Saturday, September 17, 2016

Who am I now?

Do you remember my post from March? The one where I wrote this:

My last baby turns one year old next month, and I have no plans to go for a fifth child. That has caused me to reflect a lot. I got married at 20 with a goal to have four kids before I turned 30. And I achieved that goal. I had no idea when I made that goal what it would entail, but here I am. A success. Goal achieved.

In achieving that goal, I was stripped down. Worn down. Softened. Only the essential core of what made Mimi Mimi remained. But now I'm almost out. My body is almost mine again. I almost don't have a breastfeeding infant. In a few months, I think I'll start getting uninterrupted nights of sleep sometimes.

And it makes me wonder who I'll be. I used to be a hospice volunteer. I used to be an editor. I used to be a member of an auditioned community choir. I used to review books. I used to be a reader in a writers' group. I used to blog a lot more. I used to play soccer. I used to try to write songs. I used to write the occasional poetry. I used to research family history. I used to scrapbook. I used to try to sew things.

What hobbies will I reclaim? Which will I never go back to? I don't know yet. But I'm having a lot of fun thinking about it. What kind of a woman will Mimi be in her 30s?

Well, it happened.

Gordon self weaned at the end of last month. It happened. I am not nursing. My body is only keeping myself alive and no one else.

I can choose my outfit and only think about the weather and what I want to wear. I don't have to plan on access (will I lift up? will I button down? will I slide over? how will the baby get his food???). All I think about is me.

I can wear a real bra.

My body is mine.

I'm not pregnant.

For the first time since the summer of 2008, my body is mine. Mine. Friends, let me say that again: since the summer of 2008!

And they all even sleep through the night now.

What a gift. I have my body back. And I can sleep with only random interruptions for nightmares or sickness. 

What am I going to do with myself?

Who am I without a baby? 

I'm not who I was at 23 before I had any children—that's for sure! My body is very different, and my personality is as well.

I'm half excited to not have a baby, but half of me already misses it. But, as much as my kids want me to have more, I'm done. Now humor me while I post a bunch of pictures of me with my babies and cry a little bit about how quickly it's gone and how it will never, ever come back again.

What a glorious, exhausting, draining, rewarding ride it has been.

Watch me grow! (Jill's pregnancy)






Daniel and Jill




 Alice, Daniel, and Jill



Gordon's pregnancy

Alice, Daniel, and Jill


Gordon, Alice, and Daniel


Jill and Daniel



Alice, Gordon, Jill, and Daniel



Gordon, Jill, Alice, and Daniel

Gordon attends preschool a little bit now, too.
So for a few hours, they're all gone, and my house is so, so empty.

As I try to think of how to explain how I feel sad and happy at the same time about "being done with babies," a poem my sister wrote in 2015 keeps running through my mind. 

I kiss your nose, your forehead, your cheek, your chin.

I squeeze you tightly to me and feel your soft squishiness give.

I look in your eyes and you look back at me 
and in my heart I feel a tugging ache I cannot fully define.

I ache because you are my baby, mine to squeeze and squish.

I ache because in this predawn darkness under the blankets we form a cocoon 
and every day you are closer to emerging out of it into the world.

I ache because every morning you wake up you are my baby, 
but every morning you are a little less my baby and a little more your own self.

I ache and I ache and I laugh at the joy it makes me feel to hurt this way.

You look at me laughing and it makes you laugh too.

It seems that this might have been your last time nursing. It felt that way, how you kept your body unusually still as if you, too, were savoring the moment. Your legs were carefully curled up, tucked tightly next to mine, your little hand free and tapping gently on my chest, just above my heart.

No one told me that hurting like this could feel so good.

I wonder if I would have believed them.

I'm a believer now.