So it seems as if a lot of people are having babies around us these days. This summer we had as good as conclusively come to the decision that we were done having kids — as “conclusive” as you can be without actually being willing and/or ready to make definitive birth control decisions. However, our friends at Faith Covenant in Winnipeg, Gavin and Liz, had their little boy on Halloween, and our good friends from Gateway who moved to Alberta, Steve and Lisa, are due in the next few weeks. Then there’s Jyl, Nicole, Jobina due in the new year (I’m probably forgetting some people in there) as well as a bunch of girls here in Otterburne.
And I keep having to remind myself that these baby-fever feelings I get are not from wanting “children”. They come from wanting to be cute and pregnant, wanting to give birth, and wanting to live out those exhausting, bleary-eyed, milk-overflowing early days of life with a newborn. But that is all.
I love the new phase we’re entering with the kids. We can take them places and have much less to worry about and much less gear to bring along. With the counselling degree, I can start thinking about working after Olivia is in kindergarten. Life feels good right now just the way it is.
And it could be because I’m nearing the end of the “terrible twos” with Olivia, and Luke is turning into a pretty well-behaved little (pre)schoolboy, but it makes me realize that all of that parenting that used to overwhelm me was completely liveable, kind of fun actually, and truly precious. (Just like all of those moms of older kids used to tell me.)
But still. When I think about bringing a new life into the world… there is just something so precious about that. And it doesn’t help that of all the phases of motherhood I love the pregnancy/birth/newborn stage with absolutely all my heart and soul and could live with a 36cm uterus and leaking nipples for the rest of my life, if I knew I would always stay at that stage. But alas… the uterus contracts back to normal size within a few days and the leaking nipples dry up.
I know a lot of fourth and final children that have come several years after the first three, whether they were “accidents” or not. Part of me thinks it would be wonderful to have one more baby right now because I know I would appreciate it all the more. The other (much bigger and much more reasonable) part of me is so very happy with the family we have right now and feels absolutely content and complete.
But then I look at the pictures of our friends and their newborns and think of how tired and euphoric they are, and I get just a tiny large bit jealous. But I have to tell myself that I’ve been there, so there’s no need to be jealous. All I have to do is go back and look at the pictures of when I was at that wonderful stage of life. And then I realize that I’ve had my moments. That they can’t go on forever. And that I most definitely look at those times through rose-coloured glasses, because it really is an exhausting time of life.
So, go back in time with me. Seven years ago this December 15th to the birth of Miss Madeline Jayne. I was just 23 years old. After 24 hours of labour, 3 hours of pushing, a post-birth trip to the operating room, having an extremely difficult time nursing, and being so swollen and puffy even my nose was big, all I remember was feeling almost absolutely “high” with how beautiful Madeline was. Even though her head was all bruised and puffy, I thought she was so beautiful. I was mesmerized. Looking back at her first few weeks of life, things were really quite horrible. But I had nothing to compare it to, so I was just a sore, happy mommy, looking down at this sweet little face.
Fast forward to March 11, 2005. Luke flew out into this world before the doctor even arrived. That time around I was “high” on the fact that I had just expelled a 9lb 9oz person into the world in just two pushes! I was amazed at how much better I felt physically and how everything post-partum was a thousand times easier. (Madeline was dedicated when she was two weeks old and on the video you see me hobble up there with my sore bottom. When Luke was two weeks old we went for a 1.5 hour-long hike in the snow at Christopher Lake!) I think with second babies you worry so much about handling twice as much work as before and how your oldest child is going to adjust that you don’t get as much time to just enjoy the little baby. But I remember loving the moments that were just between me and Luke.
And then there was Olivia. She came out in a most perfect way on a most perfect day in late April 2007, two days after my 28th birthday. I just remember how little she was (even though she was a typical size: 7lb 8oz), how perfect her little face was, and how quiet and content she was. It was like a dream. We were in and out of the hospital in 24 hours. And while the baby part was easy-peasy, I was also at home alone with all three kids for 95% of Olivia’s first week, took two weeks off to focus on Olivia, and after that did the rest of the packing for our move two weeks after that. Still, for as full as my hands and my days were, I did all I could to enjoy her tiny baby-ness as much as I could.
Now that it’s more than likely all said and done with me and babies, I kind of wish I could do it all over again. Or maybe I wish that I lived in one of those cultures where the mom doesn’t get out of her bed for the first forty days. I would love that. I think it would make you feel so much more in the moment, like you had one focus. That’s the thing. Maybe I like the pregnancy/birth/newborn stage because you are physically forced to have one focus. And I’ve always liked knowing that I’m doing what “I need to be doing”. And, of course, there is the great wonder and hope that comes from seeing a little, innocent life come into this world. There’s something so pure and hopeful in looking at a new life…
So, yes, I get a bit of the baby fever every time I see a friend’s pregnant belly or hear a birth story or see a picture of a newborn.
I must remind myself that when I put my kids to bed every night at 7:30pm, that six nights out of seven, I don’t see them for the next twelve hours. And, that my friends, also fills me with great hope and wonder!