About ten seconds ago, I had this:
And then I blinked, or I turned away, or I did something; but I don't know what, and when I turned back, and opened my eyes, I had this:
And I'm not saying that the second isn't every bit as magical and astounding as the first; I'm just saying that all I did was blink. And I missed my baby.
Because he's six months old tomorrow (or possibly the day after: B and I disagree on this one. If you're born on the 31st May are you six months old on 30 November or 1 December? And how much more complicated if you're born on 29 February?) and he's not a tiny baby any more.
And somehow, where with L, the first six months took years: an endless, wonderful, wouldn't change it for a second agony of learning curve and colic and sleepless nights, and with S and A they were a focused marathon, feeling every yard of those twenty-six miles, don't worry about whether you're enjoying them or not (for the record, I did; in parts), just get through, the last six months have disappeared in the blink of his unbelievably long eyelashes, or the flash of his ever-ready grin.
But I didn't want them to. I wanted to savour them. I had plans. There were pictures I wanted to take, that I never managed to get of the girls: the mole-rat face of a tiny baby, just off the breast, nose to the fore, eyes tight closed, like a naked rodent and no less adorable for it; the bottom lip, pushed out in fury beyond the seeming stretch of those tiny muscles; the first taste of solids (adores them, for the record, but I still haven't taken a picture); the first weighing in the calico hammock the health visitors bring; the moments he mislaid his thumb...
Because all those are gone, fleeting as daybreak, a moment in time that will never be repeated. Like the sounds and feelings that I will never experience again: the tiny weight of my newborn, the blind seeking for milk, the first hesitant squeeze of my finger, the tearless, angry, babybird cries.
And I tried, I really did. I have found myself thinking, countless times, that I wanted to bottle that moment, that feeling, that smell. But it passes, and I forget, and now I can bearly remember what he felt like at three weeks, or looked like at three months.
M is not the baby he was. He has lost his startle reflex. He has lost his skinny new baby look. His voice is older, his smile is more knowing. He has grown and changed and I am so proud of him. But despite all that I can't help wishing I had noticed the moment that I lost my baby.
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