My final baby recently turned 1, and while we celebrate, with special significance, each milestone she achieves, I find myself silently grieving the loss of the baby stage. My joy at not being forced to face another moment of pregnancy is palpable, but the ache for an infant in my arms has already begun.
I won’t miss the crying that wakes me up earlier than any alarm. I won’t miss the pungent pile of diapers that seems to grow by the hour. I won’t miss the armfuls of diaper bags, car seat handles, and other infant necessities that must be hauled everywhere I go. I won’t miss the worry over every slight fever, misplaced choking hazard, and hazardous stairwell opening.
I won’t miss everything, but I will miss some things.
I will miss the two-syllable wail that only a newborn makes.
I will miss the smell of a freshly bathed infant head.
I will miss the indescribable softness of round baby cheeks as they nestled into my neck, cradled against my arm, and rested against my chest.
I will miss the miniature fingers that clung so desperately to one of mine.
I will miss the tiny pats from little hands clasped tightly around my back. To me they said, “I love you, Mommy,” and I whispered back, “I love you, Baby.”
I will miss the sweet arms that reached hopefully up to me, wordlessly pleading for the comfort of my embrace.
I will miss the light that filled my baby’s eyes as I stepped into her view. I was her everything, her guardian, her sunshine, her life, but not for long.
I will miss the swift searching turn of her head, as she heard my voice after a short absence.
I will miss the panting breaths and rooting lips of the hungry baby who waited five extra minutes for her tummy full of warm milk.
I will miss the heart-swelling sound of spontaneous baby giggles that cannot be forced, but which I tried to cajole out of her nonetheless.
I will miss the babbling sounds that all end in “a,” but are used to describe everything in a baby’s amazing world.
I will miss the teetering steps of unsteady feet as they determinedly attacked the task of walking.
I will miss the beautiful feeling of trust that consumed me as my baby relaxed into my arms and contentedly drifted off to sleep. I will miss being the last thing she saw as her heavy eyes blinked one more time before slumber. I will miss cradling her impossibly small body and watching it move in rhythm with every breath. I will miss studying her still, peaceful face and whispering my heart into her ear as she dreamed.
I won’t miss changing a soiled diaper, only to have to redo it as soon as I put the the wipes away. I won’t miss sleepily stumbling through the dark, tripping over toys, trying to answer my baby’s latest call. I won’t miss the relentless washing of bottles, pacifiers, laundry, and then the dropped pacifiers again, but I will miss holding my baby in my arms. I’ll miss it until I have grand-babies, and then all will be right again.