‘Fourth And Final’ Feels Right For My Family, But I’m Still Very Sad
As the mother of four amazing, healthy children, you'd think it would be easy for me to say that I am perfectly done with having children. Surely a mother like me has no right to mourn the end of my childbearing years. I should bow gracefully and pass the torch to the 20 year olds with big dreams and thin wallets.
I am holding my fourth baby, my precious little boy, with a smile that lights all his face and a temperament that matches my own. I swear I can feel my heart contract at the thought of his "groin". The last time he sleeps in the dark, or the last time he clings to my leg and softly begs to pick him up with his beautiful hazel eyes. The opposite is the case.
I am all too aware of how quickly time flies.
With your first child, you are eagerly awaiting the “first”. The first smile, the first laugh or the first steps. They gently encourage growth and glow with pride as your child blooms before your eyes. For some, there may even be a little bit of relief in the independence that their baby is beginning to insist on.
At that point, I'd give only one more day to snuggle up to the lovely 7-pound baby that I first saw ten months ago.
There is something so powerful about carrying a child. The ability to bring a new person into the world is one of the most amazing experiences a person can have. I never thought I would feel such tremendous, overwhelming sadness when I saw a pregnant woman walking through the grocery store.
I mourn a process that has changed my whole life and whose sole purpose has been for the past nine years.
My life went from thirsty Thursdays to 2 a.m. Instead of rushing to the gym after work, I rush home to pick up my babies and cook them dinner. Instead of spending hours searching my closet for the perfect Friday night outfit, I rush to the store to pick up the latest trolls for the family movie night.
There are crucial moments in our lives that completely change direction.
Massimiliano Finzi / Getty
I realize that I'll never again wait those painfully long nine months to see if my baby has brown or blue eyes, to see if all of these digestive disorders really lead to a head full of beautiful brown hair - it's hard , you all.
You would think I could count my blessings and sigh a long breath of relief that after 38 weeks I will never have to fit into painfully tight t-shirts or wear those awful fishnet panties again. Instead, I feel washed up. Old.
Instead of being asked if my baby is getting enough milk or how long I want to breastfeed, I eat a little and force myself not to give advice to my little brother who has just had his first baby.
Strangely, I wasn't one of those women who slipped through pregnancy with ease. For the most part, I didn't like being pregnant. When you factor in sciatica, terrible hormonal changes, and endless bouts of morning sickness, it's pretty amazing that I had more than one child to start with.
Often when you have children for the first time, they tell you how quickly time goes by and how you can enjoy each moment. You nod your head obligingly and roll your bloodshot eyes. How can someone sleep for two hours at a time?
How did the roles shift so completely? When did I go from being a young new mom to being a seasoned veteran with scars to prove it? Next year three of my four children will be in elementary school. My oldest will be in third grade.
Instead of partying for a good job, I sneak into the kitchen after I sleep the baby and drown my sorrows in a bag of chocolate chip cookies. While only the sound of the bag rustles as I reach for number 25, I stare at the huge pile of clothes that no longer fit my baby. Memories of the little person he'll never be again.
There are so many women out there who have difficulty bearing or conceiving a child. Surely I have no right to mourn an empty body after giving life to four people. Law?
Life is fun. It keeps moving, changing, whether we are ready or not. Our children are a little older every day. We go through the movements and often miss the "bars" entirely without realizing it.
If I could offer any advice it would be to stop. Stop worrying about your messy house and piles of laundry. Stop thinking about the milestones your child has not yet cleared. Hang up the phone, snuggle up to the baby, and talk to your first grader. We don't know how quickly our children change. Her interests seem to shift overnight from barbies and baby dolls to makeup and jewelry.
Try to find quiet moments in the chaos. See your children for who they are in this moment. They may not be the same version the next time you stop long enough to see them.
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