I've never been good with "lasts." The last cookie, the last day of vacation, the last time you see someone...
Now I'm dealing with a phenomenon all my friends tell me is normal, "the last baby." I've consigned my maternity clothes, given away the infant clothes and am planning a massive yard sale for the baby "stuff" in the springtime. So when someone said to me the other day: "It's your last baby then?" I should have answered enthusiastically, "yes!" But instead I was sad.
For the record, I've never considered myself a baby person. From the get-go I was not a natural at feeding, diapering or dressing a small human being. I was awkward, nervous and impatient. I wanted my first daughter to walk upright immediately and speak in full sentences so that I could finally get to know her as a person.
And there's family planning. My husband and I agreed that we wanted TWO children, that was it. Not a boy and a girl, but any combination of two children. We're older parents. As it is we'll be sending kids to college when we're getting ready to retire. We are busy, inflexible and exhausted with two, our car is small, so is our kitchen table. Plus my husband had a little operation to cap our family at this neat and tidy number.
But as I held my nine-month-old baby sleeping in my lap yesterday, watching her chest rise, her eyes flutter, feeling the warmth and weight of her frame curled around my stomach, I felt a sense of loss. I know what comes next, crawling, walking, talking... It made me sad to think in a few months this feeling of having a baby, the weight of her across my lap would be gone forever, replaced by a squirmy toddler who was ready to tackle the world.
I shared my longing with my husband, that unreasonable, illogical longing for another baby. He said: "Babies are cute, so are puppies, but don't forget puppies grow up to be dogs and dogs are a lot of work!" It was a point well-taken.
For now I have put the feeling on a shelf, deciding not to decide anything while I am face-to-face with an adorable baby who -- unlike her sister -- has never given me a moment of trouble. Odds are good we will remain a family of four, but I don't want anyone to tell me she's the "last baby." Accepting it is one thing, hearing it is another.