She's 4 months old today and I have never enjoyed each stage with a baby more. I'm just trying to soak it all up and I'm sad each night when I put her in bed and say goodbye to another evening with her. I've never felt this way with a baby- with Landon we were mostly surviving, loving him, of course, but SURVIVING. Claire taught us that babies can be more fun than work, but it took at least 6 months before we could really relax and stop waiting for something to go terribly wrong. With Cora, we began with a mindset of some babies are hard, some are easy, but if you make it to 12 months it all gets pretty awesome, and then we were blessed with a baby even smilier and easier than Clairebear and we were able to enjoy it from the beginning.
I swear every day she's just proving what an excellent decision we made to finally toss the birth control and make baby #3 a reality instead of a much debated abstract being.
She is truly just SO happy to be on the Lag Liv family team. Her joy infuses her every ounce and is impossibly contagious.
Landon and Claire feel it too. They remain besotted. Even Claire, who I thought might have a few sharing the spotlight issues still just says every day, "I'm so glad we have our baby Mommy." They still want to hold her, touch her, talk to her. They exclaim when she smiles at them and they try to include her in everything they do, even if it's just running over to whatever baby station she's hanging out in to tell her what's happening.
Yesterday, a randomly gorgeous 80-degree afternoon, we set up shop outside as soon as I got home from work (at 3:30, because insomnia is trying to kill me and I gave up on sleeping and went in at 6:30) and didn't go back in until bedtime at 7:30. I put Cora in her playmat on the patio while the kids sang and danced and played basketball. In a typical set-up, the boys were actually playing the basketball, Claire was watching nearby with babies and plastic high heels, and Cora was set a little further back, watching her big siblings intently.
JP mocked the bow I felt Cora needed, but it was Claire who ran inside and found a pair of her sunglasses and popped them on Cora, stepping back and exclaiming, "Mommy! She looks AMAZING." And she did indeeed.
Rationally, I know Cora is my last baby. JP is not kidding when he says we're not having more, and while there are very few things he would deny me, a fourth baby is emphatically one of them. And yet I don't feel like I'm done. I don't feel like I'm not done either, and our life, schedule, house, and budget are completely incompatible with a fourth child, I just thought that if and when we had a third, I'd feel capital-D Done. I figured that throughout the pregnancy, recovery, and babyhood, I'd be happy it was happening but I'd know and revel in the fact that it wasn't happening again. But from the day I found out I was pregnant (a year ago today exactly), I never had that feeling. Pregnancy was fine, recovery was easy, infancy was wonderful. I even fit back into my regular clothes months earlier than usual! In every way Cora has made her addition easy and I almost wish for something that would make me think, "Well thank goodness this is the last time we're doing that!". Not really, but almost.
Last night I snapped a picture right between steps 1 and 2 of her complicated nighttime routine (in bed; light off). And then I picked her back up and squeezed her because you guys, I cannot get enough.
When I relinquished her to her bed and closed the door, and checked in on L & C to find them sleeping snugly in their own, I thought of a woman we talked to at my grandparents' retirement community last weekend. We'd just piled in the elevator and I was holding Claire's hand and directing Landon on which floor to press, and JP was holding our bags and Cora's infant carrier, and this lovely woman who looked to be in her mid-80's was smiling at us with such a soft look in her eye and said "Oh, I remember those days." And she didn't say it in the sort of wry "don't worry you'll get past this" way or the overly fond "time clearly erases all memories of tantrums" way, she just said it simply, with a soft smile. And that's exactly how I think of it now- fondly, with a bit of wistfulness at how it's already moving forward too fast. It's not that life with small children is always easy or I don't have days that I long to come home and care only for myself. But I also don't find it nearly as awful or soul-sucking as the kind-of-funny-but-mostly-mean internet postings try to make it seem. I love this time with small kids in the house and I think that's part of why I can't believe Cora's the end for us- I don't want to leave this phase and by my logic, as long as we keep having babies, I don't have to.