Monday, November 17, 2014

When the Baby Leaves Him

I've never completely understood the exact time frame of the baby terminology.  When does one go from newborn to infant to baby to toddler to child to kid?  At the beginning, people tend to use the labels interchangeably.  But as children grow older, the options for terminology dwindle.

My six year old and four year sons can hardly be considered babies or toddlers anymore - they are pretty set at the term child, or kid.  But when did that happen?  I assume there was a time that they were in "transition."  But right now when I look at them, I no longer see a baby.  In fact, when I see pictures of them as babies, it's hard for me to reconcile that they are the same person - that that baby I once held in my arms has morphed into something so different.

Colin turned 1 last week.

I still call him a baby.

He still has those adorable a baby thunder thighs, complete with symmetrical thigh wrinkles where the fat has buckled.  It is still hard to find his neck under his big baby head and pudgy cheeks.  He still smells like a baby and his hair is silky and smooth after a bath.  He babbles and coos and slobbers.  I still nurse him, and while doing so he likes to caress my cheek or poke my mouth.  He is still small enough that I can hold him comfortably on my hip for long periods of time, and he still falls asleep on my chest every other night or so.  And when I put him down to sleep and peer in his crib, he looks like the most peaceful sleeping baby.

But there are signs.  Signs that the baby is leaving him.

He weighs over 20 pounds now - nearly three times his birth weight.  He is starting to eat real food, and we've officially retired his bottles.  In the mornings, he stands in his crib and calls "Dada" to get our attention, and he crawls at alarming speed.  I no longer dress him in "onesies" - he has graduated to real big boy shirts, pants, and even a pair of shoes.  He gets bored if he nurses for too long, and he refuses to sit still on his changing table.  He is on the brink of giving up his morning nap.

I have been extremely sentimental about his growth lately, particularly as he turns 1.  I suppose it's because he's my last child, and after three rounds at this, I now have a deep appreciation for how fleeting and rare this time is.  We are all babies for such brief periods in our lives, so to have one - one that you can cuddle and kiss and smell and be with every single day - is such a gift.

For the past six years, I've pretty much always had a baby.  Once one transitioned into a toddler, another one was on the way.  My identity has become intertwined with being a mom to a baby, much like it was with being a lawyer.  It is who I am, it is what I know.  The breastfeeding, the sleep training, the finger foods, the diapers. .. it's been a constant cycle for 6 years.  And after three boys, it's time this cycle comes to an end.  I know this.

It's not that having a baby is a walk in the park.  I have devoted numerous blog posts to the perils involved.  The lack of sleep, the weight gain, the complete lack of freedom, the postpartum depression.  It is beyond brutal.  It is relentless and exhausting and depleting and you reach a point where you don't even know who you are anymore.  Or who you were before all of the madness began.

But what I wouldn't give to go through it all again.  What I wouldn't give to freeze time and hold Colin and never let him go.  To never let the baby leave him.  To extend it just a little longer.  Until I'm ready, if that time would ever come.

There is simply nothing more precious in this world than a baby.

The only consolation to the inevitable is that I cannot wait to get to know Colin more.  Every day that passes, as a little more baby fades away, his personality shines through.  And God, this kid is a hoot.  He is literally the happiest baby, child, toddler, kid - whatever term you want - that I have ever seen.

He is easygoing.  He is adaptable.  He is funny and flirty and always wants to be where the action is.  He loves meatballs and raspberries and playing fetch with our dog.  He hardly ever cries (seriously) and he calls everyone "dada."  He cracks up when you tickle him on his thighs or play peek a boo.  He loves his brothers and his parents and just about anyone he comes into contact with.  He makes at least one friend in every elevator.

He is the joy of my day, and my life.  To think that we almost didn't have him, that we almost stopped at two....   It's enough for me to convince anyone and everyone to go for that third child.

I love this baby more than I ever imagined possible.

And of course, he'll always be my baby.... long after the baby leaves him.  But I'm going to soak up every last moment of baby we have left.

Happy 1st birthday, baby boy.  

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  1. Beautiful words to capture the exact feeling of holding tight to these precious baby days. I have three sons, as well. Ages 3, 2 and 4mos. old. I can't begin to explain the butterflies of holding the baby snug against me, or smelling his skin one last time before placing him down for the night. You are so right. These moments are perfection, and it is so true that he will grow as his brothers, into walkers and talkers and runners and kids. I cherish each day with this tiny baby miracle, before he becomes that child in a picture I will barely recognize. (*sniff, your post hit home*) Thanks for putting to words what I feel every day.

  2. These are the moments for a mom to cherish every moment with her baby. Every single movement from them makes their mom happy. These memories lives on forever. :)


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