This is my last Baby on Board blog. It’s hard to believe that an entire year has passed since I started writing it. I’m no longer pregnant (phew) and it’s time to pass the torch to a new newly pregnant woman.
This blog has given me the platform and the impetus to record this time with my family, and I’m so thankful to have a chronicle of this pregnancy, of Jack’s birth, and of our family of five in its infancy. And for this last blog, that’s all I can really think about: this time with my family. So, with my apologies for being more than a little self-indulgent, here is what I want to remember most about this time, this pregnancy, these children, and my first years as a mother:
This pregnancy: I’m so glad we went for it. I can’t imagine our lives without our beautiful baby Jack. It wasn’t an easy road, but it was so worth it to get this boy. He has made our lives more rich and full than I ever could have imagined. I’m so happy that I was able to have the labor and delivery that I had hoped for. Again, it’s with the benefit of hindsight and from the safe vantage point of holding a perfectly healthy baby in my arms that I can look back over it all and say: “I’m so glad I stuck to my guns.” I’m so glad that I listened to my own instincts, even in the face of some serious pressure to do otherwise. I thank my lucky stars every day that we had the outcome we did, and I’m well aware of the fact that it could have easily gone another way. Still, after all these months, I can’t believe that we went through so much worry and stress, and that I had to fight so hard to have the kind of birth I wanted, even at a birth center. Something’s not right with that picture, and I hope that for the sake of all the newly pregnant women out there, that that will change someday. Above all, I'm so thankful that I was able to have such a beautiful delivery, and such a beautiful baby boy.
Baby Jack: Every day, Will and I find ourselves looking at our baby, and then at each other, and saying things like: “He is something else,” or “There’s just something about this kid.” I can’t say what it is yet, but there’s truly something special about him: His sweet, mellow disposition and his obvious patience with his rambunctious big sibs and harried parents have been a godsend. Seriously, I’m not sure what I would have done during our difficult first few months together had he not been such a good-natured baby. I can’t get enough of his radiant smile and his jiggly belly laugh; or the way, when I’m nursing him, he lifts his fingers to my mouth so I can kiss them; how warm and soft and snuggly he feels in my arms; the way, when I lay him in his crib, he flings his body to the side, covers his face with a soft blankie, and practically sighs himself to sleep. For us, Jack will always be “the baby.” And because he’s our last, I am holding on to every moment. But, I can hardly wait to know the man that he’s going to become.
Big Brother Charlie: He is the spitting image of Will, which melts my heart. The sweet, sunny disposition he had as a baby seems to be his ingrained personality. He is at once our smart, self-reliant, industrious big boy, and a snuggly, cuddly little mama’s boy (which of course, I just hate). He runs and leaps and bounds through life—there’s never a dull moment when Charlie’s around. It’s like his tiny little body can barely contain his giant spirit, his booming voice, his generous nature, and his thoughtful ideas. Sometimes, we ask him: “Charlie, where’d you come from?!” and he answers, without a moment’s hesitation: “From Mommy’s belly.” Sometimes he retreats into his magical fantasy world and pops up every now and then to say thing like: “HEY! MOM! Speaking of lizards…” completely out of the blue and apropos of nothing, or “Mommy, why does wolling a boogie make it get smaller?” (unfortunately in context). He makes us laugh all day long. As his preschool teachers tell us, “He entertains us all day long with his stories! It’s so nice to have someone we can have a conversation with! He’s like a politician when we go outside, waving and talking, and saying ‘Hi’ to everyone on the street.” “Uh, oh,” I thought—“Do they mean this all in a good way?!” They assured me that they did, that he is doing so well in school, that he’s so smart, so social, so well-behaved (despite our terrible three issues at home), and that they really couldn’t even think of any constructive criticism for us, as hard as we pressed them to try. He is so much like his father. And if he grows up to be half the man that Will is, I will be ecstatic. I hope he never loses his sweet, sunny, outgoing nature and self-reliance, and I secretly hope that he will always be his mama’s boy. (My apologies, future spouse!)
Big Sister Julia(AKA Queen of the Jungle): Will and I were just commenting the other day about how a third of Julia’s childhood has already passed us by, but really, she has always been our little old soul, wise beyond her years. She is smart, sassy, mature and responsible, well-spoken and pretty much almost-6 going on 36. She says things like: "Mommy, can we double dip, since we're a family?" Her kindergarten teacher says things like: “She’s off-the-charts bright,” and “We wish we could clone her.” Julia is so content with her books and arts & crafts and drawing or writing in her journal, when she’s not being pestered by her rambunctious brother. She is stubborn as a mule, a total drama queen (she gets that from her father) and very confident in herself. I hope she always will be. Thank god I have her in my life. I hope she will always want to be in mine.
I have to say these things about my kids, not to boast, but out of sheer, utter, dumbfounded relief! Because we mothers are hard on ourselves, and hard on each other. Like so many moms out there, I second guess myself, I beat myself up, I question everything I do, I lay guilt-trips on myself, and I feel like I am floundering half of the time. I don’t want to screw this up—it’s too important. So, when I hear this kind of glowing praise for my children, from completely unbiased third parties, I practically melt into a puddle of relief. And for one, brief, fleeting moment, I’m able to relax and think: “OK. We’re doing just fine. Our babies are growing up to be happy, well-adjusted, grounded, kind, thoughtful people. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
To my own mother: Having these babies has made me really understand and appreciate all the years of hard work that you selflessly put into us. If I never said it before: Thank you.
To the Fit Pregnancy readers: My wish for all the expectant mamas out there is this: healthy babies, a supportive spouse/network around you, a little time for yourself every day, a good night’s sleep, and to know that at the end of the day—even on the days where it may not feel like it—you are doing the most important work there is.
And to my sweet William: It has been the honor and the privilege of a lifetime to be your partner in all of this. Thank you for being the husband and father of my dreams.
For me, becoming a mother has been the hardest, most challenging, most all-encompassing, most frustrating, infuriating, tedious, most fulfilling, most magical thing I have ever done. And when all is said and done, I can only hope that I can look back and be proud—to know in my heart of hearts that I was a good mother, a good wife, and that together, Will and I raised a beautiful family.