I have always known that we would only have two children. Although after Little Man was born, and up until he turned one – maybe even two – I could have quite happily had another, I knew that wasn’t right for our family – two was always going to be the right number.
But now that LP is six and Little Man is four I know with certainty that we won’t have any more children. The baby days are well and truly behind us and with that knowledge I feel that bittersweet feeling, knowing it’s right but being sad about it all the same.
The baby days were hard. I think most parents would agree that the broken sleep, the constant nappy changes, constant feeds and endless washing are hard work. But, in amongst that there are so many lovely things and so I thought I would write about all the things from our baby and toddler days that I don’t want to forget. Those little moments that make ‘no more babies’ bittersweet rather than just a happy feeling of no more nappies and little people who can wipe their bums by themselves.
So here are all the things I loved about pregnancy and birth, those baby days and the actual babies too:
I remember finding out I was pregnant with LP, those lines on that stick and the overwhelming feeling of excitement, fear, nerves and hope. It was an incredible tidal wave of emotion and a feeling I never want to forget.
I remember going to the hospital for my scans and having to have a bladder so full, being prodded until the picture came on the screen and feeling like I was going to wet myself at any minute – but completely forgetting the need to pee as soon as LP’s little shape came on the screen, seeing her heart beat and her limbs move. Seeing your baby on that screen for the first time is one of the most amazing things in life.
I remember getting the nursery ready, buying little sleep suits and vests, putting them in the wardrobe and stocking up on nappies, ready for the baby to come. We had a rocking chair and I would go and sit in it when I was home alone, just me and my bump taking a moment to enjoy the baby’s room and think about the future.
We didn’t know the gender of the baby for either pregnancy and I remember going to midwife appointments and hearing the baby’s heartbeat – wondering whether it sounded like a horse or a train and trying to remember which was for a girl and which was for a boy.
I remember preparing for our first home birth, putting the birth pool up a few weeks before and getting into it in a bra and pants to see what it would be like. Everything felt real when the home birth kit got delivered and I just hoped the baby would arrive within the five week window they allow you to birth at home.
I remember going into labour, bouncing on a ball and watching the OC. I didn’t watch any of it, my mind was elsewhere, but I remember how nice it was to be at home, Dave and I in the lounge, ready to be a family.
I remember how purple new baby’s nails are. I remember that new baby smell and how nice it was to be at home, laying on my sofa with my new baby. I remember having tea and toast and it being the nicest thing I have ever tasted.
I remember having Little Man, at home, but having to transfer to hospital soon after. I remember holding him in the back of the ambulance, giving details to a paramedic through tears. It was the scariest time of my life.
I remember how I hadn’t thought past giving birth. With both babies I had just focused on birth and physically having a baby – I hadn’t thought of anything past that.
I remember how scary it was to bath our baby for the first time, how tiny she was, how fragile she looked but I also remember how hardy that fragile little thing was.
I remember how scrunched up new babies are and how they stay that way for days – weeks even. Scrunched in the foetal position and having to straighten their legs to get them dressed and undressed.
I remember how they used to lay against my shoulder, all warm and soft. Weighing so little but being so solid and so there. A comforting weight and yet no weight at all.
I remember how they used to stretch backwards like a banana when they yawned – arms over their heads and back stretched as far back as possible. It was the cutest thing.
I remember their shock reaction when there was a loud noise or when they’d get out the bath and hit the cold air. The way their arms would fly up and they would cry instantly. They got used to it eventually but in those moments it seemed like the world had ended.
I remember how warm and snug the babies felt in sleeping bags, picking them up so easily with their legs tucked inside.
I remember how Little Man would wee everywhere. I had never changed a boy before and it was so different to LP. But, I soon learnt the trick of how to change a boy nappy without there being a fountain of wee!
I remember how both LP and Little Man were covered in downy fur. This little fuzz of hair all over them, like a little baby bird. It was so soft and slowly disappeared over time.
I remember when I first learnt that ‘envelope top’ vests could be pulled down and not just pulled up over a baby’s head – that information literally changed my life, especially when an exploding nappy was involved.
I remember the endless nights of rocking the babies to sleep, feeding, rocking, feeding, rocking and singing the sleepy song. Those nights were long but they went by oh so fast.
I remember how hard breastfeeding was. I remember my nipples bleeding and crying through the pain. But I also remember, a couple of weeks later, realising that it didn’t hurt anymore. I had healed and the baby and I had both learnt what we were doing.
I remember that let down milk feeling of feeding, the tingling and warmth. I remember the baby’s mouth being like a vacuum and being amazed that this little thing knew just what to do. I remember realising for the first time that milk doesn’t just come from one hole but many in each nipple and, at that point, realising how amazing my body really was.
I remember cradle cap, milk spots and how snuffly the babies would get when they had a cold, using vaporisers to make them feel better but often just staying awake with them asleep on my shoulder. You would do anything to make your baby feel better.
I remember the first time I co-slept, by accident, waking suddenly with the baby asleep by my side. I often fell asleep feeding, laying on my side with the baby nestled under my arm. It worked for us, we both slept and it was our happy place.
I remember walking into the baby’s room in the morning and the way their face would light up the instant they saw me. However bad the night had been, that face would fix everything.
I remember spending days in my pyjamas, just me and my baby. We would stay in bed late together, watch TV together, cuddle together and not do much else. Even when Little Man was born and LP was a toddler we would spend many days in our pyjamas. Those days were long but, like the nights, they went so fast and I loved how we focused on getting through the day and not about getting dressed, housework or anything else. It was just us, getting through and it all turned out fine.
I remember maternity leave going so fast but being so lovely too – lots of days of tea and cake with friends, babies rolling around on the floor and no real routine.
I remember baby led weaning being the best thing we did, letting the children eat what we ate from the start. It was oh so messy – but it was so much fun too.
I loved having babies and you can only be a first time parent once. Thinking about all the first times I did things, all the things I had to learn makes me realise how far I have come. In nearly seven years of parenting I have learnt so much and grown so much as a person. I have such a richer life for being a parent and I am so grateful to have my two beautiful children – and to be able to look back at all the little things that we have been through together. These are the things I never want to forget.