Last night Rowan smiled a real smile for the first time. David was holding her, just talking to her in his daddy-talk, and she cooed and smiled twice. It was beautiful and devastating. Of course, he got her first smile. The kids always love daddy best. But I realized this is the last first smile. Everything she does from here on in is our last first. It was the last first baby smile....it will be the last first time for everything. And while it's time for this stage in our lives to come to an end and time for us to move gradually away from baby-hood into the next phase, it hurts to know that this is the last baby I will ever have. Yesterday was Rowan's 5-week birthday. And with our hectic schedule and busy weeks, I know one morning I will wake up and Rowan will be turning 1, and her infancy will be over...just like that, in a flash, I won't be the mother of a little baby ever again.
Yesterday I went in for my postpartum checkup and scheduled the surgery that will make all of this set in stone. And I sat there in that little office while the lady was on the phone with the surgery center setting up my appointment, and I heard her say all of my information...my name, address, birthdate, social security number, and I felt like I was in a dream. It didn't seem right that she was talking about the death of my fertility like I was just another patient. It was cold and sterile, and I sat there with tears welling up in my eyes. I just wanted someone to pat my hand and say something kind, like "it's been wonderful, Rachel, and your children are perfect. You've done good and now go raise those precious babies into fine adults." But no. All she said was, "yes, she's having a bilateral tubal ligation for permanent sterilization." Like I needed to be shut down or something.
I know it sounds like I'm not ready to take this step, but that isn't true. I really feel blessed and content with my family. I just want to mourn the passing of this stage in my life. It's the end of the beginning in a way. David and I spent the first few years of our marriage having our children, and now we are leaving that stage behind and looking ahead to all the wonderful experiences we'll have with our family of 6. I am excited to see where we'll be headed in the next few years. So why do I still feel like crying?