Nearly two. We’re escaping the New Zealand winter, to enjoy some sunshine in Rarotonga. Another family holiday to cherish and remember forever. What a joy to us you are, my love. And such a blessing.
Last week, we celebrated your FIRST BIRTHDAY !
A whole year has gone by since the day we first met you. I can hardly believe it.
Over the last week or so I have taken many moments to stop, close my eyes, and to be still in that knowledge: you are one year old.
It’s a big deal. And yet (I warn you) this letter itself will be insignificant. There is simply no way for me to put into words just exactly what this means… what YOU mean to me. So instead, I will have to resort to clichés. Which, by their very definition, lack meaning. And even if they do convey meaning, they certainly lack originality – yet, here I am, with nothing else to say to my first born at the end of his first extraordinary year of life, other than a bunch of clichés such as ‘time flies when you are having fun’ and ‘I don’t remember anything before you’ etc. etc. But, as I am starting to realise – that’s motherhood.
That’s exactly how it is, baby. There are billions of mummas feeling the exact same things, to the exact same depth, in every moment, of every day. Motherhood is one big cliché. But I am telling you – that doesn’t make it any less original, or any less meaningful. It just means that you won’t ever understand what I am feeling right now, until you hold your own baby in your arms, celebrating their first birthday.
But until then, all I can do is try to explain >
You are my first born. And this first year of your life will forever define me as a mother. Everything I have ever been, or will be, could be defined by you. You permeate every ounce of my being. You belong in my past, retrospectively, and you guide my future. This first year with you has been the most challenging, painful, frightening, exhilarating, joyous, and love-filled year of my life. It has been everything. And I know, it has only just begun.
As it goes… I had wanted to write to you the night before your birthday, to capture all of the feelings I had before they gave way to a new day, and a new year – but life happened instead:
I spent almost the whole day making your birthday cake, whilst you played happily and threw me the occasional grin, then when your daddy got home from work I went out to a business meeting. When I came home you were already fast asleep… so I ignored that pinched feeling of ‘I should give him one last cuddle as a baby’ and instead tiptoed around outside of your room, putting all of your gifts out, and filling the space in-between with balloons, before I finally succumbed to bed myself. Curled up with your daddy, we watched you for a little while on your monitor, feeling amazed at the year we have had, excited for the years to come, and so utterly grateful for you ~ our wonderful little boy. ~ We didn’t really have any words other than ‘aww Beau… look at him…little Beau…,” so before long I was asleep and dreaming too.
And, just like that, the first year of your life gave way to your second.
I woke to the sounds of you chattering in your cot… so your daddy and I bounded out of bed and went into your room singing ‘Happy Birthday to you!’ You were standing and smiling and happy as always to see us. I scooped you into my arms, you pushed your face into my neck as is your usual morning custom, and you had your favourite breakfast of banana and kiwifruit. I helped you open your gifts, whilst your daddy took pictures, and we spent so long trying to explain to you why your silver balloons were floating to the ceiling (helium) that, before we knew it, it was time to go…
We had your final Baby Sensory class, which was such special timing. And, with your daddy there too, I was able to sit back a little and observe you more than normal (aka – not spend the entire class running after you!). You were your usual happy, confidant, and sociable self – cuddling, and climbing amongst, and squeezing all the other babies and mummas there. We sang songs, and played games, and right at the end of class you were wished another ‘Happy Birthday to you…’ and I’m not going to paint this any differently to how it was: I cried. Great big joyous tears spilling down my flushed cheeks and flooding my glasses. You sat in the middle of the circle bobbing and clapping and I crawled over to you and kissed you so hard. THIS IS MY BABY BOY ONLY HE ISN’T A BABY ANYMORE. I wanted to scream.
But all the other Mummas knew what I was feeling. They feel it too.
Next we gave you a bottle of milk, and we had coffees, and we sat like a proud little family in the café who had survived their first adventure – before you napped in the car on the way to Butterfly Creek.
