Even before Stella was born I was calling her our “dessert baby”. I had plans for her to be the icing on the cake to our family-all the sweetness of one last baby without the worry and inexperience of first time (or second time) motherhood. Obviously those thoughts came to me in a hormone-fueled zen like moment of pregnancy as there is not much about me that is laid-back and without concern, particularly when it comes to parenting. Stella came into our family on our her own terms. After being induced with Noah and Sophie, I was doing my best to avoid any unnecessary medical intervention and, in particular, an unwarranted c-section in the c-section capital of the world. As the days and weeks went on without any sign of labor, I was becoming more and more cantankerous. I think I may have actually told a friend the day before I gave birth that I didn’t want to talk to her, or anyone else, who hadn’t actually been as pregnant as I was at that very moment. But of course, like everyone was telling me, I wasn’t pregnant forever.
As an aside, please don’t ever say that to a heavily pregnant woman. I felt like I was going to be pregnant forever. Time was moving slow enough that I might as well have been pregnant forever. Just don’t say it. Particularly if you are a man.
Stella was born at home at 2:55 pm on July 4, 2010 after a mere 4 hours of labor. I remember it as a blissful afternoon and evening of snuggling with our newborn at home, our four and six year old nearby. If we’d had a fireplace, there would have been a fire and Paul would have had his feet up as he smoked a pipe. And wore an ascot. In my memory, it was pretty picture perfect. Don’t ask Paul his version of the evening-it may be slightly different.
Once Stella arrived I remember the juggling act that ensued. No one had told me how difficult it would be to balance the needs of older children (no naps! activities! homework!) with the needs of a newborn. There was no “sleep when the baby sleeps” happening in our sleep-deprived home. There was word-study to do. There was a ballet lesson. There was a game of Uno half finished on the table. There were children who weren’t, rightfully so, content to watch me rock the baby for endless hours. Our family dynamic had been changed, no doubt. During those sometimes long days I would repeat “I just want to get to three”. For some reason, three seemed like the magical age of sleeping through the night (my kids are a bit remedial in this area), leaving diapers behind, and having a walking, talking, blinking real live child in the house.
And today, that’s where we are. We made it to three. Our Stella girl turns three today! She is, for all intents and purposes, sleeping through the night, out of diapers, and most definitely a walking, talking, real live child in our house. Stella is our family’s baby. We all parent her, love on her, and to be honest, spoil her. She unapologetically tries to run this house. And sometimes she succeeds.
It’s funny how God gives us exactly the children we need. Stella has taught me to trust myself in ways I never did before. She pushes me, just by her existence, to challenge myself and show her all the possibilities that are out there for her. She’s pushed Noah and Sophie to grow into patient, empathetic children in a way that no parenting book could have led me to impart. I think she’s just plain turned Paul into a pile of mush. Her sweet voice and convincing arguments will do that all day long. God knew we needed Stella. She’s been the perfect dessert baby-even if not it is not in the way I imagined.