We don’t get to keep the babies

            It is early in the morning and the boys have come tumbling out of their room.  Potty activities completed, Zachary wants to get into bed with me, so both boys hop up and I am able to steal a few more horizontal minutes.  Benjamin cuddles, his still-baby pudginess fitting perfectly into the crook of my arm.

            On my other side, Zachary is playing with the flashlight I keep by the side of the bed (for emergencies – dirty-minded people).  He is flashing circles on the ceiling and wall, conducting the classic childhood experiment of seeing what happens when the flashlight moves closer or further away from a surface.

            He has always been a stringbean, my eldest child.  So, there really was never any chubbiness to lose.  Yet, watching him, it is clear he has lost his metaphorical baby fat.  There is no more baby about him.  He thinks and moves and feels like a boy.  He has crossed through some imperceptible liminal space, leaving behind his babyhood forever when I wasn’t paying attention.

            I did not know when Benjamin was a newborn that they would ever stop being babies.  His older brother was a toddler, and they both qualified as babies.  But, now, as my second child is already more than halfway through to full-blown childhood, I look at his brother and realize that they only spend a moment in that round, affectionate stage.

            I am fortunate.  This accidental baby, the one growing in my womb, will come to me when I already know that she will grow up too soon.  In her infancy, I will know what we can only learn through experience: they don’t let us keep our babies.

            I wonder if it will make a difference.


To L and J, DZ, EC, and all the rest of the first-time parents out there.

23 responses to “We don’t get to keep the babies

  1. i think it will.

    had i been able to have a third child, i think i would have felt all kinds of patient tenderness towards him/her, just because of understanding how ephemeral it is, babyhood and toddlerhood both.

  2. My son is still a baby, of course, but lately I look at him and I can just see the little boy in him. It’s all just too fast..

  3. I sure hope it will make a difference. I think the same thing as I look at my already-boy and his little brother, who isn’t far behind. I had them so close together that I thought the baby stage would never end. This time around, I will have just this one baby and my two boys to remind me how quickly it ends.

  4. My 3rd was an accident as well and I seem to be clinging more to the babyhood. He is three now, and there is only a little bit of baby left. I mourn the passing each day at the same time that I celebrate his accomplishments. It is even more bittersweet when I know he is my last (really, for sure this time).

  5. i was shocked at how quickly MQ stopped being a baby.

  6. Oh sheesh, make a preggo lady cry. 🙂

    I am so with you, mine are kids, not babies. I hope this one stays a baby for a while, but I plan on enjoying every minute of it.

  7. I don’t know. Life is busy with two. But I like to think so. I like to think I would have appreciated the third one so much more.

  8. It is a sad realization…but the fun is seeing them grow into wonderful, confident, loving people!

  9. We don’t get to keep our babies . . .

    There are many days when the thought makes me incredibly sad . ..

    There are many days, when I couldn’t be happier! 🙂

  10. I hate how quickly they grow.

  11. There are still lots of cute stages to go. Every age my boys were, I thought they were the perfect age! And there will be lots of other things you’ll miss. Like when all my boys finally got done with their speech therapy and didn’t have their little “accents” anymore–not being able to fully say their R’s and S’s–I was glad for them but I missed the way they used to talk–like they suddenly sounded too grown up!

  12. This is so totally true! I turned around one minute and my girl became a KID and I don’t have a baby anymore. It’s sad. We always wished we’d enjoy it more in hindsight.

  13. Ooof. I felt that like a fist in my stomach – because I can see that you’re right.

  14. Hey, you should read “Great With Child” by Debra Reinstra (spelling?) She wrote a memoir while pregnant with her third child, and its pretty amazing. 2SquareMeals sent me a copy when I was pregnant with my first. There are some religious themes, I believe, but there’s a lot more than that. She’s also a feminist. 🙂

  15. Emily, I predict that it will make a difference. It definitely did for me, with baby #3. Everything was in it’s own time, nothing was rushed. I was much more likely to let him sleep with me at night, to nurse until he wanted to nurse, to snuggle even when there was laundry to do. I think it’s the blessing bestowed upon a third child in order to make up for some of the deficits (having to wake the baby to attend child 1 and 2’s events, having to go along with whatever, etc).

  16. When my first was born, I was in such a daze of recovery, sleeplessness, hit by Mack truck by parenting that the first two months or so of my son’s life passed in a blur.

    I regretted that.

    When my daughter was born 8 years later, I promised myself I would try to appreciate those first few weeks as much as I could. (At the time, I think I was successful, but now my brain is aging at an incredible rate and I am forgetting it all!)

    I’m glad you’ll have some more baby-loving to do!

  17. yeah, in the blink of an eye she’ll be telling you that you are the worst mother EVER; that you never let her do ANYTHING; and that she is never speaking to you AGAIN. sigh. ain’t life grand…

  18. nearlynormalized

    That is why each moment one has to enjoy, you never know what is around the corner. Love and smells are grand.

  19. Thank you for this sweet and important post! I was reading this while nursing E this morning and we were incredibly snug. (We were both in very cheerful moods since she slept well last night.) After reading this I put down the ipod so that we could have a nice cuddle.

  20. I think about this every day – every day that I breathe in my last baby, and watch him so hard and feel how soft he is and listen to his sweet baby voice. I grieve for the end of his babyness and it hasn’t even happened yet.

  21. I have been woefully neglecting you and boy, do you come up with the hum-dingers while I’m away!

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. You always make me smile through my sniffles.

  22. From the day we brought my baby home from the hospital I have mourned that fact that she will not always be a baby. At the end of each day I am sad that another day of her babyhood is gone, never to be experienced again. She is halfway through her first year and although I know she will be adorable and wonderful as a toddler, a kid, and well, who knows what kind of teenager, I am so aware of this fleeting time. I sometimes get mad at myself if I don’t think I paid enough attention to her that day. But with a new baby comes the experience all over again! Lucky you!

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