My last baby turned 11-months-old the other day, and I’m sitting here thinking about the bittersweet nature of firsts when you’re on your last. I’ve had three children now, and with my last baby, I’m treasuring every moment that I can so I don’t forget them.
It seems like a good time now to think about all the firsts that we experience with our children as I’m coming up on the last first birthday.
This time around feels so different from my first or second child, and I think it’s because there’s a clear end to things that sounds in my heart as I watch my baby learn and grow. It sounds like the last baby babble or the last tiny giggle that melts my heart as he smiles up at me. So this post is in celebration of the last firsts, and maybe you can relate if you, too, are facing the prospect of no more babies in your own home.
What are those firsts we cherish so much in the first year of life?
There are so many as we watch our children be born and begin to grow and change. And it’s always amazing to me how much they change in just the span of a single year. I tried especially hard to take in all those special moments this time around, and I found it a little easier to do that when I considered that this was my third baby.
I loved his birth more than I can say in this post, and I found it impossible to look away from my tiny baby when he entered this world. His first cry seemed to sound as soon as he was in my arms, and he opened his eyes for the first time to see my face above his own.
I enjoyed the first smile I could tell was a true smile and not a gas bubble. I loved that first giggle that I got while tickling his neck. His first time sitting up on his own was one of those moments I realized the firsts were ticking by faster.
He broke his first tooth with his second beside it at nine-months-old, and again I felt the grip of those firsts passing us by. He ate his first foods, and I can say with some degree of certainty he did not appreciate my attempts at sticking to vegetables first. I watched his hands clutch toys for the first time and bring them up to his bright eyes to study, and then those same hands learned to hold and shove in bits of food to a mouth that ravenously ate as many solids as he could get.
He learned to roll from back to front and front to back, and quickly after he learned his rolls, he learned to push himself into a seated position.
My husband helped him learn to crawl with “crawl training” on the floor of the bonus room, and in recent weeks, that crawl training has opened new doors for my baby. I watched him take his first true crawling movements, and now we have a mover and shaker.
And as with all firsts, there are some firsts I wish we could have avoided.
Still I hold those memories as closely as I do the happy firsts. The first time we visited the pediatrician and learned he was losing weight, the first time I gave him a bottle, the first lactation consultant visit. With each first, a little more time passed on the way to the last first birthday.
I’m putting it into perspective as I reminisce and listen to my children argue behind me. These firsts for all my children mark a passing of time. They mark significant developments in my children’s lives. They mark special skills and abilities, and they mark the growth of my children steadily from infant to adult.
The firsts mark me as well.
They mark the first time I held my child and became flooded with a protectiveness I can’t put firmly into words. They mark those moments that formed me into the mother I am today — both the good moments and the bad ones. They mark the identity that I have chosen to add to who I am: a mother.
And now as I watch my son’s first birthday approach, these last firsts mark an end to a period of time that has been both bitter and sweet in different measures. As I move forward to the toddler years with my baby, I’m looking forward to the new firsts I’ll experience with all my children. Today — and hopefully every day — I can remind myself to embrace the firsts even as I move to a new period in my life.