On October 9, 2013, my husband had a vasectomy. Since we never planned on having kids in the first place, and now we had two children born 355 days apart, it seemed appropriate to take measures against the possibility of us having any more. It was the right thing, and the best thing, to do for us, our family and my uterus.
What I hadn't planned for was "the void."
Let me tell you about the void. The void is formed once something is done to remove the option of you ever having children again. Once tubes are tied or organs are removed or whatever precaution is taken, the void emerges.
The void, though, is not an empty, desolate place. Many thoughts and feelings call this void home.
In this space is where my desire to have more children resides. Wait, you think, I thought you didn't want more children? I didn't. I don't. But it's very strange when you realize that your body, which has housed and pushed out two pretty awesome kids, will never do that again. These woman parts of mine that were designed to make cute, squishy babies, now just hang out in my body without the option to ever be used in their proper fashion ever again.
It's true I don't want more children. I can say that now. Following the months after Luke's procedure, I wasn't so sure. After the surgery, we were advised to use a back up method of birth control until Luke was deemed sterile. A few weeks after he healed, I talked to Luke about ceasing our use of condoms before it was confirmed he was shooting blanks because maybe we should leave these decisions in God's hands instead of taking them into our own. He agreed. I then read story after story of "surprises" from vasectomies that didn't work. I began documenting my ovulation time in hopes that maybe, just maybe, a little sperm would manage to break through and bring us another baby.
A girl. I decided the child would be a girl and we would name her Trinity Grace.
But Trinity Grace never came to be, and it took me about six months to come to terms with that fact.
It's good, though. I don't regret our decision. I love our little family and believe it is perfect just the way it is.
But still... there's a longing now that the void has brought. I will never feel my muscles tighten with contractions as my body preps itself for labor. I will never again hold a newborn that is my own. I will never again watch with joy and awe as a baby learns to roll over or crawl or eat for the first time.
These events, this sadness, take refuge in the void.
The void is now a part of me and I don't believe it will ever diminish. As friends have babies and I hold them in the early days of their life, I will feel the void inside of me enlarge for a short time. As my children grow up and become more independent little people, I will silently long for the days where I was needed 100% of the time. Oh sure, it's not always fun in the moment, but as I met my children's needs, I was also meeting my own need to be needed. (Say that three time fast.)
In a few months, a good friend of mine will give birth to her third and I look forward to hearing her stories of coping with such a dramatic change. I will even find joy and peace in my own decision to not bring a third child into the world as most days, I don't feel I can handle the two that I already have.
The void, though, will fill me with just a touch of jealousy. Just a sprinkling of remorse that I will never know her journey. After cleaning her home or making her dinner, I will go to my own house, and she will stay cuddling with her newborn baby; an opportunity I will never have again.
As I've said, I am very pleased with the two children I have. They are smart and funny and challenging in the best ways possible. And I'm coming to grips with the void. It is an integral part of my story. It reminds me of where I've been. It reminds me what I've done. And it reminds me of how silly and foolish I was to have thought I never wanted kids in the first place.
This piece originally appeared on Scary Mommy.