We took you to Butterfly Creek because it seemed like the sort of place to take a little boy on his first birthday who has recently started walking… we wandered through the butterfly house, and looked at crocodiles opening and closing their mouths, and your daddy and I argued because he took you too close to the railing for my liking and I had a whole situation of Beau falling in and me rescuing you playing out in my head, and then we went to see baby goats and lambs and rabbits, and we spent most of the time stopping you poke them all in the eye, and then we saw baby rats which were so young they were bald and pink and blind and I could have cried at how special and new they were, and then you sat on a big tractor without the engine in and reached immediately for the gear stick and your daddy looked at me chuffed whilst I rolled my eyes in prospective worry, and then we dashed like mad things for the train ride…
Your daddy and I muttered some comments to each other about ‘…underwhelming… just going round in a circle… nothing to see…’ and then I saw you again. Your eyes were wide, your arms were in the air, and we ‘whoop whooped’ all the way back again.
Once we got home, you played with your new toys whilst I put the party food together and your daddy tied helium balloons to every possible surface. Soon our house was full of family and fun and at 5.50pm – the exact moment you came to us – we lit your candle, sang to you once more, and cut your first birthday cake.
Even though I made a banana cake, and filled it with fresh banana slices especially for you, because I know you love them – you were far more interested in playing with your cousins… filling your Aunty Heather and I with such joy, at our boys loving each other so much… and before too much longer, you were half asleep on my shoulder as I carried you into your room shouting goodbye to everyone heading home.
And thus ~ your second year had already begun…
Baby, you turned one year old and the majority of the world didn’t even notice. Most of our friends didn’t even notice. To everyone else, the day came and went just like any other – people were busy with their own families, doing their jobs, and living their lives – whilst in our little corner of the world we were celebrating something extraordinary. That my little baby boy is no more.
This doesn’t mean the world doesn’t care. There are a great number of people that would care about you, baby. But you are just another person. Just another person ready to make your own mark, in your own way.
But whilst you are just another person in this world, baby – you happen to be the whole world to us. And you always and forever will be. YES IT IS CLICHÉ to say that you are the best thing to have ever happened to me, that you make the world a better place, that I would die for you if it came to it – but you are, you do, and I would.
I love you baby in a way that terrifies me. Because there is no limit. It is a physical love that beats my heart, heats my blood, grips my stomach, and leaves me breathless. Every time you feel something – joy, uncertainty, sadness, excitement – I feel it too, right along with you. My life has become smaller, and bigger, all at once. You have surrounded me in a kaleidoscope of light and shade and colours and feels, and above all you make me feel more alive than I have ever felt before.
For your first birthday, I wanted to hide alone somewhere – to remember and relive every single moment of the journey we’ve had so far – to feel that new life growing inside of me; the intensity of my heartbeat; the swell and stretch of my tummy as the physical representation, not only of you, but of my love; to see your daddy’s face, overflowing with his devotion; to feel that warm, soft skin next to mine; the first look into those soulful eyes; those tiny fingers gripping onto me with attachment because you didn’t know you were separate from me yet… someday, baby, I want to give you a little brother or a sister, so our family can grow, and you can be surrounded by love from all angles.
Baby – all of these words are insignificant compared to what I feel for you.
You are one year old and growing up so beautifully. You are curious and cheeky and playful and affectionate. You are determined and sweet and gentle and strong. I learn more about you every day, but I will never forget the brief time when you were nothing more and nothing less than my little baby. I will never forget the moment I first saw you. Or the moment I first kissed you. Or the day we first brought you home. All of your firsts will be with me to the last.
I love watching you grow, and learning more about the world through you.
You have made our lives so much more beautiful, Beau.
And how do we thank you for this? I made you a cake and threw you a party. We filled balloons and blew bubbles. We sang songs. We bought you gifts… but what gift can I get you than says everything I need to say? That you are the most wonderful creature. That you amaze me daily. That I am both lost and found. That you make me scared and proud and overwhelmed with love. That I would give you every last ounce of myself, to see you safe and well and happy. That I would literally do anything for you. That you matter more to me, than me.
No gift will say that; no gift ever can. So I hope you enjoyed your toys and your cake. And I hope that deep down you realise – the real gift is you.
Happy first birthday, my baby. It really was.
“A one-year-old child is so many things,
a tiny discoverer of butterfly wings,
a hugger of teddies,
a sweet sleepyhead,
and someone to dream for in bright years ahead.”
We just got home from a wonderfully, relaxing holiday in New Caledonia. It was our first time there, but it won’t be our last.
