or hear that first cry of life in the hospital, or hold my newborn baby to my chest and wonder who he/she looks like. It breaks my heart that I am not able to give my parents or my in laws another grand baby.

    We are looking into adoption, but the idea of getting a donor doesn’t sit well with me. And even though adoption or a donor would still give us a child, it’s not the same, to me, at least right now.

    We all have a story. We all have pain, trouble, stress, hurt, and stuff we have to work through. It’s personal stuff, and if I let you in and share my personal details (like you said about fertilizing an egg!) then I’d Better know you well, otherwise I’m telling you so you’ll stop asking so I don’t feel hurt anymore. We need to be more sensitive to the fact that we don’t know everyone’s personal story. Just like we don’t share every personal detail about our lives.

    God does have a plan, and His purpose is perfect, but it doesn’t change how I feel, and I imagine it doesn’t change how you feel either.

  4. Thank you for this post and thank you for sharing your story! Too often do people jump to conclusions as to why people have no children, or have a certain number of children, or so on and so forth (such as your table shows). The assumptions drive me crazy! My husband and I have two wonderful, healthy daughters and even though our youngest is just barely 4 months old, we were asked almost from Day 1 after her birth if we were going to have a third to “try for a boy.” (Or, more accurately, we are told, “Well, you better have one more so it’s a boy!” as if it’s a guaranteed thing.) While we will most likely have a third, it’s not because we’re desperate to have a boy; We want three kids just for the sake of having three kids!

    • Yes! We have 2 and we are always asked about number 3. We aren’t having a third. I’m just so tired of being harassed about it.

  5. I definitely get that question a lot as well, having four kids, and it’s hard to answer people because I am not planning either way. I have some hidden wounds where I have wanted more kids but my husband didn’t. That with the decision to not want more there came great hurt through actions that hurt our relationship. They are now being healed- praise God! But anytime someone used to ask me if I was going to have more it reminded me of the state of my relationship with my husband. It hurt and it was raw and at times I deleted fake with my answer where I said I wasn’t planning either way, even though for me that was true. Thanks for sharing this and making people aware that there is more to everyone’s story and I will pass on the message!

  6. I am also sick of what we call the “stupid question” …Are they all yours? My husband and I have 8 beautiful kids and survived 2 miscarriages. I am the oldest of 7 and so I understand the work involved with a large family. Medically none were easy and I was told that getting pregnant was not going to easy…Wow can’t imagine if it was easy.

    I don’t know of anything different and things like – you should be sainted, I have my hands more then full with 1 or 2, and some other little gabs. Things got hard enough for me that I stopped telling folks that we were having a baby (Thankful that I really didn’t show with the last 3 so hiding it was easy).

    The time between family and work, volunteering with Scouting and Odyssey of the Mind, church, musical productions, community choir and homeschooling 3 of our 5 still at home (due to medical and differently challenged kids…Our life is busy and full…I love it.

    It is our own self made chaos and I wouldn’t have it any other way! We are awaiting the birth of our now 2nd grandchild. So THANK YOU for writing this article and sharing very personal facts and feelings.

  7. I’m so sorry for your loss. I had twelve miscarriages before I was able to have my kids (five too) and got plenty of well-meaning but painful questions about whether I had kids and such. I would honestly love more too, but now I am too old and it is not in my hands. I know very few women who do not have pain about the number of children they have. One friend with twelve had repeated miscarriages towards the end of her childbearing years plus lost a baby in infancy. One friend lost her third child at 24 weeks and was unable to get pregnant again for many years before having a surprise pregnancy long after she’d given up hope, but still has her son’s ashes on her mantle. One friend has PCOS and a husband who never wanted kids, and she had to painfully decide if it was worth it to end her marriage and try to become a single mother to fulfill her dream of motherhood even though it might be impossible anyway because of the severity of her case. She stayed with her husband and loves our kids like family. One friend lost her husband when her kids were 2 and 4 and then lost her oldest child to leukemia at age 9 and now is a widow with an only child. One friend gave up having children because they kept having children with such severe medical issues. The list goes on. It’s hard.

    I think it’s important to remember that ANY question can be painful for the recipient and we may not realize it. “What does your husband do?” might be that he’s left or is in jail or can’t find a job. “How many kids do you have?” can be extremely painful when parents have lost a child and don’t know how to answer. Even “How is your oldest doing?” can be painful if your oldest is battling anorexia or screams that she hates you behind closed doors or has attempted suicide. We all carry pains that others aren’t aware of, and we never really know if we will unintentionally hurt someone when we ask about their lives or even share something about our own (like sharing our children’s milestones with a friend whose own is developmentally delayed).

    I guess the key is to do our best to ask respectful questions, be sensitive and just treat each other gently, figuring everybody has emotional landmines that we’ll sometimes wander onto no matter how well meaning we are — and the same is going to happen for us. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt when it happens, though.

