I remember it like it was yesterday. Conlan was a year and a half, well past the rock-to-sleep phase of his life and well into an easy, comfortable bedtime routine. That night, however, something woke him in the late evening and he was literally inconsolable. Nothing could calm him. Nothing. Out of ideas, I retreated to the thing that had always worked with my little snuggler. I cradled him like a baby, whispered in his ear, and sat down in the rocking chair to soothe my toddler. His tears dampened my shirt as I shifted in the chair to find a comfortable position. He, too, seemed restless as he tried to find that comfortable, familiar place. As I held him, his arms splayed awkwardly and little body shifting fitfully, it hit me. He didn’t fit anymore. My own tears mixed with his as I began to realize that space that had been made for him since the moment he entered this world, the place that made everything OK, had been outgrown.
It is that moment that I now dread with my little girl. I know with every fiber of my being that our family is complete, but that also means that there is nobody coming behind her. Which means that every baby stage that we leave, we leave forever. And the day she stops fitting perfectly into the curve of my chest is the last day I will hold a baby there. Each milestone reached is a bittersweet celebration.
Knowing how quickly it happened with Conlan makes me want to drink it in all the more.
The other night the house was quiet. The guys were outside working on the truck, and the baby was ready for bed. Brynna isn’t a snuggler and is usually begging to be swaddled, put in her crib, and left alone. Hoping I could steal this rarest of moments, I wrapped her up, held her tight, rubbed her back, and whispered softly to her as I rocked her to sleep. I felt her body soften as she relaxed against me, in the same comfortable space that had been made for her brother. I felt her breath against my neck and her eyelashes brushed my chin as they closed. I heard her babble softly as she drifted off to sleep until there was nothing but a heaviness and soft snoring. And I sat there for a long, long time in the quiet. Because I want to remember this, and get as much of it as I can. There is nobody coming behind her. Our family is complete.