I wanted to write to you once we were home – to tell you all about our trip and what we did and experienced together – but the words just didn’t seem to come. And then I realised – there really isn’t anything to say. But, there are a lot of things to feel…
The warm sun on our skin, the refreshingly cool waters, the sound of the ocean waves, the smell of sun lotion all week long. The sweet pastries and salty cheese and seeing your face when we let you have ice-cream. Sand between my toes, and running through my fingers, and your excited eyes as daddy chased you across the bay. The French language, and friendly faces, and seeing you stare at me in the early mornings – awake before I was. The dusty pink sunrises and brilliant orange sunsets. The multicolours of fish flittering through the waters like a kaleidoscope constantly changing in front of us. Cocktails by the pool and getting lost in books and music and other worlds for a time. The heat of the sun gradually seeping deep into our bones, thawing us out, renewing our energy. Seeing the glitter of the silver line on my tummy, twinkling under the afternoon sun – reminding me of the journey taken, and all that is to come.
It was a beautiful time together; a time amongst many – filled with love, happiness, the simple joy of being together, and the gratitude of having the life we do. One in which coming home was the best feeling of all.
I appreciate so much, baby – most of all you.
Here’s to our future adventures,
I’ve always looked at my life, as I would say most people do, as a series of chapters. As one chapter ends, another begins… and with each new chapter a part of me is complete and a part of me is reborn.
There have been the school years, the teenage years, emigrating to New Zealand, my first boyfriend, my first job, moving back to England, travelling Europe and Asia, moving back to New Zealand, University, travelling America, moving to London… your daddy… back to New Zealand, getting married, getting pregnant, getting you…
That’s the birds eye view of it – but within each of those ‘chapters’ there are mini chapters too – the phases, stages, and seasons – such as the various jobs I have had, courses I have taken, plays I have been in, the start and end of relationships, moving homes, illnesses, losses, gains, achievements, lessons, and so many things.
At various points in my life I have really become fixated on this idea of ‘chapters’ and of various experiences being over – I have grieved those parts of my life that have finished and felt overwhelmed by it at times. Again, this is something most people will feel at some time or another… such as no longer being pregnant, or no longer having a newborn, or no longer having a particular job, or a certain relationship… or no longer living in a certain place…
For me, this fixation on the past has been exacerbated, not in the least, by the number of times I have moved countries, homes, and felt a cultural clash and identity shift between the UK and New Zealand. I adore both countries, and feel so grateful to genuinely have a home in two places, and every single day I feel happiness, but big change (even good change) can be extremely unsettling. And there was always that little niggle – of one life on pause, whilst I am over ‘here’ living another. And the big question of ‘when will I go back.’
That changed, however, when I had you – that little niggle went away. After 15 years, it finally stopped. Your daddy captured my heart of course, and I always knew I would be wherever he would be – but we talked of taking a big trip to the UK together. When it wasn’t consuming my thoughts, it was always there in the back of mind. But then, just as we were about to book our tickets, I discovered you. And then, you arrived – and as you were born into your life, I was born a New Zealander.
I am finally a New Zealander, in my heart, because of you. And that niggle has gone away completely – I’m right here, right now, and not wondering when the ‘next trip back’ will be. Instead, we have postponed the UK trip once again, and we are taking you on holiday to New Caledonia, a tropical island close to New Zealand – for sun, relaxation, and nothing more than the absolute frivolity of going somewhere new. It was a big deal for me to postpone “the UK trip” once again, not knowing when it will actually happen – but on doing so I felt an unexpected sense of cathartic release. I felt free.
That’s certainly not to say that becoming a New Zealander “in my heart,” means I am no longer British, that I disconnect from my past – because it doesn’t. Nor does it mean that I won’t miss aspects of Britain – because I do, and always will. It just means that the niggle to be somewhere else has gone and, finally, I am right here, right now, and I am grounded; laying new roots.
I can’t tell you how empowering and liberating and joyous this feels for me.
In this same light, yesterday was a really great day. You were feeling unwell and hadn’t got much sleep the night before (that’s not the great bit!) and so your daddy and I decided not to take you swimming (in fact, this was a really disappointing bit – it’s our weekly highlight!), so I kept you at home all morning and we just relaxed. Then, we drove into the City (this is the start of the good bit) to catch up with my old colleagues – it was so lovely to see them all, such wonderfully bright, caring, and interesting people. I don’t miss my old job at the University, but I sure miss their company each day. And you seemed to know them, and enjoyed all of their cuddles and attention.
