My youngest—my 13-month-old—seems to have changed overnight. She's walking now and starting to talk, and I'm amazed at how much she understands, even if she can't communicate it all yet. Every day, she's looking, sounding and acting more like a toddler: mischievous, opinionated, full of spirit and into everything.
So that means, this is it: I have no more babies.
The rational part of me—the part that dreaded having a newborn the second time around—is supremely relieved. I was walking through the baby aisle at Whole Foods the other day, eying the nursing covers and the bottles and the jarred baby food, and my overwhelming reaction was, Thank God I don't have to do that anymore!
No more sleep deprivation (well, most of the time, anyway); no more frustration at trying to figure out what on earth the little creature is screaming about. No more marathon nursing sessions; no more pumping. No more living my life in three-hour increments based on a baby's sleeping/napping schedule.
As my kids get older, it's getting easier—and my friends with older children tell me it gets easier still. I fantasize about the day I'll be able sleep in past 7 a.m. or go on vacation with my husband and leave the kids behind.
No more babies means no more naps with a sweet-smelling newborn cuddled right up into my neck, searching for that warmth and comfort that she lost when she left the womb. No more tiny clothes or adorable but pointless shoes. No more waiting impatiently with a hard, swollen belly, wondering, What is this little person going to look like? Who is she going to be?
It means there's no longer anyone who is hopelessly, helplessly dependent on me. And, if I'm being honest, I'll miss that.
So when I nurse my 13-month-old to sleep knowing that this time might be the last time; when I watch her eyelids grow heavy and feel her warm hand clutch mine, I want to freeze that moment. And keep her a baby for just a little bit longer.