No, I'm not pregnant — and I never want to be again

April 22 2013 | Guest post by Amy Miller
Does this coat make me look pregnant?
Does this coat make me look pregnant?

A friend of mine (the mother of one of my daughter's classmates) said hello to me at a school function a few weeks ago. After pleasantries were exchanged and she noticed I was on my way out with one of my kids in tow, she asked a seemingly harmless question.

"Hi."

"Oh, hi. How are you?"

"Great. Busy. How are you?"

"Me too. Always. Oh my gosh, are you pregnant?"

Before you are outraged for me, before you rake my innocent acquaintance over the coals, read my level-headed reply.

"Hell no!"

At this point I looked down at my belly to wonder at her confusion. I'm not fat. Chubby, maybe. Zaftig, yes I would appreciate that label very much, thank you. But pregnant? My new pea coat hits at hip level, bringing the pockets to my waist. The coat is boxy, and I thought it stylish when I bought it. Even a little daring because I usually hide my ass. Not in this coat. Then I noticed that I had shoved my suede mittens deep into the pockets, inflating the coat and giving it a rather roundish appearance.

"Must be the gloves," I said, removing them so there would be no doubt.

My friend was immediately embarrassed and said something like, "I know better than to ask that. I'm so sorry."

The funny thing about this interaction is not that I was offended or that anyone thought I was pregnant at 44 (which is entirely conceivable *ha! pun* although rare). The funny thing (at least to me, anyway) was that I reacted as if someone were suggesting I get pregnant again.

"Hell no!" This response says so much, doesn't it?

I had two relatively uneventful pregnancies, but I lived in constant fear that something would go wrong because I have a chronic illness and because I refused to believe my doctor when she said everything was fine. When you know as many people as I do who have had traumatic miscarriages or diabetes or high blood pressure, you tend to worry.

Aside from the worry, I was crazy uncomfortable — not just the swelling and itching and waddling and not being able to tie shoes. Not just the exhaustion or weird cravings or irritability. No, I was nauseous every waking moment of both pregnancies. At the baby shower my mother-in-law threw for me, when I was just entering my third trimester, I spent half of my time throwing up in the bathroom. At work, I yelled up the stairs hoping my friend Leslie would hear me and grab a trash can as I threw up on the landing. I threw up so much that I was losing weight instead of gaining. My OB/GYN prescribed me two milkshakes a week to reverse the weight-loss trend. The sweet lady at the McDonald's drive-through became my friend. I miss her.

"Hell no!" also suggests that I am done having babies. I had two planned C-sections so I can't complain about the birth. I can complain that my son inhaled his meconium and was rushed to the NICU. I can complain that both of my kids had trouble nursing and I ended up supplementing so much (under the care of two different lactation consultants) that I gave up and switched to the bottle.

But I love my kids and wouldn't trade them or the hardships of our early days for anything. I'm just ready to keep moving forward. I love experiencing every age with them. Right now they are six and nine and loads of fun. Another baby would take me away from them. Another baby might send me over a cliff. My husband is the one having baby lust. He keeps teasing me with the question, "Come on. Just one more?"

To that I must answer, "Hell no!"

Thank goodness spring is here. I'm putting that coat away for a long time.

  1. HA! I love this. I just had my second, with a 6 year break in between them, and now doing it all again, 6 years older and wiser, I know this is our last. I'm definitely done with babies.

    HELL NO!

  2. Hell no would be my response too. It is my response when people are curious if we're having more (even though I'm still currently pregnant with #2 and final).. No more kids!! We are 100000% sure we do not want more than two children. And that is a-okay.

  3. Oh I SO agree with this. I've only had one (currently just under 6 weeks) but after the trauma of the emcs and general vile horror of the first few weeks, I KNOW I don't want to do it again. I want to watch and help her grow up and spend all the other time with my husband πŸ™‚

    • A woman after my own heart. We have a 3 week old, and I know for absolute certain I do NOT want another. I love him dearly, but I cant do it again.

  4. As the mother an only, I get this question way too much. "Hell no" is a good response. As a grad student, I usually say "I have a second child. It's called my dissertation."

