Months ago, my womb was an insatiable beast. Whenever I saw a pregnant woman, a stroller or even a tiny little foot sticking out of an infant carrier, my uterus squeezed and clenched, reminding me that it was still there and ready to work again.
The sight of a baby sock brought tears to my eyes and any television commercial or magazine advertisement featuring a baby made my breasts tingle and ovaries contract.
I really wanted a baby.
Each day, this hungry-for-a-baby feeling grew instead of dwindled, and I was having a difficult time restraining myself from grabbing my husband by his tie, jumping him as soon as he walked into our house and scream "Honey, put a baby in me!"
But restrain myself, I did.
We agreed six years ago that our family of five was complete, and my husband graciously proved his love to me and had a certain procedure done to ensure that our baby-making days were over.
And I was fine with that decision, grateful for the three healthy, beautiful, intelligent children we had and relieved to be past the years of sleepless nights, breast-feeding and pregnancy . . . until I turned 35.
I don't know why my baby-making hormones ramped up on my 35th birthday, but it was almost like this mythical biological clock started ticking, which frankly surprised me 'cause I thought that sucker only turned on when you were child-less.
And because I feared my husband's response to my "Honey, put a baby in me" demand, I convinced him to get a puppy instead.
Yet, the demands of my uterus grew louder.
In August, I was ready to talk to my husband, ready to take the risk and have a discussion with him about adding another baby to our family. I picked a day on the calendar, scheduled a date night with him and started envisioning another little baby in our home.
And I couldn't.
I looked around my house and couldn't picture the wall-to-wall baby gear, diapers and all of the chaos a baby would bring to my house, my life.
I stood naked in front of my bedroom mirror and tried to picture my body heavy with child. And I didn't want to. While my body is certainly nothing to celebrate with song, I finally accept my 35 year old figure.
I sat at the dinner table with my children, 15, 12 and 9. I imagined a high chair at our table, an infant throwing food and interrupting our spirited dialogue. I discarded that image and kicked that baby out of its imaginary high chair and enjoyed laughing at inappropriate jokes with my real kids.
My summer date with my husband came and went, and I never brought up the topic. I thought that I had finally gotten through this ridiculous desire for another baby until . . .
I took my daughter to pick up her freshman high school class schedule and ID.
I drove my middle son to his new junior high school, so he could walk his 6th grade schedule.
I brought my youngest son shopping for third grade back-to-school supplies.
Before I knew it with a speed so fast it left me breathless, my not-so-grown babies were back in school and my house was as empty as my arms. My heart was broken all over again. And my damn uterus started growling like a hungry zygote eater.
Only this time, I cancelled my plans for the day, grabbed all three photo albums plus my sweet, snuggly puppy. I spent the day flipping through baby pictures, toddler pictures, preschool pictures for all three children and I cried.
I cried because they would never be those sweet little babies again. I cried because the days of crawling into my lap for a story and a snuggle are gone. I cried because I couldn't think of anything else to do, anything to stop this whole growing up process.
After my body was spent and my tears were dry, I closed my eyes and tilted my face to the sun. I let her soothe me with caressing warm rays, felt the light enter my pores and knew that I would be okay.
My womb finally silenced. I don't want another baby, a fourth baby.
I want one more day with each of my three babies. I want one more day to kiss their sweet baby skin, to rub my face against their fluffy downy, newborn hair, to feel their compact warm weight in my arms.
While motherhood can be the most wonderful, incredible thing in the world, it can also be the most difficult, too. I certainly wasn't prepared for this sadness, for this overwhelming feeling of loss as my children age. But at least, I've finally turned off that damn clock!
As this seems to be a reoccurring struggle of mine, which I detailed for the first time in my blog post Stolen Kisses and Empty Arms, I clearly need advice from mothers who have gone through this before. How did you cope as your children grew up? What things or tools did you rely on to get you through those moments of sadness?