I can’t believe I ever wavered. I mean, I can sort of believe it. Like on those exhausting miserable days when taking care of three little boys sucked every morsel of life out of me, I honestly believed I was done having kids. On those days I swore I was done having kids, and not in the “I swear to God we are done having kids,” but more like I SWORE, as in lots and lost of profanity. I had made the decision, I was in control, or at least I was under the assumption I was. And then my third son morphed into the absolute cutest three year old on the planet, and one day while looking at him giggling at the dinner table, I blurted out, “I think I want another baby.” My husband, the most agreeable man on the planet, and smart enough to know that making a baby involved a lot of fun for him, was instantly on board. I told him, “Let’s just go about our life, forget birth control, and if it’s meant to be, then it will happen.”
I was pregnant a week later. Awesome. Wanna meet him?
From the moment the stick displayed those two infamous blue lines, I felt different. It was the first time I’d found out I was pregnant without my husband standing there next to me finding out too. It was the first time I kept it a secret for a while, and didn’t rush to tell family and friends. It would be the last time I would have the chance to carry that little secret, and I wanted to preserve it. It was the beginning of one life and the end of another one, my reproductive one. And it felt like a pregnancy swan song, one fabulous list of all the firsts of all the lasts. It was the beginning of the AWESOMENESS that is your LAST KID.
1. You never have to be pregnant again.
I hate being pregnant. I know, I know, ‘hate’ is a strong word. Do you know of a stronger one? Because I would use it. Hey, bravo to all you glowing “I wasn’t nauseous one little bit!” mamas. With my last pregnancy, even after heaving all day every day for months and months, a tiny part of me smiled, because unless I decide to knock back 17 tequila shots and then inhale some bad shrimp, I will never, ever, have to feel that disgusting again. EVER! For the most part, the last pregnancy is enjoyable simply because you are not obsessing or worrying about every little twinge or symptom like the first time. And because you have other kids to take care of, life did not revolve around your belly. You never know how many weeks preggo you are, the days of studying “what to expect” books were long gone. You knew what to expect, how it was going to feel, and you knew in the end, as crappy as you felt, the prize would be worth it. And the bonfire I set ablaze to burn all of my ugly panel pants? It was awesome. I even made s’mores.
I will admit, those three days lying in bed with the TV remote and having people bring you hot food is pretty awesome, but so is never having to come back. When my last son was delivered I was beaming ear to ear, not because of this perfect little bundle I was given, but because it would be the last time I would have to endure a delivery and hospital stay. The last spinal headache, the last pelvic exam from three different strangers in 30 minutes, the last perky nurse bouncing in at 5 a.m. to tell me to wake up my sleeping baby to feed him. (Listen little miss neonatal nurse of the month, please leave. Now. And take this baby with you. Bring him back to me when I am discharged.) Never again will I be using words like mucus plug, mastitis, and meconium in the same sentence. No more underwear made from gauze, jello lunches, or maxi pads the size of canoes. I felt like the marshall of my own postnatal parade when I was wheeled out of their the last time, waving to the staff and practically wanting to shout out “Sayonara sonogram givin’ SUCKAS!” Awesome.
3. You come to realize how easy newborns really are, and sort of enjoy it.
I was a total mess when I brought home my first baby. Pretty much a weeping, frightened, hesitant, neurotic, hysterical basket case. I wrote down every single feeding, minutes on the breast, which side, examined and counted every diaper, carried that little guy around like he was the queen’s last Faberge egg. Every single second of it felt painfully difficult, and I was trapped at home (going anywhere with him was out of the question.) It was all just too hard to do. But baby #4? Like riding a bicycle, blindfolded, with one hand tied behind my back. Here was a child that didn’t MOVE or TALK. Yes please! I documented zero, just went with my gut feeling, intuition, and years of experience on everything and go figure, it all turned out alright. Needless worry was replaced by a new appreciation for a newborn. The postpartum depression I had suffered with my baby #3 was managed because I was unashamed to ask for help. I was older, wiser and just plain knew better. Date nights actually happened, and my husband and I couldn’t wait for the babysitter to come and watch the other three, just so we could have a ‘quiet’ night out with a sleeping baby. We could eat dinner out in peace, go to a movie, or just drive around in silence. We enjoyed every second because we were smart enough to know eventually age two was coming. Awesome.
