Though excited about the upcoming birth of my fourth (and final) child, I can't help but feel pain when I look at my 3-year-old. For three years, she's been the "baby" of the family. Soon, there will be a new one in town. These transitions are never easy.
Photo credit: Robert Daly/ OJO Images/ Getty Images

When my children turn 3, I begin to feel "the ache." You know, my uterus starts crying or something. I feel a weird and sudden desire for another baby. Considering the behavior of 3-year-olds, this is both understandable and shockingly odd.

On the one hand, 3-year-olds embrace a new and profound independence. It's clear they are headed rapidly for "little kid" as opposed to "toddler." Often, they're too busy for you. They baby days are long gone. Even the toddler 2-year-old wobble is replaced with a surety and determined gait. From this perspective, it makes sense that I might mourn the loss of my "baby" and desire it again.

At 3, they have some holding power. They've discovered 'No!' mixed with 'And I won't be distracted by something new like I did when I was 2.'

On the other hand, 3-year-olds are really, really annoying. I think the person who came up with the "terrible two" thing had never met a 3-year-old. Two has nothing on 3. At 3, they have some holding power. They've discovered "No!" mixed with "And I won't be distracted by something new like I did when I was 2." It's like 2's evil twin brother. Whining. Tantrums. "I'll do it myself!" Thrown onto the ground in agony because "You gave me the green cup and I wanted the yellow one!"

And man are they fast.

Strange yearnings

So it's weird, right? That suddenly at 3 years old, when I find children to be the most difficult to raise, my mind and heart suddenly start yelling at me, "You need another one!"

And so I find myself 29 weeks pregnant with our fourth child.

And with the two pregnancies that came before this one, I find myself mourning the same thing, again: My current "baby" won't be my baby anymore.

Though I've felt this with my last two pregnancies, it's more powerful with this one. I'm not sure why. Maybe because it isn't just me who thinks Georgia (our 3-year-old) is "the baby." She's the baby of three siblings. She's the baby of all of us. She's my 12-year-old's baby and my 8-year-old's baby. She's the one we coo about and laugh with and giggle at the antics of. She's the one we held together as a newborn and infant and toddler.

Hers is the hand we've all held as she crosses the street, the head we've all bathed, the mouth we've all kissed and the dimpled hands we've all admired.

She is our baby, but in a couple of months she will be a big sister.

Never easy

Some transitions cannot be made "easy." They can only be embraced and accepted with a bittersweet sigh. There's no way to make the passing of time less painful, the closing of a chapter that we've held close like a best friend.

She isn't leaving, and I know that, but there's something about the changing family dynamics that get me every time. She will still be our crazy little Georgia. She will still be the little bundle of energy and hysterics, but she will also be "big sister."

... like the last few hours of a beach vacation. I know it will end, and life will change again, but for now, for now I'll just feel the waves on my feet and the sun on my face, until it sets, and I must go.

This is, of course, a happy thing. This is a beautiful change, but it pierces me as much as it uplifts me.

I watch her more carefully these last few months. I hold her a little longer. When she climbs into my bed to "cuggle" (cuddle) I stay there a few minutes longer, even though there are "things" to do. I hold these last couple of months, the last of three and a half years of our time together as Mama and "Baby," like the last few hours of a beach vacation. I know it will end, and life will change again, but for now, for now I'll just feel the waves on my feet and the sun on my face, until it sets, and I must go.

The finality of it makes it so much more beautiful. Makes her and us so much more beautiful.

As hard as it is to let go, I look forward to going home, our new home, together.

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