Last fall BC and I were playing... something. I forget what, exactly. Something monster-related. I know I did a bit about how I would eat his fingers - yum! And he said that, no, I couldn't eat his fingers because they were muscles. "Oh really?" I queried. "And what other muscles do you have?" "My arms and legs!", he said. "And your heart!" I said, capitalizing on the teachable moment. "Do you know what else is inside your body?" He grinned, "blood, and bones, and tissue paper." I laughed, he giggled, and our game went on.
The night I went into labor with AL was a night I'll never forget. I was running short on patience. I wasn't feeling well (in hindsight yes, because I was in pre-labor), and I just wanted BC to go to sleep. He was fighting it, as 3-year-olds are wont to do. I was getting frustrated. He was getting frustrated. But instead of taking a moment to connect with him, I let my exhausted frustration get in the way and told him he just needed to go to bed. He tried to bite me. I told him I wouldn't let him bite me and that if he tried to do it again I would leave the room and Papa would have to do bedtime with him, instead of me. He tried to bite me again. I left the room. Seconds later he came out of the bedroom, crying, trying to apologize. But I held firm to my limit. My husband scooped him up. I said, "I love you. Good night." And, the image of his tear-streaked face over my husband's shoulder, looking at me - wanting me - will forever be burned into my memory. "Bye bye, Mama." was what he said.
When I think back to that night, to that moment, I feel nauseous. As parents we always have things we wish we could have done differently, moments we would like to take back, words we wish we hadn't said. It wasn't too long after that moment when I began to realize I was going into actual labor, and I began consciously willing myself not to. Because I didn't want my last night with BC as an only to be so hard, so unsettling, so... not right. I didn't want his last words to me before his tiny world was turned upside down to be "bye bye". And yet, they were. When I accepted the fact that birth was imminent, I woke my husband, called the midwife and my mom, and then told my husband to go back to bed to "try and get some sleep." I sat in the kitchen on the yoga ball and cried. I just cried and cried. Because I knew. I knew that the "bye bye" at bedtime was it. I could never do that moment differently. I could never take it back. And in that moment - the one I wish for all the world I could do over - with those two words, my tissue paper heart was ripped in two.