The script of babyhood I had imagined is not the story I tell, not even a semblance of the future I pondered in my own mind so very long ago. My first story of my expectations of babyhood was written on thick lined paper and I was in the first grade. The story tells about why I want to be a baby doctor when I grow up and it quickly became clear that seven year old me really wanted to be a mama and specifically to a "cute blue eyed blond baby."
My first dream of babyhood never came to fruition and though I had specifically requested a blond blue-eyed girl baby, I had received three blond and blue eyed sons. My only daughter would have lovely chestnut hair, streaked light from the sun and her eyes are not the sea blue I imagined, but the lovely green of her father and grandmother. My hopes of babyhood fulfilled but not the way I had planned.
Our first son was born when I was thirty and his brother came 19 months later and then a sister almost two years later. My plate was full and I was happy. I was emerged in babyhood and it was wonderful even though my season of babyhood seemed to be ending. We had moved to a house and everyone had their own room and after surviving three children under three, my husband certainly felt done and I reluctantly agreed. Our oldest started kindergarten, our middle was in preschool and our youngest was finally potty trained. Though I lamented the fourth child I had always longed for, I was surprisingly content and encouraged my husband to get the procedure that would officially end more babies in our future.
A year later we found out our fourth child was coming, the vasectomy never scheduled and the mini pill evidently not the most reliable. I had taken a pregnancy test on a whim after thinking I perhaps had been struck with early menopause and the pink plus sign was perfectly clear. Within a hour I was getting an ultrasound to confirm what I could hardly believe. There it was, our fourth child with a perfect form, already arm and leg buds elongated and moving. I was eight weeks into my last pregnancy and the tears and shock turned to happy tears.
We had been gifted a last chance at babyhood and I was thrilled. We all were really, our three children excited for a baby, especially our three year old daughter who longed to be a big sister. I also had longed for a younger sibling, documented in the saved letters written to Santa and transcribed on birthday wish lists. I was not picky then, a boy or girl would do but never arrived. Instead, I had lost the brother I did have and was left an only child. An end of my own babyhood, no more the little sister and this seemed to be the gift that may ease a bit of that heartache.
Nearly forty this time and our baby gear was long gone besides a few special outfits, my old Baby Bjorn, I just couldn't bare to let it go, and the monogrammed boppy pillow, its' "Baby Wood" still intact and worn soft from the being tucked beside me, three babies nursed many an a hour. I gathered perfect hand me down items, most of my friends just finishing up babyhood themselves, a crib, high chair, tiny clothes, bedding, a modern stroller with multiple pieces and even a rock n play, an item I didn't know existed. I bought very little and instead soaked up the life growing inside me, my last baby and the last person that would suckle at my breast and share our bed after a late night feeding. Instead of worry or anxiety, I felt peaceful anticipation.
Our Amos arrived and the throes of babyhood began again. With my big three off at school, he and I spent quiet days together and I relished each feeding, sleepy cuddle, and I could not get enough of the tiny splayed fingers and toes. Soon though I was concerned that he was not developing as he should, the late smile, the eyes that could not focus, the loose limbs and the feet and hands that remained hyper flexible well past their time. Yes, expected milestones continued to not be met and yet I ignored the subtle clues. I was a mother hopeful it would come together but it still has not. An extended babyhood we have been granted and yet, I didn't want it and have been left again with plans that are not coming to fruition. Instead, I am forced to embrace a long babyhood and struggling with the scary reality as my "baby" gets close to turning three.
I still wish I had gotten to enjoy the last babyhood at our house the way I expected, an independent one year old, a two year old full of spunk and verbal orders for older siblings. "My baby" I could lament fondly to a crowd of women, old and young alike, at the playground or in the familiar churchyard. Citing my baby but secretly proud of the durable little boy who was transforming before my eyes. My journey of babyhood ends with Amos. He is my baby and may always be for reasons I could never have anticipated. I accept the gift though and will take him and trust that my tapestry of babyhood, woven for me, is far better than any I could have knit together on my own.