I've always known I wanted many children. Five was my standard response if ever pressed for a specific number, but secretly I thought that seven or nine or twelve sounded just fine, too. :)
And even as I was enjoying Dylan's infancy, I couldn't wait to give him brothers or sisters. Caitlyn was conceived when he was just sixteen months old, and I was overjoyed at having not one, but two babies to love and hold! But boy, could those days ever be exhausting. I think back now and remember how overwhelmed I sometimes felt to have two in diapers, two in our bed, two to entertain by myself all day long...but I remember, too, how full my heart was, and how soon I felt ready to embrace and cherish another new gift.
Caitlyn was 26 months old when Meghan was born, and she was such a joy to all of us. And I discovered that it really is true what they say: the more children you have, the easier it is to care for them! Instead of having only a toddler and newborn to care for, I now also had a four year old to play with the two year old and that, to me, made a world of difference. But there were other, different ways in which I still sometimes felt stretched beyond my limits. I still had two in diapers, two in our bed, and, for the first time, two who also enjoyed tandem nursing. Was I exhausted? You bet! Would I have traded it for anything in the world? Never in this lifetime.
And now again I find myself with another two year old, another newborn. But this time around, I find myself missing the very things that I so often found myself despairing of when my other children were small. I still have two in diapers, but Meghan is the first of my children to sleep through the night at this age in her very own big girl bed. And she has not one, but two doting older siblings to play with her and assist in her every day needs. Caitlyn, in particular, is such a big help at bedtime, helping Meghan into her nightgown and snuggling her in the bed they share. Two nights ago, Darren (who usually sits with them after bedtime stories until they fall asleep), left the room while they were still awake, and soon after we heard Caitlyn singing lullabies to Meghan. She sang her to sleep!
But there is still so much "baby" left in Meghan. I hear it in the way she says Mama. I smell it in the soft sweet scent of her baby fine hair. I feel it in the pudgy, dimpled hand that holds my own. I embrace it when she runs to me with every bump or fall, and I cherish every moment of these fast fading baby days with her. And I wonder sadly, now, how much I took for granted when Dylan and Caitlyn were my "big kid babies". I don't remember now whether I stopped to notice the lingering hints of babyhood they displayed as toddlers; what I do remember is how big they suddenly seemed to me, overnight, when we brought home each newborn sibling. I was looking through some photo albums last night and the sight of two year old Dylan with baby Caitlyn, then two year old Caitlyn with baby Meghan, preserved there in the pages of my photo albums, made me just want to cry. How I'd love to hold those small soft bodies just one more time!