Many friends of mine tell me that I should have a fourth.
Baby, that is.
In fact, when I was preggers with my third child (who just turned six, by the way), I had a very direct and concrete feeling that I did NOT want to have another.
I was crystal clear DONE at three.
There's an ongoing problem.
In my line of work, seeing many newborns regularly, holding them, adjusting them - it really messes with my head.
And my ovaries.
But again, when I think about having another newborn, I quickly snap out of it (most of the time) and land back on the ground.
This really tested me though over the summer holidays.
I took a lot of time off to be with my family, driving out to France, frolicking on the beach and ocean in the Atlantic, drinking lots of wine, and eating lots of cheese and French baguettes.
What more could a girl want?
Anyway, my last trip wasn't REALLY a holiday. Well, it was, but the main purpose was to help my sister.
I was her birth partner.
For those of you who have had a baby, you know that the last couple weeks of pregnancy, especially if you have a two-year-old running around, it's so exhausting.
Just take my word for it.
So I was there to help out my sister at the end of her pregnancy while we waited for her to go into labour.
And just as I predicated, she went into labour in the middle of my stay with her.
And she went into labour at a very sensible hour right after we all woke up in the morning.
Labour was quick, easy-peasy, and she gave birth to healthy hefty baby boy.
Then I finally got to hold him.
After all that time waiting!
And then the broodiness kicked in.
He was so delicious to hold and snuggle with.
Newborns are magical.
One of the most common things we think about when holding a brand new baby, just a couple hours old, is trying to comprehend that this baby was JUST inside another human being living and growing.
That never ceases to amaze me.
And these newborns hold so much purity and potential inside of them.
That's what they smell like!
I had about nine more days with my sister to help her with her new baby, and I really savoured every minute with them.
(Her husband threatened to kidnap me because I was such a huge help in keeping the baby from crying.)
As the days went by being around my sister's family that went from three to four, I also missed my crazy gang back home.
My kids are much older than my sister's and it's like a whole other stage that I'm in with them.
Yet, it's bittersweet.
Each time I held my sister's baby (or played with her two-year-old), a new feeling came over me stronger and stronger, realising something.
It's the concept that we parents get told by our elders all the time:
"They grow too fast."
Of course, conceptually, it's easy to understand.
And I see it before my eyes with my own children.
But it never hit me the way it did while being away from my kids for over two weeks.
I knew that each day my children were growing and changing, just like all kids, and I was missing those moments.
I wasn't there to do all the things that I normally take for granted.
As mothers, we feel like we're running on a hamster wheel just pushing along trying to keep everyone happy, managing schedules, dinner, laundry, friends, our partners, our relationships.
And it goes on and on, every day.
Being away from my children for 16 days, AND being with my sister's family gave me the opportunity to see things from a completely different perspective. One that made me feel nostalgic knowing what my sister was going through with two children and adapting to everything, as well as another perspective making me see how every single minute of our babies' lives are opportunities to make them feel loved, appreciated, and secure.
When I came home last week, I was able to hug my kids with that new perspective, cherishing so much more how grateful I am that I have them, and that they are who they are, happy and healthy.
NOW I get the concept fully in a renewed way, so much so that I've taken more time to be with them, rather than constantly try to find some of my own free time.
One day I'll be 85, and I definitely don't want to find myself sitting there alone, in my favourite comfortable chair feeling regret about my children, wishing that I had spent more time with them.
I'll never get these days back.
Even now my memory is skittish, not remembering certain moments of my children's lives. Those little detailed things I did like how I potty trained my daughter, or when did they first sleep through the night.
Now I know that I don't want to miss anything.
My eyes have opened.
Which is why I've changed my time and schedule in my practice to fewer hours in order to put my family fully as a priority.
(Don't worry, I'm still adjusting and I can't wait to adjust you all!)
I know at times when the kids are driving me crazy I'll think, "What was I thinking?" I'll want to get away and escape.
But, the difference is that I'll realise that this moment, right now, I get to hug my children more and anytime I want when I spend more time with them.
And when I'm 85, I'll think back and say to myself, "It was alllll worth it."
(Be sure to keep checking my schedule to book yourself in for your next adjustment.)
— Dr MaryAnne