When I was pregnant with “Baby LeBlanc #2,” as she was called for most of my pregnancy because she wouldn’t cooperate for sonograms. Techs and doctors could only give us about a 40% accuracy of her gender so we decided to wait to see her before we gave her a name. I was in a state of “mommy bliss” I guess you could say. At the time, I never thought she would be the last of my children. In fact, I thought I would have many more babies – “give me all the babies!!!” was more of my thought process at the time. Ryan and I wanted more children. Ok, maybe just three or four. Even after colicky baby #1, Chloe was the light of our life and after only a year, we began trying for #2 and quickly got pregnant, so I didn’t even think twice about having a third. I wanted to wait a year or two, but after that I just assumed it would be as simple as the first two, right? What I didn’t know, was that every month that passed during my second pregnancy would be my last time experiencing it forever. I also didn’t realize that Cammie would be my last baby. I was naive and young, still in my mid twenties. What did I know? When it didn’t happen, we tried and tried some more. I cleared the shelves of every ovulation predictor kit in all the Walgreens within ten miles of my home. I researched what was causing my sudden infertility, along with my new health problems, I cried and worried, prayed and one day when I was diagnosed with three different tick borne diseases in the late stage phase, the years of trying and failing made sense. I had even passed them in utero to Camdyn. I was struck with the sudden realization of how very blessed I was to be able to have a baby at all, let alone two! We decided to keep trying, but be cautious because of my declining health.
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. Barbara Kingsolver
The waiting turned to years and years have found me in my mid thirties, with no more babies, but two amazing girls. Hindsight is 20/20. I didn’t know my Camdyn Grace would be my last. She was the last I felt of the little baby kicks from the inside, hers were the last tiny hands to reach for me when she was sick, she was the last suckling babe that would waken in the night at the very moment the milk on my breast and blankets startled me from a sound sleep, telling me it was time to feed my newborn – my own body completely in tune with the baby’s body I bore. Nothing in this world is more lovely and pure than that bond. I wish I had done more, I wish I had taken in the moment… I wish… I wish. Having her is one of the most amazing things I have ever done in this world and I am so thankful for her life.
When Camdyn was about three, I read her “Where the Wild Things Are.” Around that same time, we were going through a hard time with her health and behavior. We were seeing different doctors, family counselors and specialists. We now know her issues were caused from Lyme disease, but at the time her insomnia was becoming such a problem that she couldn’t control herself during the day. She would have violent angry outbursts and three-hour fits, among many other things that were hard to “diagnose” as health or behavioral.
When we read “Where the Wild Things Are,” it seemed to strike a chord with her. She could relate to the “wild” and she knew it wasn’t her fault. Just like the boy in the book needs to “go get his wild out” and then come back and be a boy again, Cammie saw that it was ok for her to have emotions, and that there were healthier ways to express them as long as she wasn’t hurting anyone. As she got older, the Lyme disease got worse, the tantrums got worse, and the wildness got more out of control. It was very hard on all of us. But even in the beginning when it all started, I knew it wasn’t her, it wasn’t my Cammie. She knew it, too. I knew she couldn’t control her angry outbursts. After every episode she would cry and apologize. It hurt her to be out of control, as much as it hurt us to watch. It was an exhausting, emotional roller-coaster. Cammie always knew that her family was there for her – we were in it for the long haul, and we were figuring it all out together. When we started treating this awful disease a year ago, most of the issues subsided, and thankfully she is able to sleep better and have more control over her emotions during the day. Her joint pain and headaches have also subsided and symptoms are to a minimum.
I tell this story because now this book holds a very special place in my heart. Around the time we started reading it, I would tell Cammie a line from the book after every tantrum, “Don’t go. I’ll eat you up, I love you so.” It was my way of letting her know everything was going to be ok, and no matter what happened I would love her the same. Nothing – absolutely nothing could change my love for her. She might go wild now and then, but I could be her soft place to fall. We still say it to each other often. It’s our little thing.
She is the last one. The sweet and sassy. The spitfire. The athlete. The superhero. The cartwheeler. The artist. She is a force to be reckoned with. She is the dancer. She is the dreamer. She is the last and she is all mine. “And though she be but little, she is fierce.” —Shakespeare
Oh, Cammie. This growing up thing has got to stop. Happy Birthday, baby girl. Please don’t go. I’ll eat you up, I love you so.