My last baby is 18 months old. The day he was born started a countdown to the end. His every first is my every last. It is killing me. I am struggling with how to say goodbye to this portion of my life. It is the part of my life that I have lived my life to have. All of my life I have thought “One day I'll grow up, get married, and have babies.” There was never anything after that. Who am I if I'm not having babies?
Sunday morning I was washing Jay's hair. He looked up at me, hair full of suds, eyelashes gathered and dripping with water, eyes bright with whatever puts the light in baby eyes. I pushed the hair from his forehead up to join the rest of his hair and he looked right at me. Time froze. He seemed to be every baby from my first to the last. The scent of baby shampoo The big trusting eyes. The same straight brown hair. I remembered his sister. How unsure I was of what to do with a baby in the bath, but my heart was so full reveling in my new life that I thought it could burst. His oldest brother came to me when I needed him most---a devoted son to love and take care of during a time in my life where I needed to focus on something wonderful while my world swirled threateningly around me. His closest brother came after years of heavenward pleading and his first year was filled with constant prayers and tears of gratitude. And back to Jay. This last baby. This gift to me from God Himself. A perfect package of a baby who eats and sleeps and plays and loves. If ever there was a grand finale, it is him. He blinked and I realized that these baths are now numbered. What 11 years ago seemed to be a blissful and endless number of baby baths ahead of me has now proved to be finite. It's almost over.
That thought overwhelmed me. I was sobbing before I even knew I was crying. How to let go? I sat on the floor and cried---my baby blissfully unaware by my side playing with his belly button and bath toys. These moments! These precious moments with my precious babies. The joy has been in every step of the journey.
I knew he was my last. He's the last for so many reasons. I'm getting old. We have three others. I've lost too many pregnancies to dare try again---I need to save what is left of my sanity. The others are too old, so old that if we have more Claire's entire childhood will be encumbered with naps and the nausea of morning sickness. Most of all, Jay is enough. I held on to every second since the moment I saw his heartbeat on ultrasound. I never wished away a night or a feeding or a day. I kissed him twice every time that I kissed him once. I looked back over my shoulder as I left the room every night and every nap. I held him tight and whispered “my baby, my baby, my baby” wishing for those moments to etch within my soul, never to be forgotten. And yet the sands of time dropped even faster, slick within my palms as I clenched at them.
We went to lunch with Taylor's grandma yesterday. She is 92. Together we admired Jay, his beautiful baby body, and his little voice that I am certain is the sweetest baby voice that has ever been. “Are you just always sad that they grew up? Do you always just want more babies? Even now?” I asked of her while we were seated. She nodded. With tears in her eyes she looked away and told me of the day when her daughter got married and moved her things from the family home to begin her new life. “I looked out that window and thought I couldn't make it through the day! How could I bear it? All of those clothes, all...just gone.” Even while we had this conversation there was chaos next to me, my three-year-old sat next to us taking a bite out of every roll in every basket. I had to take a giant knife from his hand and straighten his chair a dozen times so he wouldn't fall. But still these thoughts and tender emotions hung heavy in the air. And although 60 years divide us, we sat without words and only with feelings for a while---because who can find words to speak of this beautiful, beautiful heartbreak.
With this on my mind today, we played play doh and popped popcorn on the stove and in song and watched trucks on youtube. And while I cleaned up after lunch this song, “Stand Still” by Hilary Weeks came over Pandora. It seems to fit how I'm feeling. And apparently how I'll be feeling for the next 60 years.