The Sadness When You’re Done Having Babies

If you’re done having babies and you feel moments of sadness, don’t be ashamed. It’s okay to feel both confidence and sadness.Done Having Babies

It is possible to feel both confident and sad in your decision about being done having babies. It is okay to be sad and take the time to grieve the end of having babies. Sometimes the sadness pops up at the most unexpected times when you least expect it to be revealed.

My own sad feelings were tucked away until they were unexpectedly pulled from me recently. When I was forced to think about these feelings of sadness I opened up to several people and was surprised to find that other women who seemed very happy and confident in their family planning decisions sometimes felt this sad feeling too.

We all come to different conclusions about when our families are complete. Decisions are made for a multitude of reason; historical, personal, financial and medical reasons. Sometimes, the decision to be done having babies isn’t even within our own power to make. But when we decide on our own that we are done having babies, the feeling and rationale of completeness is solely defined by us. It doesn’t make sense to others; it isn’t supposed to. Our own definition of complete is written in our own hearts and minds for very different reasons.

I watched on the monitor as she snuggled up next to him on the fluffy nursery rug. She gently rubbed his tummy and talked sweetly to him in a voice I’ve never heard. Minutes earlier I had crouched over the baby, talking in my best high-pitched Auntie voice. My daughter mimicked my movements and shifted me with her hips, hockey-check style, indicating I was hogging the baby. “Let me do it, mom,” she said. So I went to another room and watched as she entertained the baby. He laid there peacefully, cooing and flinching his arms and legs reacting to her.

Done Having Babies

Only three years ago her brother arrived and she wasn’t as patient, her preschool body and mind couldn’t be stopped to slow down. But now here she was, sweet, patient, helpful and interested in the baby. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about another baby. Instances like this remind me that the baby phase is over for my motherhood and each time it is sad for me.

The sadness of being done having babies hits me at different times.

When I look through photos of my children as babies.

When I watch home movies and see their baby bodies in high chairs, immobile on the floor and wordless in their baby conversation.

When I clean out their clothes each season and discover a baby item that was forgotten deep in their dresser. And truthfully, each seasonal cleaning of their clothes is bittersweet, feeling that they are growing too fast.

When parents with older children tell me they grown up “in a blink” because I know it has already gone too fast.

When I think my own body will never again hold a child, nurse a baby or carry my own baby in my arms.

And most recently, when I see my children with babies. Holding babies, stroking them, talking sweetly.

The sadness rushes over me.

Done Having Babies

Normally I tuck this sadness away, I never tell anyone, I don’t find comfort in words or hugs, I just move on. Until last week.

I appear on television for cooking segments and at a recent show, one of the other guests was a psychic. I was admittedly, frazzled that day. She offered to give me a reading. She touched me and said, “You seem very sad about not having more babies. It’s on your heart.”

The tears started to fall.

It was true.

I was sad.

Especially most recently seeing my children interact with my new baby nephew.

She stood there with me, holding my hand. And her advice to me was simple, genuine and loving, “Grieve this feeling. Find something new to grow.”

I drove home and sobbed. Finding solace in my empty minivan, I let it all out. The sadness that I pushed deep down for so long, I finally let myself cry. I let myself be sad about not having more babies. For the first time, I grieved that the baby period of my motherhood was over.

It’s okay to grieve the end of babies in your motherhood.

Grieve the fact that this phase of life is over for you.

Because it is sad.

Done Having Babies

The baby phase was a fantastic and beautiful time. We have the pictures and home movies to prove it, don’t we?

Recognizing this feeling as grief allows you to give yourself grace when you are sad at different times in your life because this sadness will continue to pop up unexpectedly.

I thought about why I get so sad about the baby period and I think it’s because I feel life with my kids is just going so fast. I want to be a better mother. I regret the mistakes I’ve made over the years. The baby period was a time of innocence and infancy both of my children and of my motherhood. The chalkboard was clean.

