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 Jan Nelson
When our sixth child was born, our third boy, I remember feeling something I’d never felt before. Our family was complete. I’d had my last baby! Every other birth had been soon followed by a longing for the next one. This little boy might as well have been born sporting a onesie with “Caboose” printed on it! My pregnancies had not been difficult. We’d never set a number as to how many children we would have. I was still relatively young at 35 and infertility was not an issue, but I just knew we were through.
Turned out that knowledge was the good and the bad news. The inevitable short season of new baby tears, which I had experienced five others times, took on a different flavor this time. Coming to grips with the new truth that I would never experience that amazing feeling of life moving within me, that this was the last time I would sense and see the miracle of my body creating sustenance for my child, that looking down at that angel face as I nursed and melting as a big grin broke the suction for a moment was almost over! I loved every bit of it—the nursing part so much, in fact, that I enjoyed the bond for a third-world period of time.
As the years went by, the agony and the ecstasy of this reality slowly tipped in the direction of ecstasy . . . perhaps not ecstasy exactly, but of relief, of excitement for the next chapter of our lives, of reclaiming my body as best I could. Ten or so years later I realized how vested I was in my next chapter when my body started moving towards a physical reason for no more babies. I had a couple of “I might be pregnant” scares, and though we would have adjusted and reveled in a new addition, I can honestly say that was not the plan.
Fast forward another few years and I recall the very night my husband and I drove out of our driveway and realized that all six of our children were in a “we’re not in charge” space!! Four were married and the youngest two were on missions, Caboose having left that very day. Again with the agony and ecstasy of life’s passages—sort of sad but also really happy all at once.
There will always be agony and we live and learn, but the flip side of that is ecstasy and acceptance and peace.
One of my favorite lines comes from something I read in my senior English class in an “Essay on Man,” by Alexander Pope: “Oh blindness to the future, kindly given.”
What lies ahead? Not sure, not worried. I have some clues to life’s pattern of passages.