me and maggie love

Here we are again.

At the hospital, the pretty young nurse with false eyelashes tells me solemnly that they don’t really recommend swaddling for babies anymore – “we like for them to self-soothe,” she says. That’s nice, I say. And I go on swaddling my babies, carefully, safely, lightly, but still: I know how babies like to sleep, snuggled in and held tight in these early days. There are plenty of days for learning self-soothing, these aren’t those days. I believe in spoiling babies: in snuggles and anytime-you-want comfort nursing, in warmth and being held close while they sleep like I believe the sun rises in the east and the necessity of a year of maternity leave. Schedules are over-rated, I find my way in the rhythms.

Here we are again.

I’m sitting in the corner of the couch, a nursing pillow wrapped around my soft and stretched out belly. I’m holding a hungry newborn to my breasts, guiding her to a full tummy and me to a full heart. We’re skin to skin, her mouth is searching, and I am the answer for her.

Here we are again.

Dashing into the shower in the early morning, determined to get dressed, put on make-up, brush my hair. I’m my father’s daughter: I believe in the small dignities to keep life steady in the midst of change and chaos. I hear his voice in my head, look good and feel good. So I make beds, I put clean clothes on everyone in my care, I empty the dishwasher, we eat at the table. Normal structures, normal routines, all around an extraordinary newness. It’s true, I do feel better but now there’s a houseful of people who all feel better when I feel better. I’m accepting of my status as axis for this family now, watch me keep us moving through the nights and the days while holding us all together. The laundry will never be done.

Here we are again.

With a gaggle of bright eyed children enchanted by the littlest one. If I had known how much easier it is to bring home a baby to a houseful of big kids…. well. It is. Easier, that is. It’s easier than three-kids-in-four-years, for sure. The big kids either want to help or get on with entertaining themselves, heading outside the surprising spring weather, leaving me in the corner of the couch by the big front window to “keep an eye.” I knock on the glass if I see anyone getting out of line and the guilty party turns to the window to grin and wave, “sorry, mum.” They come inside with grubby dandelions and detailed schedules for whose turn it is to hold her. I have comfort books (Anne of Green Gables), comfort food (beef stew and bread), and I have comfort television: Saturday  night and we watch Hockey Night in Canada by lamplight. My son holds his little sister and whispers his chants of “fight fight fight fight” during the game, wary of waking her. Earlier in the day, a sister reads books to her and I’ll be darned if it doesn’t look like this six-day-old baby is intently listening to every word she says.

Here we are again.

Gingerly walking, slowly healing, taking all help that is offered. I remember the first-baby-me, the one who wanted to be seen as capable and together, and bless her heart. What a waste of energy on independence. Now I eat meals other women prepared for my family and I praise them at the city gates. I lean heavily on my mother and my sister for disciplining my children, for an extra set of hands, for help cleaning the kitchen. I am humbled and so I receive from my people. I cry when my milk comes in and I sort through our delivery, my recovery, my emotions, receiving prayer and wisdom from friends. One day again it will be my turn to make the meals, to lay hands and minister with prayer and perspective, and a folded load of laundry, I will be ready.

Here we are again.

The house is at sixes and sevens and so at my own early bedtime, I move through the house restoring crayons to boxes, turning off lights, sweeping the kitchen floor, loading the dishwasher. How did we get so many washed-until-worn receiving blankets out during the day? I tuck in babies and big kids. I restore my own soul by restoring the place where I am right now. I slide into our bed and stretch out on my back, I turn to my husband, “I’m so glad I’m not pregnant anymore. God, this bed feels good.” He’s already asleep.

Here we are again.

The days are already melting into each other, one after another, too quickly somehow. I am wearing the same clothes again today, praising Jesus that leggings are still in style. Everything in the world feels a bit far away in these cocooning early days. There is plenty of time to re-engage in the world, to remember to watch the news, to answer emails as they pile up, I know this now. But right now I want a bath and a pint of Guinness, I want to sit beside the man cradling our last little baby in his strong arms and lean my head into his shoulder, memorize this exact moment, I want to stay here in this pause for just a while longer. It’s quiet in my head when I’m fully here.

Here we are again.

In the dark, in the wee hours, in the early light, nursing in the corner of the couch, the end of an episode of Gilmore Girls while the rest of the house sleeps and I lightly pat a baby’s diapered bottom into blissful sleep. We smell like baby soap, her hair puffs out like duck fluff. Her mouth is a triangle tent, her breath is an anointing. I could go to bed, I could go to sleep now, she’s ready for a long stretch of sleep. But instead I sit here in the dark, for just a few more minutes. She’s stretched out on my chest, curled up with her legs tucked under – she’ll only do this for another few days, I know, this newborn froggy-leg thing. I stay there, sniffing her hair, patting her bum, breathing slow with her for just a while longer. I can feel the earth turning, time is still moving.

