Photo credit: Ana Tablas via Unsplash
As I slogged through my pregnancy with my third, and last, son, one phrase cheered me up over and over again: it’s the last time! The last time stressing my way to the end of the first trimester. The last time plodding around like an elephant, exerting a ridiculous amount of effort to pick up toys off the floor. The last time spending nine straight months sick to my stomach. The last time going through labor, waking up all night with a newborn, and healing my lady bits. The last time experiencing that post-birth massive hormone drop that generally inspires me to ugly cry about nothing in particular. Some of these lasts I’ve already blocked out. I shuddered the other day when I found an unused padsicle while cleaning out my closet, and again when I heard someone reference the major cramps they had as they nursed their brand new newborn. No thank you, I’m done!
I always wanted three children. Growing up as an only child, I longed for constant playmates, so I love seeing my little ones having fun together. I love a noisy, busy house, and getting to know each child as a unique person. But I do not love being pregnant or having a tiny newborn. I find the process exhausting and anxiety provoking. Highlights of this period for me have included discovering a full diaper of blood when my firstborn was a week old (dairy allergy), and an ambulance trip with my youngest at five weeks, an oxygen mask strapped over his tiny, perfect face (RSV and bronchiolitis). They both survived unscathed, but I certainly didn’t.
And now I’m finally done with it! My youngest is creeping closer to a year. He’s almost walking, popping out teeth, and babbling like he’s part of the conversation. But the further away I get from the newborn days, the more I find myself thinking about the heartbreaking variety of lasts.
This will be the last sleepy little one I snuggle and nurse to sleep. The last time baby smiles light up our home and baby giggles bounce off the walls. The last time I get to (over)buy baby clothes. The last beautiful chunky face with fat bow lips I’ll get to stare at as he sleeps. The last beautiful human I’ll get to know inside and out. And the last time my precious newborn will be placed on my chest moments after birth. The euphoria of finally meeting this tiny human who we waited so long for is probably the most intensely positive emotion I’ve felt in my life. It’s true that there are things I cannot wait to leave behind, but these are the parts of motherhood I’m not sure I can bear to never experience again.
There are new things, great big boy things, that I didn’t even know about and are absolutely amazing. Volunteering in my sons kindergarten class and having a little window into his daily world. Watching my children develop interests and hobbies, and jumping right on the bandwagon with them. Sharing a special relationship with each child based on their personality and getting to know them as a human being. The way their smile touches a special part of your heart you barely knew existed. But still, it’s hard to say goodbye forever to the baby days.
I take forever to make arrangements for a friend to pick up my bassinet. I watch Laura Clery’s video where she tells her husband she’s pregnant and I can’t believe that will never again be me. But then my son screams for an hour straight at midnight and I’m so relieved this is the end of the baby days. I wonder how I got through 2020 with a baby. And then I wonder how I ever could have gotten through it without him.
When I see someone announce a pregnancy, I immediately feel jealous of the exciting and heartwarming experience they are about to have. Two seconds later, I’m flooded with relief that I’m not the one who’ll be taking a newborn home from the hospital. And then I remember that never again will I sit with my tiny baby curled up asleep on my chest; and I’m back to square one.