It was a Sunday night and as I sat on our bed, rocking our daughter Olivia to sleep, I looked around our room and noticed the baby swing leaning up against the bookcase. My initial thought was, I should move that to the basement and it would clear up so much room. Then as I sat there a little longer, it occurred to me, we hadn’t used that swing in almost 2 months.
We had 2 swings, one in the kitchen and one upstairs in the bedroom. That swing was the life saver of all life savers when it came to putting our triplets to bed and to getting them back to sleep if they woke up during the night. It was my go to method of putting them to sleep, especially Olivia. Looking back I don’t think I would have survived some nights without it. As crazy as it sounds, it was essentially our third set of arms, which was highly needed when putting triplets to bed.
Now I look at it, just sitting there, just taking up space and then it hit me. When did we stop using the swing? Could I tell you the exact date or moment we didn’t put them back in? Why did we stop using it?
I couldn’t think of the answers to any of those questions, but while I continued to rock Olivia, waiting for her to fall asleep in my arms, I looked down at her and realized, we had said goodbye to the baby stage. It was in that moment I had come to realize that my three little babies weren’t babies anymore, but 17 month old toddlers. It brought tears to my eyes to look down, see her sleeping and remembering the time only a few short months ago she was just a tiny little newborn baby.
It felt like over night they just became three little walking, talking toddlers and were no longer my little babies who needed me to get them things or move them around the room. They can now hold their bottles, feed themselves, decide which toy they want to play with and go and get it, they can talk and understand directions and things I tell them to do. These were the small changes that happened over time and eventually became their everyday actions, which made them the independent toddlers (to some extent) they are today.
When do we really say goodbye to that baby stage? What changes a baby to a toddler?
I sat there continuing to think of how we moved from one stage to the next and I guess it was gradually and over a period of time. We no longer have any of the baby items. We sold, gave away or threw out all of those items that tied us to the baby stage. The bassinet, the bumbo chairs, the exersaucer, the second swing, all gone.
Now I know the items you use for a baby doesn’t indicate that you are still in the baby stage, heck our triplets were 15 months and still sleeping in a swing, but they do give you a sense of where you are. To look at the swing, knowing it is really our last piece of baby equipment sitting in our house is very sad and made the knowledge that our babies are not so little anymore very real.
I couldn’t help but give Olivia a little extra squeeze that night, knowing that the time will come where I won’t be holding her or rocking any of the 3 to sleep anymore. I know with our oldest daughter Emily, that time has passed and we no longer rock her to sleep. Sure we still bring her to bed and we could lay with her until she falls asleep, but she doesn’t need us to rock her or hold her anymore and that fact in and of it self is heartbreaking.
I knew having a baby was going to be hard, but I didn’t know watching them grow up would be just as hard. I spent so many days thinking, okay tomorrow will be easier and I will get the hang of this, but now I look back and think what I wouldn’t do just to get one day again when they are little just laying in my arms. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for them and I really just want them to be my little babies forever.
The baby stage, no matter how long it lasts, will always be a special stage, filled with so much love, tears (good and bad), joy and memories that will last a lifetime. Although you may not be able to pin point the exact time you move from one stage to another, when you get there you will know.
You have probably heard this many times, but enjoy the moment when you are in it because it wont be like that forever. Enjoy the fact that they still want to cuddle, that they need you and they can still fit perfectly in your arms. Enjoy the time you have with your little one because time goes by too fast and before you know it, they will be putting themselves to bed.
If you have the extra time, stop and hold them a little longer, give them an extra hug before laying them down and stop and stare at them one extra time before you leave the room because you never know when it will be your last time to enjoy the baby stage.
After sitting there in the dark, rocking Olivia to sleep, thinking about all the time I spent putting our babies to bed, it made me really appreciate all that motherhood has to give. There really is no other experience like it and I truly wouldn’t change it for the world.
The last 3 years with Emily and the last 18 months with Jackson, Olivia and Levi, have gone by in the blink of an eye and I can only imagine how fast the next few years will go. They will soon transition from the toddler stage to the next stage and whenever that may be, I hope I will be able to look back and say I experienced and enjoyed all that I could. I want to cherish every moment possible and know I haven’t missed a thing!