  5. I can totally relate. I always thought I'd have two kids because I come from a family where everyone has two. But now I have one daughter and have decided she's going to be an only child because I have no desire to go through pregnancy, birth, or postpartum ever again. I didn't have a particularly traumatic experience either, just not one I care to repeat.

  6. Absolutely 100% Hell No! I love my son to pieces, and by all standards I had a pretty easy pregnancy and a scheduled C-section with no complications (except stubborn little boy wouldn't flip over like he was supposed to, hence the C-section) and No Effing Way do I ever want to be pregnant again. The waddling, the back ache, the abdominal muscle stretching pain, his constant daily hiccups, the extremely uncomfortable Version to try to flip him over … no thanks. Once is enough. So yeah, don't even feel a little bit bad about your reaction to that comment πŸ™‚

  7. Hell no is right on.

    I have severe diastasis recti from these last two births and so I LOOK pregnant. It's realllllly nice.

  8. Yep! I never ever want to be pregnant again either. Your pregnancy sounds a lot like mine – I call it the "10 month flu". I love my son to pieces and have no regrets but pregnancy is one of those things that I'm glad I did – once – but don't need or want to do again. Hell no, indeed.

    For the first several years after my son was born, one child seemed like plenty. But he's four now and my husband and I have decided that, actually, we'd like to have another child in our family. So, we're going to adopt. Not an infant, but a toddler (3 or so). Win-win scenario, as far as I see it: a deserving child gets a home, our son gets the sibling he so desperately wants, and we don't have to go through pregnancy, postpartum OR having an infant again!

    • That is such a great solution! I applaud you for doing this. I also will not be sharing it with my baby-obsessed husband because it's not just the pregnancy I can't do again. Good luck to you and your family.

  9. πŸ™‚ Love this entry…I must admit I'm the opposite, though. I LOVED being pregnant so much that others thought me crazy. I've had 3. I'm 48, I'd still do it again but my husband gets that scared look about him and says his own, "Hell, no!"

    • You are a gem, Anna. Wish I loved being pregnant. Really wanted to love it, I did. Enjoy those three you have. If I were your husband, I'd get that scared look too!

      Take care.

  10. Thank you! We are "one and done" and I'm curious if you've had the same response to your reaction as I get — when I answer my "hell no" or just outright laugh and say "no" (especially when people ask me if we're going to have more), sometimes the person asking gets super offended. As if, in some way, my choice to have only one child (or not have more children) is a judgment on their choices to have children (or more children) which it most definitely is not. Then, I'm followed by the "oh, but your son NEEDS a sibling" (obviously, you don't get this because you have two) and people trying to convince me that I really should have more. I have to fight really hard not to get upset and offended when others are trying to convince me out of a very tough, life decision that my partner and I have made together and spent hours agonizing over.

    Thank you for this post. I'm happy I'm not the only person who answers, "hell no!" πŸ™‚

    • Rachael,
      I'm lucky because the woman who asked me the question is a friendly acquaintance who knows me well enough to know I'm snarky. She was not offended in the least. She's probably close to my age and gets it. I believe with a 9 and 11 year old, she's done too. The only person who keeps trying to convince me to have another is my sweet mother-in-law, and that's just because she wants another baby in the family. I don't get the heavy sell from her like you are getting – and, by the way that is so not cool. Who are these people telling you that your son "needs" a sibling? How do they know what's good for your son and your family? I know many only kids and they are content and thriving, just like your son will be. Screw a bunch of those people! You're doing what's right for you.

      Take care.

  11. I felt relief reading this. I have one pregnancy under my belt (I'm not sure if we're a one and done couple, but we are absolutely a "far spacing couple"). I relate to really disliking pregnancy. When women around me were enjoying their "healthy glows" I had a toxic sheen going on. I was frustrated to no end with the language of pregnancy I found in most birthing classes and books – that mother goddess for whom pregnancy is a beautiful, life-affirming thing, when it made me wanna die at times. The only thing I could think right after birth was OMG thank God that it over and I never want to do that again. It took me a lot of soul-searching to realize that it's okay to dislike being pregnant, dislike birth, never want to do it again – and you can still totally love the kids that result from it!

