Everyone knows that your parenting changes from the first baby to the last baby. Even if it’s not worn out as a topic on HuffPo Parents or ScaryMommy, it’s something that I’ve been thinking about more and more.
I’ve been very lucky.
Not only did I have relatively easy, healthy pregnancies for all four children, I had relatively easy, healthy babies.
I realize that not everyone has these set of conditions and so though I complain, please know that I am grateful that my life as a parent has been mostly pain-free and easy.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been hard. Because really, the hardest part of parenting isn’t so much the children (all things considered), but more of your character being refined while parenting said children.
People: my character clearly was in great need of reformation.
Therapy is helping.
It’s sad how I need to pay $150 a week to a professional just so I can force myself to pay medical bills on time or to be more aware of my body so I don’t explode at my children – but hey. We all have our issues.
The point is: therapy works. (If you’re willing to put in the work.)
Oh yes, tangent.
Look, by now you are all long-time readers. We all know I have to tangent and meander for at least a few hundred words before I ever get to the point. It’s in the contract.
Anyhow, parenting Sasquatch has been a markedly different experience than parenting Cookie Monster.
Well, of course, I have a ton more experience because I’ve done this three times prior. But surprisingly, it’s because he’s the last.
After all, I have had a lot of experience with my own babies, but only this baby is the last baby.
I have to admit, a lot of the finer details of parenting Gamera and Glow Worm as newborns have been lost to the haze of memory. And when I had more trouble than I previously had with conceiving Sasquatch, I was unprepared because I hadn’t mentally prepared myself for Glow Worm to be the last and I was afraid that he might be.
It was hard to realize that I should have been actively treasuring my moments and firsts with Glow Worm because he was possibly my last baby.
I wasn’t prepared.
But then, thankfully, I got pregnant with Sasquatch and now can be more mindful about all his firsts because he is truly my last. (Well, barring an act of God and quite frankly, immaculate conception – which is also an act of God.)
So then, here now is my list of things that are different with my fourth vs with my first three.
1) I don’t mind carrying Sasquatch everywhere and all the time.
I know he could probably do more tummy time or swing time or not sitting on a human time, but you know what?
Ima hold that baby as long as I want.
2) I have no problem handing him off to people – even if I just met them.
Well, within reason, I suppose. When I did hand him to someone I just met, they were a good friend of one of my good friends so it’s ok.
3) I know the importance of pumping milk. Because pumped milk equals freedom.
When Cookie Monster was born, I didn’t leave my house for four months. I rarely got out of pajamas. As a result, I rarely needed to pump milk (although I still did). I also didn’t really want to leave him behind.
Now? Now, the only limiting factors to me leaving Sasquatch with Hapa Papa are the availability of pumped milk and lingering guilt about leaving Hapa Papa with four small children.
Alright. Full disclosure. There is only one limiting factor. I just didn’t want to seem like an asshole.
4) I have no problem co-sleeping until Sasquatch is a tween.
With Cookie Monster, I didn’t really know any better and he wasn’t a good sleeper because I had no idea what I was doing. So he slept on me or poorly throughout the night until I sleep trained him at nine months.
Sasquatch has been co-sleeping with us since day one and really, he’s a good little sleeper and if he ever stirs at night, I just shove a boob in his mouth and he dream feeds and maybe, I change him once around 3 or 4am and then he goes right back to bed.
With Gamera and Glow Worm, they were sleeping in their cribs by two months and mostly through the night. Sasquatch has slept in his crib once. For maybe twenty minutes.
Mostly, he sleeps in my bed next to me with a boob at the ready or he is sleeping on a human. I have started to put him on the couch when he’s napping and he’s slept for hours that way just fine. But I have been too lazy to put him in his crib because WHY?
The silence would probably wake him up. He prefers to sleep deeply to the screams and rabble-rousing of his siblings.
5) If possible, I kiss him even MORE than I kissed all the other babies. Mostly because um, BABY. Also? LAST BABY.
6) I never fully realized just how much oxytocin is amazing.
Seriously, every time I nurse Sasquatch (especially at night in bed), I get a rush of butterflies and love and cozy and happy chocolate chip cookie feelings.
I get teary-eyed just thinking about it.
I’m not really a tender sort of person (I know, collective gasps of disbelief). But this baby boy makes me all squishy inside.
He’s my last shot of squishy.
7) Corollary: I will probably be nursing Sasquatch until he’s ten.
I mean, Glow Worm started nursing again, so it’s not like I’m not okay with it.
8) I have ZERO desire to make new mommy friends.
In fact, I am completely relieved that one of my good friends had a baby right after I had Sasquatch. Our other kids are already good frenemies so I see no reason why our last kids can’t continue on in this grand tradition.
Truthfully, I was more open to making new friends when Glow Worm came along because I knew that he wouldn’t have any friends his age. So, I gamely had weekly Mandarin playgroups at my house and tried.
I tried, people.