Here we are again.

For one last time.

 

Introducing Margaret Love!
Dangerous Women
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  • I am sobbing. Love this so much.

  • I have goose bumps. I have said it before and I will say it again. I feel so much of my own hope and healing in watching your miracle unfold, in watching you be here again. If not my arms, I feel so gratefully humbly glad that it is yours that are full and that you keep giving me little heavenly glimpses of it all.

  • rachel blazer

    oh… i’m so glad you get to really be there one last time. i know it will be hard- so hard- many other times. but that precious one last time. i’d be lying if i didn’t say i’m crazy jealous and oh so sad i can’t be there again. prayers of peace & rest to you & miss maggie love.

  • Julie Hoenig

    Such a precious time … you are so right to treasure every moment <3

  • Rhonda

    Beautiful pictures. I remember those feelings, smells, smiles, pauses, and I am jealous of Sarah and of my daughter who is carrying our first grandchild. I remember thinking, “The full heart of this moment may be the closest I will ever get to knowing the way God deeply loves His children.”

  • Julie-Anne

    Beautiful <3 A baby after a big gap (or a bonus baby when you think there are no more) is such a wonderful thing for the whole family– I still remember when my baby sister was born (27 years ago, later this month) We so enjoyed having a baby in the house! I am so glad you are soaking up all your moments. My mum used to just sit all day long and hold the baby. She was extremely young when she had the rest of us and by the last one (after a 7 year gap) she had worked out how to just be in the moment.

  • April

    Gorgeous!! 🙂 I love how you describe this precious surreal time…..as “extraordinary newness”
    It’s a season you know passes all too quickly. You’ve nursed three babies and you’ve done the newborn thing but this whole having three “older” children and a newborn is all very new with a very different dynamic! I am hoping you’re getting lots and lots of help and meals cooked and Oatmeal cookies made for you xxx

  • Peri Zahnd

    Beautiful, beautiful. I remember those moments. I’m so happy for you! Sending this article to both my precious daughter-in-laws, the one with the three week old and the one due any day. #4 and #5 grandbabies, as fiercely loved as I loved my own babies, but somehow more, because my love for them is multiplied by the love I have for their mommies and daddies. Love is so amazing.

  • Love this post!! My daughter’s third child is due in May. I’ve been privileged to be at all three births and be there in the weeks following. It is an honor like no other to care for her and these unbelievable and beautiful children that she labored to bring into the world and our family. Reading your post today makes me wish for the day to get here sooner!!

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  • Maria

    this was beautifully written! I’m long past this season ( my youngest is 20), but found words of encouragement to me to be all in where I’m at. Thanks!

  • hayleycrocker

    You made me cry.

  • Actually the pretty young nurse was sort of right about swaddling.
    Swaddling is not recommended anymore but it is not about babies self soothing at all. It is about an assortment of ideas the baby’s hips and the development of them, the baby over heating from the swaddle, the loose swaddle potentially covering a baby’s face, etc etc. Sorry..the old nurse with grey hairs had to say something 😉
    The best part of being a parent is hearing all the new ideas/tips/etc and choosing what works for you!

    Congrats Sarah!!

    • Sheryl

      I was going to say the same thing 🙂 The nurse maybe didn’t give the right reason for it, but it is among the newest recommendations for safer sleep to avoid swaddling.

  • Love this! Precious time indeed. I’m loving the toddler stage, but I do miss the long days of snuggle.

  • Annie447

    I loved your post. How I miss those wonderful days! I savored every one of them. My favorite was a day my husband took the big kids to the amusement park and I stayed home, in bed, with my little newborn son. What a lovely day we had, just dozing and nursing.
    And — on swaddling — http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/diapers-clothing/Pages/Swaddling-Is-it-Safe.aspx
    I swaddled my newborns. I loved that little package of baby!!

    Enjoy every day.

  • Oh, so beautiful.

  • Michelle Gunnin

    You are a wise woman. These days are fleeting. Soak them up. Capture them in words which paint pictures. It is your gift to the rest of us. A reminder to savor every moment…every stage…every breath. Many blessings to you and your latest miracle.

  • Aysha

    Im sitting here with tears in my eyes reading this. Thinking back to the post that you announced your good news and I commented on my lost one and the new life just beginning again in me, and you said you would pray.. and now I am weeks away from this beautiful, exhausting, peace-in-my-heart kind of moment with my own baby. So thank you for your prayers and as always thank you for sharing your journey with us- and reminding me of the sacred in the everyday things!

