Our New Chapter: Bye Bye Babies

Yesterday our youngest transitioned from crib to toddler bed. At 2.25-years old, he was ready. But after spending 7 years pregnant and/or nursing, was I?

We recently began night weaning — ceasing breastfeeding for nighttime wakings — which gave rise to expected nighttime tantrums. Soon we realized he could seamlessly climb not just out of but INTO his crib in the dark. It was time to transition to a toddler bed.

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This shift from crib to bed, closes a chapter. With a 6-, 4.5-, and 2.25-year-old, there are no more cradles or burp cloths, diaper blow-outs or Ergo naps, first steps or puree drool. Instead, there are tantrums and scraped knees, learned letters and growing vocabularies, independently made friends and leaps out of my arms and into the outside world. We enter a new chapter of growing independence — physically, socially, and emotionally — and clarified personality.

Our baby is not a baby anymore. He hasn’t been for over a year. He is a budding human developing daily into his own rough-and-tumble, social-butterfly, adrenalin-fueled, book-loving individual. He’s not just present in the world; he’s experiencing it.

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As I tuck away the memories of the past 7 years of pregnancy and baby-rearing, I feel less sad than I’d expect. I feel fulfilled. Fortunate. Ready.

I thought I’d be a mess. I thought I’d be craving a return to new-parenthood. I’m not. I lived that beautiful life of sleepless survival for the better part of a decade. I grew, birthed, nursed, and nurtured three children through babyhood and ushered them into childhood. What a feat! And yet we’ve only begun.

There was a time I thought I’d never be able to have even one child. Then life happened, and I had three! How fortunate am I? How grateful.

And now I look ahead with eyes wide and heart open for all that will come, glancing at memories from the past with fond recollection, not mournful longing. Knowing much still lies ahead.

There will be tests of patience, battles of wills, joys over victories, tears over losses, daily confusion (for child and parent), and countless memories tucked away for safe keeping. It will be, like all growth journeys, both challenging and beautiful.

Some moments we’ll survive. Some moments we’ll savor. But it will all be worth it.

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