The experience of motherhood is rarely talked about without a discussion of the losses it brings. First, there’s the loss of your body as you’re told repeatedly that it’ll never be the same, and entire sonnets are written for breasts after nursing ends. You’re told of the sleep you’ll lose, the connection with your spouse that’ll suffer, and the freedom you once enjoyed being at an end. The friendships you’ll be forced to neglect, the ability to multi-task at work that you’ll lose, and the sense of self that will diminish. With my first baby, I felt weird being happy in the sea of loss. I wasn’t sure how to enter the conversation sometimes with the good stuff. After having a miserable pregnancy, the baby part of it felt amazing, it was tough, but unlike being pregnant, I had an amazing little human that I was falling in love with and experiencing so many new things like his smile.
With baby number 2 I had an easier pregnancy, although it was still tough and not something I’d be eager to do ever again. Part of that was having Nono to distract me and also thinking about the fact that soon we’d be a family four, so our family of three was something to soak up and treasure before that period was over. I made a lot of plans for the end of pregnancy around getting special time with Nono before I entered months of needing to make our new baby my priority. I told my Mom she couldn’t come over Mardi Gras because I wanted those two weeks to just be the three of us to get the house ready and spend some time as our little family of 3 before things changed. I worked over MLK and President’s Day so I could take Mardi Gras and Lundi Gras as holidays and have a 4 day weekend with Nono to enjoy parades and each other. I planned all of this weeks and weeks before my due date to make sure it would work out because I was confident baby girl would be coming earlier than planned.
We had our first mardi gras weekend and it was a little bit of a mixed bag with Nono telling us “time to go home?” before either parade was over, but we still had fun as he enjoyed for the first time the New Orleans kid experience of waving at floats and getting footballs and light up swords and all sorts of random kid treasures. He sat on my diminishing lap for the bands as I covered his ears and we discussed how the drums are loud. He saw the horses prance by and the dance groups sparkle in their variety of styles and themes. I most enjoyed the time after the parades when he would repeatedly bring up the things he saw and experienced in his few words over and over again “Bands?”, “Drums loud?”, “Cover ears?” “See parades?”.
I carefully planned out the parades we’d try to go to for the big weekend, knowing that he wasn’t going to be able to sit through multiple ones and that we needed to plan around nap time as well (he’s pretty militant about his nap schedule). I finished up my work on Friday and couldn’t wait for my four days off to relax a bit and all the Nono time I was going to get.
Then, of course, my water broke. It wasn’t anything dramatic and seemed pretty low key so after some googling and discussing with my doula, I was hopeful that this wasn’t it. It was going to mean I’d have to be diligent about taking it even easier the next few days, but it was still going to be ok. I wasn’t having contractions so I took a bath in an effort to calm things down and hoped this would pass.
It didn’t. 13.5 hours later and baby Pom made her entrance into the world and A. and I cried with happiness when I held her the first time and marveled at her full head of hair.
But the first hour of actual labor I cried for a different reason. I cried over losing my four days with Nono, knowing that it’ll be quite a while until we’ll have the opportunity to spend time like I had planned together. I was deeply sad to lose that time I’d planned for and looked forward to so easily, right on the cusp of having it. Losing those “lasts” without being able to soak them in was and is hard.
But now we have the firsts. Pom is just beginning so many firsts and having experienced them with Nono I look forward to them in a new way and appreciate the little windows of her newborn behavior while they’re here. And now Nono is a big brother for the first time. I love each day as he warms up to the idea that she is here and part of his life now as he talks about his little sister and being a big brother. He points out her MANY sleeping items (my single biggest lesson from Nono was having baby sleep options is key) and talks about how she was in my tummy before. He smiles at her more and more and wants to look at her and talk about her more and more as he wraps his head around this new world where we are a family of four.
I still grieve a bit for those lasts that will never be, but just like it is and has been with each baby, the firsts more than make up for the lasts and I find myself enjoying where we are so much more than looking back at where we’ve been.