On this day, a whole two years ago, I was in a quiet state of secret panic. I had just finished work for my Maternity leave a couple of days before, fully expecting a blissful week or two of relaxing and nesting before you arrived. But you had other ideas! The day before I’d had a little sign you might be on your way, and had brushed it off as my usual worrying over nothing. But that little sign was back, and I couldn’t shake the feeling something big was afoot. I was twitchy, full of nerves and agitated. I was all too aware that our house was still in an incomplete state and you didn’t yet have a nursery. That all the tiny little vests I’d lovingly collected and washed for you were still sat folded in a laundry basket. That your Daddy was probably the most stressed I’d ever seen him about getting everything done ahead of your due date. I remember I had a sudden sense that my whole life was about to change, and I was right, because just a couple of hours later my contractions would start, making me a Mummy before the sun had even risen the next day. Your abrupt arrival into this world somehow sliced time in half, and I still can’t help but think of everything in terms of ‘Before or After Bailey’, I think perhaps I always will. But we are on the brink of another of those life changing moments, both of us, and much like I was a year ago when I wrote you this letter, I’m feeling a desperate desire to freeze time, just for a little while.
Tomorrow you turn two, and I’m finding it very hard to wrap my head around that. Somehow, the first 6 months of your life seemed to stretch out for an eternity. But then Covid hit, and I don’t know if maybe it’s because so much of the last 18 months has seen us stuck at home with not a lot to do, but time seems to have whizzed by without me even noticing. I find myself looking at you daily, marveling at your mop of messy blonde curls, watching you build yourself a train track or hearing you sing the words to some of your favourite songs, and wonder where the hell my little baby went? When I wrote you that first letter you were still so small, but somehow in that time you’ve learnt to walk and learnt to talk. You know your colours, you can count and you know what noises all the animals make. You read books, draw pictures and play make believe. I feel like I will never grow tired of hearing you call me Mummy, or feeling you wrap your arms around me and rest your head on my shoulder for an unsolicited cuddle. Before me now stands a little boy, a person all of his own, with (sometimes very strong!) thoughts and opinions, likes and dislikes, and it honestly knocks me for six every time. You have grown into the most delightful child, Bailey my boy, and while I miss the baby days chronically, I look forward to every day with you learning and discovering new things. It is just such a joy, watching you grow and learn. It gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment like nothing else, and I’m so thankful I get to be your Mummy. It never stops hurting though, that rapid passage of time, and this year I’m feeling it more acutely than ever. I find it harder and harder as we go to accept the fact that this period of our lives seems so fleeting, especially because you reaching another milestone isn’t the only big thing on our horizon.
As I write this, two more little babies are wriggling away in my belly, hopefully at least another 8 weeks from joining us but on that we get no guarantees. It’s a strangely jarring experience, dwelling so much on our time so far together while my next little bundles of joy kick and jab away at my insides, because every time I look down at that swelling tummy all I can picture is you. When I carried you I had no face to envisage, but a lot has changed since then. I’ve built an entire world with you at the centre, and now I’m finding it very difficult to imagine having a child that isn’t my darling Bailey. You are all I know, in that sense, and the thought that another two entirely different little people will be living in our house with us in a short while is just too much for my brain to comprehend. In some ways it’s been quite lovely. When I’m half asleep and not really thinking I can just for a second imagine I’ve been transported back in time, and that it’s you I’m feeling rolling around in there, just as I always wished I could experience again immediately after you’d been born. It’s brought your early days with us flooding back to me, and remembering you that way brings such warmth and happiness. But in other ways it’s been hard too. As much as I can’t wait to meet your new brothers or sisters and watch you become a big brother, it also breaks my heart a little to know this wonderful little life we’ve created for ourselves is about to change for good. And not just because of the babies either.
You have even more big changes afoot! The dreaded potty training has begun, which just reminds me every day how big you’re getting so fast. I don’t think anyone relishes changing nappies, but it’s yet another way of life reminding me that you don’t need me like you used to anymore. In the hallway lies a big boy bed ready to be painted and built and placed in your room, and I can’t pretend the idea of you not being in a cot anymore doesn’t fill me with dread. I look forward to tucking you in and snuggling up to read bedtime stories, but it’s so big, and you’re so small, and that makes my heart ache. And perhaps the biggest change of all is creeping ever nearer – in three short weeks you have your first day of preschool, and that one is just about tipping me over the edge! I know you will be more than fine. I can already see you’ve grown bored of these four walls and just hanging out with Mummy and Daddy and I think you are going to absolutely love having so many little girls and boys your own age to play with. But it feels like my baby is being wrenched away from me, and I’m having to really fight against the urge to call it all off!
If there is one thing I know though, it is that you, unlike me, will take this all in your stride. You have a confidence I could only dream of and sometimes I can’t help but wonder where it came from. Our fears that living most of the last 18 months in isolation might have made you shy or clingy appear to have been unfounded – you are just chomping at the bit to get outside everyday and seem to be able to make new friends at the drop of a hat, whether that’s a child, a friendly neighbor or a local doggy! You’re so curious and so observant, and I know you are almost always pondering something, even when you are quiet. ESPECIALLY when you are quiet! But best of all, you are unashamed in your joy. You are never afraid to show off your glee at a new car or some tickles from Daddy or Bonnie being silly, and I hope that never changes.Never change, Bailey.
Enjoy your special day, little one. One of the few left just the three of us. But know that there will be many more special days to come as our family grows, and you will never not be our baby. Happy Birthday to my big, grown up, 2 year old boy. My firstborn, and the centre of my world no matter how many more join the fold.