Shortly after our oldest son turned six months old, my partner and I had concluded that we were done having children. Just a few days later, we found out that we were pregnant again, and though I didn't feel like we were ready, we delivered our second son the very next winter. After he was born, we said we were done again, for real this time, and we are. While I'm sure in our decision and have taken measure to make sure we really are done having children, I'm still coming to terms with the things you learn about your baby when you decide you're done having kids that can, well, make that decision so very bittersweet.
I've never been what I would describe as a "baby person." Not until I had my own, of course. Even after becoming a mother to the most perfect baby I've ever seen, a part of me felt like I was done having children; like I was only meant to have one child. When we found out we were unexpectedly expecting our second son when our first was barely seven months old, I was terrified, but a small, buried part of me was excited to get a second chance to relive the magic that was bringing our first son into the world.
Thanks to hyperemesis gravidarum, I hated pregnancy the first time around, but assumed it would be different the second. It wasn't. I hated pregnancy then, too. After months of miserable morning sickness, I succumbed to the idea that my second pregnancy would be just like the first, and settled into the inevitably that it was my lot in life to be miserably pregnant. Turns out, I was wrong again. My second pregnancy wasn't exactly like my first, just like my second son isn't exactly like my first. When baby number two was born, my partner and I decided that we were done having our own biological children, and ever since then I've realized how very different it feels to be the mother of a baby this time around.
Though I'm confident in my decision to get a permanent form of birth control, there's a little void that's been left over, constantly reminding me that there's no going back. There's not going to be another newborn of my own in my arms ever again, and though most of me is OK with that, that little void is causing me to take note of just how quickly my baby is growing up. As a result I've learned a lot of things, including the following, about this baby and, well, now I just want time to slow the eff down now.
They Are Literally The Sweetest Little Thing You've Ever Seen In Your Entire Life
My second son was not an easy baby. He spent 24 hours in the NICU, was never able to breastfeed, and has quite a temper on him for someone so small in stature. He didn't make his first few months of life (or any of the months since then, to be honest) easy on his dad and I, but we both find ourselves quickly forgetting his baby rage because oh my god, he's literally the sweetest, squishiest, most perfect little thing we've ever seen.
They Have This Uncanny Ability To Cause Your Ovaries Pain
I remember after our second son was born, he began crying while a couple of his nurses were in the room. "Ugh, it makes my ovaries hurt," they joked to one another. To which I responded, "Nope, not me. I'm happy he's here, but I'm also happy to be done." They laughed and told me to just wait; one day I would see a newborn in the store and I'd melt into a puddle of goop because it would make me want to have another. I thought that they were insane. Turns out, they weren't.
Every time I'm around my best friends newborn or when my youngest son is wearing his little baby pajamas and sleeping in his bed, I turn to goop. Dammit.
They Don't Stay Small For As Long As They're Supposed To
Our youngest son will be two in four months, and that completely blows my mind. It seems like just yesterday I was peeing on a stick in a Walmart bathroom on my lunch break, trying to prove to my coworkers that I wasn't pregnant. It's been over two years since that day, and I still can't believe that they were right or that, you know, I have a second child who has taught himself how to pick a child lock and stacks toys up high enough to climb on top of the kitchen counter and is about to be two. How? When? Why? I feel like my baby was never really a baby.
They Need To Be Held Frequently. No, Really. Like All The Time.
We resorted to sleep training both of our boys, but have admittedly been easier on our second son when it comes to exactly how long he's left alone in his crib before he falls asleep. We both pick him up long before we would have picked our oldest son up, and we catch ourselves holding him on the couch long after he's fallen back asleep. We just want to soak it all in. I'd give anything to go back to my oldest son being a baby again, just for a few minutes. Until someone conquers time travel, though, that's not going to happen, so I soak in every single second of having a baby sleep on me while I still can, which isn't for much longer.
They Learn Something New Almost Every Day
My first son is an extremely smart kid, but his intellect is a recent development. He reached all of his milestones exactly when he was supposed to and he grew and learned accordingly, but recently he's become a miniature genius. It's probably because he's older, and able to absorb all that's going on around him now, but it's making me take a closer look at his "baby" brother's learning, too.
It's crazy how much he learns every single day and how much I'm noticing that, if I'm being honest, I probably missed the first time around. From lifting his head to rolling over to eating with a spoon to trying to repeat everything we say, his brain is on overdrive and I can't keep up.
They Seem To Get Bigger Almost Every Day, And Way Quicker Than What Would Be Considered "Normal"
He grows out of his clothes at lightning pace. The cute, little baby shoes I bought him when he was a newborn only fit him for a week or two, and he barely fits into button up pajamas or onesies, or anything else in the baby department for that matter. It breaks my freaking heart.
Their "Firsts" Are Also Your Lasts
This is a tough one for me. I was confident in my decision to stop having children of my own, but realizing that I'm never going to witness anymore first steps or first rolls or first words is really giving me the blues. I feel like, as parents, we sometimes can't wait for our babies to get more independent because it comes with more rest for us, but coming to terms with the fact that I'm never going to see one of my children take their first steps or say their first "I love you" again is kind of killing me.
They Grow Up A Lot Faster Than Your Other Children
Like I said earlier, I still can't believe that I even have a second child, much less that he's almost two. He's grown up at lightning pace. With him, my maternity leave seemed to be over before it ever really started, and his first birthday came and went before I even realized that an entire year had passed since we brought him into the world.
They Get Away With More Than Your Other Kids, Too
I'm not proud of this one, but it's true. My youngest son gets away with more than my oldest. I do my best to treat them equally, but in my mind, little brother is still a little baby (he's not), and he needs more patience and understanding than his big brother. The problem is that he now knows he gets away with more, which is yet another painful indication that he's not a baby anymore.
They Will Always Be Your Baby, Regardless
I finally understand why people are called "the baby of the family" even into their 60's or 70's. It doesn't matter how old he is, my youngest son will always be my baby. I get it now. I also hate it.
I hate that he's growing up so fast and that he needs me less and less every day. I know that I complain about how exhausted I am and how busy our family is, and I've been known to want to quit being a mother from time-to-time when I became too overwhelmed but, deep down, I love this job. I love watching my boys grow up and learn and play. I love seeing them love on each other, and I love it when they crawl into my lap and ask me to read them a story. I love their little arms wrapped around my neck and their messy little kisses on my cheeks and their smelly little blankets that they insist on carrying everywhere. I love it. All of it.
I think that's why it's so hard to see my youngest son grow up. A part of me knows that the days of my children being little and needing me so much are almost over. Soon enough, they'll be slamming doors and breaking curfew and studying for midterms and there will be no hint of my happy, squishy babies left. I'm just not ready for that to happen. Not yet.