The reality is that I don’t get a do-over on the mistakes I’ve made in motherhood. But every day I get another chance to do better in my motherhood.

We may be done growing babies, but we are not done growing in our motherhood.

We are not done growing.

What am I growing now?

That is our own question to answer.

If you’re done having more babies and you feel moments of sadness, don’t be ashamed. It’s okay to feel both confidence and sadness about being done having babies. Talk to someone, talk with another mama. Be sad. Grieve that the baby phase of motherhood is over for you. And take solace in knowing you are not done growing in your motherhood. Your kids are going to keep growing and so are you.

25 thoughts on “The Sadness When You’re Done Having Babies

  1. Oh, Alice. I hear you. I feel completely done adding more children to our family. I even still have a baby (almost 8 months old now!) but I’m grieving not having a newborn again. I visited a friend and her 5 day old just a couple days ago and I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I miss the sweetness of a newborn. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Oof, I feel this one! I am so happy (but sometimes sad) to be done having babies but sometimes I just wish I could go back in time and give my babies one last snuggle or one last nurse.

    • RIght? I love the new phases of motherhood with my big kids but I do get sad thinking about the baby time and wish I had some of those moments back again too. Thanks so much for reading.

  3. Beautiful piece. I took my 5-year-old to her well-child visit this week and it is connected to United where I delivered all 3 kids. I felt a wave of sadness that I will never have the feeling of holding my newborn for the first time or bringing a baby home from the hospital.

    • Thank you so much for reading, Colleen. I had my babies at United too! My sister asked me to be at her son’s birth there in November and so many feelings came rushing back. Even the smell of the foam soap brought back memories! I think about those “never again” moments too, it is sad that those moments will never happen again, let yourself feel that.

  4. We have 4 kids (4!!!). The oldest is 14, the youngest almost 4. The youngest was beyond unplanned (yep, both condoms and Plan B can fail, in the same go). We made the decision to get my tubes tied while I was carrying her, because we’re just THAT FERTILE.

    It was hard to go through with it– even sleep deprived, less than 24 hours post-delivery, aching and shaking and hormonal as all hell with stretched-out and throbbing lady parts. Knowing I was going home to an 11-year-old, a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old, and in-laws who were less than happy with me for saddling their precious son with so many kids. Knowing the only reason there were 3 years between this one and the one before was that we suffered a miscarriage in between.

    I had to convince the OB to do the procedure– my ambivalence was that palpable.

    I’d come to the conclusion that I’d always be ambivalent about the end of babies– whether I had 4 kids or 14, whether we chose to end it or had a baby every two years until Mother Nature called a halt.

    Knowing that, had I not done it, I’d probably have a two-year-old and a newborn in addition to the four we have (or one more kid and another miscarriage to mourn) now, I know I made the right choice. TOTALLY.

    Doesn’t stop me from mourning The End of Babies.

    And the mourning doesn’t stop me from being glad.

    Nothing is simple, is it??

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  6. We have five, the youngest is 10 months old and the oldest 16. I would gladly have another but my husband is done. He had a vasectomy two months after the baby was born, the only thing we have ever disagreed on. The sadness is getting better but it’s still there and I would still love to have more. Thanks for putting this into words. So many friends and acquaintances are “done” with only two and think we are crazy for having five. What I wouldn’t give to have another!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I am relieved to know that I’m not the only one having feelings like these, which have really hit me over the last month. After my youngest of three was born, seven years ago, in my mind he was going to be my last. At the time I was okay with that decision. Now at 37 going on 38, I find myself all of a sudden having feelings of grief and regret at making the decision not to have another baby. Recently in the mornings after dropping my children off at school I find myself hit with a wave of sadness and usually end up in tears. I am blessed with three beautiful healthy children and have so much to be thankful for and happy about, but this change in feelings as a mother will take some adjusting to. I wish everyone all the best and happiness

