I’ve always been pretty clear about the fact that I wanted to have two children. I’m one of two, so it seems very normal to me. Plus, I’ve got two hands, so that’s as many children as I can hold onto while crossing the road. And when my husband’s not working, we can take responsibility for one each. It’s all very simple.
So when I found out I have a gene mutation that puts me at high risk of breast and ovarian cancer, I didn’t hesitate to ask for my ovaries to be removed. I already had a toddler son and a newborn daughter. Our family was complete. I’d finished. I’d pretty much only got through the recent labour (complete with failed epidural) by reminding myself that I never had to do this again.
It turns out that healthcare professionals don’t take your claims that you definitely don’t want to have any more children very seriously when you’re just a few weeks post-partum. They told me to wait a few years, just in case I changed my mind. But I was adamant. I’d always wanted two; so had my husband. So they agreed, and I had my ovaries and fallopian tubes removed by keyhole surgery a few months ago.
I don’t regret that decision. I still don’t want to have any more children. I’ve remarked to my husband a few times that at least we’ll never have an accidental third child. And I’m sure he’s thanked his lucky stars that I won’t be suggesting he gets a vasectomy.
And yet. There’s something about knowing (absolutely knowing, for definite) that you’ll never again hold a newborn baby who belongs to you. As my daughter passes through each phase, I mourn the ending of things. She rarely falls asleep in my arms, these days. She doesn’t need me to support her head. She can sit, and roll. She can almost crawl. It won’t be long before she isn’t a baby, but a child.
I know how lucky I am to have two healthy children. I am grateful every day. And two is enough, it really is. I’ve found the early years of motherhood tough, and I’m looking to the future. But there’s a small part of me that’s looking back. No more tiny fists curled around my finger. No more airers full of impossibly small, white clothes.
I remind myself that I did this for my children. I have to do whatever I can to lower my risk of dying, because I am their mother and they will need me for many years to come. So while the baby phase is coming to an end, for us, there are many phases ahead. And if I’m lucky, I will be there for every single one, holding the hands of my two perfect children.
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Laura is a copywriter, blogger and unpublished novelist. She lives in Leicestershire with her husband and their two children – Joseph (2) and Elodie (3 months). You can follow her on Twitter and on her blog about getting cancer when she was pregnant.