    You have a beautiful family! 🙂

  8. Thank you for sharing. I had my first three children by the time I was 23 and was asked many uncomfortable questions by strangers and family members all of the time. The worst probably was when people would ask me if my husband and I planned on having more and my answer would always be yes, I wanted 5 children. Their mouths would go agape as if I was crazy. Why even ask me if you dont want my honest answer? 8 years later and after many miscarriages I became pregnant again and was diagnosed with a uterine psuedo aneurysm, complete placenta previa and placenta increta. My sweety was born at 29+6 weeks and I had to have a total hysterectomy. Now I get asked “arent you glad you cant have more?”. When my answer is still, no I wanted 5 children I am told I was lucky to have had 4. I bite my tounge and smile but feel resentful that I am treated like I am selfish for wanting more children and that I should be greatful for surviving even though I lost my uterus. I feel like I cannot talk about how much it pains me and makes me feel like less of a woman when the subject again is brought up. So I smile and stay silent.

  9. My comments start with ‘Oh is this your first’ during rare occasions that I get out of the house without any of the older 3. So when I say no, this is my 6th pregnancy and I have 3 beauties at home…the awkward looks start. It never helps that I look like I’m 18 years old.
    Don’t ask me inappropriate questions if you can’t handle too much information.
    I can’t help it anymore. It’s none of their business that I lost 2 babies before God gave me my 3rd daughter due on NYE. But I can’t not count them as my children when people ask. I have 6 children, period.

  10. I too am a placenta Accreta survivor. I had placenta percreta with my 7th child (10th pregnancy). I ended up with three surgeries, 22 units of blood and a hysterectomy but I survived. My wee one is now almost 15 months old. My last baby. I feel like I know exactly what you are feeling <3

  11. Thank you for your post. It was a beautiful and necessary piece. I had never, never wanted children or a husband, ever. Well, the right man came along and changed all that. I was diagnosed with Endometriosis at 31 ( after meeting my man ), un-diagnosed and unknowing what was wrong with me for 12 years prior to diagnosis. I was told I could never have children. That changed everything. After a laparoscopy I was told I’d only have about a 6-8 month window to try to get pregnant. Not married at the time my Love and I decided to try. After trying for 3 years and getting married during that time we decided to give up our desperation and accept the fate of what it was. 2 years later we were pregnant. Wow! Now positive thinking and wish-fullness we were dreaming of 4 children, we successfully had our child then were told we probably wouldn’t have another. We decided not to play the hopeful game and were happy with our one and only. Fortunately and shockingly we became pregnant again with our second 8 months later. Still hopeful for 2 more. That didn’t happen. The Endometriosis was becoming unbearable and needed to be addressed. I had an endometrial ablation and was told It may reduce my symptoms from 30% – 70% with no guarantee’s. The catch was I would no longer be able to produce an amnio sack that could support a child to full term. Hubby needed a hysterectomy to coincide that there wouldn’t be any future miscarriages. He willingly agreed to it. We now have 2 children. For someone who didn’t want a Husband, children or a family life. I wouldn’t change anything. I too think of having more but have to accept it is what it is. Hugs to you. ( I’m a huge hugger btw ) I appreciate what I have and remind myself with all the past sad things that are no more or will ever be again. Memories will last forever, they cannot be replaced and will always be cherished. I’m now 80% better with my endometriosis and still can’t get over that. Every day is a gift. Hugs again 🙂

  12. Yes!!!!!! We have 5 girls and I CRINGE when ever I hear the dumb question, “where you trying for a boy??” Like somehow my girls are not good enough. I hate when my girls hear the question. It feels like an assault to all of the work my husband and I do to build them upas strong proverbs 31 girls. I always say, “no, a boy would be fine but I could have 10 girls and love it!” As for the “do you know what causes that?” Question….All. The. Time! We even had an old guy at church joke that it was the neighbor. When would that joke EVER be funny? So I am either an adulterer, or my husband can’t get me pregnant? Either way…not cool! That was our second time attending that church, and the first time talking to that man as we were walking into the building…..yeah….

    • Aw, the thing is, 99% of the time I can laugh it off because people just don’t think. It is tough for your daughters when it is said right in front of them like that. I don’t know how it became almost “social etiquette” to make comments like these, people usually don’t mean anything by it, it’s just an icebreaker of sorts, and it needs to change I think. Thanks for commenting!

  13. Thank you for this post. I have three boys (14,12 and 10) and one girl (6). The boys and girl are separated by three whom I miscarried. I had to get my tubes tied, because they were all c-sections and my womb just couldn’t take it any more. I would have strangers and friends alike tell me ‘I guess you are finished since you have your girl’. I would have been finished no matter what. If she had been a boy, I am sure people would have said that I gave up getting a girl.