    • I’m also 37 (38 in three months) and have a 13yo, 10yo, and 7yo. I also was certain after my youngest was born that we were done having babies. But over the last month I’ve been in tears every morning after dropping my kiddos off at school, regretting that decision, and wishing I could go back and change it. Sadly I feel I’ve left it too late now. It makes me sad. I hope this feeling won’t last forever…

  8. Thank you so much for writing this. I have only one beautiful little human; who is now 3. But have had to say goodbye to the baby stage of life because of medical issues. I have been having bouts of sadness every time I found out a friend is pregnant or is about to have another babie. But I have just berried the sadness deep down because I felt it was just me being silly. Most times I just wish I could go back to the babie years and just have a few more moments. But I don’t regret any thing or that I can no longer have any more, just wish I had more time.

  9. Thank you for writing this; it brought tears to my eyes. I have three children, the youngest of whom is only 2 months old. This is almost assuredly it, and it makes me feel so sad, even though I am profoundly grateful for the children we have, and feel like I’ve gotten more than my due of good luck and joy. It is nice to know this is normal, and that this feeling is a form grief, not craziness. May motherhood continue to bring you all great joy and may you find new avenues for growth.

  10. Thank you so very much for writing this. I have struggled with this sadness for a few years now. I will be 30 in November and I had to have a medically necessary hysterectomy at 25. I was not ready to be done having babies. I have three beautiful children, 2 biological and 1 step. I’ve always wanted more. Thank you for making me fee like it is okay to be sad. I have been told so many times that feeling sad for not being able to have more babies is the same as being ungrateful for the children that I have. Thank you for making me see that this isn’t true.

    God Bless!

  11. This was very beautiful. I married first, I had babies first. Now the rest of my friends and family are having their firsts and my babies are both children. It’s nearly physically painful when this surfaces. We are done. There’s not really any going back from sterilization. Tonight, in my grief, this is what I needed.

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  13. Thank you for posting this. I feel this pain even though we have 10. My life changed dramatically after my first. I think every baby was a sort of indulgence because they were so precious. As soon as the youngest turned a year old, I’d want another. But now I’m 46. Even though my youngest is almost 18 months, I’m scared to have another due to medical risks. And ten is completely overwhelming. But I still feel this sadness. I’m looking at menopause coming up and it just makes me sad. Also, my oldest is graduating this year, so I feel the clock with her and all those in between as well. The clock is a thing I’m just going to have to come to terms and peace with. Anyway, thank you for this post.

  14. Thankyou so much for this post. I have a 4 year old son and a 2 year old daughter who I love more than anything. I had always longed for a third, but my husband is against it, and I think for all the logical boring reasons (finances, no family to help us, stress, age) he is right. But I’ve fought so hard against planning our family with logic rather than love. Today though I think I’ve finally accepted it, and reading your post has made me feel better that it’s fine to feel sad. Not everyone has the ”hell no!!” feeling when they stop having babies, some of us stop and do still feel sad sometimes.

    • Hi Cleona, I’m very much in the same situation as you. I feel so sad every day as don’t feel I’m done having kids and my husband has just made the decision for me, saying it’s for financial reasons. Very tricky.

  15. Thank you for this. I needed this article tonight. I wept as I read what you wrote. Relating on every level and finding solace in reading we are growing in motherhood. That is so very true.
    I just am having such a hard time with how fast time is flying by with my 3 babes, and knowing we are done having more.
    It was so nice to have all my thoughts shared by you, and seeing so many other Mama’s relate.
    Thank you again for this. And beautifully written. ❤️

  16. Thank you for writing this. My grief came this morning out of the blue and I’m still reeling from my last bout of sadness. It’s funny because I’ve been assisting my husband with looking for the best doctors for a vasectomy, but for some reason I asked him if he wanted to have one more baby this morning and he said no, alligator tears just started rolling down my face. I’ve said several times that I am done having babies, yet my heart doesn’t seem to agree. I have 4 kids and I think with my twins turning 6 soon, it’s really hitting home that they aren’t infants/toddlers anymore. My head and heart are definitely not on the same page.

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