You are the baby I never knew we needed.

When I found out we were growing to a family of six, I had already been a mom for almost 15 years. Your oldest brother was finishing middle school. Your sister was finishing first grade and our family had transitioned from the baby and toddler stage into the land of more independent children. We had thought our family complete.

You were the baby we never planned. In the past couple of years, I sat and sorted through bins of baby clothescried, smiled, reminisced, and finally found the strength to let them go. We had given away the highchair that each of your siblings had used, the bouncer seats squirreled away in the attic. Your sister had outgrown all but a small booster seat that didn’t even need to be strapped into the car. Nap times and middle-of-the-night feedings were a thing of our past.

I had both celebrated and grieved each of your siblings’ milestonessure that I would never again have another “first day of school” or “first lost tooth.”

You were the baby that we were not supposed to have.

Yet, you defied the oddsmy age and medical history among them. While I both worried over this pregnancy as it was the highest risk one by far, I also found myself relishing those extra ultrasound peaks at you.

RELATED: ‘Advanced Maternal Age’ Does Not Define You

I did all the things I hadn’t done with your siblings. We kept your existence to ourselves a little longer. We didn’t find out your gender. I spent time sitting quietly and just enjoyed feeling you move. I didn’t have young children to run after. And COVID had slowed us down even more. I had time that I hadn’t had with your siblings to just be with you.

And, when you entered this world, you were lucky enough to be delivered not just by hospital staff, but by women who were my friends. Your dad was able to help pull you out. Strict visitation rules were in place that hadn’t existed before, but that just gave your dad and me some extra time to spend alone with just you. Another first. 

I heard a million times to just slow down and snuggle you. Everyone kept reminding me how yours was the longest and hardest of my labors, how this pregnancy was different. But most importantly, I was reminded that this was my chance to spend my maternity leave differently too, to soak up all the snuggles that I was too busy, too tired, too distracted, or too overwhelmed to have enjoyed with your siblings. And I did.

For your first month, we sat and snuggled.

I didn’t accomplish the last-minute work projects I’d meant to wrap up. I didn’t cook a homemade meal every night. Your dad did the laundry and the shuttling around of your siblings. We sat and cuddled.

Those memories still fill my heart. I don’t regret not doing any of the things I had planned. But I know I would have regretted missing those times with you.  

The weeks are turning into months, and soon you’ll be toddling around. Everyone is getting busy again. Sports, and volunteer time, and extracurricular activities, and birthday parties are in full swing. I’m back to work, and we’ve all gotten caught up in all the things.

Until the other night when I walked into our bedroom to see you sitting on your dad, laughing at his silly faces, and I thought my heart would explode. I had been so lost in packing lunches, finishing up nightly chores, sending last minutes emails, laundry, and planning for tomorrow, that I realized I had forgotten about just being here. Now. With you. I knew that too soon you would be sleeping in your own room, not wanting those extra snuggles.

But, at that moment, I felt like a little kid invited to a sleepover. Excited. Thrilled to have a couple of minutes to whisper under the covers with some of my favorite people.

I climbed onto the bed and listened to your belly laughs. My heart filled with love not just for you, but also for the man blowing raspberries on your belly and with how absolutely perfect that moment was in its simplicity.

So, as the days have passed since that night, I can’t help but think about how much fuller my life is because of you. Perhaps you weren’t the baby we planned, or we were supposed to have. Instead, my love, you are the reminder to slow down, to enjoy the simple things. You are the baby we never knew we needed to make our family complete.

Celina Migone

I am a mother, wife, and doctor. When not caring for babies at the hospital, I am home chasing after my own four babies, ranging in ages from newborn to teenagers. I enjoy gardening, cooking, traveling, and enjoying a nice glass of wine with my husband.