Newborn to Baby in the Blink of an Eye
Just a moment ago there was a freshly minted newborn in my arms. Snuggled up and sleeping deeply, unaware of the world around him. He didn’t look like a newborn – with his hundredth percentile height and weight, or his rolls of fat. But a newborn he was, complete with bobbly head and unfocused stare. Petrified of this strange environment he found himself in. For two nights he wailed if I attempted to set him down in the cot right beside me. Instinctively he was only content to remain curled up close to my familiar thudding heartbeat. Slow and steady. Promising warmth, safety and food.
Slowly his senses expanded. He screwed up his face, staring at the shapes looming above him. Looking utterly surprised when the blurry features finally came into focus and transformed into another person. The deafening sound of his big brother became less startling. He reacted to the voices about him and identified those of mother, father and brother. His world grew a little larger and more interesting. To a casual observer he did absolutely nothing with his days and nights. But look more closely and you saw him passively take it all in. Wondering. Absorbing. Learning. Eyes widening in response to something happening his vicinity. Gazing more intently at lights, patterns and colours that happened to cross his limited range of vision.
Life went on around him. The dramatic daily ups and downs of his 4 year-old brother. The adults with their grown-up concerns and decisions to make. There were school runs, grocery shops and appointments to keep. There were sniffles and coughs. Car journeys and visits to new places. Trips for coffee and cake. These were often not a relaxing break, but a stressful endeavour with a cantankerous child or two to contend with. The days were growing shorter and colder. The months snuck past.
Just a moment ago there was a freshly minted newborn in my arms. Then I blinked, and that delicate newborn was gone. Replaced with a bigger and more robust baby. Newborn to baby in an instant. How did that happen? This baby doesn’t fit on my lap when he sleeps in my arms. His toes are busting out of 9 to 12 month babygros. His eyes focus easily and track each person around the room. One week his arms wave fruitlessly at objects too far away to reach. The next week, he awkwardly swipes at anything in his range and grips them tightly. The learning curve is oh so steep. Who knows what new goal he will achieve in just a few more days?
He has realised the devastating effect that a baby’s smile has on others, and experiments on family and strangers alike. He gleefully cackles when tickled, and does an energetic happy dance when you bend down to pick him up. He frantically tries to throw himself in the direction of anything interesting, heedless of the fact that he doesn’t have much control of his limbs yet. Until then, he’s already having all the chats. Conversationally babbling and gurgling to us, or to himself in the absence of an adoring audience. Screaming indignantly at even a hint of anything he doesn’t like. It’s utterly fascinating watching him explore his gradually expanding world that he sees so differently to us.
Yep, that newborn is long gone. In this moment there’s a freshly minted baby in my arms. I try not to blink for fear that a toddler will appear when I open my eyes. I’m not ready for him to transform again quite yet.