My oldest boy is in Year 2, my middle son is in Reception and my twins are almost two. I think I can safely say that the baby stage is behind me now. While we still have dual potty training to negotiate and twin two is stubbornly refusing to walk, we are on the home run now.
In one way that makes me feel relieved and hopeful that I might one day stop feeling so exhausted all the time, but in another it makes me feel a huge sense of loss that my baby days are over for good. I relish my sons' growing independence, but in the past by the time my youngest child was starting to walk, talk and feed himself I was plotting my next baby. This time I am entering uncharted territory as I know there won't be the patter of little feet on the way ever again.
I have wanted babies since I was in my mid-twenties. I had a few bumps along the way what with a first husband who wanted nothing to do with children, or indeed me as it turned out, but I eventually had my first boy when I was 32, then the next at 34 and the final two at 37. So for the last decade and a half my thoughts have been taken up with the acquisition of babies.
I spent most of my 20s longing for babies and all of my 30s pregnant or dealing with babies, so what does the next chapter of life hold? I am a little scared to look as my mind is still firmly rooted in the breeding phase.
I still can't pass Mothercare without cooing over the tiny newborn clothes. I can't quite get my head round the fact that I will never have to stock up on those bright yellow packs of Pampers New Born nappies, though I feel less sentimental about those brick sized maternity towels that sat so uncomfortably in my post baby pants.
I am sure there are other mothers who feel a sense of release that they will never again have to waddle about swollen with child, that they will never have to battle with feeding a newborn, or endure the endless sleepless nights that accompany the arrival of a new baby. These are the mums who ruthlessly throw out baby clothes the moment their child has grown out of them, toss out the buggy the instant their toddler is up on his feet, and joyfully button up their pre-baby jeans as they turn their trim, toned backs on the messy business of child rearing.
I am not one of those mothers. I am still hanging onto my huge post preggy belly, along with a whole lot more baggage that came along with my babies. I know I won't have another child, I don't even want one, but what I do want is a blueprint as to what happens next? As my children grow up and I am forced to wave goodbye to all things baby? Will the nostalgia fade, or must I simply hold on till I can grab my grandchildren out of their mother's arms to drink in that sweet scent of newborn baby?