A First and Last Baby at the Same Time

Pretty early on in my pregnancy, my husband and I came to the decision that barring any divine intervention, this baby would be our only. He and I are both on the older side (I was 35 and he was 43 when our son was born) and we have two older kids from his first marriage. But having a baby together was something we knew we wanted to complete our family. And before we got pregnant, the option of having two was still in play. But it was hard for me to get pregnant and once I did, pregnancy and I did not get along so we quickly knew that this baby would be our only. And with that came a flood of emotions with having a first and last baby at the same time.

I really wanted a “natural” delivery with no interventions. I ended up getting induced, requesting an epidural due to my water breaking immediately and the contractions becoming overwhelming, pushing for five hours and then having a c-section because our son decided he wanted to stay put. And then I had to handle all of the emotions that came with knowing I wouldn’t get a second chance to do it the way I wanted. It was hard for me to let go of my birth experience being traumatic because I knew this would be my only birth experience.

My son ended up in the NICU for a week, and we didn’t get to have those first few days together. I didn’t hold him until he was 18 hours old. My first night at home after being in the hospital was without him. I came home on a Monday and he didn’t arrive home until Friday evening.

I started pumping almost immediately. I have friends who talk about their hospital experiences and first few days at home and I feel pangs of jealously wishing we had a more peaceful journey since there would be no future babies. My husband’s entire paternity leave (all of a week’s vacation) was spent in the NICU. We never got to be all three home together before he had to go back to work.

Fortunately, breastfeeding came pretty naturally to both of us. I had an ample supply, and my little man liked to eat. And then I went back to work. At first, pumping was easy and my supply held up. But it was taxing and made me dread working some days because it hurt my back. I was tired of cleaning pump parts. My employer was incredibly flexible and let me pump as often and as I needed; if that hadn’t been the case, I doubt I could have continued on as long as I did. But then I got the stomach bug not just once, but three times during the first right months of his life. And that last time just wrecked me. I could barely pump an ounce those first few days back at work.

Had I known I would have this chance again, I might have switched to formula sooner knowing that I wasn’t quitting breastfeeding for good. But the emotions of knowing this would be my only experience (and that the actual breastfeeding part was something we both enjoyed), I had a really hard time letting go. We made it 10 months before I ended up switching him to formula full time. And I cried. But it also made both of us happier.

Currently I’m trying to savor all the experiences. The first and the lasts at the same time. It’s bittersweet and amazing all at the same time. I love watching him grow and change and become a little person. Knowing that this is the last time I will ever experience all these firsts makes me stop and try to savor them a little more. I’m really trying to just take it in and not rush time by. My emotions sometimes get the best of me and I try to just look at the blessing I have in front of me instead of crying over what is changing out of my control.

I’d love to find a little tribe of similar “first and last” moms out there . . . anyone else have these feelings and experiences? How do you handle all the conflicting emotions?

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22 Responses to A First and Last Baby at the Same Time

  1. Alissa May 2, 2017 at 6:00 pm #

    First and Last here. No other kids. Married at 37 and gave birth 10 months later after a rough pregnancy. 1 month of home bed rest and 2 week of hospital bed rest before a csection at 37 weeks. Not the natural birth that I originally envisioned. I feel many emotional pangs as my friends are having their 2nd and 3rd now but I love our little family and I try to savor everything that I can. My son just turned 4.

    • Julie May 2, 2017 at 7:44 pm #

      Thank you for sharing! Every family is special but I totally feel your pangs when friends announce their second and third pregnancies.

  2. Ashley May 2, 2017 at 8:55 pm #

    I’m in the same boat. Parts of my pregnancy were so hard. And the birth was traumatic. It took me a long time to give that fact the weight it deserved. And I do feel cheated. I want to have a second kid just to have a do-over. My husband and I have talked about it. But our family feels complete. Exactly how my husband and I had each always imagined it. I worry that I’ll always regret not having another. But having another baby won’t guarantee me an easy pregnancy and birth, anyway.

    • julieheckman May 5, 2017 at 8:48 pm #

      Being at peace with your decision is so important and you are so right that there are no guarantees. Thanks for sharing your story! It’s so nice to hear from other moms with similar (yet different) experiences.

  3. Heather May 5, 2017 at 3:02 pm #

    Hi! I’m a first and last mom here, but for different reasons. I lost my husband to cancer when I was 20 weeks pregnant. I am so incredibly thankful for my son. It is hard when other families continue to grow.

    • julieheckman May 5, 2017 at 8:49 pm #

      I’m sending you giant hugs right now.

  4. Kelly McIntosh May 8, 2017 at 2:08 am #

    Thank you for the wonderful article. I had a similar story. I was 34 when I was pregnant for the first and only time. When we found out I was pregnant, we were really excited. That quickly evaporated when I started having a rough and complicated pregnancy. I went on bed rest three weeks before the due date due to preeclampsia. Labor wasn’t any easier. I was in labor for 24 hours, exhausted and on the verge of an emergency C-section when I was finally able to deliver my son. However, he wasn’t breathing. A bunch of people rushed in to work on him. I heard phrases like non-responsive, turning blue, etc. They rushed him out before I got to see him. All the while, the dr was working on me because I had started to hemorrhage. My son was in the NICU for a week. I was discharged without him and went into a bad depression. I blamed myself for him almost dying. I knew at that point, that I would never be pregnant again. I had a really hard time getting over it. I was scared to death that something would happen to my son. I eventually came to terms with it. Five years later, my son is happy and healthy. My husband and I have adopted our daughter and the whole family is doing great!

