I watch her sleep, lying next to me on the couch, her bare feet propped up on my thigh. She sleeps with her hands clenched, her long eyelashes pressed gently against her slightly pink cheeks.
I wonder what she’s dreaming about.
There’s something different about raising your last baby.
To know that you’ll never again hold your few-day old baby and smell that sweet, unmistakable new baby smell. You’ll never again coax that first smile from your baby, staring up at you wide-eyed with wonder and trust. You’ll never again experience all the wonderful firsts of that first year of life.
I didn’t realize how fast it all would go. As I held my first baby over 10 years ago, I remember wishing she’d grow up so we could get some sleep at night. Oh how I wish I hadn’t wished those days and nights away.
This baby-phase has been my life for so long now, I almost don’t know what to do with myself as we move away from it. We’ll be full on toddler soon. Then they will all be in school. Then they will all be adults. Just that fast.
So I take more time now. I slow down. When she’s hungry, I put away what I’m working on and I sit and nurse her. When she cries and needs attention, I stop what I’m doing and give her whatever she needs.
Your last baby makes you think. Makes you slow down. Makes you treasure everything. Makes you be present.
This in turn makes me more present with my older kids. Because I suddenly realize how fast they are growing up.
So here we sit, in the afternoon on a busy Friday, and I’m watching her sleep. Hoping that she doesn’t grow up too fast, and that I can enjoy these moments for as long as possible.