Brandon arrived safely, with all his luggage, and only an hour late Thursday night (which is a sight better than the two and a half days he was late last time). This means that the baby can now, theoretically, come whenever she likes. In reality, however, she'll be arriving on Thursday when I have my induction scheduled. So I have three more days of being pregnant ever.
It's strange to reach the end of this part of my life, as I've been pregnant on and off for almost fourteen years now. As soon as I birthed one baby, it was time to start thinking about the next one. The relief of finally being able to sleep on my stomach again, tie my shoes easily, and hold children on my lap was always shadowed by the knowledge that I would be seeing this state again in the not-too-distant future.
But today I peeled off my dress after coming home from church and threw it in the dirty clothes, figuring that I'd probably better wash it before sending it on to someone else who would need it. It was my last Sunday holding a wigging two year-old around a the watermelon that takes up most of my lap. Each time I get up at night to use the bathroom or flip over again because one side has grown too uncomfortable to sleep on, I happily remember that I haven't got much time left.
I can't complain about my pregnancies - after all, they've been easy enough that I've been able to have seven. I'm grateful that I've been able to have as many as I've wanted, especially knowing all my friends and family that have felt the ache of not being able to have the family they'd always imagined having. I'm happy that I will always have so many children to love, teach, and nurture. I sometimes imagine what my life would be life without my children, and I'm glad to be where I am and not in that theoretical other place (even if it is quieter, neater, and a lot more self-indulgent).
It's so strange to be looking at the ending of such a significant part of my life. The only other clear endings in my life - high school and college graduation - were followed by such exciting beginnings - college and marriage - that I hardly noticed the endings at all in the excitement of the beginnings.
But this ending isn't followed by any new and exciting beginnings. It's just an end. I've been looking to being a mother ever since I understood what mothers were and that I would be one too. So it's strange to have this phase - the part where I bring all the babies into this world - be done with. Now I just have to raise those babies into reasonable adults (which is definitely the harder part of the deal).
I've discovered that it's one thing to know intellectually that all mothers have to stop having babies eventually, and another thing to actually have that stopping point happen in my own life. Of course nobody has babies into perpetuity - biology takes care of that - but it seems that a little part of me didn't include myself in the general population that that generality covered. But it turns out I'm just as much of everybody as everyone else.
I can't say that I'm exactly mourning this end. I've had many more pregnancies than most of my peer group have had, and so my experience with pregnancy is pretty extensive. I didn't care for being pregnant the first time and I didn't care for being pregnant the last time. It's nine months of unpleasant discomfort where you don't feel like yourself and you just get fatter and fatter. As Brandon has commented many times, if men were having the babies, they'd only ever do it once.
So it isn't sorrow I feel when thinking about the end of this part of my life, it's something else. Maybe thoughtfulness. Maybe solemnity. I'm not sure. Maybe just being observant of the end of one part of my life. Endings always bring significance. Even if they're good endings. Or natural endings. They're still endings. When we reach the end of something, we change. We go on to a new place and never return to where we were before.
So, three more days of carrying a new life around with me, feeling her wriggle and hiccup and move restlessly. Three more days of waddling around the house with a watermelon in my abdomen. Three more days of being a tool of creation, making a body for one of God's children. Three more days of uncomfortably trying to get sleep in between bathroom trips.
And then, on to the next part of my life. I will always talk of pregnancy in the past tense, never the future or present. I will count my children and always come up with the same number, one that never changes again. Our family pictures will only have taller children, but never any more children. And I will have ended this part of my life. It will be time to move to the next one.