  • Clare

    So lovely! My third (and last) boy just turned one. My eldest is five. I found I savoured those moments more with my third than my first, and now I try not to feel frustrated when his cries interrupt the “thing I MUST do” and just let him be little, be held, be loved. Peace to you and your whole family

  • Wow, how beautiful. My baby (#5) will be two in a few weeks. You captured the essence and emotions of how I felt about his newborn days so perfectly.

    Enjoy… My little man has nearly weaned himself and, already, I’m missing those precious moments.

  • mothering spirit

    Oh my. These are sacred stories. The universal and the eternal, the particular and the personal. You capture this holy time perfectly, and you let us remember that it is our story, too. Thank you.

  • Tam

    I love how you write, and even more what you share. 🙂

  • Lina

    The smell of baby hair is like heaven!

  • Est

    Beautiful, accepting the role as axis of the family, I have been fighting against this in recent times but I shouldn’t it is my privilege, thank you for your words.

  • emalrola

    PLEASE, PLEASE when you swaddle, leave your baby’s legs free to bend and kick!
    http://www.steps-charity.org.uk/images/stories/hips/hip%20healthy%20swaddling%20bhhw2012.pdf

  • MotheringFromScratch

    {Kathy} This is beautiful. I can so much relate to how it feels to bring home an infant to a busy house with big kids. Thank you for showing everyone that it is easier in so many ways.

  • Jean

    Perfect.

  • Tina Kachmar

    <3 …..that is all.

  • BritW

    What a beautiful post. I love hearing how your big kids handle your little one, with such obvious care. 🙂

  • Angela M. Shupe

    So rich with beauty… Congratulations on your little one, Sarah! Blessings!

  • Every single word of this is so perfect. This is so how I felt, every word, when I brought baby Noah home. My fourth, one last time. . .it was so much easier. So much more precious. (And thank God for leggings.) 🙂 God bless you and thank you for your writing!!

  • JillyBean

    Gorgeous! Thank you for sharing!

  • Jessica Villmer

    This post is so peaceful. #newbornsdontlastlong #imbabycrazy

  • There is truly nothing like those first few day. And oh, the froggy leg thing, loved it! Enjoy each & every moment. Many blessings be on you all!

  • This post is all kinds of magical. I love your writing, girl.

  • Yep. You just wrote my story. Six months ago we brought home our fourth to an already established home with three bigger kids. There’s a little under seven years between number three and four, and eleven years between one and four. I worried about the separation in age. I worried that it would feel unnatural to everyone, but it’s the most beautiful thing we’ve done. And now, six months later, as she’s just mastering the art of sitting up, and everything is new and exciting, the big kids are more and more in awe of “their” baby. I love this gap, this space between the oldest and youngest. Here we go again was the best surprise we ever got. 🙂

    Congrats to your expanding family!

  • Oh, Sarah. You and I would get along in real life, I think, if only because so often your posts on motherhood echo every single thing I’m discovering as a first-time Mom. There is something to that three a.m. lay-on-the-couch-and-hold-her time. Maybe it’s just the abject silence that comes in those last two hours before the sky begins to grey and lighten. I remember I would just sit there, just lay back with that tiny head on my chest, and listen to her breathe.

    Sometimes I still do.

    It’s so hard for me to even consider “cry it out” when I know I could get her to sleep in less than ten minutes just by the two of us sitting together and breathing. And it won’t be long before she doesn’t want these long snuggles any more.

    I think I’m pinning every post on motherhood you’ve written, slowly, as I go back trough your archives. I don’t know what that says about me, haha.

    I had a similar thought the other night to one of yours. There was this sort of monumental moment where this bell-ring thought popped into my head, that Jason and I are the center of her universe. So far as she knows, the universe spins around us. And that’s an incredible responsibility and I am terrified of the first time I let her down.

  • Kristin

    Very sweet and true words you write. I just had our #5 in December, our last as well! I love to take in the sounds and smells and I never want to forget these moments 🙂 enjoy!

  • pastordt

    tears here, sweetheart. enjoy, enjoy.

  • Beautifully written – feels so well-lived. Thanks for giving voice to the normalcy, the chaos and the incredible. And congratulations to you and your family.

  • Holy Vacation Queen

    Precious, tender, beautiful, the gift of new life, a baby so fresh from God! Rest and savor these moments dear mamma!!

  • ThatOne

    I’m not a momma, just an auntie who hopes to be a momma someday. I want to re-read this then, before the baby comes and probably many times after. Absolutely lovely.

