On the Eve of the Birth of Our Last Child

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. 
Ecclesiastes 3:1
I’m not sure that crying over a side of cole slaw from Chick fil A is considered normal. But as far as my emotions are in my pregnancy, anything goes and anything is to be expected. CFA cole slaw is the only food I have craved while pregnant with Ruby, so I’ve eaten quite a lot of it. I’ve craved ice cold water, ice, and lemonade…but that cole slaw is the only food I want some days. I love it and I’ll probably take a long break from eating it after Ruby is born! I realized in the drive thru line the other day that my days of craving cole slaw are about to be gone and I let a few tears roll down my cheeks while in the line. 
I have always loved the game of LIFE. I distinctly remember playing LIFE with Brent in 8th grade at my grandparent’s lake house. I chose the college route, then job, marriage, and kids naturally followed. When it was time to add a husband and kids to my tiny little game-sized minivan, Brent never knew it, but he was the one I imagined was in the driver’s seat. I crushed on him for many years before he showed any interest in me. Desperate, obsessed, weird? Nah. Just a girl that loved a boy and kind of knew he was the one for her. 
The game of LIFE is so predictable, but the progression that plays out in that game isn’t really the norm. People are starting their careers long before marriage, choosing not to marry, or waiting several years after marriage to have kids. But that wasn’t me. Those weren’t my dreams. All I wanted was my early adult years to be a real game of LIFE set to the soundtracks of Father of the Bride and My Best Friend’s Wedding. My dreams were simple and consisted of getting my degree, marrying Brent, and being a wife and mom. Those simple dreams have become reality for the most part. I mean, I’m no editor for Southern Living because God revealed to me my sophomore year at Auburn that education was my future. And Auburn…that wasn’t even on the radar until Brent was accepted to Auburn my junior year of high school (and before you think I’m a total weirdo for following him to Auburn, we were already dating and it wasn’t weird at all…except for maybe my dad who had to really ask himself if his love for me was stronger than his disdain for Auburn. Turns out he’s a good, selfless man).  And there’s the whole location of where we live. I didn’t know the city existed until college. So, take away the specifics and my life played out the way I dreamed it would. 
I graduated from college. 
I married Brent.
I got a job. 
I had kids. 
My dreams ended there. I never imagined my life beyond my baby making years. My ideas of what the future would be like got stuck in my late 20s, early 30s with babies and diapers and playdates and homemaking. 
And here we are at the end of the those baby making years. Ruby is our last. With much prayer and advice from my doctor, we’re done bringing babies home from the hospital after Miss Ruby. That statement alone just makes me feel strange. I’m young. I have many more years ahead of me that are capable of producing healthy babies. 
Little things are tearing me up…like cole slaw and a crib sheet of Scott’s that I can’t let go of. The other day I sobbed over the fact that I’ll never have a positive pregnancy test again. Brent, in his gentle and loving way (he’s so good for me) reminded me that though I won’t ever see two pink lines again, I did get the opportunity four different times. 
I got to see the pink lines with Lily at 5am one morning before Brent left for Missouri for a week. I jumped up on our bed, freaking out and screaming shouts of joy, because seeing those two pink lines was just so surreal, especially the first time. 
I got to see the pink lines when we were living at my grandmother’s house, completely scared to smithereens because it was a complete surprise. Two months later, after the worst physical and emotional pain I’ve ever been in, that sweet baby met Jesus face to face. And a little fact that I’ll always love–we’ll bring Ruby home from the hospital on the day this baby was due three years ago.
I got to see the pink lines again while we were living in that little basement apartment. This time, Brent had no clue what was coming. I wanted it to be a complete surprise. I woke up before he did, got the coffee brewing while waiting for those two pink lines, and set the test (in a container with the lid on the test!) in front of the coffee maker. Brent was shocked and overjoyed! 
I got to see the pink lines one last time after church one Sunday in January. I just knew I was pregnant and told Brent to drive to the Dollar General so I could get a cheap test. He made fun of me and said that those tests didn’t work and it probably tested for rabies instead. I bought them anyway. It was positive. Positive for pregnancy, Brent…not rabies. 
Four times. Four times I realized there was life growing inside of me. Four miracles. The excitement and nervousness are there every time, just like the first. Never does your life change so suddenly and overflow with dreams and plans than when you see two pink lines on a stick you just peed on. 
For many practical reasons, it made sense to me for Ruby to be our last. Brent and I weren’t on the same page, and while that irritated me and made me question if my desires were in the right place, I waited patiently for Brent to guide our decision. We both prayed over this decision multiple times and weighed the pros and cons, and for many reasons we know this is the right decision. We are at peace with it. 
But, that does not mean I am not having a really difficult time with the reality of the decision. I usually get nostalgic any time a season comes to an end. Some seasons come to an end because time says so whether I’m on board or not. This season I’ve been in for 6 years doesn’t have to end. Time doesn’t say stop here. Time doesn’t mandate the end of this season, but Brent and I are. And that almost seems like it shouldn’t be allowed. The season I spent so much of my high school and college years dreaming about are about to end. My thoughts about the future weren’t general, they were always with Brent specifically in mind. That’s what a girl does when she dates a guy for six years before he marries her. She dreams of life with him. Those dreams are now reality and it’s about to all be behind me. 

