“Mommy? Why is your belly still big?” My seven-year-old asked.
“Because my belly is still getting used to not having Baby V in it, sweetie. It now has a lot of air in it.” I answered.
Likening it to a balloon, he poked at it a bit, but I winced, as I was still a bit sore. “Be careful, baby, it still hurts.”
“Does it miss the baby?” Concerned, he looked at me while sweeping his gigantic lashes across his green eyes.
“Yes, baby. It misses her very much.”
Later, I reached for my now empty belly during a feeding. I felt as it contracted, healing my uterus, shrinking it back to normal size. I ached because it ached for her, ached to go back to normal. I ached because it will remain empty forever, now.
She mostly sleeps in my arms, but there are times in which I need to put her down (despite never wanting to). As I place her down gently, nestling her comfortably into place, I suddenly see the IV tape adhesive still stuck to my skin. It isn’t that I don’t want to wash it off, it’s that I don’t want it all to be ‘over’ yet.
The more I go through her older sister’s clothes and wash, the more I look forward to (eventually) putting her into them, the more I hold back, wanting to stop time; wanting to reach up and hold onto that minute hand with all my might, to keep it from ticking away.
I am relishing every moment, the squeaks and squirms and newborn grunts fill my day and my heart overflowing, I leak out my eyes with a quivering lip.
She whistles as she breathes out, and loves sleeping with her head cocked to her left side while a small, newborn-ish grin creeps up her cheeks and illuminates my day ten-fold.
A week ago, I was laboring uncomfortably in a hospital bed to meet her. Despite the pain and the trauma to my already broken body, I would do it again tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that, just to meet her again.
She is perfect in so many ways, and has perfected our family so easily like the all-important point on an exclamation mark.
I treasure ever single second with her in such a very different way than I ever did with her siblings. Perhaps it’s because she is our definite last (this time), and I want to be sure to memorize and memorialize every hiccup and burp and poopie diaper.
I am never angry at getting no sleep, never impatiently pacing for her to finally pass gas, or upset at the third outfit change that day. There is a serenity in her arrival I have never experienced in any other birth; a calmness that has overtaken me.
Even the children are different this time. They hover so close, their ever-watchful eyes protecting her, stroking her face or petting her peach-fuzz hair.
She doesn’t know it yet, but she is the most loved baby in the entire universe.
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