Nine years ago today, I delivered what turned out to be my last child. At the time, I did not know I was experiencing a major "last" in my life.
Labor and delivery has always been a very special time for me. My husband is home, and his gentle demeanor and special support and total focus on making me comfortable is a wonderful, astonishing thing. You see, labor lasts for several hours. Long hours. For me, the hours move both slowly and quickly, but they blur by in a haze of pain and excitement and anticipation and joy. They are both long and hard, and fleeting. And I know the time must be very long for someone who is outside of the physical experience of it. I'm sure at times it "gets old," just waiting and holding and caressing and having to soothe. For hours. But for me, it has always been a very precious time.
When I was experiencing it nine years ago, in the sweet haven of our bedroom, I did not know it was to be the last time. The last umbilical cord cut. The last placenta examined. The last "first nursing."
How many more "lasts" have there been over these past nine years, totally missed at the time?! At some point I changed her last diaper, not realizing it was the last diaper I'd ever change for one of my own children... I experienced the last time I'd ever breastfeed, without knowing it in the moment... I taught my last child to read without realizing it was a milestone... the last thumb-sucking passed unnoticed... the last time snuggling together on the bed... the last time she still fit, curled up on my lap, and I buried my face in the sweet scent of her hair...
And so, this rainy, windy morning, we abandon all previous plans for the day - thanks to Ida, a severe tropical storm sitting right on top of us - and commemorate little EL... my last baby, who is no longer a baby at all.
How proud I am of who you are, and of who you are becoming, little EL! You are a treasure. You are so earnest, so genuine, so real. You are so passionate, and you feel things so deeply. You are sometimes very defiant and rebellious and naughty, but you are always so sincere in your brokenness and repentance. I can't wait to see what your adult self looks like, after many more years of loving refinement from your Heavenly Father.
Happy birthday, my sweet, sweet EL. I love you more than you could ever know, and I thank the Lord for you on this, your birthday. How sad to realize that I totally missed your last eight-year-old hug... it went unnoticed at the time, and is now lost forever.
Let's live every moment with full knowledge of the wonder and magnificence of it all, okay?! I don't want to miss any of it from just not paying attention...