Menu

You were a surprise baby, and I’m so glad you’re here

I cannot imagine our lives without you.

You were a surprise baby, and I’m so glad you’re here

Watching you sleep is one of my greatest joys. Not just because of those sweet cheeks that beg me to kiss and compel me to nibble…but also because I can finally take a moment to think about how amazing it is to be your mama, to get to raise you, and to (hopefully) help form you into a good human.


And, at this moment, because—oh thank heavens you are finally asleep!—I can take a breath, gather my thoughts, catch a glimpse of what a beautiful blessing you are, however unexpected you were.

That’s right—you were a surprise. A bit of a shock, really! But without a doubt a joyful, beautiful, happy surprise, nonetheless.

I had been down this road of pregnancy twice before, the signs so eagerly anticipated with my first planned babies were much more subtle with this last stealth one.

Being so busy with your two older siblings—their school schedules, sport schedules, social schedules—along with maintaining all things domestic as the COO of our home, left me focused more on what was going on around me, rather than within me.

At first I didn’t notice a missed period because I was so preoccupied with the managing of other small people’s lives. I also didn’t note my fatigue, being beholden to everyone else’s.

Plus, I was a super busy mama-of-two—of course I was going to be tired! Hungry or not hungry, who could tell when on-the-go I was mostly subsisting on air and a constant stream of coffee and leftover chicken nuggets.

It wasn’t until I was getting out of the shower one day that small changes reflected in the steamy mirror jogged me into wondering, huh… what day of the month is it?

Then, oh my gosh, what day of the month is it?!

Then, okay, let’s count that again, followed by a mad dash to the drugstore for what would certainly allay any fears I was having about what day of the month it was.

A mixture of excitement and terror accompanied my flip sense of denial as I waited quite impatiently for evidence of you.

So many feelings were threatening to override my resolve to keep calm and carry on, no matter the results. I thought...

I'm not prepared for this.

I haven’t planned for how to manage anything new in my life, let alone a new baby.

I’m not ready to give over my body again for nine months of occupation, let alone many more months of nursing.

I'm not done processing my last birth.

I'm not sure I can do this.

I just fit back into my old jeans.

While I waited for those two pink lines to appear after the longest two minutes ever, I wondered—how will I tell my husband that, in addition to working full time while in grad school, he is now going to have even less sleep and one more mouth to feed?

"Surprise!" is what I said.

"Surprise what?" is what he replied.

I looked at him. He looked at me. "Are you kidding?" he said, with that very small grin and the look from the corner of his eye that told me this was indeed a surprise, but one so very welcome that nothing else mattered. We would manage.

So, yes, my last child, you are a surprise. And a blessing, and a joy, and I cannot imagine our lives without you.

But, in that moment, I was also scared. This wasn’t going to be easy. But then, most things worthwhile aren’t. Right then I decided that it didn’t matter that I was not prepared for this unplanned pregnancy. Being a mama of two had already taught me a few things.

It is so easy to get caught up in all of our shoulds that we forget about the woulds and coulds.

So I forgot those shoulds and looked at what this mama could do to manage…

I could ask for help.

I could restructure my life to accommodate the new priorities that would arrive with you.

I could rely on my faith for strength.

I could lean on my husband, my family, my friends.

I could be gentle with myself in all things.

I could give up perfection.

I could embrace this part of my journey.

And in doing so, I could help all of us learn to accept the unexpected and rejoice in you.

Then I would know that anything hard is just temporary, and time is forever, and that we need to savor every small moment for its fleeting beauty, with the knowledge of how fast it really does go. We had to remember that this is what it is really about, this family and our love at the center of it all.

Today, I am so glad you are here because…

…with these sleepless nights, I get to prioritize what is really important during the day so we can all nap.

…with these endless feedings, I get to slow down, watch and listen more to all that goes on around us.

…with this constant need for care, I get to involve and teach your older brother and sister the altruism of putting others first.

…with your demanding little schedule, we can stay out of the car, turn down invitations and just be with each other.

… you give us the opportunity to teach our older two about how to be gentle, kind, patient, helpful and important role models.

…and with your tiny little hands, feet, toes, ears and nose, you give us all the chance to adore you.

You are the last, the baby, the surprise, and you are the ingredient that binds all of us together now in a way that could never have happened without you.

I would have not chosen this timing, but I also would never change one bit of you being here.

Sure, the days can be overwhelming, but night always comes, and the quiet that tiptoes in with it is the time I get to remember the big picture:

We are healthy

We are happy

We are complete.

So those nights when you finally! sleep, after long days of less time, more mess, more work and more attention—I look at the beautiful chaos that is my life and know that it is perfect, and that life is full of surprises. And you are the sweetest surprise, yet.

You might also like:

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less
News