I remember being on holiday with my two older boys, when they were four and two, and watching the chubby younger brother toddle around after his brother. He could walk, talk, feed himself and was on the verge of giving up his nappies. In short life was about to become a whole lot easier. And I could feel my heart cracking inside my chest.
I couldn't bear the thought that my baby was growing up, that I would never again feel the soft as air warmth of a newborn held against me as he drank in warm milk and melted into sleep, that I would soon walk past Mothercare without a second glance, that parks would once again become alien flashes of green in my urban landscape rather than the essential lifeblood of a sunny day out. I would pore over catalogues of baby products and feel myself mourning over those tiny weaning pots, the miniscule babygros, even, most bizarrely, the breast pads and pumps.
I knew I had broodiness bad when I felt jealous watching my sister-in-law scrubbing out Avent bottles. If even the most hated of baby activities made me feel melancholy, I knew this wasn't just hormones speaking. I began a relentless campaign of attrition with my husband, who was more than happy to hang up his spurs after fathering two healthy boys. He came from a family of two kids and was content to have created his own family in its image.
He saw us as coming out of the woods, with the boys growing ever more independent, meaning that life could go back to semblance of normal. One would soon be in school, the other in full time nursery, my career was going great guns. Why, he queried, rock the boat?
Why indeed? Because I knew that I would regret for the rest of my life the baby that I had never had. That I would long until the day I died to have had one more bite at that particularly sweet cherry. That I needed to hold my third child in my arms, that I couldn't see my family as complete without him. Of course there was a big part of me that wanted him to be a her, but that wasn't the main motivation. I needed my baby to complete me, and in the end my husband saw that resistance was futile and gave in.
The rest, as they say, is history - or at least it is if you regularly read my blog - as I got more than I had bargained for and ended up with a bonus baby and a family of four. But I am grateful for this as it has cured my broodiness good and proper. At school last week I saw a friend's new baby. Where in the past I would have clamoured to hold her and wished she was mine, this time I looked at her, oohed and ahhed, and thanked my lucky stars she wasn't.
As soon as my youngest boys finish with any item it is given or thrown away instantly. I no longer want my attic cluttered with baby junk, I know there will be no more patters of tiny feet in this house and I am glad. Perhaps it took having twins to cure me of my baby addiction, or perhaps I would have been fine with my third baby. After all I never wanted a family with four children, but either way I am glad to feel happy that my back is turned on babies, but not nearly as glad as my husband is.