Our last baby, The Kraken, is one year old today. While nothing is different, everything has changed.
As I journaled these thoughts, she was in her car seat, sleeping off her first birthday photo shoot. A tradition I’ve loved having for each of my kids on their first birthdays. A tradition that I experienced for the last time this morning.
Last night, as she nursed before bed, I cried and held her a bit tighter. My last chance to savor my last baby as just that: A baby.
While she will always be THE baby, there are so many things that are taking her babyhood away from me, much faster than I’d like.
She’s walking now. Starting to talk. Honing her fork using skills. Interested in more complex things.
The baby sweetness is still there, it’s just tinged with the promise of growth and development. It’s a tinge that I have a serious love/hate relationship with.
When we choose to have children, we get to experience them as babies. We know that one day they’ll walk and talk, eventually walking their way right out of our homes and into their own lives. We don’t have babies so that we can just have a baby forever. The baby stage is the most fleeting, and so is seen as the most precious. I think it helps that babies are just inherently sweet and adorable. We came into this thing called parenthood knowing that they would constantly be growing and changing…
But, oh, if I could just have this baby remain a baby for a little while longer.
I won’t miss the sleepless nights, the spit-up, newborn poop, or the general constant worry that comes with the tiny baby stage. But, I will miss just about everything else as we go from bouncy seats to high chairs, mobiles to stacking toys, and bassinets to toddler beds.
With my other children, each transition and new stage was met with the promise of being able to experience it again with the next baby. Now, as we fold away the most recent set of clothes that have been outgrown, the finality of these transitions is overwhelming.
Never again will I feel the rush of bringing a new life into the world. Never again will I experience the tingle of that first let down. Never again will I experience, so intimately, an infant’s contented sigh as she slips off the breast into precious sleep. Never again will I have someone who has such need of me that we are nearly the same person.
The cutting of a first tooth, the first baby babbles, the first food pictures. First words, first steps, first haircuts. No longer will they be ours to announce. We will no longer be the givers of the gift that is sharing a baby’s growth with loved ones, we will be the recipients.
I won’t say that I’m not slightly relieved to be moving into the next phase of our lives. Being free of the Groundhog Day effect that adding babies to a family has on life plans is something that we’ve been looking forward to for a while. It is, in all honesty, an exciting and liberating feeling. But it is bittersweet.
My gratitude for being able to have the experience the growth of not just one, but four healthy babies cannot be expressed. So I am packaging it up in a sentimental box, to be reopened in moments of quiet reminiscence as we plow ahead into the new world that awaits us as a family without a baby.
The firsts that await us now may not be as cherubic in nature or execution, but they will still be gifts, and I cannot wait to see them.
Happy birthday to my littlest, who will always be my baby.