Maeve has cut a tooth. It's at that stage where it almost looks as if her gum has opened to allow the tooth to come through, I can see it's pearly edge but can't yet feel the sharpness with my finger. Maeve, my newest born baby, is having her last toothless days. Her huge, empty grin will soon be replaced by little white fenceposts and before my eyes, as they all have, my Maeve is going to turn from baby into a little wee girl.
Even as I see her here before me, this baby who can hardly stay seated anymore, lunging for everything in sight and trying to worm her way across the floor on her belly, I can still hardly admit the truth that a year from now she'll be a walking, talking girl-child and I won't have a baby in arms anymore. For over nine years, I have been defined by babies: pregnancy, loss, infancy, fertility, infertility, a caesarean, VBACs, sleepless nights, morning sickness, slings, moby wraps, naps, diapers, and more drippy, insane love than I can put a name to. There is nothing like the love for a baby, a love where you can wrap yourself physically around the child, kiss her open mouth while she laughs, bury your face in soft folds of belly and armpit and there are nothing but sweet smells and addictive laughter. Addictive. This is what babies are for me, but my baby is growing up as I type this, and this could be the last chapter.
I've tried very hard not to think of Maeve as my last baby, because this is an unspoken probable-truth between Greg and I. Neither of us has the courage to fully, completely admit that our family will be defined by four walking, talking children, that my body will most likely finish its days of procreation after growing five perfect babies. But the way we parent is intense: right now we parent four as if we had two, trying to give each child her own time for a quiet, lengthy bedtime, coddling each with help for every request, even when it's something he could easily do on his own. I love to pour the sugar on, and I want to be able to continue to do this. I want to be the yes-mommy, who says yes to every reasonable request and never has to use the needs of siblings as a reason to say no.
As of now, I can still do that. If there were more....
So it is with bittersweet smiles and a touch of melancholy that I welcome the arrival of this tooth, and honestly do look forward to the next month when my wee Maeve will start to crawl around our house and begin to move into her own free will. I try to imagine the things that we will be able to do when she is napping less and regularly, when she and Fiona are less babylike and more childlike. I know that amazing adventures will be in store for the four children they will be together for many years.
It will take a steeling of self to accept this move, this onward march out of babyhood, but I know from experience that the rewards of a child growing into herself are tremendous, and I do look forward to all my littlest daughter has to offer.