From butterflies to bonding: Saying hello to child #5

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With my due date now only one day away, I am looking forward to the labor and delivery of this baby, my fifth, with an entirely different energy and perspective.

For one, this pregnancy has been different. Physically, the last nine months have been harder than prior pregnancies. More kids to take care of, less rest, and a heavier belly due to weaker, older abdominal muscles.

On the other hand, the familiarity of it all has also made it easier. With the exception of a few splurges at an overpriced children's boutique and a new Boppy pillow cover, I haven't had to buy anything. No stressing over strollers, infant carriers, or nursery paint colors. My preparations have consisted of washing linens and baby clothes from my "newborn girl" bin in the basement and a trip to Wal-Mart for diapers and wipes.

Freed from the product stresses that have, of late, become synonymous with pregnancy, I've had more time to focus on the miraculous event I am about to enter.

I will never forget the flurry of butterflies that swarmed my deflated belly on the morning after my first baby was born. Waking from a long sleep to the realization that a baby (MY baby!) awaited me in the nursery was utterly surreal. It actually took me a few seconds to believe it was really true and I could hardly contain my excitement.

Prior to ringing for the nurse to bring in the baby, I, as if by instinct, rushed to the bathroom to make myself presentable for this tiny child. Silly, yes, but not entirely unreasonable as I look back on it. I was a nervous and insecure young mother and this was like an all-important second date. I desperately wanted this baby's approval and in my youthful estimation, that meant, in the very least, brushing my hair, straightening up my gown and applying a little lip-gloss in honor of our first real post-childbirth meeting.

Four babies later, the butterflies (and vanities) have been replaced by calm and wonder. This time, after delivery, I have requested that our baby stay in our room the entire time. No nursery. I have also asked that Sean and I be left alone to bond with the baby as soon as possible after the birth. With the lights turned down, and a few candles lit, I intend to nurse in peace and quiet. Together, mom, dad and baby will savor the precious afterglow of her birth. No lip-gloss, no nerves, no stress. Just sweet time to ponder a sublime mystery that is better left unraveled.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.