Yesterday morning we buried Baby E. Tonight we had a memorial reception and got to visit with a lot of people who have been praying for us for the past few months. Our official goodbyes have been said, but we will continue having goodbye moments for a long time to come.
People keep asking us how we are doing. We are doing OK. We have each other. We have our family. We have a good church family who love us. We still laugh and play. The sadness is still there waiting for its turn, too. In the meantime, I seem to be recovering physically, though I'll hold off on any extra exercise for a few weeks yet. Watching our three kids everyday is exercise enough.
Beyond that I've noticed I keep thinking about how life feels different without a baby in the house and without the impending prospect of one in the house. We were successful in spacing our kids two years apart. As a result, every time a baby reached toddler-hood, a new baby was on the way. Even this last time, Baby E. was about two years younger than her big brother. But this time the baby is missing from the picture. We have a baby-less house for the first time since we started having kids. I've been putting away things that were set up in case we got to bring her home for a time. As I do that, I keep thinking how strange it feels to be putting away the baby stuff. I look at the Happy Boy and see how fast he's growing. He's two going on preschooler. I can usually understand what he's saying now. He wants so much to be a big kid like his sisters. He already is fascinated with letters and numbers. We know he's going to be an early reader, too. I can see that I'll be starting to teach him in a more structured way soon. Before I know it, all my kids will be "older" kids and the childproofing of our house will be obsolete. I see it coming like a tourist about to experience a strange new land.
I feel like our home is about to make a transformation as the little kid things get retired and the older kid things take their places. It won't happen overnight, but as I glimpse the future, it feels like that time is nearly here. And it feels strange to me.
Now, we have had a few brave souls (who know us well and therefore know that it's OK to ask) whether we are going to have any more children. Our answer for now is that we haven't made a final decision on that yet. It is never a good policy to ask a Mom to make a final decision on that too close to giving birth, the memory is too fresh. There are pros and cons either way. The Adrenaline Junkie is actively lobbying for a new baby. And, we had baby E. precisely because we wanted another child in the family. But, for now I need to get my strength back. We are not going to rush that decision.
Until that decision is made, we are in the strange world of baby-less households. We have yet to decide if this is a temporary condition or a permanent abode. Somehow the empty crib adds to the sadness I feel at times, but I'm not quite ready to move it out to the garage yet.