It’s so different with my last baby

It wasn't like this with my older kids.

my last baby

Nearly every night, sometime between 9 and 10 pm, my 2-year-old daughter cries out for me. It's usually a very brief reunion; she likes the reassurance that I'm home, the warmth of one more snuggle before she falls into a deeper sleep. But if I'm honest, I crave this time just as much as she does.

It wasn't like this with my older kids. They are loved just as fiercely, and when they needed me as babies and toddlers, I tried to be there without hesitation—even in my most exhausted moments. But I didn't savor the feeling of being needed; I didn't need to be needed the way I do with our youngest.

It's different this time because I know we're done having kids.

I could have been open to "just one more," but my husband felt our family of five was perfect as-is, and deep down I knew he was probably right. As he rightly noted, even our three-kid scenario presents its share of challenges when it comes to planes, trains, automobiles and just about any other form of transportation. And the daily likelihood of a public meltdown, bodily injury or very loud and embarrassing observation about a stranger's appearance rises exponentially with each additional child. (All solid points.)

Parenting the "last baby" is a journey filled with lots of joy and also, lots of tiny heartbreaks. The joy comes in part from appreciating how temporary the highs and lows of the early years are, and being able to relax into those rhythms in a way you didn't as a first-time mom. I laugh more, cry in frustration less and pay more attention to sweet little details than I did when it felt like a fire hose was aimed at my face 24-hours a day.

The heartbreak also comes from knowing how temporary it all is—how quickly my wobbly, babbling child will be confidently walking away from me and toward relationships and experiences I have no part in.

I love seeing my older kids discover themselves and start to establish their place in the world, but there is something so precious and so fleeting about the window of time when "the world" for a child is basically just his or her family unit. I notice that more now.

Deciding to be finished having kids is a privilege not all moms have. Some parents wish very badly to expand their family but are unable to because of fertility struggles or financial concerns or a whole gamut of reasons. I feel grateful my husband and I have been in a position to choose what we felt was right for our family.

And I do think we made the choice that's right for us. I think I've been a better mom to all three of my kids because I've finally learned to slow down and savor the day-to-day aspects of parenting that are somehow both unremarkable and miraculous. It's still flying by too quickly, of course, but I now have a little more experience and perspective since becoming a first-time mom, which has given me the generous gift of clarity. I no longer obsess anxiously about what would (or might) happen next. Instead, I find I am able to notice and appreciate what's right in front of me.

My 2-year-old isn't going to remember these late-night mother-daughter moments in her rocking chair, but I know I will. I'll remember them for the rest of my life, with a mix of gratitude that they happened and sorrow that they're gone.

I think, as a mom, that means I did this part right.

They say necessity is the mother of invention—and nothing makes you more inventive than motherhood.

Sometimes that means fashioning a diaper out of paper towels and your older child's underpants (true story). Sometimes that means creating an innovative and life-changing weighted baby sleep sack and totally crushing it on Shark Tank. Tara Williams is the latter.

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Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

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This viral post about the 4th trimester is exactly what new mamas need right now

"We are alone. Together. You are surrounded all the other mothers who are navigating this tender time in isolation. You are held by all of us who have walked the path before you and who know how much you must be hurting. You are wrapped in the warm embrace of mama earth, as she too settles into this time of slowness and healing."

Artist and teacher Catie Atkinson at Spirit y Sol recently shared a beautiful drawing of a new mom crying on a couch—leaking breasts, newborn baby, pile of laundry and what we can only assume is cold coffee, included. Everything about the image is so real and raw to me—from the soft stomach to the nursing bra and the juxtaposition of the happy wallpaper to the palpable vulnerability of the mother—I can almost feel the couch underneath me. I can feel the exhaustion deep in this woman's bones.

My heart feels the ache of loneliness right alongside hers. Because I remember. I remember the confusion and uncertainty and love and messy beauty of the fourth trimester so well. After all, it's etched in our minds and bodies forever.

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