The first days with Baby Dexter went by in a heartbeat. Why is it that your best moments go by so fast? I found myself throwing myself into every single second to try and absorb this precious time with every part of me. I stopped looking at my phone, I stopped knowing the time and I stopped thinking about anything other than him and my little family.
I let myself relax under the heavy cuddles of his relaxed body against my chest as he slept there. I fed him on demand and held onto both of his hands while he did. I stroked them as he gripped my thumbs for comfort. It was the sweetest thing and I hoped that it would be one of the lovely things about our breastfeeding journey that would stay, so I wouldn’t have the chance to forget it in time. I stroked his hair when he looked sleepy. His fine, dark hair with a reddish tint, and a thick tuft of it at the back of his perfect, little head.
I watched his eyes roll around when he had wind and I loved to watch his smile break across his beautiful face too. I know that it was because he needed burping… but it was like a sneak preview of his smile to come. Not that I was wishing the days away. I was perfectly happy resting in these moments. Breathing in that new baby smell. One that I would happily keep in a bottle. The best smell in the whole world.
I spent hours studying his face. Touching his pure, soft skin. I closed my eyes and traced over his eyebrows with my finger. Traced over his squidgy lips that drooped down at one side when he was asleep or relaxed. Brushed against the fair covering of baby hair covering his cheeks, knowing that one day I would look and it would be gone without me having noticed. I wanted to know him like this, with all of my senses. I wanted to keep all of the ‘Dexi being just like this’ moments, banked in my memory. I want to remember and know everything about him. I need to know exactly who he is right from the beginning. I need to so that in the moments that he loses himself as he grows… I can remind him just how special, how wonderful he is in the way that only his mother can.
Looking at him exist was the best way that I could have spent my time. I pondered over the colour of his dark blue eyes and wondered if they would stay that way or even lighten like his Papa and his big sister. I ran my nose up and down his, pausing for a while at the bottom by his cupids bow, just above his lips to feel his milky breath hit my face. I gave him eskimo kisses and kissed him on the tip of his nose, when I had a spare few seconds. I said ‘bless you’ excitedly, when he sneezed… which was often and due to his new environment but oh so sweet. I massaged his eyelids incredibly gently when he looked tired and I loved the way that one of his eyes always appeared to be spying on me from a squint, while the other was wide open, a little like Popeye. The way that his head bobbed at my chest for food made me smile too… and then it made me panic that he was too hungry because I had read something somewhere about knowing the signs, so that your baby doesn’t cry with hunger. I DID NOT want my baby to cry… or to be too hungry.
He did cry though… sometimes! In fact, he had staying power… a set of lungs on him, some would say! It was a sound that broke my heart in a second. So I desperately tried to learn which cry meant what. I tried to learn fast. The thought of him being unhappy, even for the smallest moment, hurt me. I had promised him the happiest life… and I don’t break promises! I figured out fast that he liked his feet to be held and massaged to settle him well. He liked to be cradled tightly and close to my chest… doing this as I walked, bobbing him as I went was an all time win.
The crying was something else entirely when compared to ‘The Fear’ though.
The fear that comes with giving birth to a newborn baby, a life, a human, your flesh and blood, who you would do anything for… It’s overwhelming and fierce. You just want to raise them well, have a healthy, happy baby and be a good mother. And I don’t think it matters if you have one baby, three babies or twelve… The first few days after bringing them in to the world, is really scary.
I quickly realised that co-sleeping would suit us for right now. My need to check Dexter while he napped and slept was almost ridiculous but I had to know that he was okay, wasn’t laying in sick, hadn’t kicked his covers off, wasn’t too hot, wasn’t too cold and was breathing well. I had to check that he didn’t need me. Sleep came last. Having him close by made me more relaxed and content, which was better for us all. It was our way of having it all. Peace of mind, a little rest, perfect cuddles and a wonderful bonding experience.
Back to the fear…
Once the cord came off on day five, we bathed him for the first time. Honestly, getting the temperature right was hard work. We used the thermometer, googled the temperature, googled it again, felt the water with our elbows, googled it again, wondered if the thermometer was broken, swore because it was definitely broken, decided it wasn’t broken, added cold, added hot, googled the perfect temperature yet again and then decided it was okay to put our newborn baby in the bath, which he hated… but that is for another time!
In the heat of the summer, I worried about Dexter being too hot, too cold. I put clothes on him, took them off again… put them on and took them off… again! We had never had a baby who was naturally hot like Dexi. He is going to be a dream to snuggle with in the winter months, a perfect heater. But in the Summer… It was scary. It made him upset because he just wanted a cuddle but didn’t want to be held. In the end, I surrendered to stripping him off, laying him down and holding his hands or holding his feet to let him know that I was close by.
Close by? Ha! When wasn’t I? I missed him when I left the room to pee…
The day that he projectile vomited all over me two times was awful. He screamed for half an hour and I was pacing the room with my sweaty little beauty in my arms. I had the phone on my bed, ready to call an ambulance and Matt was looking up his symptoms online. P.S. Any new mama’s reading this… NEVER do that! I was convinced within three minutes that our baby was really poorly and it made me very upset. Thankfully my maternal instincts kicked in and I realised that I knew what was wrong and how to make him better. It was from that moment that I started to find my stride with being a new mama for the third time, after a five and a half year gap.
Like I said, the first few days were scary. For me they were scarier than being a first time mum and a second. Maybe it was because I was out of practice. I had definitely forgotten a lot. Maybe it was because I was so in love, it was overwhelming. Overwhelming because I had fallen in love with Noah and Ellenah all over again, as well as being newly in love with their baby brother. It wasn’t that I had fallen out of love with them…at all! The birth of Dexi just made me remember all of the little things about them in their newborn days. It made me remember them when they were Noah and Ellenah ‘just like this’. It encouraged me to dig out their baby pictures, comparing them all, cooing over how beautiful they both were (and still are). And then, it made me appreciate just how far we have come. All of the ordinary days which they made special. All that we had been through. All of their milestones. All of the smiles, laughter and chaos that I have loved with every part of me. And the memories…oh, the memories that we have. The funniest times. The most beautiful madness. And being in the here and now with them, experiencing this wonderful time with them on my team. Watching them love their baby brother unconditionally, watching them care for and protect him, watching them rise up and step into their new roles with such pride…it made me see them through different eyes, almost like I was seeing them for the first time again. And I suppose I was in a way…a new ‘just like this’. Maybe I was more scared because this was the happiest time in my whole life and I knew how lucky and blessed I was to feel that way. I am a mama to three beautiful children, a wife to the love of my life and my family was whole, complete and perfect. When you are terrified that you might somehow lose, change or break something… You know it is something worth gripping on to with both hands. Worth cherishing, loving hard, with everything you have and appreciating, every single day.
The first days with baby Dexter were everything that I hoped they would be. They were quiet, calming, relentless, chaotic, noisy, emotional… and we had some defining moments as mama and son. I easily fell for him. I lost myself in him completely and became even more excited to raise him, watch him thrive… be a part of his life and world as he grows up. The first few days allowed me to daydream for me and simply dream for him. Dream that he has a happy life. Dream that he knows what love is. Dream that he is always free to explore and to let adventure take hold. Dream that he will be all that he can be. Mostly I dreamed that he would have the courage and conviction to have dreams of his own, to protect them, to chase them… and to have them come true.
After all… Him, his brother and sister are the perfect proof, that it can and does happen x