The following is written by our former Great Expectations columnist and regular contributor, Meagan Church.
Seven years ago, I was newly pregnant and, honestly, a bit freaked out. Matt and I had been married for seven years and we knew we wanted kids. I just wasn’t sure I wanted to be a mom. You see, I liked my life as it was. I liked my job, I liked my freedom, I liked being in control, plus I wasn’t much of a baby person. I knew having kids would change things and I wasn’t sure I wanted to make those changes.
Fast-forward seven years. Last week we celebrated Adelyn’s first birthday. Addie, our third (and last) baby, is technically not a baby anymore. And that makes me sad. For the past few weeks, I’ve found myself paying more attention to the last moments of Addie’s baby stage. I have been taking more joy in her giggles, rocking her for a few extra minutes and just taking the time to recognize that these moments won’t last forever, and much to my surprise, that saddens me a bit.
With our first two, I often found myself wishing away the early months and years. What got me through the first few months of our colicky first child was setting mini-goals. Okay, if we make it to six weeks, things will get better. Okay, now we just need to make it to three months. Okay, now six months…. The adjustment to motherhood was a tough one and my high-needs baby didn’t make it any easier for me.
When baby number two came along, I was still worn out from the first one. I once again spent most of that first year hoping to speed through it, so we could get back to “normal” life. Then we had our last baby. Suddenly I began to enjoy the baby stage and not wish it away quite so quickly.
Don’t get me wrong; there have been moments along the way that I’ve wanted to speed through. For instance, I very clearly remember that in those last moments of labor before she was born, the mantra that got me through it was, “Just push her out and you will never have to go through labor again. It will all be over. Just push. Just push.” There were also fussy breastfeeding sessions that made me long for toddlerhood when she would be weaned.
Yet overall, I have been enjoying her babyhood more than with the first two. I’m sure some of that has to do with the fact that I have a few years of experience under my belt. But I think a greater part is that I realize this stage of life we are in is about to change and we will never return to it. With every milestone Addie reaches (signing, crawling, talking, walking), I can’t help but think these are our last firsts. This is the last time one of our kids will reach this milestone for the first time…just when I felt like I was actually getting the hang of things.
I know they must grow up and that things will continue to change. But for just a few minutes longer, I want to hold on to my baby and rock her and sing to her and kiss her full cheeks. Seven years ago, I had no idea that I’d ever want those things so strongly. Seven years ago, I was afraid of how motherhood would change me. Yet, seven years later, I realize how blessed I am to get to experience it, and to grow and learn right alongside my kids. Who knew these last firsts would happen so quickly?