After we had our son, I sold everything baby-related as soon as he grew out of it. We had two healthy kids that took us to the end of our patience and energy every day. It was enough, we were complete. After all, most vehicles are made for families of four. Hotels are made for families of four. Most restaurant tables: made for four. I came from a family of four. Two kids, two adults, divide and conquer. We. Are. Done.
Until a little voice crept in... what if, just maybe, we aren't?
Wouldn't big family gatherings be fun when we are older? What if we have enough resources to love and provide for one more? What if I can't bear the thought of not growing another baby inside me, feeling the kicks and squirms? What if my heart aches to nurse a baby again and inhale her sweet smell? What if?
Enter bonus Baby Number 3, and the subsequent (very efficient and permanent) snip. We are ACTUALLY done. But I am still finding the same "what if?" feelings creeping in. Repeat after me: "You cannot collect babies like kittens; they don't stay kittens forever!" There will be no Baby Number 4, of that I am confident. But knowing that doesn't always stop the ache.
I am pained with anxiety. This is my last baby, and I am leaving her.
This is my last baby. The last one. So while everyone marvels in and anticipates all her firsts, I wince at the thought of all my lasts. I parent her differently — a little more slowly, a little more lax. I let her be little. I hold her a little longer when she falls asleep — sleep training totally out the window. I miss her a little more when she's gone.
(Which, let's be serious, is never, since she still nurses three times a night... such a gem to let me enjoy her so regularly! But if she DID sleep, maybe, probably, I would start to miss her!)
But in those night-time moments, when it is just me and her and the rest of the world sleeps, I give us grace. I know these moments are fleeting, and time really does go SO FAST.
She won't need me like this forever. Not even for long. Our moments like these are numbered and that makes me SO SAD. For months I craved some independence, some autonomy, only to now feel so guilty that I wished these moments away. Now,two weeks before I go back to work (early, as she will only be 10 months old), I am pained with anxiety. This is my last baby, and I am leaving her.
This is my last maternity leave. This is my last extended time off with my kids. I want to cram memories and experiences into the days, hours, and seconds... but also simultaneously stop time, cuddle up and soak them in. Every day I spend teaching this last baby how to crawl, to stand and to eat something other than my milk so she can survive and thrive without me — and in my head begging her to stay little, stay still and never stop needing me.
She is our bonus baby, the icing on the cake, an extra lifetime of firsts.
I want ALL THE THINGS. I want to be supermom, fit mom, career mom, business woman, wife and my own person. But as we both move toward independence, I can't help but feel pulled back over and over. I am so scared. I rushed this. I'm not ready. She is not ready. WE ARE BOTH OK and WE WILL ALL BE FINE.
My stomach is in a knot, I want to cry. Why can't I have my cake and eat it, too? My husband said to me, "Just think, we almost didn't get any of these moments at all." That made me feel oddly better. She is our bonus baby, the icing on the cake, an extra lifetime of firsts. She is my last, last baby, and I am going to hold on a little tighter and a little longer this time, celebrating her firsts and desperately mourning my lasts.
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