Over the past month the topic of 'last firsts' (as Cate calls it) has popped up a few times in my life. Friends who have had their last baby are experiencing their last ever lot of baby first moments (thus the term last firsts). The last first smile, last first giggle, last first steps etc. More importance seems to be placed on these milestones because they know they will be the last ones. Some of them are quite sad about it, but are also quite certain that they have completed their family. It is a necessary, yet emotional, phase all mothers must eventually go through.
Beacause of my struggles with infertility the concept of last firsts was already on my mind (just in a different way) even before I got pregnant. I was never naive throughout my pregnancy. I went through the whole experience knowing full well that it could be the last time I experience it, even though it was also my first time. Infertility has robbed me of the notion that I will be able to have more children just because we decide we want to. That has never been a reality for me. But, while it has taken that hope and security away from me, it has also given me the gift of a 'last first' attitude towards parenting.
The fact that I am already aware that bubba could be the first and last child I ever have means I am much more adamant that I will soak everything in. I am actively reminding myself to be in the moment. I live every day as if she could very well be my last child. I know Im not done with wanting to have more children, but who knows what's in store for me. I don't want to look too far forward and miss these times with her because I am worrying about the future. I want to live in the moment every day and enjoy her milestones. Get excited about every smile and every giggle. Cherish every single cuddle and relish the times that she falls asleep on me. I treat each moment as a last first. I try to slow down and treat each day as if it might be the last time I experience the excitement of a smile, giggle, hug etc. Instead of approaching the idea of last firsts with sadness, I see it as a gift. Instead of hurrying through the day wishing it would go faster, I deliberately take moments where I pause. In those moments time stands still. There is only me and her. Nothing else matters and nobody else exists. I shut everything else out and just be with her.
Sometimes when I'm hugging her I snuggle my face in as close as I can to her neck, close my eyes, and be still in that moment and breathe it all in. I soak up the joy that I'm feeling and the comfort that I am bringing her and I store it away in my memory bank in the hopes that it will last forever. The feeling of holding her against my chest. Her tiny fingers gripping tightly on my shoulder. The beautiful fresh baby smell from her hair. The way her face squishes up and dimples appear when her head is on my shoulder and the sound of her breathing near my ears. It is simple, yet perfect.
She will grow and change and there will be good days and bad, but I am determined to cherish every single one of them because I have been given a gift that I never thought I would have. I wish I could live all of our moments together in slow motion so that they would last longer.
When I get frustrated and tired I remind myself that it is only temporary and that I am lucky to be able to experience parenthood - the good times and bad. While some people may take it for granted, I am well and truly aware that a baby is the most amazing miracle we can ever create. To be a mum is the highest privilege I will ever receive in life. To be the one that guides her and looks after her, the one who comforts her, teaches her, protects her, encourages her and loves her. I have been blessed beyond words.
I urge everyone to treat each first with every child as a 'last first' moment, whether it will be or not. Soak it up, store it in your memory bank and cherish it as if it is. I guarantee that there is someone somewhere wishing they could experience at least one last first.