May 25, 2010

Baby Blues

My last baby is rapidly gaining on toddlerhood, and I am very unhappy about it.  Our fourth and (barring a direct call from on high) final child will not come home until she is already a toddler.  Sadly, someone else will be watching her learn to crawl, stand, and babble.  That means that Brave, our 11-month-old, will be the last thing that looks like this in our home until the grandkids start rolling in:
I can not express how hard this is for me to face.  It feels like just a few years ago I was calling home from summer camp, asking my mom if I could start shaving my legs.  Now I am more than likely finished...finished...with childbearing.  How is that possible?  Will I really never carry another pregnancy test into the bathroom with shaky hands, hoping like crazy that it will be positive?  When Brave nurses for the last time in the weeks to come (something I will cry over for days on end, I'm sure), will I never again hold a ravaged baby to my chest and feel sustainance being shared between mother and child?  Oh the ache in my heart at the thought of it.  The "ring of fire" will never again signal the end of labor and the beginning of a child's lifetime.  There will be no more circumcisions to salve, no more cradle cap to pick at, no more black umbilical cord stumps to pull off with the diaper and throw away with a sigh and a lament at how fast time goes by.  So many times I have thrown up in the toilet while holding an ultrasound picture for encouragement, wishing that I could just get through that time.  And now I'm through it, realizing what a sore mistake it is to wish time away.

I am told that this feeling is normal, and I would be having this struggle at the end of childbearing no matter how many children I have.  Apparently, I will always be a tinge jealous when my friends announce a pregnancy, or a birth.  I will always cry with real grief as I shove my face into old blue onesies, worn three times over and smelling faintly of spit up and Johnson's Baby Wash and Desitin.  I will turn them over and touch the yellow poop stains along the thigh openings, and the third snap that is missing, and the embroidered words, "Mommy's Little Star" across the lapel, and I will long, with a longing that is unfulfillable, to hold those three baby boys just one more time.

My friend, Darci, told me that her mother had two dreams last month that she was pregnant.  She is 60 years old.

I guess it never goes away.

So for now, I will get up from the computer and answer Bright's present call for his bottom to be wiped. Then in a moment, when Zion wakes up from his nap, I will smooth away his sweaty mop of hair and hold him until he is fully awake. Then, a moment after that, I will set him down and reach into the pack-n-play in the closet to retrieve my little Brave. I will pull him into my arms on the bed and nurse him briefly, oh so briefly, drinking in the scent of him, stroking his petal-soft skin, and then I will put him down on the floor with his brothers and watch him crawl away.