Nearly every desperate and completely unoriginal parent (I include myself among them) teaches their children the lesson about jumping off the bridge. You know the story -- the one where if all your friends jump off the bridge, you shouldn't follow. There are a lot of problems with that story, like why are all of your friends suicidal? Was it something you said? However, despite the troubling example, the message is this: be yourself, go your own way and be smart enough not to throw yourself off a bridge.
This lesson has never been so applicable to my life as it is right now. I reiterate the bridge lesson every day in my head. I tell myself over and over "don't jump, don't jump."
You see, six -- yes, SIX -- of my very closest friends are pregnant. Everywhere I turn, I'm hit with a swollen uterus. If pregnancy were a contagious disease, I'm sure I would have caught it by now, and I'm quite certain it would have killed me.
My general baby/pregnancy/labor stats aren't great. Take preeclampsia, for example -- I'm two for three on my pregnancies. I'm batting 100% when it comes to gestational diabetes. Out of of three attempts with an epidural during labor, I've had just one success. And on the other end, two of my three children fussed and spit up for months with reflux and colic. As a bonus to all that fun, I gained 40, 45 and 55 pounds with each pregnancy, respectively, for a grand total of 140 pounds that I gained and then had to lose.
Yet, as my friends all plan for their new arrivals, I find myself settled in a strange place between envy and relief.
Envy says: Awe, they're going to have a baby. The day the baby is born will be the best day of their lives. It really is so amazing. I want to do that again.
Relief says: Shut the hell up! Labor is awful. Do you remember threatening to jump out the hospital window the last time?
Envy says: Babies are so sweet and tiny. I want to sit in the glider and hold another one on my chest as we both fall asleep.
Relief says: You're crazy. That happened, like, maybe once. Your babies don't sleep. They leave you in a half-crazed, semi-delusional state for almost a solid year.
Envy says: I love little baby clothes.
Relief says: That's just more piles of laundry to deal with every, single day.
Envy says: Watching them grow in the first year of life is so amazing. They change so fast and it really is such a miracle to see them become little people.
Relief says: Abbie, you have plenty of little people to care for and most days, let's be honest, you struggle.
In the end, there is only really one conversation that matters and it goes something like this:
Me: Justin, are you sure we're done? Are you sure there isn't just one more pair of little feet missing from this family?
Justin: Are you crazy? Have you seen the pile of shoes by the front door? If we have any more feet in this house, we won't be able to get out of the house -- ever!
In the end, I know he's right. Someone stab a fork in this uterus -- it's done. No really, someone stab me. I don't want to take any chances.
It's bittersweet knowing there won't be anymore babies to bring home, or any more first words, first steps or first birthdays. But I'm at peace knowing that though I would do it all over again, I don't have to do it one more time.