It’s been eight weeks since my husband and I welcomed our newest tiny baby into our family.
As she’s the fourth child, that’s enough time to emerge from the newborn fog and for life to settle into the new normal. It’s also enough time to reflect on the enormity of this finality for our family, for she is the last one.
In fact, she’s the bonus one. When envisioning our family, I always saw three kids. I wrapped my mind around three college tuitions; I thought about how we’d divide and conquer three simultaneous extracurricular activities, and we bought our house in part because it had a sharing room, to be occupied by the two siblings of the same gender. Three, we were going to have three.
That is, until we had a fourth. While I absolutely adore our newest little ball of baby, I can’t pretend that she wasn’t a bit of a surprise. So as soon as we found out about her, hubby went and got snipped so that we would never be surprised again. Meaning that we headed into her babyhood fully knowing that there would be no more. Which is why it surprises me that I’m having such a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that she is the last one.
The last one whose flutter kicks I’ll feel inside my belly. The last one whose milky sweetness I’ll breathe in, in the middle of the night. The last one who will be absolutely content to be carried around strapped to my chest in the Moby carrier. The last one we’ll ever get to see develop from a squishy helpless baby meatloaf into a full-fledged person.
Our oldest is young enough that there are many firsts still waiting for us. We have yet to send a child to high school or on a first date. First kisses and first breakups are still (hopefully far) in our future.
College, marriage and grandchildren seem so distant I can’t even think about them yet. But this is also the end of firsts.
The last first smile. The last first words. The last first steps.
This day had to come eventually; we can’t keep having babies endlessly. But I always imagined that when we got here, I’d look at my family and feel “done.” As it is, I could easily see one or two more smiles there. If it were an option logistically, financially, and health-wise, I’d keep having babies forever. But alas, it is not, so this is it.
After this baby, we’ll retire our crib and high chair. Bottles, sippy cups and tummy time mats will get put away for good. She’ll be the last to ride in a stroller, the last to need a carseat, the last to head off to school.
She is taking us to the next stage. Our lives are going to change dramatically as this little one grows up.
There will be a time without diapers. There will be a time when every member of our household can put on their own shoes and get themselves into the car. There will be a time when everyone’s in school. And eventually, there will be a time when they won’t need us anymore.
My head knows this is the right decision for our family, but my heart isn’t quite on board yet. So here I am, in tears, mourning the end. Because although we are still at the beginning of her life, we are also at an end. For her firsts are our lasts, and the end of something so wonderful is sad.