I’m less than five months in, but I feel I already know this quote will be true for me. Watching my baby grow and develop is both my favourite thing in the world and a journey of bittersweet goodbyes.
It’s my favourite thing because I feel proud as she reaches little milestones, I congratulate her for learning to hold her rattle, for discovering her feet, for seeing her stick her tongue out, for laughing with her whole body. I watch everything she does, I don’t want to miss any firsts, and I get excited by every single one.
And it’s bittersweet because it’s happening so quickly. Already I’ve said goodbye to her smallness and her newbornness. I’ve watched new stages start before I was ready to let the first ones go. I remember the moment when I first saw a baby that was smaller than her – when she was no longer the smallest. The moment when people stopped saying to me “you forget how small they are”; when I packed away her newborn clothes because they no longer fit her. I went through a few weeks when I couldn’t stop looking at photos of her when she was just born – when she was wet and red and wrinkly and sleepy.
My daughter is over four months now, and at no time in my life has my heart been so full. So in an effort to make sure her first year doesn’t pass me by I’ve brainstormed some ideas to enjoy and preserve this special time. Feel free to comment and add your own below.
- Take photos! We did a professional photo shoot with our very talented friend – Madeleine Suzanne – when Nala was 6 weeks. When we eventually find a home to settle in we’ll be printing these photos on canvases.
- Journal – when Nala was five days old I snuggled her up in the Hugabub and walked to our local coffee shop, where I sat and wrote her birth story, while she snuggled in and slept. It became a bit of a ritual for me – something I would do for myself. It always included a walk, coffee, snuggle time and lots of writing – all of my favourite things. I’m still doing it as much as I can. It helps me process the big change that’s happened in my life, the fact that I am now a mum. And it helps me remember how everything feels and the special little moments that pass too quickly.
- Letting her sleep on me. I’ve heard all the advice saying ‘put the baby to bed sleepy, but awake’, I know the theory, I’ve read the sleep books. But my baby doesn’t like to sleep alone and I love holding her as she sleeps. Some of my favourite moments since she was born involve her, flopped into my arms, fast asleep. Sometimes these are quiet, secret moments at home, sometimes they are close moments when we are out and about. Either way I just can’t resist them. I see her getting sleepy and I know it’s time to put her down, but I also know she will grow so fast and I wont get these snuggles for long, so I hold her a bit longer. I may regret this – I am in equal parts loving it and scared that I’ll create bad habits. But I’m not willing to sacrifice the cuddles just in case.
- Filling in her baby book – I’m writing in it every month, recording the milestones as they happen.
- Finding activities that my baby and I enjoy doing together. It can be easy to get stuck in the daily routine of feeding, playing, bathing, sleeping etc. I’ve signed up to do a Mums and Babes class once a week, which is full of developmental play, songs etc and is really fun for both of us. I also took Nala to a yoga class last week – she had lots of fun doing her best to copy the poses, so I think next year I’ll go weekly to the class you can take you baby to.
- I got Nala an email address! I’ve already written her a couple of emails and over the coming years I will write her many more. When I think she is ready I’ll give her the log in details. I want her to know just how loved she is, but she’s too young to remember if I tell her now, which is why I’m emailing it to her for later.
- Remembering that every nappy change is an opportunity to play, to bond, to teach and to look into my daughter’s eyes. I’m not going to lie, the novelty of nappy changes wore off after the first 500 times (so about week two…) But my daughter loves nappy changes. She waves her arms and legs with excitement and we have a special nappy song that we sing. For me this song was about creating memories out of something that has to be done and using every opportunity to bond with my little one.
I’ll continue to add to this list as I think of more ideas. I constantly wish I could press the pause button on time, but I cannot. So instead I’ll try to be intentional about not letting this time get lost in the busyness if life – not letting it pass me by without appreciating every minute.
And then I told a friend of mine about how sad I was about saying goodbye to the newborn phase and she said, ‘every stage is beautiful, 3 is beautiful’. And I remembered that as a mum I have so much to look forward to.