Everyone told me baby #2 would just “go with the flow.” Nope. #3? Nope, he didn’t either. But #4? That baby was at Disney World when he was 5 days old. And he fell asleep in the stroller. And in the car. And in the sling. Pretty much narcoleptic and loving it. Unlike his predecessors, who slept only in their crib, the whole crib, and nothing but the crib so help me sleep Gods, this baby was pushed, rode, hauled, carried, schlepped, and taken anywhere and everywhere from day one. Because our already busy life with three kids had to actually go on, he had no choice but to just go with it. And he did. And he slept everywhere. Awesome.
5. Baby proofing? Preventing boo-boos? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
My house was locked down tighter than Ft. Knox with the first few babies. Great thing is, there seemed to always be another kid with or watching this last baby, so obsessing about his safety was not as much of an issue. If he got into the cleaning supplies, his three older siblings were usually the ones yelling “No!” And when I saw him get into unsafe situations, I didn’t turn into a crazy person and pad the walls. Baby proofing the house for this kid was definitely taken down a notch. At this point in bringing up boys, I knew bumps and bruises were going to happen (and they would always happen the night before picture day) so purple eggs on foreheads became the norm. Hey, boys throw hard objects at each other and lo and behold, everyone is still ok. Freedom from locked down toilet lids felt incredible. Pulling off the burner covers, ripping out the outlet covers, and having a coffee table that I could see the corners of was about as liberating as yanking off my bra every night. Awesome.
6. The least sick and allergic kid
My super sterilized, antibacterial gel covered, bleach washed, dirt and dust free home that existed with my first baby is a long lost memory now. I think the immune systems of all last babies should be studied by the CDC, because from day one this child has shrugged off almost every sniffle and tummy bug that hit our house. I embraced the dust and dirt, gave him peanut butter at six months of age (hey, looks like that decision was a good one) had his older brothers come home from school and stick their filthy fingers in his eyes, and generally let go of notions that germs were the enemy. Go ahead, drink out of that strange can of coke you found at the little league park. Don’t worry about washing your hands first. It’s all good. Exposed to all of it, and very early, this kid has an iron stomach and a nose that just doesn’t run. Awesome.
7. You may actually have gotten the patience you prayed to have with the first three kids
Maybe it’s just the pupil burning exhaustion talking and I’m simply too tired to engage 100%, or maybe it’s the fact I have turned into one of those ‘been there done that’ moms, but I am way better with the last kid at letting things go. Lots of things. More and more of the worries, neuroses, and child issues that used to plague me now roll off my shoulder. Battles are picked selectively, not jumped into at the first instant. I used to obsess over so much more, and stay up late worrying about things. (I know the problem will be there tomorrow, sleep trumps everything now.) Dare I say it took four sons to turn me into a more patient mother? Has the fourth kid, among all the other wonderful gifts he has given our family, truly ended up giving me the gift of patience? Awesome. (For now at least, I know eventually he will be a teenager too.)
8. He completes the family
Sure he whines, cries, throws fits, has been the loudest of all my boys, has only ever wanted to do what all his older brothers do, has pushed my buttons, his brothers buttons, and basically turned the family upside down with his arrival. But the way we turned is for the better. There is no time I can remember him not being here, no time where this little soul has not been in all of our hearts, has not made our family better, more complete. He is our own Jerry Maguire. He’s only seven years old now, but he has honestly completed this crazy bunch. Whether it’s your second, your fourth, or your seventh child, you just know that last one is the total completion of your family. And that is one AWESOME feeling.