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Do You Cherish Your Last Child More?

Photograph by Twenty20

Proud mom confession: this second baby of mine is so cute he's made me rethink my stance on stopping after two children. That is seriously cute, people.

But with all this second baby joy, my husband and I can't decide if it's the baby that's so great or if we're just more relaxed with him than we were with the first. Without worrying so much about how to dress him or how often to bathe him or what his optimum sleeping habits are, the freedom from worry must translate into more time to love, right?

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My firstborn was cute and all, and of course I loved him, but I was also depressed and scared and overwhelmed. I don't recall enjoying him as much as a baby as I do the new guy and it definitely took me awhile to find my groove with him.

And while he wasn't tough by any means, this new baby is downright merry and jolly, just like a tiny Santa Claus. He's fat and juicy and pleasant, with big dimpled cheeks and twinkly little eyes and grabby fat fingers and big rolly thighs that dwindle down into hilariously delicate little feet. He's a champion smiler with his cute curly-lashed eyes and he talks and squeals and gurgles and shouts and laughs. He's so good-natured and easygoing that I just can't stop squeezing him and pinching him and singing to him. (Don't get me wrong, I also love sending him to daycare for several hours a day so I can work, too.)

But I also wonder if part of the delight is not not just that this baby is our second but that he's our last.

But I also wonder if part of the delight is not not just that this baby is our second but that he's our last. I have a list of reasons why I don't plan on more children that I go over frequently. Childcare and school are very expensive. I don't want to get another car and rock three car seats at once. I'm past wanting a daughter. Three sons also sounds exhausting. I disliked being pregnant and twice now I've had to be induced early due to high blood pressure. The idea of being home alone with three on a night when my husband is out of town is for braver and stronger (and younger!) women than me. Plus, we have two great kids, healthy and happy and bright. Maybe we should just know when to fold 'em.

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So I wonder if something in my body is signaling my brain and heart that this is my final time at the baby rodeo, that the next time I snuggle a newborn like this it likely won't be my own. Of course I wouldn't love this new boy any less if he were not my last, but I feel an urgency to squeeze him a little extra hard and to tattoo these memories into my brain before he gets bigger, the tiny clothes are all given away and the baby years are behind me for good.

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