"And that's what your insides look like without a tiny human in them."
* * * * * * * *
It probably should have been the cold gel of the ultrasound wand, or the metallic clicking of the speculum, but inside the type of room that had once housed memories of muffled heartbeats and relieved laughs (three times over), it was the words of the tech that caused me to suck in my breath.
Not because I want another baby. I do not. I can say that with 100% peace. But as Olive inches closer to 5, Ella is solidly in the 'tween stage, and Milo is losing so many teeth that the Tooth Fairy is going to have to take out a second mortgage, it's safe to say that we are transitioning into a different season of life. Honestly, I love the ages they're at right now (most of the time). I enjoy being with them. We are no longer ruled by the almighty nap schedule. Trips and vacations are actually becoming fun again, and traditions we've created are starting to take root. I marvel at the glimpses I get of the little "big kids" they're becoming.
And yet, her words caught me off guard.
I will never feel those first fluttering kicks again. I will never again nurse a baby. All those pairs of delicious, chunky baby thighs have long disappeared while the sizes on their clothes continue to creep on up (as does our grocery bill). This past week, I finally finished converting what was once Olive's nursery into my office- a cube organizer now nestled into the corner where I used to rock her. And if I'm being completely honest, I think I procrastinated on finishing it because I'd always felt that there was a window of time when it wasn't completely unthinkable that we would have another one (and there were a couple of post-vasectomy scares a few years ago that served to further my paranoia. Side note: Ladies, make your guys go and get double or even triple checked!) But the further away we get from that stage, the more I realize that I'm not that young mama who moved to this neighborhood with a toddler and a six month-old in the sticky August heat seven years ago.
August, in particular, has always been a month of shifting me. It's the month we've moved into new houses, the month I was diagnosed with PPD. Over the years, it's also accumulated various surgeries and procedures, along with the subsequent recoveries. And then there are those transitions that aren't necessarily physical: the impending start of a new school year, a new venture, or maybe just a passing comment in an exam room that leaves you unexpectedly emotional as you walk out on the "other" side of the waiting room.
We want so much to classify every moment we experience. It's either good or it's bad. It fits the mold or it doesn't. But- at least as far as this parenting journey is concerned- I'm learning that it's never "either, or."
We can feel completely full and empty at the same time.
We can cherish what is, while mourning what isn't any longer.
We can be a hot mess, and still love ourselves radically and unconditionally.
We can celebrate the new seasons and milestones right alongside the growing pains.
As the author Richard Rohr wrote, "Everything belongs." And, for better or for worse, that's something that only August has been able to teach me.