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Emily has lost her first tooth…

Amidst shouts of glee, words of congratulations from her brothers and sisters, mommy and daddy look at one another with sad, knowing smiles…

We know our “baby” is growing up.

We know this is the largest space we’ve ever had between children. It’s quite likely that Emily is the last…

You’d think there would be much jubilation, that the prospect of being done with nursing, diapers, potty training, etc. would be cause for joy…

You’d think with nine healthy children that we would be more than happy to be done with “all that…”

We thought so too, a long time ago…

Our last six children were born within a nine year span. It was a very busy, very sleepless, slightly crazy time–in a good way, and yet there were times when I wondered if I’d ever have a moment to myself, if my husband and I would ever be able to have time alone together. It seemed such an endless time, and yet it passed very quickly…

I’ve come to the realization that fertility is something I’ve taken for granted in these later years. As someone who’s never practiced NFP, I’ve lived with the assumption that fertility, at least for me, was a “given”. Remaining open to life was a decision that my husband and I made many years ago, one that strengthened the bond between us and continually reaffirmed our trust in God’s providential care. I’ve watched friends struggle with infertility, seen the devastating effects upon a world that is contracepting itself to death and rejoiced with dear friends as they’ve welcomed a new life.

Until recently, I’d been one of “them.” The pregnant mom, the nursing mom, the toddler’s mom…all titles I’ve held with pride, and am now passing to others.

Perhaps I’m being presumptuous. After all, I don’t know the mind of God, nor can I predict the “surprises” it delights Him to send. I’m feeling a bit melancholic of late…watching my baby reach yet another milestone seems to have that affect…

So we will celebrate with Emily this sweet “first.” Even if her “firsts” are our “lasts,” there is this sweet joy-tinged-with-sadness that makes even the loss of a very tiny tooth seem a big thing.

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