    • julieheckman May 8, 2017 at 8:53 pm #

      Oh Kelly! How terrifying! Thank you for sharing your story. The more we share, the more other moms out there can be encouraged and know that someone has been through something similar to what they are/have experienced. I’m so happy that your family has grown and is doing wonderful!

  5. Lori May 8, 2017 at 7:08 pm #

    I had twins and although they were born at 37 weeks 5 days I was very sick throughout my pregnancy. I have a boy and a girl. I only gained 5 pounds the whole pregnancy. I took lots of Zofran. My twins are 16 months but I was 40 when I had them and my husband was 37. I have my career together and so did my husband. I’m happy we waited. I opted for a C-section because I was so afraid that they would be born with Cerebral Palsy if I did not . Then I got my tubes tied. I have come to accept it but I wish that I hadn’t waited so long to have children. Sometimes I regret having my tubes tied. I wasn’t able to breastfeed and I had to go back to work after having 16 weeks off. I still work full-time and I miss my kids so much everyday.

    • julieheckman May 8, 2017 at 8:55 pm #

      I wish I would have had kids earlier, too, but I truly believe I wouldn’t have been ready for my son any earlier. Working is definitely challenging as a mom; I feel the mom guilt more than ever these days. Thank you for sharing! It’s so nice to hear from other first and last moms.

  6. Anna May 12, 2017 at 2:34 pm #

    Yes, first and last baby too. Was 41 when we got pg, hoped for a second but never happened and frankly we’re sooo tired I don’t know how we would have managed another one.

    We were each previously married but no children from those unions and we knew we wanted children. Being older first time parents can be tough and unless you have friends in similar boats it’s a bit isolating.

    While there are things I would like to experience again there are many things I’m ok with being one and done. I have bittersweet moments and try to savor our son in each of his stages.

    • julieheckman May 18, 2017 at 7:24 am #

      Thanks for sharing your story!

  7. Christina May 16, 2017 at 12:48 pm #

    I have 17 month old twins and all of our firsts are also our lasts. I was 38 when we had them and if I was younger maybe we would have had another baby, but we always wanted two and feel very fortunate for our son and daughter. I always get emotional at milestones because I know we won’t experience them again, even moving them in to different sized clothing can get me choked up.

    • julieheckman May 18, 2017 at 7:24 am #

      I joked with my husband that we should just have twins but I’m fairly certain my body wouldn’t have tolerated that at all! I feel the same way about changing clothes and putting away the ones I know I won’t see again.

  8. A May 16, 2017 at 7:46 pm #

    Yes, I know the pain of wanting a 2nd child. I was diagnosed with gastroparesis after I stopped breastfeeding my son and was told it would not be safe to get pregnant again. I now become so thankful for what I do have but recently my three year old asked if we could have a baby so that was hard.

    • julieheckman May 18, 2017 at 7:23 am #

      I’m sorry that you’ve had to go through that. I completely understand the being thankful and grateful for what you do have but there are definitely still pangs of what can never be. Hugs to you.

  9. T May 17, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

    Had my daughter at 37 and was hoping for a 2nd. A cheating husband and shortly thereafter, breast cancer, along with numerous medical complications, put the end to my dreams of a 2nd child. My daughter wishes for a sibling. I wish a could do it again with someone more supportive.

    • julieheckman May 18, 2017 at 7:21 am #

      I am so sorry for your experience and pain. Giant hugs coming your way.

  10. Lynn May 17, 2017 at 5:31 pm #

    I am sorry you didn’t have the pregnancy and delivery of your dreams. However, you have 3 children to love and care for in your life. Focus on the positives. Focus on today. Cultivate gratitude for what what you do have.
    There will always be people who have what you don’t have. “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
    Let your regret go. Don’t let it hang a dark shadow every experience you have now. Choose to love your life – the way it is.

    • julieheckman May 18, 2017 at 7:25 am #

      Thanks for the advice. I also think it’s important to acknowledge pain and share it so that other people can know that others have experienced something similar. There is no dark shadow hanging over my life.

  11. Sara May 17, 2017 at 7:51 pm #

    Thanks so much for your story; I feel the same way. Had my daughter when I was 37 and was pretty sure she was our only. Just like you, wanted a natural birth, ended up being induced, horrible labor, and 24 hours in had a c section. Breast feeding was tough and I was emotionally overwrought. Pumped and pumped at work, could not get my supply up, finally stopped at 9 months. 8 years later things are great, but I am still sad that things didn’t go the way I wanted with the birth and that I won’t have a chance to try again or just enjoy the whole thing. As much as I can intellectually process that I should just get over it, whenever I see a birth on TV or in a movie it makes me sad that I’ll never get to experience that. I know it’s not rational, but that’s just how it is. Most people don’t get it, but a part of me will always mourn that experience, even though I have a beautiful daughter that I love dearly!

    • julieheckman May 18, 2017 at 7:20 am #

      You are welcome! Thanks for sharing your story, too!