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.