I thought I would be really sad to type out those two words: eight months. The meaning of them being that we are well into the first year of life and rapidly leaving behind the blissful newborn days I adore so much. But as I double check my heart after laying them out there, there are no negative feelings that remain.
Maybe that’s because these past three months have felt more newborn than I care to admit (a la sleep probs), or maybe because I feel a quickening excitement for the stage that is coming (the one that doesn’t involve so much round-the-clock high maintenance), or maybe it’s due to what I would like to hope is the most true: we are finally catching our breath after the whirlwind of 2016 and I am starting to really enjoy life again.
With this being my third round of infancy, I am in a very contented position. I am familiar with the fleeting spell of this season, so I am able to enjoy the nuances of each month and the milestones each one brings. I am also keen to note that because it moves by so rapidly, these dog days (or should I say nights) won’t matter much in a month or two, just an anecdote in a few years. “Sibby was, by far, my worst sleeper”. This third trial has brought me the most peace in that regard.
As if it needed any more encouragement, Sibby’s sleep habits have quickly closed any door that cautiously remained cracked for future siblings. She’s our baby, and it seems she wants it to remain that way. I love our family like this. I love having three girls. I love this stage they are in now and I am trying to catch it all with my eyes and press it closely to my heart to not miss a sacred moment. But every once in a while, I get knocked down by a wave of grief as I think about this season of life closing. A birth announcement, a wet baby pressed to a mother’s chest, a silky-haired ragdoll sleeping in his bassinet.
Those moments seize up my heart for a little bit and cause me to second guess myself, “are you sure. Are you really sure?”
It’s funny because I have no desire to be pregnant again, no desire to labor again, no desire to go through the newborn stages again (thanks to a certain 8 month old), no desire to lose the baby weight again. It’s just for those few blessed moments in the hospital and a few fears (that the girls will lack without a third sibling, that our family will always feel someone’s missing, that we will regret our decision) that occasionally bring me back to a place of doubt.
But then the moment passes and I realize it is just part of the dance of grief. There is no way to remove it at once, like an offensive mole with a scalpel, it comes out in bits and pieces. A little here, a little there. Consuming you just for a second before releasing you back to reality.
I’ve been a student of grief this past year and I am still trying to understand it because I seek to do it well. I didn’t realize, at first, that these moments were a part of a grief process, but once I was able to name it as that, it gave me a lot more power over them. Now, instead of letting overwhelming feelings cause me to doubt myself, I lean into them a little, press back on the bruise, and put myself a little farther down the line towards healing each time.
It’s okay to feel sad. It’s good to feel sad. Experience is better than ignorance.
These past seven years, the ones that began with this indelible moment, have been wonderful, and I only look back on them with the ruddiest of rose colored glasses. My body swelled with life, and I swelled with pride. I loved the attention it brought me. I loved having several close girlfriends cross that threshold with me. Not lacking in confidence, I knew I was going to be the best mom ever. And I spent days reveling in a daydream of what motherhood was going to look like.
Well that was a wishful thinking at its best, but, I would say, save for about 5% of agony, I’ve enjoyed these baby-rocking, toddler-raising, preschool-answering, elementary-hugging years. I move ahead with a little trepidation that the next seven years won’t somehow be as good, or as sweet, or that I won’t relish them as much because they will somehow be mundane.
But that would mean I’ve lived my seven best years already, and I refuse to let that be,