When Mark and I first met, during our nine hour first date, the subject of kids came up. A weird first date conversation, I’ll admit, but as we had both just left long term relationships, it was on both of our minds that any prospective future might involve children. In the course of our conversation, we both said that we imagined having three kids one day. Mark said he wanted two boys and a girl, with the girl in the middle. I said I’d be happy with that, of course, but I’d always imagined three boys. I grew up on episodes of Home Improvement, and I just loved the idea of being a mom with three boys.
Little did we know that only a few short months into our relationship, I’d fall pregnant, and our little imagined family would become a reality. We both hit the jackpot with our first, as it was the boy we’d both desired. Our second pregnancy was discovered just after we made a HUGE trans-Atlantic move from the UK to Florida. That child was also a boy. I was 2 for 2, but Mark said that that was fine. He was happy with two boys. In fact, he was happy with no more kids at all. At the time, overwhelmed with two small children, the idea of stopping sounded great to me. Two under two was enough to be getting on with. We took precautions to ensure that we didn’t have more.
But wouldn’t you know it? On the day of our second son’s first birthday, we had ourselves one of those WOOPS moments. And once again I was pregnant. That third pregnancy was hell. It didn’t help that when I was seven months pregnant, we moved across the country from Florida to Utah, driving our little minivan the whole way. The stress was out of this world. I was on bed rest for the rest of the time, but it didn’t stop me going into early labor again and again. We ended up inducing at 37 weeks and out popped another amazing little boy.
I had my greatest wish. Three boys. My perfectly imagined family.
In the course of that final pregnancy, I’d suffered so much that I decided that I wanted to get my tubes tied. I was adamant that it was the right decision for us. I knew that if I didn’t do it, I would get a few years down the road and talk myself into the idea of another child. I told my doctor that this is what I wanted. She agreed. But when the time came, she said that she wasn’t comfortable doing it until I was 6 weeks postpartum. I knew then that it wasn’t going to happen. I could talk myself into doing it when I was pregnant and huge and tired and swollen and miserable. But once that baby was here, I knew I was a goner. No one could talk me into ending the possibility that I could maybe one day have another child.
Mark, for his part, was frustrated. He knew without a doubt that he did not want another child. He was overwhelmed with two, and three was even more work. He knew that he loved our kids more than anything, but he loved me, too. And the idea of putting my body through another pregnancy like the three I’d already endured was not something he could bear. While he knew we could deal with another child if we had to, for him it was a worst case scenario.
For the most part, I agreed with him. I was happy to say I was done, though in my secret heart I hoped for another WOOPS moment. I knew that another pregnancy was a bad idea – for my body, for my mental health and for my relationship. But I couldn’t help it. I told myself (and tried to convince Mark) that I desperately wanted a daughter. But that wasn’t really it. Though I’d love to have a baby girl of my own, I would be just as happy with another boy. I love my boys, and my heart would be full.
Two months ago, we had our WOOPS moment. I had already finished ovulating, so it wasn’t a big deal, but somehow my period was late anyway. I found that I was extra irritable, crying at the drop of a hat and feeling pretty crazy. I convinced myself that I was pregnant. I just knew it. I told Mark all of my symptoms and told him that I’d bet money I was. But I wasn’t. Only an hour or two after I’d told him, my period came, and I felt like an idiot.
Then this month, once again we had a more major WOOPS. The WOOPS that happens smack dab in the middle of ovulation when you are at your most fertile. We knew exactly what had happened, so the next day we hopped to the pharmacy and asked for a morning after pill. I took it and knew that was that.
But once again as it got near to my time of the month, I started having overwhelming symptoms. I had a small amount of bleeding a few days before I was due. It was brown blood, the kind that has been inside for a little while. I thought of the only times I’ve EVER had that before – implantation bleeding when pregnant. I waited for more, but nothing came. The next day, once again, I had the smallest amount of blood when I wiped. The same brick color as the last one. I had been very nauseous the last couple of days. I thought I was sick. I had had some serious dizziness, which I put down to too much caffeine. I had had some insomnia. I was having trouble catching my breath even when sitting. I was bloated and irritable beyond reckoning.
In short – I was pregnant. I knew it to be true. I didn’t FEEL pregnant like I had the other times. But I just KNEW I was pregnant. I went out and bought prenatal vitamins and a double pack of pregnancy tests to confirm it. I’d already told Mark, and he’d been as upset as I thought he’d be. I even told Dexter that I had a secret, though thankfully I didn’t tell him what it was. Because even before I’d been able to take the test, I got my period – three days earlier than it was due. Heavy and painful and miserable.
And I lost it. I told Mark that I desperately wanted one more baby. I cried and I railed. I told him that I KNEW it was a bad idea, but I didn’t care. I swore that I wanted a baby more than anything. I couldn’t help it. I didn’t know why it was so important, but I couldn’t stop this desire inside of me to have one more child. I could see the pain behind his eyes. Mark has never denied me anything I’ve ever wanted. He goes out of his way to make every one of my dreams come true, no matter what. He keeps every promise to me, and he lives to make me happy. He is a wonderful husband and partner and father to our kids. But he couldn’t give me this.
He doesn’t want another child. He is done. He’s angry at himself because he’s been threatening to get a vasectomy for so long, but he hasn’t done it out of respect for me and the fact that I have struggled so much. He doesn’t understand why I am not happy with our three amazing and wonderful children. With Chester having turned two in October, he’s finally starting to feel like we’re getting our lives back. Our older two are potty-trained and sleeping in their own beds instead of between us. They are in school Chester is a very independent kid who is learning and growing every day, and things are so much easier than they used to be. Why would we want to add in a screaming, sleepless baby?
I don’t know why I can’t let this go. I am not in the greatest health. I feel like I’m a terrible mother a lot of the time. I’m exhausted and really rather overwhelmed with it all.
And I have THREE kids. That’s more than some people get. It’s more than I ever expected when I was told at 23 years old that I’d never be able to have kids without IVF. Why am I so greedy for more?
The truth is that I am grateful for my kids. I love them more than my own life, and I am amazed by them each and every day.
I just don’t know how to stop wanting what I can’t have.
Katie Reed is a passionate writer and mother of four vivacious boys from Salt Lake City, Utah. Drawing from her own journey through TTC, pregnancy, and the joys of raising children, she offers a wealth of insight into the world of motherhood. Beyond her heartfelt tales, Katie delights her readers with family-friendly recipes, engaging crafts, and a curated library of printables for both kids and adults. When she’s not penning her experiences, you’ll find her crafting memories with her husband and sons—Dexter, Daniel, Chester, and Wilder.