Today, after weeks of clumsy stutter-steps and tip-overs, my baby boy is walking. Walking. On his own. Across the kitchen, across the lawn, across the deck-all he wants to do now is walk. He reaches out his hand and squeaks at whoever is closest to him, as if to say, “Hey, you, help me get started!” Then he pops up on his chubby little feet, gets his balance, and he is off. Three, four, maybe six steps and then he flops back down onto his hands and knees, looks for the nearest person (or wall) to help him up, and he is off again.
All he wants to do all day is walk. And all I want him to do is curl up in his little muslin swaddling blanket and be three months old again, sleeping on my lap in my rocking chair.
So now I remember that anxious feeling I had for a few weeks once baby Hank was finally here last May. Seeing him actually walking now, not only do I miss my tiny baby, and the fact that he spent most of his time in my arms, but I even kind of miss being pregnant. In my tummy he had everything he needed-around the clock-and as long as he kept kicking me, I knew he was ok!
I loved being pregnant. After so much time wondering if I was even able to get pregnant, I was half-surprised when I did, so I made it my mission to do everything just right! I ate a ton of healthy things so I could grow that big baby up healthy and strong. I stayed away from caffeine and my beloved nightly glass of wine. I slept as much as I could. I drank tons of water and took all my vitamins. And I felt like in my safe, huge tummy I could make sure he was alright, because I could make all those choices for him. Control freak? Yep! You bet I am, but I own it 100%!
The tiny part of me that doesn’t want him to be walking yet is that same part who was terrified once he entered the big scary world. He spent most of his first week of life in a plastic rolling bassinet parked under blue UV lights with goggles on-because he was so jaundiced-and I know for a fact I cried as much as he did that week. I couldn’t pick him up to soothe him other than when he needed fed; his daddy and I just had to sit by his little “bed” night and day. We tried to talk to him through his relentless screaming to let him know we were at least close by, until he fell asleep. We would crash right alongside him, grateful for a break from feeling sad for him. I couldn’t fix it for him, and it was the most horrible, helpless feeling I have ever experienced. I made up for those missed snuggles in the weeks that followed, but I still felt that same helplessness every time he went in for another of his million heel pokes to keep checking that bilirubin level.
Motherhood is hands-down, the most wonderful, scary, exciting, stressful, rewarding, and bittersweet thing I have ever experienced. I get it now-what all the other mothers meant when they told me about their own babies growing up. They told me it would feel like my heart would go walking around outside of my chest. All of a sudden, mine is, and it is terrifying.
I realize I can’t wrap the little tornado up in bubble wrap, but I sure wish I could! I am thrilled for him and love nothing more than his proud little face and those adorable little squeals of both pride and frustration, but part of me is mourning, too. My baby boy is gone. And in his place-overnight-is a wild and crazy toddler. A TODDLER! And I better get my sneakers on, because this kid is about to hit the ground running. I just hope I can keep up!