I looked up from my glass of wine as she walked past me and gave her boyfriend a big kiss. She had a smile on her face that I remember having once upon a time, as her hand gently laid to rest on her stomach. I took a sip of my drink and nervously looked over at my husband, hoping he hadn’t noticed this brief interruption of my thoughts from our current discussion.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from this woman. I could overhear bits and pieces of her conversation; the cravings that were consuming her, how her feet ached from being on them all day. Things they would do as a family once the baby came. 

I didn’t know her. I had never seen her before this night, but there was something about her that was so familiar it made my insides ache.

That used to be me.

My husband and I decided a couple of years ago that we were finished having children. Our house was full with the two of us, our dog, and our son. We were both busy professionals, with goals and dreams, and with our son’s school and sports ahead, that didn’t leave a lot of time for much else. That was enough for us and we were fine with it.

Or so I thought.

It didn’t dawn on me previously, that I would never again experience the feeling of carrying another life inside of me. Granted, I know this goes without saying when one decides not to have children, or more children, in our case. However, I wasn’t ready for the wave of emotions that randomly hit me on an infrequent date night out just me and my husband.

I won’t get to feel my baby kicking for the first time, or hear his/her first words. All of those milestones that we were thrilled to reach with our son, are over and gone. Although I am so proud of the little man he is becoming, at almost five years old, he is no longer a baby. I miss his soft skin. His pudgy feet. His fine hair and baby smell. He no longer curls up on my chest every night before bed. All the things I loved about him as a baby and toddler, are now just memories.

I wish someone would have warned me.

I wish someone would have taken hold of me one day and told me to stop complaining about being tired. To stop wishing for bedtime so I could have an hour of alone time before one of us had to get up for the next feeding. I wish I would have let the laundry and the dishes pile up so I could enjoy more time simply breathing him in.

I never thought it would go by this fast.

Did I appreciate those moments enough? Did I stop and commit every second of them to memory? Is there a difference in knowing from the start that this baby will be your last?

I left the restaurant that night a little more quiet and with a little more on my mind. Am I really ready to throw in the towel on building my family? Could I really be content with just the three of us?

I can’t say for sure what the future will hold. I strongly believe that whatever is meant to be will always find a way. But of one thing I can be certain; I will cherish every single moment with my son. I will hold him a little tighter, and a little longer. I will make exceptions for one more story at bedtime. I can’t stop time, but I can learn to stop myself every now and then. To slow down. To really be in the moment. To stop taking him, and motherhood, for granted.

Natasha Funderburk

Natasha Funderburk is a Midwestern girl living in Iowa with her husband, dog, and four year old son. Natasha works as a freelance writer and hospice consultant, and possesses a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration. Natasha loves anything and everything related to travel, reading, at home dance-parties, fitness/health, and all things food. You can find more of her musings at natashafunderburk.com