Afterwards we caught up with an old flatmate of mine from London – he was studying at Medical school when I lived with him and now he is working as a Doctor here in Auckland (although, he was just about to get on a plane to go back for a while – poor love, NZ has stolen his heart too! – he’ll be back). I haven’t seen him in nearly 4 years; when he knew me then I was blonde (until I came home from work one day with jet black hair!), and I was single, and I was acting, and I was in a very different ‘chapter’ in my life. I thought seeing him would bring back memories of ‘me then’, which would be lovely and curious, but that maybe I wouldn’t know how to talk to him because I am changed now and he might feel awkward. But it was not like that at all.
We grinned from the moment we saw each other, all through our conversation of ‘life as it is now,’ all through the aspects of our reminisce, and all through our farewell – as we silently acknowledged that he was going back to a place we both knew, as much as we knew he would return here someday again. We grinned because it was him, and because it was me – just as we always were and still are. He brought my London chapter into my current chapter, and he held you, and it was all a sense of connection.
As I walked back to the car with you (I parked in my old office’s carpark), pushing your pram up the hill I used to walk (waddle) when pregnant – I started to do the old thing of ‘remember that time I worked at the University… remember that time I was here and pregnant…’ and suddenly it stopped. That conversation in my head stopped. The shop on the corner sells the same smelling bread. The shop next door still entices me with art supplies I wouldn’t know what to do with. The sun still reflects off the office block’s windows…
I closed my eyes and it was all there, still. It wasn’t gone. The time I was pregnant is still now – only I carry you in my arms instead of my tummy. The time I was planning my Wedding is still now – only I am not newly wed, I am married. The time I worked at the University is still now – I still know and care for my colleagues, I still have the skills I developed, the lessons I learned. That time I lived in London is still now …. everything. It’s still the same as it was.
Baby – yesterday, for the first time, I felt all of my chapters connect. And for once I felt the reality of life as it actually is – one continuous journey. I was and am and always will be me. Just as you were, and are, and always will be you. I no longer need to remember or keep in touch with those previous chapters of my life – because they are all still with me, still part of me. And, most of all, I no longer need to feel torn between two places. Because I am right here, in my entirety.
Baby, we will get to the UK together. Someday. And I will introduce you to your English family and show you and your daddy all of the most beautiful parts of my native country. And someday, maybe, we might even live there for a while. The future is full of possibilities, spreading out before us like the waves of the vast ocean – but, until then, I am right here, right now. And I am loving it all.
Thank you for the lessons you don’t realise you are teaching me.
I love you so much, Beau.
In the words of Lou Reed, today was “just a perfect day…” I’m glad I spent it with you.
I feel this way every day, of course – but today just felt extra special and extra fun and was so wonderful – reminding me of all the blessings we have in our life all at once. Namely – family, and our love for each other.
We started by going to your weekly play group – a baby sensory class, and this week the theme was under-the-sea. You wiggled excitedly in my arms as soon as we arrived, eager to get amongst all of the toys and fun. There was a ball pool; a tunnel to crawl through; inflatable crabs and fish; mirrors; a bouncy air bed covered in fluffy blankets and loose silky sheets to clamber over; and all sorts of rings and rattles and cups to shake and bang together. I love to watch you explore, interact with other babies, and squeal in excitement. You do this amazing thing where your legs go straight and rigid and your fists clench and your mouth makes a short, sharp ‘oooh’ sound. It’s one of my favourite things.
When it was mat-time, the teacher brought out bowls of sand (ground oats) with shells and pebbles and sticks to explore… and then, came the bubble machine. I watched you, amidst a room full of other mummas and babies and noise, and felt the world slow right down and go quiet for a few moments. I watched you stare with such wonder, at the bubbles floating down around you. I saw your amazement, your curiosity, your singularly-focused concentration, as you absorbed this new, wonderful, experience. I watched as your little hands reached up to try and touch them, and your confusion when they ‘disappeared’ in front of your eyes. I watched you look back to me for reassurance, and then I watched you take off to chase the other bubbles with glee. And the little bubble I had been in with you for a few moments, burst too, and I was back in the room with everyone else. Wiping my overflowing eyes.
You make me see the world anew, baby. I hope we continue to be amazed by bubbles and magic for a long time to come .
