My sister Terry is in labor right now getting ready to deliver her second child and my new niece Giana. I can't wait. For those of you who know me, really know me, you know how much I love babies. I love to hold them, cuddle them, feed them, bathe them, rock them to sleep, smell them, there isn't much I don't like about them. Whenever I "borrow" my nieces and nephews, I return them to their mothers with apologies for rocking them to sleep and holding them for most of the time we were together with hopes that I didn't destroy whatever patterns they were trying to create, whether it be by laying them in their cribs to sleep or getting them used to not being held all the time.
My babies are 19, 11 and 9, and they no longer like to be held and rocked. They also no longer like me to pick out their clothes or smell them, and to be honest, they no longer smell like baby powder and Johnson's baby shampoo. They do, however, still allow me to feed them and hug them. I can still vividly remember the details of each of their births, the two times they sent me home from the hospital when I was in labor with Jake because things just weren't happening quick enough, the frustration I felt as I left and labored at home and on the 5 mile walk I took that day, and the satisfaction I felt when I finally went back the same day and they kept me, and then the incredible joy as I became a mother for the first time. I remember when I was induced with Nathan, going in one night and not having him until lunchtime 2 days later. I also remember not eating or sleeping that entire time, and being really slap-happy due to lack of sleep and exhaustion. I remember feeling that each method they used to induce me was going to "do the trick" and being disappointed when it didn't. I also remember 8 year old Jake saying at the time that he wouldn't want to come out either to just have formula and bottles when he could stay inside and get pizza and sundaes. I remember when Allie was born, waking up at 1 AM and feeling contractions, timing them and wondering if it was the real thing, calling the on-call doctor and being told that since I had just been in the office 2 days earlier and nothing was going on then that I could probably just wait until the morning. I remember an hour later waking up the boys and telling them it was time to go to Grandma's because Mom and Dad were going to the hospital. I also remember a normally 50 minute ride to my mom's taking only 30 minutes while the contractions intensified and I held onto the handle at the top of my door in the car, trying to deal with the pain without scaring the kids, while Brian drove faster and faster and treated red lights like stop signs. I remember him dropping me off at the hospital before bringing the kids to my mom's and then his surprise when he got to the hospital 15 minutes later and they hadn't given me a room yet. And then I remember delivering our little girl only a couple of hours later, and how easy that delivery was compared to those of her brothers.
More than anything, I remember how happy I was to be pregnant with each of them, how much I enjoyed my nausea-free and calorie-filled pregnancies, how every night following my due date I would go to bed wondering if that was to be the night I'd go into labor and waking each morning angry and frustrated that I was still pregnant. I remember the thrill of washing and folding the little clothes, preparing for their arrival, and then seeing their precious faces and holding them tight. I remember the nurses coming into my room at 11 PM and asking if they could take the babies to the nursery so I could sleep, and my answering each time, "No, just a little longer, and I'll bring him/her in to you" and then holding them close for a little longer.
I remember sharing my maternity clothes with my sisters as they became pregnant. I always felt a tug at my heartstrings passing those clothes off, and even though I don't plan on having any more children, I always ask for the clothes back, just to have them. And each time I pass along my baby clothes to them for their babies, I have to take them out of the bins and unfold them and refold them, and a tear or two always fall.
And tonight I'm a little envious of my sister, envious of the joy that she will soon feel as she sees her new baby's face for the first time, holds her, cuddles her, smells her and kisses her, and I can't wait to get my hands on her tomorrow! My gift bags are ready to go, and I've cleared an hour out of our busy schedule tomorrow. Yes, Auntie is ready to hold a baby again. Let's hope she smells good.