When we were home for Christmas last year (2011) and Rafa was two and a half months old, Marilyn, my sister’s oldest friend (by years not age) stopped by with clothes for Rafa. Her daughter, Mia, was soon to turn one and I benefitted Rafa benefitted from the mother-load of cute outfits, headbands, and onesies. Marilyn said something that I had heard before but in a way that I understood – if only for a moment before I went back to feeling like the overwhelmed new mom that I was.
She didn’t say to seize every moment, like I had too often heard from other mothers and couldn’t understand through my exhaustion. Because when you’re a new mom you can’t seize every moment, love every moment, hug & kiss every moment, cherish every moment. You can barely remember every moment. You can only try to get through every moment. Seizing the moment comes when you look back on the moment, after your kids have grown up and you wish you could rewind all the times you didn’t seize. See how that works?
So she didn’t say that. What she said was that with Mia, she is really present about taking in every moment because it will be the last time. That there’s something about knowing that this is the last time she will get to do this. So when Little Mia gets a cold Marilyn’s all Oh poor baby. Let me wipe those gross boogers from your face. When Mia is fussing about her teeth coming in, Marilyn is extra nurturing and mothering because she won’t have another baby that she will go through this with. This is it. The last time she will be raising a baby.
When Meeks and I became pregnant with this baby, Little Brother, first came the excitement of having another baby, of planting and growing our little family. When we found out that we were having Little B instead of Little G, we were excited to stay on the road of BabyLand but take a different scenic route. And then, as quickly as it came, some sad questions entered. What would we do with all the wee clothes that I had saved from Rafa? Who would wear her headbands? Who would I dress little bootie diaper covers?
I wasn’t sad that the next one was going to be a boy. I was sad that the era of my little girl was over. There’s a difference. I was sad at the finality of it. Would this be the last time I would have pink Converse baby sneakers? Would I never get to use another tutu as part of the ensemble? No more headbands, really?
I had organized and stored everything so neatly into bins separated by months for the next baby. I knew there would be a next one I just hadn’t realized I would have to let go of these clothes for the next one.
I realize now that my adverse reaction to boy clothes actually had to do less with liking them and more with losing the girl clothes.
Tomorrow I turn 33 weeks. And these weeks are just flying right past me. I am no longer growing sad that I can’t dress Little B in headbands (especially since I have recently been refighting the Headbow Battle with Rafa and I am proud to say that I am – at the moment – winning. I clip on, she pulls out. I immediately clip back on, she waits a few minutes and rips out. I clip. She tugs. Until eventually she grows tired or forgets. I win!).
The sadness is grander than the difference between pink and blue, girl and boy, clip-on headbows and clip-on ties. The sadness grows in the same Marilyn idea… that this might be it. This might be the last pregnancy, the last baby I grow in my belly.
With all of the pains and aches and amusing ideas of what I must look like at 3am when I rock back and forth in bed to gain enough momentum just to roll out of bed and get to the bathroom it hits me that this might be the last time that I sneeze and pee my pants and there is a sadness about that.
How many more TUMS will I chew to get rid of heartburn?
How many more back rubs will Meeks give me for pregnancy related back spasms?
How many more kicks will I feel on the inside of my belly?
How many more times will I feel a Little Anything moving and swimming and growing and becoming what it will become inside of me?
How many more?
And with those sad thoughts that this time is fleeting and moving on, whether I want it it or not, I think of how fast our time with Rafaella has already gone.
I wake up with her every morning and feed her her bottle. We sit on our rocking chair and for a few minutes she is peaceful and still in my arms… drinking her bottle. Drinking the Whole Bottle. But gone are the days when she would finish the bottle and let me hold her and entertain her with songs and whispers. Now, she finishes her bottle and recaps it before walking it out to the kitchen. Even farther gone are the days when she would finish the bottle and I would nestle her in my neck and listen for her to burp out that little breath of relief. When did that happen? When was the last day I nestled her close like that? I couldn’t tell you. I don’t know – because how would I have known? She never said:
Mom, this will be the last day you hold me after my morning bottle for a few moments of just you and me-ness, ok? From this day forward I will drink my bottle and then jump out of your arms and begin my day. No more snuggles, got it?
She didn’t warn me that that day was the last day. She didn’t discuss it with me. She just did it. As I suspect she will do the rest of her life. She will just grow up.
And while with pregnancy it is a little easier to foresee the last days, I still don’t know when the last kick, the last back spasm, the last pee my pants will be or if it will be my very last.
I guess that’s why I wanted to write it down today. So that decades from now when I can barely remember the year, let alone how bad my pelvic floor hurt, or that I went swimming this morning in hopes to turn this breached baby right side down, I can remember a little more that I loved being pregnant. I loved it so much that the thought of getting to do it for possibly only another 7 weeks made me incredibly sad.
With each phase and age will come different milestones and different happiness. I know. But for right now I want to remember and feel the very pregnant that I am.