View this post on Instagram
How to Spend Your Final Maternity Leave
Last week, my little girl turned 17 days old.
The sleep deprivation has set in at this point, getting up every two hours or so to feed and burp and change this tiny peanut that weighs the same amount as my preferred bowling ball selection—eight pounds, give or take.
This isn’t my first time around the block. I’ve done it twice before with our two sons, something my daughter would be eternally grateful for if she understood that sentiment yet—the whole growing a human for 9+ months thing, birthing them, staying home on maternity leave for those first precious weeks thing.
I want so badly to document our days together because I have learned how painfully fleeting it all is. I want to do it so that she has a comfort to read when she’s older and wonders what kind of mother I was. I want to do it so that I have something to cry onto when she leaves the house for kindergarten or a career or wherever life takes her.
The following are Mama’s musings for you, my youngest child.
Right now, your nursery is in limbo, filled with bags of boy clothes to donate, a white crib, and a half empty closet that houses a bin of baby toys and two boxes of Costco wipes. There’s also a TV in there where your older brothers played Super Nintendo Mario Kart.
Forgive me for not getting the nursery ready ahead of time. You see, we did not find out that you were a girl until birth and my non-fun, sometimes critical and cynical personality, would not allow myself to consider that I would actually have a girl this time around. So, the nursery stayed the way it’s always been. Yellows and grays and full of your older brother’s hand-me-downs. There’s a firehouse sitting on top of a toy table. It will all change soon.
Your dresser, however, is filled with all these fun clothes. Some I had actually purchased before your arrival—clothes that are “gender neutral” and picked by myself. Now, we have much more to choose from, as your older female cousin and her mama lovingly donated to us for you to use. Your grandmothers, aunts, friends, and family have gifted us plenty of pinks and purples and pales to get started. There are many, many bows. You don’t know yet what, if any, is your bow style, and that is okay.
Your eyes are a deep blue. So dark you can barely distinguish the difference between them and your pupil. I can see it, though. When you are awake enough that you will open those eyes wide for me, I can see it.
Your toes and fingers are so tiny and delicate and have the longest fingernails that have curved delicately over your tiny finger and toe tips from months of growing in the womb. Your hair is a soft brown, and you have a good amount of it. Your belly button is inward, and your disposition seems relaxed. You take your brothers’ yelps and screams and laughs in stride and in fact seem comforted by the chaos.
You let Mommy snuggle you for as long as I need, and you tell me when you need a little more. You didn’t like being put in the car seat the first few go-arounds, but now you have settled in. Maybe because you know we are going to get your big brothers.
They love to give you gentle kisses on the forehead in the morning and night and tell you, “Hi, Emma!” when they bounce into the car. Your oldest brother Sawyer loves to hold you often, and he isn’t scared to tell me when he thinks you are hungry.
You tolerate diaper changes okay and seem to enjoy bath time with Daddy. You snuggle right into his arms when he comes to scoop you up. You are soft and sweet, and I can feel that brain growing extravagantly every day.
I can fit you easily in the nest of one arm and know all too well that you will soon outgrow that ease. Each time I breastfeed you, I know it’s one feeding closer to you not needing any more from me. You are my last baby.
These are the sacred last moments of many firsts together. It feels special and scary and many other descriptors I wish would come to mind if not so sleep-deprived. I’m okay with feeling all of it because it was designed this way.
As your mother, I’ve been gifted this joy, this responsibility, and this continuous loop of emotions to grapple with as you and I hold hands through another day that moved at the speed of all things that went too fast.