Last night, we went to the tenth anniversary bash of some old friends. One of the other guests had her baby in tow, a classic Gerber baby but with no hair and no teeth. She was all drooling smiles and wide eyes and baby perfection.
I rubbed her warm, silken little head and played peekaboo, and then I watched as she turned the full force of her attention to my husband. He smiled and wiggled his fingers and did all the things that come so naturally to the guys who have been there, done that, and this sweet little baby just ate it up.
It was abso-freaking-lutely adorable.
And as I watched, I felt this feeling of absolute certainty begin to creep over me. The longer I observed, the more positive I became.
I never, ever want to have another baby.
And it was such an incredible feeling! I probed around in that emotion for a bit, searching for any lingering yearnings, any biological tugs. But nope. It was a glorious mix of warmth and relief and certainty and gratitude.
Because here we are, with a nine, seven, five and two year old. Our infant years are behind us, and instead of feeling deflated or wistful, I’m so excited about where we are, and where we’re going.
Our kids were wonderful babies. The first year with each of them was incredible and humbling and exhausting. I have memories – some picture perfect, some slightly nightmarish – that I’ll never lose, they’re just so ingrained somewhere deep and permanent.
But I don’t want to do those baby years over again. And it’s a wonderful feeling to be content about something like that.
There’s been a recent rash of pregnancy announcements around here, and when it comes up in conversation, there’s always at least one women in the group who gets all misty eyed and says, “I wish we’d had another,” or “I’d love another baby.”
And then someone else usually looks at me and laughs, because my expression must totally give me away. That, or they know my back story.
I’m a planner, you see, and my plan was to have three kids, spaced about two years apart. We would be a good-sized family that way, not too big and not too small. And, due in no small part to dumb luck, that’s exactly what happened.
When our youngest was around a year and half, and we were still delirious from 18 months of little to no sleep, we talked about having a fourth. Because why not? We were in over our heads anyway. What was one more?
But I had horrendous varicose veins in one leg during that third pregnancy – like, horror movie/fright show level – and my doctor pragmatically told me it would be even worse if I got myself knocked up again, and we decided that, yeah, our cup runneth over, let’s just call it now.
A few months later, the vasectomy appointment had been delayed – again (but that’s a different post entirely) – and then the pill failed and guess what?
And sometimes, you don’t even realize something terribly important is missing in your life until she’s handed to you, a perfect, squalling little ball of indignation with incredible eyes and the most beautifully shaped head.
So we tipped over into big-family territory, and four kids is a lot of kids, there’s no doubt about it. But we have so much fun together, and it’s only getting better.
I’ve never wished for my kids to be babies again, even when I’m marveling at how they no longer fit into my lap or wondering how on earth they’ve outgrown these freaking shoes already or watching them plow through food like they haven’t eaten for days.
It goes so fast – it really does. The baby stage, the toddler stage, preschool, kindergarten, grade school – every stage has its own grace and beauty and mess and tears. And I love it all.
I try to step back from the chaos now and then, to stop and really look at them. I want to memorize the way they are now, because they’re already changing. That’s when I do feel the tiniest bit wistful. And it’s not because I want to pause things, right here, right now, but I wouldn’t mind if everything slowed down, even just a little.
So I’ll enjoy the pregnancy announcements, and the chances I get to hold friends’ babies. And while I’m sincere in my congratulations and I’ll never turn down the chance to breathe in that delicious baby smell and feel that warm weight in my arms, I’m secretly thrilled that this baby isn’t mine.
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