6 Things I Am Doing Differently with My Last Baby
It's the question that almost everyone asks me on a daily basis, whether I'm out grocery shopping with my three other children or hitting up the library for free story time, my nine-month-pregnant belly on full display:
“So, is this your last baby?”
And although the question is a tad on the rude side, I get it. People are genuinely curious as to the family planning of other couples, probably because most of us struggle with knowing exactly when we are “done” having kids.
For us, that question is not easy–we are comfortable with the idea of a large family and with the career flexibility and close family help to make it possible. But after having four children in six years, four is starting to sound like a pretty good number.
Which is why I just may treat this baby like my last … and do things a little bit differently this time around.
Consider formula as an option
With my other children, I became a little hyper-vigilant about breastfeeding. Something about the act of nursing a baby turns me into a stressed woman on a mission to make sure that my kids only have breastmilk–something that didn't come naturally to me and caused a lot of pain, tears, and frustration. This time around, I'm trying to be OK with knowing that the world won't end if she has a little bit of formula now and then.
Buy the cute baby outfits
With my other children, I had this ridiculous fear of buying the super cute baby clothes that I longed over in the store. I talked myself out of buying the frilly dresses and the giant headbands for my girls or the ridiculous old-man plaid outfits for my son. Not practical, I thought. I need clothes that can be passed down!
So I resigned myself to a lifetime of bland, quality clothing that could endure from kid to kid. But this time? If this is our last baby, I am free! Free to buy the frilliest, most ridiculous, and definitely not long-lasting outfits I can find for this baby girl. And they will be all hers!
Don't stress about saving baby clothes
Again, with my other children, I was constantly stressed about sorting and storing baby clothes. But this time around, I can have the freedom to let my closets breathe a sigh of relief and donate the heck out of those old/too-small baby clothes. Ahhhhh …
Take more pictures
I'd like to say that everything about having more babies gets easier and that I've learned to let go of my mommy stress, but there's one aspect of my life where that's just not true: in the picture department. With each kid, I get worse and worse at remembering to take regular pictures of both the big and small moments, and that's something that's really important to me. So from shelling out the cash for regular, professional portraits to booking a newborn photo shoot before she's even born, I am going to do my best to make sure that I don't miss any of those precious moments.
Hire help when I need it
It took me some time to realize this, but I have a little secret of parenting to let you in on: the first year of welcoming a new baby into your life is all about survival. So this time around, knowing it's my last baby, I want to let myself enjoy it as much as possible, which means not stressing out about how much work I have to do or how on earth I'm going to get the house cleaned. I want to give myself permission to hire a sitter, enjoy a date night, or let the laundry pile up because I know how temporary this stage really is.
On any given day, I've noticed that I operate on one mode: rush.
I'm constantly rushing my kids and my work along: “OK, go brushyourteethgetdressed! Why aren't you dressed yet??!”
I run around the house like a crazy person, trying to clean and fit in the chores before it's nap time and before I can work, and then it's dinner time and my husband is home, and it's bath and bed, and I rush to get more work done before I collapse. Not only does all that rushing around do me absolutely zero good, but it makes me a pretty darn cranky mother. So, for our last baby, I want to focus on ways I can slow the heck down. Being OK with lazy mornings spent feeding a baby, knowing it will take us forever to get out the house and not letting it drive me nuts, laughing when the toddler wants to climb in the car seat by himself, even though it takes an additional 10 minutes.
In short, I just want to learn to savor and enjoy this time.
Especially if it's my last.
What did you differently with your last baby?