  • Joy Geaslen

    This is so beautiful.

  • Tears.

  • Karen

    I just had my blessed SURPISE #4. You captured the thoughts in my head and heart perfectly from the nursing, froggy legs to window tapping and sibling cuddles. Thank you for this precious post. I am going to print it out and treasure how you captured my thoughts. Here we are again. For one last PRECIOUS time.

  • Anne

    What a beautiful representation of those first few days at home. I, too, have insisted on taking a shower every day since my son (our first) was born – I agree with you about small dignities. I can’t believe that the nurse suggested “self-soothing” for your little one….what kind of culture are we living in when a child mere hours old is expected to take care of itself? A culture where we woefully (sinfully) idealize self-sufficiency. You keep on swaddling.

  • Sarah you have captured this living life so well. To allow yourself to stick to the rhythms and routines, which count for something and leave everything else aside. I love this about you. I think of how much God gives us second (& third & fourth, etc) chances to see what a gift there is in knowing the nuances of welcoming children into our home. Blessings over you!

  • Congratz on safe arrival of your new little tiny.

    You write your strongest and bestest and most vulnerable when you write about mothering. I cant wait for that book to birth some day. 🙂

  • Dani Oldroyd

    Beautifully written. I just had my 4th and last baby January 15th. I want to take every moment in. Thanks for writing.

  • Veronica

    I was never able to even have one, happy for you but it’s still hard

    • aokinak

      I am so sorry for your loss Veronica. I can only imagine how sad this must be. We don’t always understand God’s grand design but I pray you will find peace.

  • Amy

    That was beautiful.

  • Anne Campbell

    Ah, yes. I remember cherishing those “one last times”, I am grateful that I did! My last baby is finishing up high school now, the older ones long gone from the nest. I’ve been a mother since I was twenty years old. I am not sure what it will be like without someone to mother on a daily basis! Thank you, Sarah, for bringing it all back to me again.

  • Suzanne Struiksma

    This is so beautiful.

  • Shari Green

    Such sacred and precious moments. Thanks for sharing…took me right back to when I brought #4 home, and it was good to revisit those sweet memories.

  • Meghan

    So touching. Thank you for sharing these deep tender moments and your hilarious honesty. I love your writing and am so grateful for your gift and that you share it so openly. May you and your family be blessed and well kept.

  • Karrilee Aggett

    So Much Love… and Amen… and oh my goodness, how I remember that!

  • Sheilainuk

    Thank you Sarah. That’s beautiful! Many blessings for you and your family.

  • c t

    Love it – I am expecting a surprise 5th and I want to savour it all and treasure it, just like this.

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  • Susan

    As a mother of 5 I can so relate to this! As much as I treasured those days with my first babies, I was so tense trying to figure to do everything “right”. I also got accused of holding my babies too much and I don’t regret one minute of it. Those early days are the best! Enjoy!!

    • Zakasnak

      I was told in the hospital that I was holding my baby too much. I don’t think that’s even possible….

  • Brooke

    Simply beautiful!

  • SortaCrunchy

    Oh, you make me cry. Every single time. What I loved most when we brought the twins home was the way the girls took to older-sistering like they were born for it. To this day, they mother them and light up for them like nothing I ever imagined. I love so much, too, that in those newborn moments that I had that sense of anchoredness. I had been there before and I knew what I was doing and then freed up so much mental space to just be and just enjoy. I love the way you love your family, Sarah. Your words are always, always what I need to remember to pause and to treasure.

  • Emily Betzler

    LOVE. Thank you for this.

  • I am voting ahead of time for this, my favorite Sarah post of 2015.

  • golly you have such a way Sarah of touching that part of my soul; my being; with gentle knowing somehow. I like when you talk about Margaret having all the time she needs to learn self~soothing that right now as her provider and protector you say ‘no.’ You say it quietly and soooo loudly that it resonates in this 50~year~old body as I am struggling to do the same thing with myself…telling the world ‘no’ it is not the time for self soothing; it is the time to be “snuggled in and held tightly.’ i believe my mother never hunkered in and held me tight…so i had to learn about self soothing and what i know is that i learned all the wrong ways…not just because my mom didn’t hunker down with me (for the record I am not blaming) but because no one else around me was hunkered down and loved so gently either…so now i have to teach myself the true definition of soothe and i really suck at it cuz the tv and some good chocolate are my rate of soothe…
    it is slowly changing…
    thank you for sharing your momma love. thank you.

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  • These kinds of posts make me want to have another baby. Almost.