And I do like and enjoy these mommies, but their kids were their first and not to discount their experiences, but they were different concerns than mine and it was a little harder to relate.
I enjoy them just fine as people and hanging out with them occasionally, but I never got super close. It’s totally my own fault because they were super friendly and inviting. I just was lazy and anti-social.
(Ok, so maybe I didn’t try as hard as I thought I did.)
For Sasquatch, I really am not even going to bother. I mean, if I happen to accidentally make friends with people, I’m not going to stop it from happening. But between homeschooling the other kids and schlepping them to their classes, I don’t see a lot of time for playdates focusing on babies.
My older kids would ruin everything and likely terrify these first time mothers.
9) Instead of eagerly (and gleefully) spending gobs of money buying useless baby stuff, I am eagerly (and gleefully) getting RID of baby stuff.
Thus far, I have happily given away all of Gamera’s clothes and shoes from 6 months to 4T.
I have another person lined up for all my boy/gender neutral baby clothes as soon as Sasquatch grows out of them (he’s already in 6 month clothing).
This same person is also getting my baby swing (which I got from another friend who said I can do whatever I want with the swing as long as I don’t give it back), bouncer, and exersaucer and towels and shoes and blankets and pretty much EVERY THING I CAN FOIST UPON THIS UNSUSPECTING PERSON.
Too bad she doesn’t want my stroller. Anyone want a free stroller?
I am passing along my cloth diaper prefolds and covers to another friend because Fatty Baby here pees a ridiculous amount and I have already upped him to toddler sized prefolds because MY GOD THE PEE.
The only thing I had to buy another one of is cloth diaper covers because apparently, 7 year old cloth diaper covers lose their elasticity and are too loose and I HATE LEAKS DAMMIT so um, yeah.
Also, I have gotten rid of all baby toys like rattles, teethers, etc. because quite frankly, even Cookie Monster didn’t use them as a baby and I DON’T WANT IT IN MY HOUSE ANYMORE.
10) Beyond getting rid of massive amounts of baby things (seriously, I have zero sentimentality about it), I also travel much lighter. With Cookie Monster, I think I packed everything possible in that diaper bag and when I had Gamera, I had a huge weekender sized diaper bag that packed even MORE of everything.
When Glow Worm came along, I had jettisoned most of that stuff and just had a bare bones wet bag for diapers and clothes that I could just shove into my purse.
Same thing for Sasquatch. In fact, I’m lucky if I remember to pack wipes. I am much more whatever about things than I used to be.
In fact, for both Glow Worm and Sasquatch, I don’t even bother with a stroller. (Again – anyone want a stroller?)
I ergo these kids everywhere because it’s much easier to walk around with a baby strapped to me than to deal with taking out a stroller, shoving said baby into the stroller, and then keeping track of three other kids while both of my hands are occupied with steering said stroller.
And with Sasquatch, I didn’t even bother buying a new infant car seat. I hated detaching those suckers and carrying the 25lb seat with a 15lb baby in it is completely UNAPPEALING let alone doing so with three other children.
Plus, I was pretty sure he was going to be a fatty and outgrow the weigh limits ASAP so why bother spending the money?
11) The one thing I didn’t anticipate was how often I would split up with Hapa Papa and go out with just Sasquatch. I arrogantly told Irish Twins when she offered me a free car seat to shut her damn mouth and take that filth away from me and um, oops.
Since I was not nearly has homebound as I thought I would be, I ended up buying the cheapest highly rated car seat possible. I’m not spending $200+ on a backup car seat. $50 is just fine, thanks.
12) I no longer give two snaps about who sees my breasts when I breastfeed. I used to bring covers with Cookie Monster or nursed in other rooms in case people were uncomfortable.
That’s one more thing for me to bring, get dirty, and possibly lose so NOPE.
You don’t want to see my breasts? DON’T LOOK.
I mean, I still try to wear clothing so that drapes and provides cover while baby is eating, but quite frankly, I don’t care.
By the time you have your fourth kid, so many people have seen your under bits and pieces that modesty just goes out the window.
And again. People don’t want to see boobies? Use your gorram orbital muscles and LOOK AWAY.
13) Crying doesn’t bother me. At all. Not in the slightest.
Which is useful because apparently, Sasquatch, like his siblings before him, hates the car and will likely hate the car for another 3-4 months.
14) The best part of the last baby, though, is that I already know what’s coming. I know about when they will teethe, sit up, crawl, vocalize, whatever.
So, I don’t have to worry about when things will happen and just enjoy them for what they’re worth. Every thing, both good and bad (and I guess neutral), has its season and fades away.
I am trying to be slightly more mindful of them and cherish the moments of Sasquatch being a fatty baby with a gummy smile and silly newborn sounds. (His angry nursing grumbles and panicked squeaks are hilarious.)
I’m sure there will be more things to add to this list as my last baby gets bigger and bigger. Bittersweet, but I’m glad for the beginning of the end of this season and happy to see what lies ahead.