In the last five years, I've given birth to three beautiful children -- and every time, as I walked into the delivery room, I was absolutely certain that one would be my last.
Somewhere between "Holy crap, I'll never do this again" and "Wouldn't it be fun to have one more?", I lost my mind. Every time.
Somehow, despite the facts that I hate being pregnant -- I mean I'm really terrible at it -- and I've endured the torture of natural childbirth multiple times, there comes a day when I look at my rapidly growing, chubby, happy baby, and some part of me that I'm not very well acquainted with flips my idiot switch.
The change is so subtle that if you're not paying attention, you could miss it -- but it turns me into a broody, baby-obsessed moron with a twitchy uterus and a hair trigger. Let's take a glimpse into my highly suggestible mind and see if we can spot where it all goes wrong.
Two weeks before delivery:
My feet hurt.
I wonder if they're swollen.
I can't see my feet.
Dammit, I hurt my back bending over.
And I peed a little.
Everything I own smells faintly of urine.
I'm never doing this again. Ever.
One day before delivery:
If this baby doesn't come out soon, I'm going to perform a home C-section.
It would probably hurt less.
Was that a contraction?
No, just a gas bubble the size of a grapefruit lodged under my lungs.
I wonder what I could do to induce labor...
Spicy food? Too nauseous.
Jumping up and down? Too fat.
Going for a long walk? Too weak.
Sex? Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha. Too funny... also, too nauseous, too fat, and too weak.
If I survive this pregnancy, I'm never doing this again.
I can't take much more of this.
I must be at least 7 centimeters dilated.
What the f*ck do you mean I'm only 2 centimeters?!?
I can't do this.
I don't want to have a baby today.
Maybe I'll just pass out from the pain, wake up, and it will all be over.
I'm never doing this again. Ever.
Later on during labor:
Can I push yet?
How about now?
I feel like my internal organs are about to fall out of my anus.
I am NEVER doing this again. EVER.
Five minutes after delivery:
Oh thank God, it's over.
My legs won't stop shaking.
After-pains? Why didn't somebody mention these in the brochure?!
Aww, but look at what I created.
I guess he was worth all the pain.
Wait, you want to sew me up WHERE?!?
OK, still worth it, but that baby had better support me when I'm old.
I love my baby so much.
I'm still never doing this again. Ever.
Two weeks after delivery:
Why won't he stop crying?
I must be doing everything wrong.
Why can't I stop crying?
I need some chocolate.
We're out of chocolate?!?!
I bet my husband ate the last piece.
I hate him.
This is all his fault anyway. Stupid sperm.
The baby finally passed out from exhaustion after crying for three hours.
Isn't he cute when he sleeps?
Maybe I'm getting the hang of this parenting thing.
For the love of God, don't wake him up!!
I'm never doing this again... at least not anytime soon.
Six weeks after delivery:
Holy crap, the baby slept for six hours last night.
I feel like I could take over the world.
Maybe I'll even get a shower today.
I haven't bled from the nipples in weeks.
This whole parenting thing isn't that hard.
Oh look, the baby smiled at me. He's so perfect.
My clothes are starting to fit again!
And my boobs are huge... but I kinda like it that way.
I feel pretty good.
Maybe I could do this again someday...
Three months after delivery:
My baby is getting so big.
I can't believe I'm already packing up all his newborn clothes.
Why am I crying?
He rolled over today for the first time.
He's going to be crawling in no time.
Then he'll be off to college.
I'm not ready for him to grow up.
Maybe we should have another baby.
I wouldn't want him to be an only child, after all.
Pregnancy wasn't really that bad, was it?
And labor went pretty fast. The nurse said I was a natural.
I could do this again.
And there it is, folks. The moment my hormones and my uterus join forces and completely brainwash me into thinking I need more babies. By the time I successfully talk my far more sensible husband into embarking on my fool's journey, the pain of labor and the sheer hell of the nine months leading up to it are nothing more than fuzzy memories.
As I gaze, doe-eyed and weepy, at the pile of barely worn onesies and booties, I am able to convince myself that having another baby makes economic sense, too. Might as well get the most possible use out of this five-dollar pair of newborn skinny jeans from Target... as if that is a sane thing to say.
It really needs to stop. My uterus needs to be reined in and have some sense talked into her.
Then again, maybe I'll just hold on to some of these baby clothes, and the crib, and the strollers, and the car seats.
Just in case.
Once a cognitive psychologist in the field of memory, Mary Widdicks now spends the majority of her time trying to remember if she fed all her children each morning. The irony is not lost on her. Mary's writing has been featured on sites such as The Washington Post and Scary Mommy, and in several parenting anthologies. Follow Mary on her site, Outmanned, and Facebook.