  14. I had undiagnosed placenta percreta with my third child. I wanted 6 🙁 I had a repeat c-section because my body doesn’t dilate (36 hours later and I was still at a 2, and baby’s heart rate flat-lined). Baby was born, and they cleaned him up and got him wrapped in his blanket. They handed him to my husband, who showed me my son. Suddenly the nurses were pulling my husband and baby out of the room. As soon as they did, I went into full body convulsions. I felt so, so cold. All I remember was the doctor screaming, “Stay with me, stay with me!! Don’t you dare die on me. Stay with me!” Someone gave me a fast shot in the arm, my head was tilted back, and I woke up 2 days later from a coma. I hemorrhaged when they tried to remove the placenta, which had grown through the uterine wall and attached to my colon. I had multiple blood transfusions, plasma, intravenous iron infusions, etc. I spent a week in ICU where I contracted c.diff (a horrible bacterial infection), and had ileus (where your bowels stop working – they say this was due to the portion they had to remove to get the uterine tissue off the colon). Anyways, I woke up 2 days later on a ventilator with wires and blood lines all over me and my hands strapped down. Then I got pneumonia from the ventilator. They waited another 2 days to tell me about my emergency life saving hysterectomy so I would be strong enough to handle it. Eventually my incision opened up and I had to have wound care and my wound took 3 months to close. I didn’t get to see my son for a week due to my condition. It was so hard. It took me counseling, prayers, a lot of self-talk, reassurance from my husband, and support from my family to heal from the physical pains, but even more to heal from the emotional pain.

    The comments I have received since then are painful. My friend joked and said, “here, take my uterus – I’m done.” Another said, “Oh yeah, I forgot…you’re like half a woman now!” When I took my dog to get spayed, a friend said, “That’s funny! Now you and your dog have something in common!” And then my favorite, “have faith – miracles can happen.” Note: It would take the miracle of all miracles for a girl with NO uterus to get pregnant again!!

    But – here’s what I have learned. We will NEVER escape these comments. We will never stop being asked why we only have 3 kids (or in cases such as yourself – will never escape the comments on your 5 children), or if we’re going to have any more. When we’re old, we will never stop telling our stories of placenta accreta/increta/percreta. These are our stories. They are educational, they were traumatic experiences for us, and they are meant to be shared. Embrace it. Let people ask if you’re done having children and then explain to them what accreta/increta/percreta is! Let people make rude comments and help them reach an awareness to the insensitivity they are spreading. Let your children see you standing courageously – defending your story in front of those who do not understand. I have traumatic parts of my story that I am unwilling to talk about, but for the most part, I am open about it now. It has been healing for me, and eye opening for women who had no idea placenta percreta existed!

    I am so sorry you had to experience 2 traumatic births. That is truly painful. Your family is beautiful!! I love your chart at the end of your article, but unfortunately – I think it will take the sharing of our stories and stories of others who face infertility, or simply choose NOT to have children, or even those with large families. Each situation is different. Maybe if we share our stories, our children will be able to reap the benefits of the above table and hear “My, what a beautiful family!” Hugs!

  15. Beautiful, Rebecca! I’m so glad you shared your story! You know I’m right there with you. My heart aches for you as I totally understand the emotions that go along with having a hysterectomy. I had mine at 41 and it still hurts. I can’t imagine having one at 26. Praying for God to continue to bring His peace — to both of us.

  16. Hi have a daughter and 4 sons. I’ve heard it all. Are you crazy? Don’t you own a tv? etc. You have a rugby team. Oh your poor daughter. I think no matter how many you have and what sex they are people will always have something to say. Some people were disappointed when we found out baby #5 was a boy. I said “I’m so happy it’s a healthy baby” I get rather angry when people make rude comments. So many people can’t have chilldren. Each is a blessing.

  17. We have 2 kids. That’s it. I have been hounded and interrogated by moms, friends, doctors, and grandparents…Don’t you want more? You don’t want to have a little girl? Wow, only 2?! I have no idea what I would do with THAT much free time.
    Seriously? When did having 2 kids become a bad thing?? I have never wanted a girl. I’ve always wanted boys. I prayed every day for boys. When we had both boys we prayed for wisdom about having more and did not feel the need to have more.
    The moral of this story. Just because someone has a smaller family does not mean they had fertility problems, they want to adopt or they are lazy. This is the size that God blessed them with.

  18. Thank you! It’s completely inappropriate for strangers to ask me (in the parking lot, or while paying for groceries), “How were your triplets conceived?” 1) it’s none of your business, 2) we are one of the rare families who had triplets without IVF, so are you asking me to describe sex??? 3) again, it’s none of your business. And my little girls hear you asking, “Are they natural?” And they wonder what that means. They’re 4.

    And we LOVE our children, which is why, when they were 2, we conceived (again, the old-fashioned way) our son. Nope, we’re not sorry the four of them are so close in age. We love it! No, we weren’t “trying for a boy” – again, do you even realize what those careless words are doing in the minds of my precious daughters?

    No, we’re not “done” and no, I’m not sharing with busybody strangers what our family plans are.

    I’ll admit to you that yes, it really bothers me that people treat my triplets like oddities/exclaim over the number and closeness of my children. I think that if they truly saw children as what they are-a miraculous, eternal blessing every time- then all they would say would be good things, not questions and expressions suggesting our family is nuts.

  19. I so get it. We had our last (#4) a few months ago. I sometimes hold him and think how sad I am that the season of pregnancy and birth and babies is almost over. Having a granddaughter helps. But it all went so quickly. I concentrate on the individual joy of each season 🙂

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