To Snip or Not to Snip?

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Going into my second pregnancy, my husband and I were pretty sure our second child was also going to be our last. We kept an open mind, but, over the years, that was the general consensus we had come to. It was a wild, high-risk, pandemic pregnancy, so our primary focus was getting through it as a family instead of having the ongoing conversation of, “is this baby really our last? Are we done?” 

Getting On the Same Page

In the days of newborn sweetness after our second was born, we were both unsure if we were really done. Once the newborn haze lifted, we started having light, continual conversations about it. I think what was important for us was that this decision process was ongoing, and not just a single conversation. We were touching base off and on over the course of a few months, while also giving each other space to individually process it. We valued listening almost more than talking, so each partner was equally heard. There were ample opportunities for both of us to decipher through our emotions and thought processes throughout. 

This is not a decision that can be made in comparison to anyone else or in comparison to other families; it has to be an individualized decision. It’s a conundrum, though, because it needs to be an individual decision; but, it also needs to be a unified decision. I think what was most important for us was to be united as much as possible, while not comparing our family to others or holding our family to certain societal or cultural standards. We had to simply think of ourselves and block any external noise. Prayer is vital for us in major decision making, so we heavily relied on prayer as a vehicle for spiritual discernment. 

Lots to Consider

There were a few major areas we analyzed to make this decision:

  • physical health
  • mental health
  • financial stability
  • familial strength/wellness

Obviously, since I would be the pregnant person, my physical health considerations were of the utmost importance. I have a chronic illness and a history of two high-risk pregnancies. (One ended in emergency c section. The other ended with severe preeclampsia, an extended hospital stay for me, and a NICU stay for our baby.) Pregnancy is hard on my body, which also makes it hard on our family, and this had to be a major consideration in our decision. If I didn’t have a chronic illness, would I have made a different decision? Probably. Maybe not, though. Ultimately, I don’t know, and it’s a waste of my emotional and mental energy to think about other realities. The fact of the matter is that these are the cards I’ve been dealt. I have to operate from these circumstances, not ones from another potential life.

Finances

We could make it work financially to have another kid or two, but we’d be a lot more comfortable staying where we are now. We’re content with the life we’re currently able to provide our children, and adding another child into the mix would alter that. I used to feel selfish admitting that. Over time, I’ve come to realize that there’s nothing wrong with feeling financially content and not wanting to make major changes. 

We are a couple that has endured infertility twice; we’ve dreamed of our family for so long, and we’re finally living our dream. We want to give the children we have our utmost attention, focus, and love. Personally, we can do that most effectively with the two children we have right now. The strength, stability, and bond of our family is a major priority of ours, especially now that our children are getting older. Adoption has always been on the table for us, but if we go this route, it’s still years away. As far as biological children are concerned, we are indeed “done.”

Logic vs. Emotions

It’s so hard and weird making these emotionally rooted decisions from a logical perspective. There will always be a part of me that wonders what could’ve been. However, that’s all it is for me–casual wonderment. It’s not enough to influence making a different decision. 

Something I wasn’t prepared for prior to making this decision is that there is a level of grief involved. I frequently said to my husband that, no matter if we have 2 kids or 12, it would feel just as hard coming to terms with the end of babyhood. It’s always going to feel heavy, sad, and hard to some degree moving on from this chapter of life. It’s such a fleeting season and it’s precious, sacred time that I will never get back. I’m very excited to focus on the chapters of life that lie ahead as we close this door, but I’m definitely carrying some inevitable grief along as we move on.

The Bottom Line

The freedom that comes with making this decision has been so liberating! It feels as if we’re entering a whole new phase of life. Once you get engaged, there’s one big exciting life event after another for years—wedding, marriage, getting grown-up jobs, buying a house, getting a pet, having babies, etc. This feels like the first time in a long time that there’s nothing “big” expected up ahead. I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief. We get to just BE, and it’s so peaceful. Those exciting life events definitely are special and fun, but getting to settle into life together as a family without pending major changes feels very nice.

Additionally, on a selfish note, it makes my personal wellness and health choices feel more worthwhile. I know this time I won’t have another pregnancy coming along to undo my hard work on my body. This time, when I finally lose the residual weight I’ve collected from growing and birthing humans, I don’t have to plan to be back at square one ever again. 

This is Your Life

This decision has been an ongoing process, but we feel such peace with the decision we’ve made together. We look back at the baby years so fondly; they are wild years, but so special. There will always be a part of me that wishes I could go back. However, getting to move forward to new, unanticipated destinations is so exciting, and just feels right for us. I encourage you to not compare yourself or your family to anyone else, to do away with societal, familial, or cultural expectations (you are the one birthing and raising the baby, not your mother-in-law or co-worker). You should also be aware that some level of grief will likely be involved, even if you know the snip is the right decision for you and your family. Knowing those key points as you enter the decision making process is vital. 

If you’re talking about this decision, be sure to feel all your feelings, remain open-minded, and be a great listener, as well as a patient partner. At the end of the day, this is your one and only life. Make of it what you want, whatever outcome that means for you! 

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