Something does happen to a mom, though, when she really believes that the baby she's holding will be her last. She holds him a little longer and a little closer. She worries that maybe she didn't enjoy her other children, especially the middle child, as much as she enjoys this one. She smells his head and nuzzles his neck more and tries to remember how the heads and necks of her other children smelled. She kisses and talks and smiles more than she remembers doing with the others. She struggles to recall how the other two looked at her when they were babies. Were their gazes as adoring? Did her heart skip a beat when they looked at her, too? Did the other babies take deep breaths and stare and smile and coo and wriggle as much as this baby? She tries to remember whether her other children's voices sounded as melodic and sweet in their infancy because, nowadays, their voices are full of whines and shrieks and an exhausting willfulness. And she knows without a doubt that she doesn't want to forgot these things ever and wishes there were a way to bottle that smell (minus the spit up and poop) and preserve forever the sweet sounds and loving gazes. She hopes these tender feelings make up for the fact that this child may not have as big a scrapbook as the others—the first child and the first girl.
Did I say "she"? I meant "I." And I should mention that all these thoughts occur within the same five minute as any one of the following:
- Ew. Ew. EWWW. Stop drooling on me already. (Owen is the lone dribblepuss of the family.)
- You won't die if I put you down for five seconds, you needy little monster.
- What the f---? You've only been asleep for a half hour. I haven't had time to miss you or even pee. (By the way, I'm not the only mom who utters four-letter words with their baby or child in mind or even at their babies. I know a lovely woman from my church who was sure her son's first word would start with F and end with K and another woman with a colicky baby who was affectionately referred to as that ... ahem, you get the idea.)
Maybe one day I will hold another baby—a new niece or nephew, a friend's baby, a grandbaby. Or maybe one of my own. I've always said that I don't want to have a 2 year old when I'm 40. To which my God, with his quirky sense of humor, will likely say, "Okay then. How about a newborn at 40?"