    • Mary Walcott Conrad

      I’m in my mid 50s and those precious times were the best years of my life <3

    • Haha Sandy, I was just thinking the SAME thing! Almost…

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  • Zakasnak

    My baby is 22, this May. I miss those sweet, quiet times while we nursed. ♡

  • Katie Blackburn

    Absolutely beautiful!

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  • a day old baby ‘self soothing’? hahahaha…. does that nurse have any children? 😉

  • Madeline Osigian

    This is so beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

  • Trista Garza

    I, too, am in these beautiful newborn days for the last time. And it is easier having older children to help. And I am sad to know that each day is the last I will have with my daughter being just how she is. But grow they must, and savor every moment I will.

  • Nancy LeBlanc

    I remember nursing my son after his circumcision and the nurse saying “You don’t want him using you as a pacifier.” Yeah, I really did.

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  • Love, love, love this Sarah. I relate to so much of it. remembering how their little wombness fades so very quickly and yes, the 1st-time-mother me — oh dear, bless her. It’s beautiful to watch you through your words, savor each little comment and moment with Maggie Love. And to see the circle of care expanding.

  • Meredith

    This is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. I had our fourth child, also our last little love, 9 weeks ago. While we know this is the right decision for our family, there is a wide range of emotions and feelings; of desperately clinging to this last time of newborn-ness while still savoring my other three children without feeling like I’m missing out on so much. This was a beautiful post. Thank you for these words.

  • cathimommy

    Beautiful words….hang in there, permission granted for spoiling that baby( and I’m a CNM) and be gentle with yourself!

  • ~J

    Perfect! You truly said it all perfectly. My little one is 14, and I had tears streaming as you brought back cherished memories. Thank you!

  • ~J

    After waiting forever for her (I was 33) I held her for the first 6 weeks of her life! No regrets 🙂

  • BritW

    I just reread this, as my foggy, mommy-brain had me missing details the first time. And wow–I have those good chills on my arms, the ones you get when something rings the bells inside you. Congratulations again. She’s beautiful.

  • Emmertee

    My fifth and final was born 12 days ago, a preemie so she is still tiny. I keep reading, crying, and rereading. This is truly perfect.

  • Beautiful. I’m guessing we’ll be there again in the next year or so.

    So good to read your words of gratitude, hope, and contentment.

  • My last baby is almost 3 months old 🙂 I want another but in know our 4 are enough. Can I just nurse and cuddle all the babies? That’s what I really want!

  • AnnettaJayne

    Oh so true and beautiful… brings back memories of when mine were babies (my youngest just turned 21 this weekend). You never forget but it is lovely to be reminded so beautifully.

  • Tanya

    I’m not a mother, but I couldn’t tear myself away from this. Good writing, beautifully capturing this moment in time. Congratulations on your new little one.

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  • Lari57

    Beautiful!

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  • Elise

    Beautiful!

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  • Sarah

    This will be me so, so soon–due in a few days! Love this post, and am so excited about our third child arriving. Bring on the cuddling, nursing, sleep deprivation, caffeine, crying (baby and me), normal clothes, and yes–Guinness. Rejoicing with you for your new baby!!

  • Chuck Collins

    Very nice. Very real. And, of course, totally “politically incorrect” (thank God).

  • Chuck Collins

    Very nice. Very real. Totally “politically-socially incorrect” (thank God).

  • Sandy

    oh this is so beautiful. like food for my soul. thank you.

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  • Sharon

    Even now , with my babies being 29,28 and,25 your post brings warm , almost sacred feelings and a slight, lingering yearning. Beautifully written.

  • Amanda

    I just bawled!! I too am enjoying my last little one. Three is more than enough, but I will miss these days of his utter dependence on me. Every one of his firsts will be my last first.

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  • ophelia

    My last baby is now a year and I can soooo relate. I thought that ship had sailed for me, and I was sad, but I grieved the “loss” of having any more and then….here she showed up anyway. I can’t even describe how abundantly blessed I feel that she arrived, safely and so unexpectedly & I swear I did nothing but soak in my happiness for months….staying up way to late listening to breathing, feeling baby breath on my face. It really IS an annointing. I enjoyed every baby – but with her, it felt like such am intensity because I truly never thought I would have that chance ever again and I wasn’t going to miss one single second of enjoying it. It was infectious too – my kids also seemed to savor her…despite she was going to be arriving while I was pregnant. Once she was here, they were just as enchanted as I was.

  • sweet story…:)

  • Rebecca Epps Stewart

    I would sit for 30 minutes or more just to “feel them, ‘being’…breathing…cooing…” Oh, at age 64 and they 38 and 42 I can look at them, and still remember…sweetness!.

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