    • Ashley,
      You are absolutely right! We can't all like the same things. I have two friends who gave births in baby pools in their living rooms and to that I said, good for you, and in my head I said (AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!). I also did not have a good experience breast feeding BOTH kids. That made me desperately sad, but despite all of the glib "breast is better" sound bites, I had to make peace with the situation at hand. My kids had to get formula or starve. I chose to feed them. Sue me!

      No guilt for you, sister! Rock out your decision and love that kid to pieces.

      Take care.

    • "toxic sheen" — yes! totally me. once he came out, one of my first thoughts was "thank JEEBUS i am no longer pregnant!"

  12. Ashley, I love that term: "far-spacing couple" — much cleaner than what I say, which is "I'm not sure if we'll have another, but I definitely know it won't be soon."

    My kid's almost 2, and most people I know with kids around her age are either contemplating trying again or already pregnant — I can't even imagine that! I've always been one of those people who is pretty clear on what I want in the next few months to year, and fine with leaving it hazy for any longer term than that. I had a fairly easy, pleasant pregnancy and labor, and if you asked me if I could be pregnant again, I'd say, "yeah, I probably would be fine with that… but not anytime soon!"

    But the first 4-6 months of my baby's life were really hard on me and my husband — every terrific, independent new thing she does now (which is like every day!) just serves to remind me how much I hated having to do everything for her when she was a wailing, helpless, personality-less bundle of cry (like I said: it was rough). That definitely gives me pause when I recall that time, and during our few cogent moments in those months, we would look at each other and say "we will not, we CANNOT do this again."

    Of course, in the light of having a delightful toddler, with those dark days far in my rearview, we're both open again to having another… some day. Not today, not tomorrow, but maybe sometime well after that.

    I get the feeling though that after that maybe-next-one, it'll be Hell No City around here!

    • I feel the same way. I think we'll probably have another kid some day, but having a 12-month-old, the really, really difficult months of caring for a newborn are way too fresh in my mind. I am not a fan of the infant stage at all and I'm not one of those women who took to "the new normal" very well. I tell my friends to remind me of the many days that I (still) get four hours of broken sleep (my son is not a good sleeper) if I ever say I want another kid any time soon. Someday I'll forget it, but not for a while.

      • I got a lot of people who were surprised at my vehement dislike of that time period, and they'd invariably state, "but they're so little," or "they're only that small once."

        Yeah, thank goodness. I remember staring at my (sure, cute, but not as cute as now!) little newborn and thinking, "I just wish you could do SOMETHING for yourself. Hold your own head up, for example. I can't wait till you can hold your own head up!" and now that we're into the helps-me-unload-the-dishwasher stage, it's definitely hard to think about going back to that time, no matter how brief it is in the grand scheme of things.

        By the way, I distinctly remember at 10 months, 12 months, and 15 months thinking "this is what I was waiting for, THIS is wonderful." And the awesomeness hasn't abated yet, so (I hope!) you have some incredibly fun times in your near future.

    • Oh Abby,
      You did have it rough! Big bundle of cry, yikers! Enjoy the loveliness of watching that toddler romp. You deserve it. And it sounds like you have time to consider your options. Enjoy that too.

  13. A close friend recently had her second child. Knowing my history of infertility, another friend asked me cautiously if it was being difficult for me to see our friend's newborn, knowing that I couldn't have another child.

    I believe "hell no!" about sums up my response. I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to conceive and birth my son… but that blessed feeling does not translate into wanting more children.

    Slight thread-jack to recommend this book for "Hell no!" parents of onlies:
    One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child, and the Joy of Being One

    • Hallelujah!
      I need to research some witty and concise responses as to why we're not only stopping at one kid but we're *happy* not having more kids. People are usually too busy pitying me to understand that I really benefitted from being an only child and I want the same experience for my daughter.

  14. Hell no was my answer for over a decade…. Now I have a 20 yr old, 18, 15, 14…. a 5 month old and trying for #6.

    πŸ™‚

    • Solidarity fist bump! We have a 21, 18, 17, 2 years, and 8 month old. And trying for no more, but happy with our five!

