A sweet first birthday, a sentimental last “first” …
Throughout my journey to motherhood, I have had my share of health challenges. When I had my first, I was just happy my body was able to bring her to me safely post uterine surgery. I had always thought we would have more kids, but as time went on and I reflected on my first experience, I felt a lot more unsure of my ability to have another. I can never put my finger on the exact moment, but at some point, we had decided that she was perfect, and we were ok if she was it for us.
It turns out the pandemic had other plans for us, and here comes the much joked about “COVID baby.” Yes, we were one of those couples who had a surprise quarantine addition. Like my first pregnancy, this one wasn’t easy, and also came with the added stress of the current state of our world and changes to my normal routine. We had decided that this was DEFINITELY our last one this time. Following a challenging c-section, my doctor asked me before even leaving the operating room, “are you planning on having more kids?” I instinctively answered “no,” and she said, “that’s probably a good idea.” That conversation weighed heavily on me and sealed the finality of our decision that this would be my last baby.
With my first daughter, we celebrated every milestone as it was the first of everything. It was so new and exciting we were so happy to be parents. But since it took us a number of years to really decide that she would be an only child, we never really thought about her milestones as the only ones. I had kind of skipped over the mourning phase of never being in that stage again. Looking back now, I feel sad that through this year of pregnancy and having a new baby, I blinked, and she went from a toddler to a young lady.
Now I have been given a surprise second chance to experience all the first milestones again. I am not a very emotional person, but I find myself having a much harder time letting go of these new “firsts” knowing that they are now “lasts” at the same time— last “first” word, last “first” steps, last “first” birthday. I’ve been holding her a little tighter, a little longer, and wishing she was just a little smaller for a little bit longer.
In this phase that I’ve largely considered as “mourning,” I have now come to realize that really I am in the golden age. Both of my daughters are experiencing their “firsts,” and I have the privilege of having a front-row seat. Through their age difference, my oldest daughter has truly blossomed into the best big sister I could have asked for, and she almost didn’t get a chance at that role. I am getting my second chance at “firsts,” and she is getting her chance at being the big sister she was always meant to be. I’m giving myself a little grace to be a little sad for a little while longer. But for now, happy first birthday to my last baby. Our family is now complete.