Has the fat lady sung?
Somehow, unimagineably, I've gotten my period. My youngest is only 6 weeks old, and I am nursing around the clock. With my other daughters, four, maybe even five months went by. Of course, I crawled the internet, using every combination of search term possible, and out of the possible explanations for the bleeding -- placental site not healing, retained placenta, or onset of menstruation -- I'll take menstruation. But everything I read says that rarely a breastfeeding woman may get her period at 6 weeks postpartum.
I'm beginning to dislike that word rare. It is rare to experience problematic bleeding in late-term pregnancy; it is rare for a placenta to abrupt from the uterine wall; it is rare for a labor to be precipitous. Yet all of it has happened to me in a single pregnancy. I am the 1 out of the such-and-such number.
My husband and I, after our initial shock, embraced the idea of a third child. I told myself that while pregnant I would savor each minute, as this opportunity was a gift; even better than a second chance -- a third one. To be a mother for a third time meant that the anxiety was gone, as was the worry that I was always doing something wrong, or that something in the pregnancy was going wrong. I had faith in my body when the exhaustion felled me, trusted my circle of friends enough to rely on them heavily for the care of my children when I couldn't get off the couch, and believed so much in the process of undisturbed birth that I didn't panic when the force of rapid labor yanked me by the wrists and tied me to a runaway train, screeching to a halt with the birth of a baby in less time than it takes my first two daughters to watch a movie.
And now it's all over. My period has returned. The pregnancy and birth are behind me, and it happened in an instant.
My precious, impossibly perfect third daughter is sleeping in my lap as I write this. Her breath makes the sound of tiny whispers, and her eyelids flutter as she dreams. Her lower lip quivers occasionally. She is the last baby I will nurse, the last baby whose sweet milky breath I will feel against my face, whose soft, round downy head I will caress. I want to savor this, too, but just as I grab hold of one moment, it slips through my palms and is gone.