“I was still in the stirrups, getting stitched up, talking to my OB. This was my third labor and my third and final baby. She commented, ‘You are doing amazingly well,’ and asked, ‘How are you feeling?’ I remember my immediate response, ‘I never have to do this again!’ She laughed and told me she had never gotten that answer before. I told her she had no idea how much I had been counting down to this milestone. The last birth and pregnancy of our last baby. I lost count of how many pep talks I gave to myself to get through the 40 weeks. I always struggled being pregnant. I don’t do well with not being able to do it all or constantly not feeling like myself. It was always something I had to work to get through. ‘I never have to do this again.’ Last bouts of nausea. Last days of extreme exhaustion. Last days of elastic waistbands. The list grew as I went into my postpartum days. With my first two children, I struggled with postpartum depression. This third time I knew what to expect post-delivery, and my husband and I had a plan to work to get through it. This time around I was able to pace myself a bit more and bond with our baby sooner and easier. Still, I celebrated the last times. Last time recovering from constipation and stitches. Last slew of feeding every 2 hours. Last bleeding nipples. Once I get my body back, it will be mine again and all mine! I rejoiced. Until one day.
I drove to Annapolis and stopped at the light that faced the hospital. I realized, I will never be there again, giving birth to a miracle. No more ultrasounds to see and hear that first heartbeat. The excitement with my husband and mother to find out the gender. I will never again push my body to the ultimate limit and give my all to meet another love of my life. I’m beyond blessed. I’ve carried and delivered 3 healthy babies. There were of course bumps in the road, each pregnancy had me hospitalized at some point, but overall, I was fortunate and am so grateful for my health and that of my babies.
So now, I look at my 2-month-old. My last 2-month-old. What I would give to do this again. The first look when they put her in my arms, my husband’s face when he sees one of our angels, the kiss he gives me to tell me how great of a job I just did. The first smile, the first time she sucked on my breast. Those first days that blend together but somehow bonded my husband and me and always makes us fall in love again. The first time my other children meet the newest addition and we feel our hearts and family grow. That feeling that I am right where I am supposed to be.
We know our family is complete. I had a ‘geriatric uterus’ this pregnancy, being 35. There was increased monitoring and I had increased fluid and baby girl had a heart issue that luckily resolved itself. Luckily, neither proved serious, and I carried her full term but, I know that risks increase from here on out. Additionally, I’m tired and these kids are expensive! This year, daycare is more a month than our mortgage. Trying to achieve some sort of balance with each additional child gets more challenging, especially as they get older and more active. The crazy, surprising thing is, this still doesn’t stop me from wondering, what if I had to do this again?
So I catch myself soaking in the moments a little more with baby number 3. I have so much more patience with her cries. I catch myself just looking into her eyes and listening deeply to her baby sounds. I breathe in her smell and stare at her fingers and toes. I put off the work and the dishes and the laundry. I work to keep our calendar as open as possible so we can enjoy time together as a family. I appreciate that this time is short and her firsts are, in a way, my lasts. I never have to do this again, but I’m so grateful for the 3 times I have.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Stephanie K. in Maryland. A version of this story was originally shared on her blog. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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