This was our last first year.
A shift happens when you know you’re done having babies. Our youngest child, our baby girl, is about to turn one. And just like that, we are done with the baby years.
And as much as I’m looking forward to the next stages, my heart is already aching for what is now part of our family’s history. It’s a chapter closed; a messy, sweet, all-consuming and utterly exhausting chapter. And it came and went quicker than I thought.
All those precious firsts that come with bringing a new baby into the family, those are planted firmly behind us now.
Those magic first moments in the hospital, with a sticky newborn pressed against your chest; your body exhausted, broken down, and so in love for the first time with this new person. Nothing is surreal like meeting your baby for the first time.
Those first hours and days after you have a baby, where time stands still in that room, and there is nothing but you and this new piece of your heart that is both a great mystery and that you’ve somehow known all along.
That car ride home for the first time – every bump in the road causing your arm to instinctively reach out to steady the carseat, a feeling of protectiveness coursing through you that you scarcely knew existed before becoming a mother. That arm reach is your mama bear instinct coming forward, and it will only get stronger from here.
The first time you realize that you’re not the same person you were before. Not exactly, anyway. That first year opens you up to a whole new version of yourself. You’ve met two new people – the baby, and yourself as a mother. You’re not the person you were before, and you never quite will be again. And that’s ok. Motherhood does that to you.
That anticipation of bringing the final baby home to meet her big siblings, see her new house, find out what family it is she just joined. It’s surreal and it’s magic and it’s done, now. There will be many firsts ahead, but perhaps never again any so filled with anticipation as that.
That first night in the new nursery, knocking around in the dark, everything such a challenge even though it all looked so simple before. You hadn’t memorized the contours of the room without light yet, but you will soon enough.
Sneaking back into that same room in the middle of the night to make sure a tiny chest is moving up and down, up and down, up and down. You look and look again and even though that little chest is moving, your own breath has stopped. You hold it, the awe and love and gratitude and yes, fear, all washing over you at once.
The first time your baby looks straight at you, and its not that hazy “past you” gaze but a real, true, look. Your baby knows you, really knows you, and you feel it deep in your body.
The first year was full of nights that seemed so endless and mornings that came too soon and there was never, ever enough coffee to make it right. But oh to watch that baby grow.
In the first year it’s an uncomplicated love for that little baby. And while you know that you and your sweet child will undoubtedly clash over time, as parents and children have done forever – you can’t imagine it now, in this first year. It’s simple and pure and as true as anything will ever be in your whole life.
The last first year is behind us now. My final baby is hardly even a baby, anymore. She’s standing and crawling and eating at the table with us. She is pure joy and finding her own will. Her personality is coming out more and more every day.
The baby years? We wrote those chapters already, and they will live on in photos, and stories, and our own hazy half-memories of our earliest days as a family.
And I will miss them.
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