The First Last Time
I was going through Salem’s pajama drawer the other night and began pulling out all the three month footie pajamas that had become way too short. I came across a pink pair that I had always loved. They were soft, and had little lambs on the feet. I sighed as I folded them and tucked them away with the other three month sets as I made room for her six month ones in the drawer. I don’t even remember the last time she wore these- I thought sadly. She has so many pajamas! The “last time” of anything has been my secret obsession for most of my life. I don’t know if it’s a result of my semi-chaotic childhood or just my anxious nature, but it’s something I have fixated on for as long as I can remember. I am constantly reviewing and savoring the last time I saw someone before they passed away, the last time I visited a cherished place, or the last time I participated in an activity that I would not repeat. Family get togethers, special nights with my husband, precious memories with people like my grandpa. I store them all up in my brain to review when I need them. As much as I would like to have a memory or photo of all these things- most of the time these events are unfolding in a way that you would never know they were the last time.
It’s hard to believe that Salem is already four and a half months old. It feels like yesterday that I was super pregnant, wobbling angrily around the house wondering if our little girl was ever going to make her appearance- and if so when!? I was hot, round, and beyond uncomfortable. (Late June in NC is a brutal time to be extra pregnant) Every day I woke up wishing that today could be the last day of what felt like the longest nine months of my life. AS a first time mom, I had no idea what to expect for my life after the baby was born- I only knew that I was SO tired of being pregnant and was ready to be rid of my giant, round belly. Despite my excitement to return to (mostly) normal size, I recently I noticed that I still sleep with my hands tucked neatly around my stomach at night- just like I did when she was still inside my belly. If only I had known on that early July night before Salem’s birth that it would be the last time that I cradled her safely inside of me and felt those bumps from her knees and elbows behind my ribs. As uncomfortable as they were then- I wish I could have soaked them up just a little bit more.
Last night Salem was so restless. I don’t know if it’s the four-month regression, gas, or just general crankiness but it was brutal. By 11 pm I had put her down four times. In the last few months, sleep has been scarce. I have spent so many hours awake diaper changing, rocking, nursing, pumping, and feeding at night that I don’t even remember the last time I slept more than five hours in a single stretch. Despite my constant fatigue I can’t help but to think again of all the last times that are passing me by. Soon she won’t need me to rock her to sleep at night. Eventually she won’t need my support to sit up on her own. Before I know it she will be walking around on her own and won’t need me to carry her around the house like I do now. All of these things can feel like chores in our day-to-day life now- but I know that they will pass soon and she will continue to grow bigger and need my help less and less.
I try to use this lens to reframe my often challenging life with a new baby. I know all too well how overwhelming it can feel as you walk through your house littered with clothes, unmatched shoes, toys, and mess. I often reminisce about how tidy my living room looked without a toy box, baby swing, and bouncer as furniture pieces. Just remember that all those things are temporary. As you rock or tuck in your littles tonight, be conscious on all the “last times” that are unfolding around you. The days are flying by faster than I ever imagined they could. Stop and savor every moment- even if it’s uncomfortable right now. Soak in those late night feedings, requests for help, cries for snuggles, invitations to play, school events, sports games, dance recitals, impromptu sing alongs, high pitches giggles, wild messes, and endless piles of laundry. I am sure the day will come all too soon when the house is quiet, clean, and toy free. From now on I will take special care to remember what Salem looks like in her special lamb pajamas, and how peaceful she looks in my arms right before I pay her down in the crib at night. Cherish all the last times.