I saw a new baby, a very new newborn baby, in the grocery store the other day. Only two eyes, squeezed tightly shut, and a little nub of a nose were visible, but they were magnetizing. A little red, a little wrinkled, a little dry and shrivelly. I looked back at my own baby, sitting in my shopping cart, who at just 4 months old suddenly looked enormous. Fully plumped out with big cheeks and soft “please squeeze me” skin. Big blue eyes opened wide, lined with long lush lashes and soaking in everything. She smiled at me when we made eye contact, and made a happy little gurgle.
It was right then that it hit me: the early days were over.
The phrase “early days” is something I first heard from my sister, who heard it from some other women, when she was the mom out and about with her brand new human being.
Oh, the early days.
How we dread them and cherish them. It’s a time of extremes and contradictions. Overwhelming love, so much stress. Powering through until it’s over, but wanting it to last forever.
But, since this is my last baby, I’m done with that now. I’m through it. I have a squishy, full-sized baby and a toddler that looks positively grown up sometimes. Somewhere recently I passed out of that fleeting newborn phase for the last time. And I didn’t see exactly when it happened.
But that’s okay. Esme has been such an easy baby I’m not surprised we floated so smoothly forward (and it’s not like there’s a shortage of new experiences to look forward to!). But newborn-ness is such a unique time, I feel compelled to hold on to the memories much like I did with pregnancy. To officially say goodbye to those foggy, exhausting, magical blips of time when my children were still brand, brand new in the world.
Small and sweet and scary.
Delicate as glass.
Little fingers, cotton mitts.
Blue blanket, pink blanket. Fuzzy hats.
Tiny wrinkled fists, lint between the fingers.
Swaddles. Baby socks. Bassinet by the bedside.
So. Much. Poo!
Small, scratchy cries.
Skinny arms, springing up into long, over-sized stretches.
Rocking, bouncing, singing.
Singing, rocking, bouncing.
Middle of the night breathing checks, by the light of a cell phone (and a street light).
Overwhelming love. Tears.
Little jelly bean.
Changing the world.