This story is part of our End of the Childbearing Years series, exploring the experiences, decisions, and feelings of Mormon women around this pivotal transition. Each story is a generous and vulnerable offering. We ask that comments be sensitive and nonjudgmental toward any woman’s choices or beliefs.

By Jo Anna Kemble

Childbearing came natural and strong for me. I know this may not be common, but it was true for me. I had my first child when I was 22, and the childbirth was textbook and perfect. At that moment I knew that having babies was my calling. It took me three years to have another. After that I had two more children in quick succession.

But pregnancy was hard and unpleasant for me. I hated it. I was sick with hyperemesis for nine months. When I was pregnant with my fourth child I thought for sure I could never do this again. I felt that I was a burden to my husband and children. I encouraged my husband to get a vasectomy. He seemed at the time to be all for it. Looking back on it I can see that he procrastinated going forward on it. Maybe because he didn’t want the surgery or maybe because he wanted the option of having more babies.

At the moment he went to have the procedure done I wanted to change my mind. But we were sitting in the waiting room full of people and I was nine months pregnant.

My mother had said we had more than enough children. The doctor told me I shouldn’t have anymore because my bowels were prolapsed and I was at risk of pushing them out. I was conflicted and anxious. My head won out over my heart and I let him go.

The moment came to give birth only a week later. Everything went according to plan. I took the baby home and there were no real problems. But I had one major regret. I remember vividly nursing my newborn and thinking this is the last time I will ever do this again. A sadness and regret started deep inside me that I couldn’t let go of for the better part of a decade. I knew I had made the wrong decision to not have more children. There was nothing I could do now but to accept it and try to move forward. That small voice inside me to “must have babies” had to be quieted, denied, subdued. I have struggled with this sorrow and only now have been able to put a voice to it. Thank you.