‘…feed animals in the zoo…’
After class, we snuggled in the car and I gave you a bottle of milk, then you slept as we drove out West to meet Aunty Heather, cousin Noah, and cousin Leo, for our usual Friday fun at the zoo. Today, on this perfect day, Granny was meeting us there too. Granny, her girls, and our boys.
We wandered through the trees and bushes and, for the first time in all of the months I have been taking you to the zoo, you saw the animals for the first time. We went through an ‘Aussie encounter’ where the kangaroos and emus and birds came really close to us. You were so excited and squealed and whooped and clenched your fists and kicked your feet and I felt my eyes well up once again. My heart was so full it ached.
We had lunch and then ice-creams and you had a fluffy, whilst we sat and watched the elephants have their lunch. I remembered being a little one myself, watching Dumbo and being so moved by the love between mumma elephant and her baby elephant (actually, I still get very upset when I remember they had to be separated and have never felt brave enough to watch Dumbo again since!). From as young as my first memories, I had always wanted to be a mumma and have a baby of my own. And now I do – and I can tell you: my life is perfect. Not because I have everything I want, and not because I am without struggles or challenges (because I don’t, and I am not) – but because I have you.
‘…you made me forget myself… I thought I was someone else… someone good…’
Before I had you, baby, I thought I had it all together – I knew my mind, my heart, the direction I wanted my life to go in, how I wanted to live my days… and I still know those things, but you have mixed everything up and are now showing me things… showing me myself… in a completely different way. You are showing me the whole world in a different light. In so many lights, and colours, and shades. You are showing me old things with new eyes. And I am learning that life isn’t good – life is. It just is. And we are what is good. We are what makes this life, this world, and these experiences we have extraordinary. Thank you for reaching through to the heart of me and making every day absolutely perfect.
‘you’re going to reap just what you sow’
With you I am waking up in the same bed every day, making the same porridge, unloading the same dishwasher, stacking the same plates, washing the same clothes, opening the same box of plastic and wooden toys, playing the same nursery rhymes, going on the same walk, on the same footpath… and I am doing all of this, every day, with new excitement and new wonder. In these perfect days with you, my porridge is the most delicious thing to have ever been tasted. Getting dressed is so exciting and playing with scraps of materials and egg boxes is simply hilarious. When we go on our walk, I am excited to see what birds we might meet. How many new blossoms the trees might have now. I am seeing so much more, with you.
Later this day, we drove out to the farm and met Uncle Paul and Aunty Megan who had just got home after their travels in south east Asia. You recognised them and reached out for cuddles. Soon Granny and Grandad were there. Uncle Joe came over. And Aunty Heather, Uncle Reuben, Noah, Leo, daddy…. they were all there too. We were all together, sharing a giant pan of lasagne and freshly made tea and cake (Aunty Heather’s speciality – we’ll need to watch that!) And I had another moment of life slowing down…
The world around me was full of noise, lots of noise!, colour and smiling faces – and I just saw you: chin high, cheeks round, eyes in their crescent moon shapes. Knowing, and for the first time I saw this knowledge in you, that this is your family. This is love. This is your little place on this vast earth. And no matter where you go, how far or wide, I hope you know that we are always here. Wherever here is – you are part of it. We are yours. All of us.
‘…weekenders on our own it’s such fun’
And then we went home. Your daddy dressed you in one of your cuzzie’s PJs, and he tucked you up into the car-seat, before we drove slowly home and snuck you into bed. We drove slowly as it’s a long way home from the farm, and it was dark, and we were tired and in separate cars – so I enjoyed the slow drive, following your daddy, you sleeping behind me, under the light of the moon.
And then it was us 3 – a perfect night following a perfect day, you woke at 2am and wouldn’t settle… so we brought you into our bed and, for the first time ever, you slept soundly between us until morning.
I woke with a pounding headache, from disturbed sleep in an awkward sleep position and too much sugar (cake) the day before, with you sitting up and staring into my eyes with a beaming smile. You reached for my face, grabbed my cheeks, and some of your drool went into my mouth.
Another perfect day had begun. I’m so glad that I spend them with you,
Dear baby Beau
You are no longer breastfed. As of last Friday – the 14th of August – you are now fully weaned. This is both a happy and a sad milestone.
On the one hand, I have my body back (and a small amount of freedom with it!). But, on the other hand, you are no longer my baby…
This is actually a very big deal. A huge transition in my life as your mother. Even before you were born, I always knew I wanted to breastfeed you – and I persevered (we both did!) during many early complications. But we both wanted it, and we made it work for us – you thrived; you are still thriving. It’s been so great.