We have a mini-van. There’s a 16 inch bike in our garage parked next to a Barbie jeep and a red wagon. I’m doing homework with my five year old after school. I’m taking my kids to dance class and birthday parties. We’re balancing home and work. We’re doing bedtime stories, kissing boo boos, brushing tangly hair, chasing half-naked kids around the house to get them dressed for school. We’re trying to have serious conversations while our kids are getting on each other’s nerves or begging for a snack. We watch the Disney Channel everyday after school. We’re doing lots of laundry. We’re picking up all the dolls and cars. We’re eating homecooked meals one night and frozen pizza the other because it’s a busy night. These are the things I dreamed of. Just the simple day to day family stuff. None of this ends after Ruby. It will go on until they grow up and leave the house. But now I see the home stretch. Ruby will be the last diaper to change, the last homework to do, the last boo boo to kiss, the last baby in the cradle, the last child to take to dance class. 

There’s so much ahead with the three gifts God has given us. I can see the complete picture now. It’s no longer dreams of a family with some unknown number of kids. It’s now reality with my family of three kids: Lily, Scott, and Ruby. That makes me feel a sense of closure with one season and an open door to another and it’s all bittersweet. So much that we leave behind, so much that is ahead of us. And I’m just plain ol’ sad and excited at the same time. 
Here’s what I’ve come to realize. I can’t keep on having babies for the sake of emotion. I can’t make the decision to not end this season purely on the desire to preserve these emotions and experiences I love so much. Because no matter how many babies I have, I will feel this way about leaving this season after the 3rd or the 13th. I will always miss this season. I will always look back on the baby season and wish I could go back. But, you know what? I wish I could go back to high school, college, dating years with Brent, my wedding day, etc. All of the happy times are worth thinking about and longing for. They’re all worth our reminiscing, because God is good and gives us memories to cherish the time we leave behind. He also gives us a hopeful future full of His promises so that we can look ahead with expectancy with what He will do in our lives and in the lives of those entrusted to us.
So, dear Ruby–your momma is torn up about you being her last. She’s going to be a mess of tears when you meet her. She’ll hold you and kiss you more than she did your sister and brother because she’ll try with all her might to keep you from growing up as fast as them. She won’t be able to though. And she knows that. But she knows that the day that you come home from school with your first homework assignment is just a few blinks away. She loves your Daddy and she’s sad to close this season with him, but she’s also extremely hopeful and excited for the future ahead with him and you and your sister and brother. VK party of 5 is going to be a good ride. We are ready to meet you! 

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