Do you remember?
I remember spending sleepless nights searching for natural ways to induce labor. I did this countless times – with each of my prior three pregnancies – as though I would discover something new. I read about herbal supplements, sex, walking, orange juice and spicy foods. I also spent many hours researching ways to naturally turn a breech baby as my third was breech and I wanted a VBAC delivery.
I don’t remember too much of anything else about my last weeks of these pregnancies.
I think I don’t remember because I always hoped I would have another chance at being pregnant. That I’d get to experience the incredible miracle of pregnancy and giving birth yet again. My husband and I both desired that we’d have more than one, two, or three children.
But this time is different.
This is my last pregnancy.
We made this decision early in this pregnancy. This will be my last. This delivery will be a scheduled, necessary cesarean (my OB doesn’t allow a woman to do a VBAC after two c-sections) and we will have my tubes tied at delivery.
While I spent the first few months of this pregnancy hoping to keep the baby, hoping that I wouldn’t miscarry or have other complications, I’m now spending my time savoring the last remaining days I may ever be pregnant.
Each kick and movement, each tumble in my tummy, each sciatic nerve pain, leg cramp and the way I cannot bend over to pick up anything…they are all noticed. The way my stomach grows more round with every day and how each evening my ankles are swollen. The Braxton Hicks and indigestion… These are all aspects I want to remember. I wish I could bottle this unique discomfort because I know I will long for it one day. As uncomfortable as it may be, it’s part of the gift of childbearing. Part of the blessing. Part of God’s plan.
And it’s a miracle.
I want to remember it because I know I will likely never feel this way again.
So how do I cherish it? How do you cherish something in an extra special way when you know that something is your last? When you want to make the final days count, ingrain them in your mind and heart?
How do I cherish it when I really am FULL of a baby whose head pushes against my ribs and my days are full of physical activity as I care for three other little people? I’m excited to become a mom of four, but I’m also trying to absorb my last weeks I am a mom of three.
I’ve rocked my two year old to sleep more these past couple of weeks than I have the entire past year. While I typically lay him in bed while he’s awake, I find myself holding and snuggling him, rocking him, longer. I watch his peaceful, chubby face as he sleeps in my arms and remember how he did this when he was a newborn after he filled his tummy with milk. I’m nostalgic at how these two years have come and gone and I know the next two will do the same.
I’m setting aside my phone or a book to actually watch a bedtime show with my older children, one on each side of me on the couch, when I don’t have much interest in watching TV. I do this because I want to be fully engaged in their world. I know I will have a serious distraction from them in a couple weeks. I don’t want to be distracted now.
I worry how things will balance. How am I going to care for four children? The thought intimidates and overwhelms me. It also excites me and gives me a HUGE reason to thank God. My world will become even more chaotic, messy, emotional, and patience-testing. I know I will often feel ill-equipped for the task. I will feel like I’m failing more times than I can count. I will take more photos than I can count (many will be out of focus and not frame-worthy).
I will miss out on showers, hair washing and any sense of quiet within my house. I will not be caught up on laundry for the next couple decades, my kitchen sink will seldom be empty and my garage will be an obstacle course of bikes, scooters, strollers, balls and Power Wheels.
I will ooze with wonder in watching a sick little child fall peacefully asleep in my arms, cry behind sunglasses as I send children off on their first days of school, wear out my Bible on sleepless nights as I desperately seek wisdom in raising these precious little beings and spend too much money on under eye crème trying to combat bags and wrinkles.
I will have a small hand to hold for many years and I will feel it growing in mine year by year. I will spend hours on the sidelines of sporting events, in the audience of recitals and plays, awards ceremonies and parent/teacher conferences. I will have interrupted phone conversations, lose touch with some friends and forge new friendships that will last only season.
In the years ahead, I will rock my children in their teenage years just as I did when they were infants. These will be nights that will leave a lump in my throat; nights when I well understand the sign I just saw on Pinterest: “Guns don’t kill people, Daddies of pretty daughters do.” Indeed.
I don’t know how to be a mom of four.
I didn’t know how to be a mom of one, two or three either. But it’s happening. And. I. Am. So. Thankful.
I don’t know if there’s a “right” way to savor these last couple weeks of pregnancy. These last couple weeks of being a mommy of three.
I don’t know if there’s a “wrong” way either.
Maybe that’s what this all comes down to. Motherhood shouldn’t be about guilt, comparison or regret. We all do it a little differently, don’t we? Different from our own moms, different from our best friends, neighbors, sisters, cousins, mother-in-law and co-workers.
But we are all trying our best.
We cannot judge our mothering solely on how our children behave today; we cannot gauge it by the mistakes they made yesterday or the decisions they will make tomorrow.
We can just try our best every day.
Savoring the day for what it is. Not worrying about what it may – or may not – bring tomorrow. We can be a safe haven for other moms who are also trying their best. We can make it clear we aren’t judging. We can share our experiences, but do so in a way that shows we are trying to empower and encourage other moms in their journeys.
Their journey isn’t ours.
I’m oh so, SO thankful for the baby girl growing, moving and kicking inside my belly as I type. I’m oh so, SO thankful for how she has and will continue to impact my life. And, I’m thankful for the opportunity God is giving me to watch how she will impact the worlds of so many more people in the years to come.
Life is a gift.
However it happens. For me, I’ve been blessed to grow some babies in my womb. For many of my friends, their children have grown in another woman’s womb. Either way, these children, these lives, are special.
Their moms are special!
As moms, we’ve all have a time when we’ve counted down the days till our child would be born or would enter our home. Times when we knew our lives were about to change forever. It’s a bittersweet, anticipatory, anxious, exciting, nerve-wracking time.
It’s something special to savor and remember. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. I just want to make sure I actually DO do it.
I’m going to try my best to live today moment by moment. Tossing aside worries of not remembering certain things or worries of not being prepared for tomorrow. Right now is pretty special. And I really, really want to live it.