Whilst I knew I wanted to breastfeed you, I also knew I didn’t want it to continue after you became really mobile/active – as the thought of nursing a small boy didn’t appeal to me. I trusted I would know the right time to stop, that we both would – but I had no idea what that might look like. You used to feed from me 8 times a day right up until you were 7 months old! So I was mentally preparing for a difficult transition for you… but, at 10 and a half months, that transition was actually completely natural and extremely easy. You just got too busy. You no longer needed it, alongside me no longer wanting it.
But despite me no longer wanting to do it – I knew I would still feel bittersweet by the end. And I was determined not to sit down with the intention of ‘this is the last time’ – I knew that would be extremely upsetting for me, and unsettling for you – so I trusted that the last time would occur naturally, and go unnoticed until it was passed. I couldn’t imagine how, but I trusted it would.
And you know what – it did.
I won’t go into the details of the last time you nursed – as I know you will not want to know all about that! And besides – that part of your life belongs to me, my little baby, and my little gift before you leave me for your life to begin in earnest (as it will have by the time you are reading this). But please know that I will never forget it, even though you were far too busy to really pay attention!
And so that’s it. A big phase in my life/your life is now over. Complete. And what a journey! We took it together and I will always be proud and grateful to have been able to breastfeed you for 10.5 months. It was a natural transition, a gentle one – simply the right time to stop. And now, a new phase begins.
I had been worried that the end of my breastfeeding would mean you would slip away from me a little, that our bond would not be as strong – but baby, it is stronger than ever! Almost coincidentally, since Friday, you’re kissing and cuddling and being more affectionate with me than ever before. You look me directly in the eyes – and I see the love you have for me. It is so fierce, just as mine is for you. I truly hadn’t felt the weight of it until now.
Perhaps your need for closeness was being fulfilled through my nursing – but now that has gone you are seeking it directly from me. Through my eyes, my spirit, my person… it is so incredibly beautiful.
You are no longer my baby.
You are now my son.
And, my amazing boy, you make me so incredibly happy.
Thank you for being you, for being mine,
Your Mumma. Xxx
I’ve been thinking about writing this latest letter to you for a couple of weeks, but the words weren’t quite flowing and so I’ve hesitated and then I thought – ‘enough! – just tell it like it is.’ So here goes:
You are now 10 months old. I feel as though I woke up one day and my baby wasn’t there any more – since we moved house, and you started crawling and cruising around everywhere, there is very little of my baby left. I know you are still so little (and, let’s be honest – you will always be my baby!) – but you seem to be such a fully fledged little boy now. With so much personality and a fiercely independent streak. Of course, I didn’t expect anything less of a child of mine!
Other Mummas, at the playgroups and classes we attend, frequently are amazed and tell me ‘Beau is so expressive!’ And whilst you don’t yet speak language – your babbles and gestures and facial expressions tell us all a thousand words. You have a story to tell, my darling – and I can’t wait to hear… or to see… what it is.
I have started to feel you slip ever so slightly away from me, as you gain more independence in the world around you. You are confident and secure spending time apart from me, as I start to build my business and begin working again – and I am realising more so every day, just how blessed I am to be your mother and to have this precious time in your life.
I’m also realising the importance of building my relationship with you, so that the little independent soul you seem to be doesn’t forget about me when the time comes for me to be no longer needed. I know you will never love me as I love you (you aren’t supposed to – and that’s ok!), but I do want you to love me for who I am, and to always be thankful of the role I have played in your beginning. I recently purchased a book ‘raising boys’ and will do everything I can to understand your needs as a growing boy, and to meet them as your Mumma. You might not agree with all of my decisions, in the years to come, but it would be enough for me if you just knew that I had always acted with your best interests at heart and, of course, out of my love for you.
I want you to know right now (whenever you are reading this) – that being independent and not needing your Mumma anymore is not a bad thing, not a cold, unfeeling thing – it is a wonderful thing, and something I am (will be!) immensely proud of. I want you to stand on your own two feet, shape your life in the way you want it to be, and face the world head on, knowing that you are capable of anything.
