I was so grateful for all the great and comforting comments I got on that post. One of the many I've thought of again and again was Giselle's: she pointed out what her mother had pointed out to her (and what her grandmother pointed out to her mother): that there will always be a Last Baby, no matter how many you have.
This helped me separate out "sadness over no more babies" from "sadness over no sixth baby." In my Sad List, many items are sixth-child specific, but many others are things I'd be just as sad about after a sixth baby, or after a seventh, or after an eighth. And as we math geniuses know, if something is present on both sides of an equation, you can strike it out. If something is the same whether we DO or DON'T have another child, then it is...well, irrelevant, in a sense. Irrelevant, at least, to the decision of whether or not to have another child.
I choose not to apply this math when I think of things that make me feel better: even if they'd be just as comforting after a sixth baby as after a fifth, I'll take them now.
1. No more pregnancy nausea. It's like having the stomach flu for three months. I'm not sorry to kiss it goodbye, and in fact I'm not going to kiss it.
2. No more OB appointments. It's a 35-minute drive, a 20-minute wait, a 5-minute "wham, bam, measure you ma'am," and then another 35-minute drive---and the babysitting arrangements get more challenging each time.
3. I can get rid of clothes as Henry/Elizabeth outgrow them. Those clothes take up a LOT of space in the basement.
4. Our city is doing a fundraiser, the kind where you can have whatever you want engraved on a brick that then is used in a public walkway. I wanted to get all our names on it, but it seemed sad to do that if we might later have another child whose name wouldn't be on the brick. Now I can go ahead and order the brick. (Shut up. I am TRYING here.)
5. I don't have to worry anymore about miscarriage, Down Syndrome, toxoplasmosis, Fifth Disease, placental abruption, uterine rupture, or any of the other things I worry about during pregnancy.
6. I can see the caboose: as we pass through each of the less-pleasant stages with Henry (the mobile-but-brainless early toddler stage, the potty-training stage), I can wave goodbye to them.
7. I can move on to the next stage of life. I may be sorry to leave this one, but that doesn't mean I don't also look forward to the next one. I can start thinking about what job I might get after the kids are in school, and how nice it will be to have that second income for braces and glasses and sports equipment and college and all the other expenses of older children. I can start thinking about what interesting projects I might divert my Baby Energy to. I can start thinking, as some of you mentioned, about grandchildren. (OMG.)
8. I can better appreciate the children I already have: if I'm not looking ahead to the next baby, I have more attention to focus on the babies there already are.
9. I don't have to worry that if I complain to Paul or act overwhelmed, he'll use it as evidence in the court of whether or not to have more children. If the household dips briefly into chaos/squalor, as it so often does, I don't have to panic that Paul is RIGHT THIS SECOND deciding "That's IT! NO MORE!"
10. Paul can talk more freely about how cute the children are or how happy he is to have them, without worrying I might use it as evidence in the court of whether or not to have more children.
11. I can take medicines and supplements and vodkas and so forth, without thinking about how someone else's body will be affected.
12. I can buy myself treats and little gifties, and I can buy cute little baby outfits for my soon-due niece, justifying the purchases as bandages and ointment for my sad heart.