May 25, 2015
5 days ago, I gave birth to my last baby. Hannah Venna Hartzell was born on May 20, 2015 at 11:11am. She was 5 lbs, 13 oz.She is a precious gift to our family. She has the sweetest spirit, rarely fusses and is easily content. I am amazed at how much you can love someone in a few short days. Barbara Kingsolver wrote in Poisonwood Bible:
A mother’s body remembers her babies – the folds of soft flesh, the softly furred scalp against her nose. Each child has its own entreaties to body and soul. It’s the last one, though, that overtakes you. I can’t dare say I loved the others less, but my first three were all babies at once, and motherhood dismayed me entirely. The twins came just as Rachel was learning to walk. What came next I hardly remember, whole years when I battled through every single day of grasping hands and mouths until I could fall into bed for a few short hours and dream of being eaten alive in small pieces. I counted to one hundred and I rocked, contriving the patience to get one down in order to take up another. One mouth closed on a spoon meant two crying empty, feathers flying, so I dashed back and forth like a mother bird, flouting nature’s maw with a brood too large. I couldn’t count on survival until all three of them could stand alone. Together they were my first issue. I took one deep breath for every step they took away from me. That’s how it is with the firstborn, no matter what kind of mother you are – rich, poor, frazzled half to death or sweetly content. A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world.
But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after – oh, that’s love by a different name. She is the babe you hold in your arms for an hour after she’s gone to sleep. If you put her down in the crib, she might wake up changed and fly away. So instead you rock by the window, drinking the light from her skin, breathing her exhaled dreams. Your heart bays to the double crescent moons of closed lashes on her cheeks. She’s the one you can’t put down.
This describes almost perfectly how I feel about this sweet baby I feed at night. I feel that the clock follows me around reminding me that she’ll be grown before I know it. I have enjoyed and treasured every infant I have had, but I feel an urgency with Hannah that I didn’t have with the others. I know she’s slipping out of my fingers before I held her long enough to convey how much I love her. All of mine have grown too fast…and when I try to remember details about each one’s infancy, I mourn the memories I mix up or have let slip away into fatigue and mental confusion. I know that the magic of motherhood will give way to the beauty of maturity. They’ll become their own little people, and I will revel in the differences and celebrate the individual achievements. But, I know they will leave me. I hope that they will want to move on to the next stage…and that stage requires independence and separation from their mom. I know it’s coming, my heart just can’t totally catch up.
My doctor did a hysterectomy following the C-section. That was the plan. I have needed the hysterectomy for years. The pain of endometriosis has gotten excruciating. But, I knew we were to have 8. I started doubting earlier this year when we had been trying for 8 months, and the drs were suggesting that maybe I just have the hysterectomy. We finally set up the hysterectomy for December 11th. I knew that I needed to work on accepting Heavenly Father’s will…whatever that was. I knew I needed to stop trying by the beginning of November and in the middle of September, I found out I was pregnant. It was such a hard pregnancy. I was in my first year of my PhD, and I wasn’t sleeping, I was nauseated more with her than any other baby, and my back hurt literally every day. I was pretty close to miserable every day for 9 months. And, every day of that was worth it…to give us Hannah. She is perfect. She is beautiful, tiny, precious and I love every detail of her.
I have been warned of the recovery of a hysterectomy for months, and yet, I feel great. I haven’t had any major side effects of the surgery and all I feel is just happiness at her presence in our life. I feel that Heavenly Father has given Brent and me so much to be thankful for…He knew that we were willing to do whatever he asked, and now we have 8 beautiful children to put to bed at night. The last decade has been an amazing trip of faith and commitment to our Father in Heaven, and he has blessed us tenfold. I have everything I could possibly want in life. The most wonderful husband and 8 beautiful children that our mine forever.