But I also want you to know, that it’s me who needs you. I will always need to know that you are safe and well, and I will always need to share in your joy and happiness. I will always need to know that you love me (so please make sure you remind me now and then!). And I will always need you to know that I am here.
And I will always need your cuddles and kisses! I will forever be grateful to have had the first ones that were yours to give. Some days it feels as though all I do is kiss and cuddle you from the moment you wake, until the moment you sleep. Sometimes you are on the floor, playing, and I am crawling behind you planting kisses on your head whenever I can. Savouring each of them for a lifetime.
I need you to know, baby, that you are everything to me. And yet, at the same time – you are only yours. You are your own person – with your own dreams, and pleasures, and drive. I have no idea who you will become, you will discover that yourself – and I hope you are always able to share it with me,
But until then – you are still mine, my little man, and I am cherishing these days in which you give all of yourself to me.
Your Mumma Xxx
[NB: I wrote this love letter to baby in April 2014 when I was still pregnant, but for some reason I didn’t want to publish it at the time. Beau Xavier recently turned 9 months and I have been reflecting on his pregnancy as I think about getting ready (if I should be so blessed) for another babe. How pleased I was to have rediscovered this at this time! And it now feels good to share. Love and blessings, from me to you. Thank you so much for reading. x]
Sometimes, baby, when I think about sharing my body with you, I feel as though I know myself better. Not just my body, but the essence of who I am. My energy – my spirit. I looked at my bare legs this morning, as I sat on the bed eating breakfast and I felt greater than that. I believe that my spirit will outlive my body. Sometimes I meet people whose spirit has already died. But I believe mine will outlive this physical life. I hope yours will too. I feel sure of it.
I’m not exactly sure what happens after our bodies die. In fact, no one is or ever will be. But I do believe in the spirit. In something greater than blood and bones. I believe in something greater than what science can measure. I believe in possibility.
In my teens and early adulthood, my atheist years of not believing in anything but the tangible, physical world – there was something missing. The world seemed flat and life short. Deep down I believed in something more, but couldn’t accept the idea of God, or something I couldn’t define.
I used to read a lot about spirituality, about different energies, and the spiritual beliefs of different religions. I also read a lot about biology, and human science. I wanted to educate myself, but I eventually realised that what I was actually doing was informing myself about what other people think. “What have other people experienced, and how have they made sense of it?”, I asked myself. But much of my studies at University – of Psychology, social sciences, statistics, and research – taught me that any controlled experiment or observation is open to bias. Concrete evidence of a cause-effect relationship does not mean that what we have seen, and how we make sense of that, is truly what is happening. Something else could be going on concurrently. The life we experience, our reality, is exactly how we choose to frame it.
Whatever we believe, becomes our reality. What we believe to be true, is.
So I completed my studies, and I stopped the excessive reading and over-analysis of other people’s experiments. I stopped looking for an argument or a theory to support. I stopped looking for a side to join. And I started watching people. And talking to people.
From the age of 16, I have travelled a lot and spent time in many different countries around the world. I’ve seen how people live in different cultures. I’ve seen similarities, and differences. But soon I grew tired of looking outwards, and continuing to be swayed by the views of others. So I started looking inwards. I started to spend more time thinking than talking. I spent more time feeling than thinking. And I realised – life is simply what you make of it. That is the only truth, the only reality. What you believe, is your reality.
I have seen people with faith, and I have seen people without it. And that’s what I had been missing all of this time – faith. Not a belief in a God, or some deity, or fate, or a pre-determined life path, but a simple faith in there being something greater to our lives. Something greater than the cells of our bodies. Love. Hope. Charity. The goodness of mankind. Honour. Loyalty. Trust.
I finally found my faith when I found your daddy. And now we have you.
What I am trying to say, baby, is – you’ve not been born yet, but already you are here. You exist.
Dear baby Beau
You are now 9 months old – you’ve officially had longer out in the world, than you had inside my tummy. And so, in honour of that, I have made you a movie!
The laundry can remain unfolded, the lemon curd can sit half-made, and the vacuum cleaner can just collect a little more dust – because, this morning, whilst you sleep, I made this….
A memory of your arrival, in celebration of the rambunctious, crawling, cruising, laughing, kissing, cuddling, amazingly wonderful little boy you now are…
We will love you, FOREVER.
Thank you for coming along.
Created by Hayley Greer, using Wondershare Video Editor. Pregnancy photos (c) Nova Photography 2014. Music, Angus and Julia Stone ‘Wedding Song’ and JJ Heller ‘When I’m With You.’
