It was two months ago.
My mum brain has since rendered many memories fuzzy but I distinctively recollect the day I carted out newborn clothes from Carter’s on Black Friday.
It was my first time purchasing baby clothes.
The crazy 50% + 25% sale made the experience exceptionally exuberant and guilt-free.
Eyes glued to the screen, I constantly gushed over how adorable the prints on the clothes were to the equally enthusiastic husband.
The obsession lasted two full hours. I only paused to ponder the all-important question of pink or cream bodysuits for my unborn daughter (the shopaholic in me excessively desired both).
Fast forward one month.
My obstetrician informed me it was ‘anytime now’.
Heavily pregnant, I packed my hospital bag in anticipation. I delicately folded the soft, fluffy bodysuit picked out specially as my baby’s going-home outfit.
I visualised an angelic newborn swathed in it. I was so eager and ready to meet the little life I had painstakingly grown within me for the past ten months.
I felt my first contraction on the first day of her 39 weeks. After three agonising days of mounting pain due to prodromal labor,
I welcomed my mini me into the world and into my warm, waiting arms.
Thirty six hours flitted by in the hospital. It felt like a moment to remember forever when I changed my newborn out of the unimpressive hospital garb into her special going-home outfit.
The rosy hue of her plump cheeks emphasised the pristine whiteness of the tiny bodysuit. My baby girl opened one eye blearily as though to appraise herself before drifting into a peaceful slumber with a sleep grin.
The bodysuit was loose and crinkly on her delicate 6 lbs frame but with mum goggles on, all I saw was perfection.
Back home. I struggled, often.
Mothering makes childbirth look easy. It really is a herculean job; and endless nursing, diapering and holding were just a start. I recalled a fellow mum friend musing that motherhood is harder than labour because epidural doesn’t exist for it.
Sleepless minutes passed into hours. Days into nights. Nights into weeks.
Time steadily passed, like fine sand slipping through my fingers.
As my husband and I eased into our Dad and Mum roles, our baby grew.
Bit by bit, almost invisibly, the littlest of changes took place.
The lanugo on her forehead started shedding.
Her micro eyelashes grew by a quarter of an inch.
Her fingernails began to leave marks on my boobs.
Her mittens fell off less often from her tiny hands.
Her face slowly rounded out.
And then, more obvious changes.
Her shrivelled umbilical cord fell off.
Her gaze into our eyes showed more focus.
She responded more to our voices and presence.
She no longer cried inconsolably on the changing table.
Diaper crease marks formed around her chubbier thighs.
Just a few days shy of my newborn graduating into infanthood, I realised it took much more effort than I would have liked to close the snaps on her bodysuit. I had to forcibly tuck in her diaper.
Looking at the now-snug bodysuit, I knew I could no longer delay the inevitable.
My newborn had outgrown her first set of clothes.
She was now ready for bigger clothes that signified the next phase of her infancy.
The limited mileage of those petite newborn clothes brought with it many realisations. Hard truths that parents don’t want to think about too much.
My baby’s growth had been so subtle.
Being with her 24 hours everyday had turned me blind to the nuances of her development. It struck me that it would be just as easy to miss her firsts, her milestones, in the drudgery of the hectic daily life.
Parental love is paradoxical.
As much as I yearned for my baby to grow, babble, flip, sit, crawl and walk, I desperately wished she would fit in my arms forever so I could shield her from the realities of life that didn’t include rainbows and unicorns.
Mothering is bittersweet.
I loved being the Wonderwoman, the person my baby instinctively turned to for everything. But at times I also lamented the loss of freedom and time, not to mention identity of “girlboss” in the new role of “nursing mother”.
Time just goes by so fast.
All my mum friends had said this to me. I always nodded and smiled, never really taking it to heart… until now. When I feel the ache in my heart. Where has my newborn gone?
With the harsh rigor, solitary and sleep deprivation of mothering, I must admit
My tank is often so empty and my battery so darn flat.
But I must always remember – mothering is also
What makes my heart so full, and my life richer than it has ever been.
I smooth out every crease on the newborn clothes and thought about all the times my baby had worn those items in those early days of her life. Then, I placed them in the “important things” box labelled with my baby’s name in the storage.
With tears welling in my eyes, I held my oblivious baby closer and whispered, “I love you.” The brief sadness dissipated as I marvelled at how well and much she had grown in the past fleeting month.
I look forward to witnessing more of this little miracle’s extraordinary growth. It is time to buy more clothes for her to fit in – and outgrow.