We had two.
One, a Moses Basket, the first thing we bought for you together, your Papa and I. It was second hand, but in near perfect condition. Organic sheets, a small quilt (which I knew we wouldn’t use but it was lovely and I loved it). Soft green, soft blue, cream and some yellow. Just ‘boy’ enough.
The other, a soft sided bassinet, given to me by a colleague. Also soft green, this one with ruffles and a bonnet. Ruffles have never been my style but these, these I loved.
The room, all set up and waiting. The bassinet on its stand wheeled close to our bed. The basket, linens carefully washed and put back on, waiting beside the crib. A sea of green and cream, soft and clean and ready.
And you, so tiny when we brought you home. You slept on your back in your little beds, like a starfish, your small arms and legs fully outstretched not reaching the sides or ends.
Like most newborns, you spent most of your days in my arms, but you used your little beds too. By day I would bring the basket out into the living room, where I could set you down and still keep you in my sight. By night, I would roll the bassinet up as close my bed as possible, so I could reach in and lay my hand on your chest.
You slept a lot. Far more than some other baby’s I’ve known, but to me it was familiar because your two brothers before had done the same. And like your brothers you quickly grew into a big, strong, active baby. It wasn’t long before I heard your legs, kicking in the night, hit the end of the bassinet, and your arms graze the side as you moved in your sleep. Your short time in your small beds was coming to an end.
So I prepared your crib for you. The sheets, washed and never used, had to be washed again. A mobile I found downtown at the thrift shop (brand new in box!) hung overhead, brightly coloured friends to make you smile.
And you, when I lay you down, seemed so tiny again, arms stretched out not reaching the sides.
I thought you wouldn’t like being laid down in your crib. (But you did, stretching your legs and arms with a sigh as if you’d been waiting just for this.)
I wondered if you would drift to sleep in your crib. (But you did, your small fist in your mouth, singing quietly to yourself.)
I worried you might not rest well in your crib. (But you did, from the first night, me waking several times to check on you.)
But mostly I felt that it was right.
The bassinet is gone now, passed to another family to prepare their room while they wait for their tiny new baby. The basket sits at the foot of my bed, holding blankets, waiting for me to find it a new home. And maybe I never will.
It’s been one week, and tonight I long to reclaim the bassinet that I gave away, to put it back in our room and roll it up close to the bed where it belongs. To lay you there so I can rest my hand on your chest as you sleep to feel the rise and fall of your breath. To stop time, to rewind, to go back to that place of tiny new baby and yes I’ll take the sleepless nights and sore breasts and exhaustion right along with it. Because it goes so fast and when we’re in the thick of it we don’t always take the time to appreciate it and even though this time I determined I would treasure every moment, even though this time I greeted midnight wakeups with joy instead of resentment, even though this time I was aware of how fleeting it all is, still I sometimes feel like I blinked and I missed it.
Bring it back! The skin that is softer than anything you’ve ever touched in your life. The floppy neck, the wrinkled brow, the tiny arms and legs that barely fit clothing. The eyes so new you don’t know yet what colour they are and they are just learning to focus but you, you they see clearly. The newness and excitement and joy of discovering who this tiny human is, and of falling in love with him. Put it all in my bassinet and wheel it back into my bedroom, and keep it there forever.
We all know how this story ends. There is no going back.
And in truth, I don’t really want to.
Because there is joy in watching you grow into the strong, healthy, happy boy that you are. Crib, mobile, the next larger size of clothing, soon the sitting up position on your stroller and a new carseat, then crawling and walking, then playgrounds and friends houses and swimming pools and sleepovers at Grandmas and movie theatres (oh with popcorn!) and bumper cars and beaches and parties with streamers and so, so much more.
It’s all coming, son, all for you.