It hit me today and I never saw it coming. I was in the shower and it dawned on me that they were right, every single person who offered the unsolicited and less-than-helpful advice to “enjoy every minute”. Internally, I rolled my eyes every time I heard it, especially when I was staring down the double barrel of two boys under the age of two. I mean, really? I’m supposed to enjoy sleepless nights? How about crying for no apparent reason (from the baby AND postpartum me)? Or better yet, the trials and tribulations of breastfeeding? However well-intentioned, I was not in the mindset to listen.
But now I bite my tongue trying not to repeat the same words to other pregnant women or new mothers. Because now I see it; now I understand it. My youngest is turning three and I no longer have babies, or even toddlers. It’s been the slowest, yet fastest period in my life. I truly wish I could go back in time to warn my pregnant self. I would yell at that naive woman to heed the advice. I would tell that woman to hold on.
Hold on to your round, perfect pregnant belly. You may not see it now because you’re too blinded by the numbers on the scale, but your body is beautiful and is doing amazing things. Don’t dodge the camera thinking you don’t want to remember being 50 pounds heavier. In three years, you’ll look back and regret not having pictures of your final pregnancy. You’ll lose the weight, so don’t beat yourself up. Just enjoy your milkshake with a side of TUMS.
Hold on to the tiny feet drumming the inside of your abdomen. You may not notice them as much this pregnancy because you’re too busy chasing your barely-one year old, but you will miss that feeling immensely. Every kick is a gift that, unfortunately, some never experience. Don’t take them for granted. Even if you are certain your family is complete, you will long to feel a baby growing inside you just one more time, even for one minute.
Hold on to your firstborn. He has no idea how much his life will change. But don’t feel guilty that you’re having another baby while he is still very much a baby himself. He won’t remember life without his brother and they will end up being best friends. In the meantime, cherish the fact that he chooses you to rock him to sleep every night despite your growing belly. All too soon, he will ask Daddy to put him to bed.
Hold on to the first few days and weeks of your last baby. I know you’ve never felt so exhausted, your body is sore and swollen, and your incision is still burning. But you’ll never again experience the blissful silence of late nights alone bonding with a baby. You’ll never cradle a tiny being you created against your breast as he sleeps so soundly. That baby will never need you, and only you, so much. Stare at your baby and memorize every detail just like you did with your first, even if you have to cut into nap time to do it. Don’t wish the time away. Don’t say, “If I can just make it to six months . . .” That time will come and you will get to sleep, but you’ll never get those first six months again.
Hold on to all the firsts that will be the lasts. Write in the baby books, and don’t give up. Trust me, you won’t fill them in later and you will regret it. Create photo albums before you have 20,000 pictures to sort through. You won’t have time later because your life will keep getting busier.
Hold on, Mama. Don’t cry that you can’t give all your attention to either one of your sons, let alone your husband. Don’t cry when it feels like it can’t get any harder. It will get easier. It may take you two hours to get in the car, only to start all over again when not one, but two diapers need changing. Soon enough, both kids will be potty-trained and yelling at you that they can buckle themselves in the car seat.
Hold on to that toddler who insists you carry him through the supermarket even though he is a giant that weighs 10 pounds more than other kids his age. Hold him because he is giving you the gift of beautiful, sculpted arms that you will have to work harder for later. Hold him because one day he will walk the entire store and never once ask to be carried. Hold him because in the blink of an eye, you won’t even be able to lift him.
Hold on to your young sons that want you to play with them. You’ll be on the sidelines soon when they will choose to play with each other and their friends over you. They won’t need you to play with them, so join in while they still want you to do so. Dinner can wait.
Most of all, hold on and savor the moments that are worth enjoying. No, you don’t have to bask in every single minute because they aren’t all worth enjoying. It’s okay to forget about the time you had to leave your inconsolable baby (safely) in the bedroom so you could cry. It’s okay to forget all the spit up and blowouts. It’s okay to forget never-ending sleep regressions or tantrums at Target. But in the midst of it all, don’t forget to really enjoy the good times. Eventually, they will be all you remember, and you don’t want to feel like you missed any minute.