  15. My response is usually "oh god no!" when asked that question. I love my kids, but pregnancy sucked and being the spouse of a pregnant lady also sucked. The second one (7 mo old) is harder than the first (2 y old) and I just don't want to gamble with genes anymore. I am also looking forward to doing fun things with my kids, things you can't do with infants.

  16. This might be a bit off topic but in your summation you felt the need to clarify that you supplemented with formula under the supervision of two lactation consultants. And I just wanted to say that you dont have to justify why you used formula to anyone. Whether by choice or by necessity it in no way lessens your mothering and I understand how in this harsh "breast is best" world of online motherhood you would feel like you needed to specify that it was condoned by professionals.

    Formula feeding isnt something you have to justify. You can lament its necessity if you would like. But you dont have to explain it to anyone.

    • Lily,
      You are absolutely right! I felt so ashamed at the time, like I was a failure. I guess I haven't completely let go of it yet, maybe in fear that my readers will judge me. In my mind, I let go of that when the kids weaned off their bottles. Thanks for your message. More women need to embrace this idea.

  17. As a guy I obviosly can't say anythign about being pregnant. But I did have one comment that this article brought to mind.

    I was taught long ago that no man should ever suggest a woman is pregnant unless she is crowning. It's just safer for our gender that way. πŸ™‚

  18. I'm 7 months along in a pregnancy from HELLLLLLLLLL ( sick all the way through, lost 30 lbs, heparin shots, the whole damn thing) and I loathe being pregnant, and I'm never EVER doing this again. So adamantly sure about it that we're both getting "fixed". Because never again. people say I'll change my mind, but they really have no idea how hellaciously toxic sick I've been. Pregnancy and my body do not agree. I'm just dreading the slog thru the last 10 weeks before I can kick down my doc's door and go "INDUCE NOW!"

    One. Done. We're happy with that.

  19. This post made me feel so much better about not having any desire to have more children! My one and only baby girl is about 10 mos. old now and I am just now feeling like I am a normal human being again. I was told that I would never be able to carry a baby…I injured my spine in the USMC and I suffer from chronic loss of spinal fluid and my brain swells and sags due to the fluid loss. I'm sure some of you mommas have experienced the headache associated with CSF leak after getting an epidural… that is the state of pain I live with everyday but it cannot be fixed. So, needless to say, the pregnancy was hard enough as it was…but at 21 weeks I started having 5 + seizures a day and was diagnosed with high blood pressure. Despite the fact that my vision was blurred and I had gained 70lbs in 3 weeks in my THIRD trimester, I still wasn't diagnosed with Eclampsia…in fact, I wasn't diagnosed with it until 10 minutes before my emergency c-section… 5ft 1inch at 207lbs (at 20 weeks I was only 140 lbs) and extremely high blood pressure finally convinced them. My baby's heart stopped as they prepped me for the c-section so I went under general anesthesia thinking my child wouldn't make it.
    She made it…she is the most amazing little thing in my world…but I am good with just her.

  20. Oh, thank god for this article! This and the comments are priceless, I am glad I am not alone. This is my first pregnancy (9 weeks) and I am already 'one and done'. I knew pregnancy would be uncomfortable, but I never expected this level of nausea (24/7) and weakness. I've not vomited that much but I've been so nauseous that I've struggled to leave my house these last 4 weeks, or eat anything apart from toast. Why did I not expect it? Well, because generally people romaticise pregnancy. All my friends had rave reviews about it. Why didn't anyone tell me it's crap? I wish someone had.

    But, thanks for this post! I already told my husband – this is the only pregnancy I am going to go through. Now I know I am not the only person thinking that.

  21. A worse interaction I seem to have is "are you guys done having kids or do you think you will have more soon?" at family functions asked by distant or non-relatives. As if I want to discuss when I plan on having intercourse again. Its a private question I think and it really makes me upset especially since it is coupled with our history of secondary infertility issues.

    I do get the "are you pregnant" question a great deal and I always have to run to a mirror and see what fashion faux pas I have made to make someone think I look pregnant enough to ask….

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