So how do I let go of this nagging feeling inside? I share his concerns, though I'm more prone to say, "Let the chips fall where they may," that we can deal with the stress, the money, even a child with a health problem.
I'm not really satisfied at work and have little else in my life that fulfills me personally; it's my role as a mommy that seems to define me now, and I love it. So maybe that's why I can't shake this feeling that another child would make me more complete. How long is it OK to mourn the children we won't have?
Answer: There's nothing wrong with feeling as if parenthood is your calling, but you're verging on peril when it becomes the way you define yourself. Your kids will grow up and move on. As your kids get older, you'll need to revise your mom role to occupy an increasingly smaller place in their lives, for their sakes.
I urge you to consider other ways to find fulfillment. Everyone at some point in life feels a bit, well, unmoored, unsure of the point of it all, alarmed that work and dishes are all there is. Having a child depend on you so fully does have a way of becoming a purpose, since there's always another need to be met, but it's just temporary - and it's about them, not you.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org.