My baby turned 5 on Tuesday, and I am delighted, and I am sad. With Ruby, I looked forward to every new stage, excited to watch her become more a kid and less a baby. With Georgia, I also look forward to every new stage … but with the bittersweet awareness that each stage she leaves behind is the last time for me. I’m not having any more babies.
“I don’t have anywhere to put them!” I joke when the kids ask me why I’m not having any more – and that’s as true as anything. I don’t have anywhere to put them. I also don’t have the energy to raise more kids or the money to raise them with all the things I’d like them to have. (Yes, I know that sounds selfish and materialistic – and yes, I know there are parents who scrimp and save to have like 12 children, and that’s completely noble and fantastic. It’s just not the right choice for me.) I also have high-risk pregnancies, which will only be more complicated now that I am over 35, and I am not emotionally equipped to go through that again.
I have two wonderful daughters and a terrific stepson, and I’m done.
But yeah, it’s still sad to sort through the overgrown clothes and realize that I’m not going to have another kid to put into the pink-checked overalls that I loved so much. Or that I’ll never need another stroller or baby swing or womb sounds teddy bear or cloth diaper or gliding rocker for nursing.
It’s easy to fall into melancholy about it, but the truth is, I’m actually pretty excited about having a 5-year-old. And while I might miss the sweet baby smell, here are five things I won’t miss at all:
- Late-night feedings. There was a time when I truly believed I’d never sleep again. I recently looked at a picture of me from Georgia’s first birthday, and I looked exhausted. That was around the time when she would wake up and want to play every single day from 3:30 to 6. Then at 6, she would promptly fall asleep for a “morning nap” right as I had to get up for work. Now she goes to bed around 9:30 and sleeps until I wake her up. It’s the best.
- Diapers. “Sometimes I’m sad I’ll never have another baby,” I told my friend Amy, who also has two daughters and whose uterus is also closed for further business. “But mostly I’m really psyched to not ever again have to teach another human how to use the toilet.” We high-fived.
- Being someone’s sole source of nutrition. Georgia wouldn’t take a bottle, so for several months, I had to plan my entire life around when she might be hungry. More than once, I misestimated, and Robert would call me as I was stuck in traffic coming home from Target or somewhere, and just listening to a hungry baby crying on the other end of the phone while he asked me when I might be home made me start crying while my milk soaked through my shirt. Now when Georgia says she’s hungry, I hand her some peanut butter crackers. So much better.
- Crying. Not that she doesn’t still have her fits of pique, but crying is no longer her only form of communication. She can tell me her socks are uncomfortable; she can tell me that she wants to hear a certain lullaby at bedtime. I (mostly) love listening to all the things she can tell me now.
- "Caillou". I have no idea why that show appeals so much to children, but it’s actually physically painful to listen to. That is not an opinion. That is a fact. Georgia loved it, and I would sometimes let her watch it if I could arrange to be in another room, but now she doesn’t even ask for it. Now we watch "The Great British Baking Show" or "Wild Kratts" – both vastly preferable to "Caillou" by a factor of about 80 bazillion.
Watching my baby grow up – start kindergarten, do ballet and cheerleading, make friends, master new skills, start sounding out words – is the greatest gift. And yet watching my baby grow up – leaving behind shaky first steps and chubby hands and bottles and the unmistakably nostalgic scent of baby shampoo – is the strangest, deepest sorrow. How can you miss someone who isn’t gone? But, at the same time, how can you deny that, in a very real sense, that baby, that toddler, that eager preschooler is gone forever?
No matter how old she gets – no matter how old either of them get – though, they will both always, always be my babies.