Today is Monday. On Saturday just gone, we slept for the last time in your first home.
Due to the audacity of landlords wanting to increase their rent (despite promised jobs that are now 12 months overdue), we were quick to find a new rental – a cheaper rental, further from the beach, with a smaller garden, and a renewed motivation to buy/build a place of our own!
I had planned to write to you on the last night – whilst everything was still current, before it gave way to new memories, in a new home – and I wanted to tell you all the best bits of our time there, of the day-to-day routines, the moments, the small things and how big they have all been. But I completely forgot and then suddenly it was bedtime…
And now here we are already – one chapter ends as another one begins, and the days keep rolling.
So, today, I took you to our old home – which is now empty – to clean it before we hand the keys back. I picked us up some sushi so we could picnic on the old living room floor, remembering, taking it all in one last time. I also took some of your toys and expected you would play, whilst I whizzed through the cleaning. I thought we might have time to pick the last lot of lemons off the tree in the back-garden, before you would need to nap again. I even prepared myself for a few tears. But they didn’t come.
You had fallen asleep in the car in the 10 minutes between our old and new homes. So I drove by at first, to give you a longer nap. And nothing. Nothing at all.
I saw the familiar street, the same mailbox, the front door that was once the barrier between us and the rest of the world, the same drawn curtains which would have my fingerprints all over them. But all I felt was completely disconnected.
This is always the way, of course – I’ve moved house often enough to know the disconnection that comes when you move from one house to the next – but I didn’t expect it to be the way with this house.
The house that we planned to birth you in. The house that I sheltered in during my last trimester of pregnancy, where I laboured, brought you home from hospital, learned to breastfeed you, lay awake countless midnight hours either with you, or insomnia, or figuring our new family life out with your daddy. The house where we gave you your first bath, cooked you your first meal, heard your first laughter, caught all of your newborn tears, and magic, and love.
We moved out yesterday. How could it all now mean nothing?
When we did go inside, the house smelled not of us. Dead crickets littered the dining and living rooms where the heavy couches had once stood (and I had never moved to vacuum underneath). My voice echoed from the ridiculously high ceiling which was hard to heat in winter, and impossible to cool in summer. You looked at me, confused. And the moment I put you down on a picnic mat with our lunch, you cried. You reached for me and you cried your eyes out.
You knew something was odd. And you were right. It was like a strange sort of death. Of how nothing had once been everything.
You refused to eat, and my appetite had disappeared too – I stared at the crickets, and couldn’t think straight, so I called your daddy. I felt a hard lump in my throat and it hurt to swallow. When he told me the cleaning would be taken care of, and to go home or somewhere nice to have our lunch, I cried. But I packed us up and drove back to the new rental, which held our belongings in unfamiliar places.
Then this afternoon something happened which gave me new perspective.
You had been incredibly unsettled all day – wanting nothing but to sit in my arms, resting your head on my chest. This was very unlike you – you are usually far too busy to sit around snuggling – but I loved it. After an afternoon nap in your cot, I collected you when you woke and took you to the couch to breastfeed you. Then for the next couple of hours we snuggled together, you dozing, letting me stroke and kiss you and hold you close. I needed the comfort and the closeness and I figured that’s what you needed too.
I had sensed you were a little warmer than usual, so when your daddy was home I asked him to fetch a thermometer. Your temperature was a frightening 39 degrees. More than that, when I sat you up you were awake but very limp. You hadn’t just needed comfort, you were unwell. We tended to you and managed to get you down to 38.5, before taking you to A&E on the advice of PlunketLine.
You were fine, completely fine – cooled down by the fresh, early evening air – and socialising with everyone in the waiting room. I fed you rice pudding out of the jar, and tried in vain to keep you snuggled on my knee – but you were too busy, once again.
And then we were heading home for the night.
And that’s it – just 24 hours into the new place, I already felt we are indeed “home.”
Because home isn’t about having my belongings in familiar places. Not entirely anyway. Home, is the little sanctuary I have in this world, with you and your daddy. A shelter, a locked door, and a warm place to live, and love, and grow together.
Our old home didn’t end, or finish, or die… it came with us. It is all still with us. Life is a constant motion of, simply, moving on.
I’m so happy we have you to move on with, baby.