Unwrapping the World

October 4, 2010 at 5:38 am | Posted in Bun | 25 Comments
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We are master swaddlers, my husband and I.

With Lollipop, there was lots of clumsy wrapping and folding, trying to get wayward limbs situated just so. With Giggles, whose swaddling months were in the winter, we struggled to stuff pajama-footed feet and bulky terry-cloth sleeves into warm-but-not-too-warm blankets. But with Bun, we are pros.

We burrito him up in three deft moves: tuck, tuck, wrap. Done.

It calms him down like nobody’s business. He eats, he actually eats. He falls asleep on his own. He is calm, mellow, zen.

When swaddled, he doesn’t mind that his brother is racing trains up and down the pillow near his head. He doesn’t hear the tip-tap-stomps of his sister’s tap shoes. He is content when the cat comes to curl up at his toasty feet.

Last night, though, I went to check on him a few hours after I put him to bed in his bassinet. He was all sprawled out. With his arms above his head, he signaled a sleepy touchdown. His knees, chilly from the ceiling fan air, were turned outward. His toes were curled around the soft bassinet bumper, and his blanket encircled his middle like a fluffy cummerbund.

For the first time since he was born, an overwhelming sadness squeezed my heart. The moment I got pregnant, I knew this would be our last baby. That didn’t make me sad. When I first held him, counting new and wrinkly fingers and toes for the last time, I wasn’t sad. And when he smiled for the first time, I smiled right along with him.

But this — this unwrapping of arms and legs and independence — hit me hard. Yes, he is still a baby and he still needs me. But he is beginning to flex his muscles, his free will. In his dreams, just as when he is awake, he is growing, reaching, stretching. Slowly, he is unswaddling all the surprises of the world, and he won’t want to be cocooned much longer.

What unexpected milestones have caught your emotions off guard? Do you remember when your child started preferring his limbs free? And are you a master swaddler?



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  1. “Signaled a sleepy touchdown.” What a perfect description.

    It made me sad when my second daughter did that too. For the same reasons. She looked like a wad of gum, all swaddled in her pink, cotton blanket. And I knew it was only a matter of time before that blanket was tossed aside until she used it for her babies. And now, we’re almost passed that stage as well.


  2. My daughters roller-skated for the first time this weekend.
    Watching them keep trying even after they fell was amazing to me. And when they joined the limbo line — and each earned free passes to the skating rink for getting under the lowest setting — I thought I would burst with pride.

  3. My Guy was a pro with Little Miss. Whenever I swaddled her, it would come undone some time in the middle of the night and she’d wake from it (as did we, naturally). When he did it, everyone had a good night’s rest. Well, three or four hours at a time anyway 🙂

    While I celebrate each milestone with fanfare, I am also fully aware of what it means – the more she is capable of by herself, the less she will need me. It’s a good thing I suppose but letting go is just not my forte and as much as I love watching her blossom, I sometimes do wish she would take her time and remain my baby for just a little longer…

  4. I didn’t perfect the art of swaddling until our third baby, either. Oh, did he love to be all snuggled up in his warm little cocoon!

    The milestone that really hit me this year was when he (the baby) started kindergarten, making me a mother of three school-age children, one being in junior high. Talking about hitting you in the gut. I cried, I fretted, I missed those baby years something fierce.

    Then I got over it and went to lunch with some girlfriends who are in the same season of life, and we had a great time.

    It’s hard to let them grow up, but it sure beats the alternative.

    Enjoy these baby years with every ounce of your being. One day in the not too distant future, I’ll be inviting you to lunch with all of us “old ladies”!

  5. I enjoyed the swaddling phase with my little one. I felt like in that blanket she was safe and I could keep all the world’s trouble at bay. My little one is growing up and sometimes I have to do a double take when we have conversations together. She is growing up so fast and I know when she turns five it will be hard for me. I miss that baby smell… such a lovely post Stacia.

  6. We learned how to swaddle from the NICU nurses when Col was just a tiny pea. All the preemies were swaddled to simulate the pressure of the womb. And man, did we become experts. We may have taken it too far, swaddling Col until he was six months old, all sweaty and rotund.

    We even had a move we called “High swaddle with paci,” where the swaddling blanket would be high enough to his chin to place the paci in just so, so it stayed put.

  7. This is such a bittersweet post. My hardest milestone has been my youngest going to kindergarten. I’m still struggling with it. She is home by 11 am, but I know in my heart that my baby is growing up and away. (As she should, but it’s still hard.)

  8. Lovely post. For me so many milestones contain this bitter sweetness of joy at seeing your child grow and develop added to which is a twinge of sadness for what can be no more. As I know my daughter will remain my one and only I think that makes it that little bit more poignant, just like you with your littlest knowing he is your last.

  9. I have had many moments like that…I can’t think of specifics, but every so often, a sadness comes over me, like you described. It is hard for me to believe I have a 6 and 5 and 3 year old. No babies anymore. 😦

  10. I was SO bad at swaddling my son when he was a baby. We eventually bough one of the Velcro sack things. Worked like a charm! He grew out of it around 4 months old. He just kept wiggling and wiggling when we bundled him up. Once we let him free he was as happy as can be.

  11. Mine was hearing my daughter proclaim, “I do it!” Ugh. Right through the heart. You want them to be independent, but that first pulling away is painful.

  12. I remember precisely when Jack stopped staying in that cotton cocoon, and I’m sure I cried – I cried at all those fleeting moments in the beginning. On one hand, now I can’t believe he’s more than two – but on the other, we’ve had a long two years. I wish our homebuilding were coming along faster, but I couldn’t be more grateful that it seems to have slowed down my moments with that boy.

  13. I can’t sing happy birthday to my kids without crying, ever. I can’t sit through their end-of-year programs at school without crying. Otherwise, I’m usually OK as I am so deep in the day-to-day of their lives that there isn’t much pause. I can’t imagine empty nesting, though…that must be down right painful.

    None of my kids were technically swaddled much, but I do love to do it! Nothing better than a baby burrito.

  14. Awwww!!!! Sweet imagery. Mine hated swaddling. But he liked to be held and rocked and jiggled. =)

  15. We were terrible swaddlers. Even the Miracle Blanket didn’t contain our girls. But I saw a one-day-old baby this weekend in her little burrito and she just made me cry and spout cliches about how fast it all goes. That baby burrito moment is too, too fleeting.

  16. I am just thankful, thankful for the Miracle blanket, which finally, finally kept my N. contained in a swaddle when she was 6 weeks old, and she slept in a place that was NOT my chest for the first time. Our new little L. has been wrapped up like a champ in his own blue blanket since his first night home, and ACTUALLY sleeps in his bassinet. Miracle, indeed.

    • New little L?! How did I miss his arrival? Congratulations!! Hope the Small World is adjusting well. 🙂

  17. Shoot. You don’t want to read MY post today, then. I can’t believe MY baby is almost 5. FIVE. That’s like, an impossibility, despite what the calendar says.

  18. My son hated swaddling–he is fiercely independent. My daughter loved it, though, and she is much more attached. We have so many pictures of her arms taped to her sides in a cream swaddler. I think she is our last baby, and the overall heft of her sometimes makes me sad. She is big, and she got even bigger so quickly. I can’t figure out whether we should have another, but I think we’re set with two. I can’t imagine having any sanity or time left if we were to have three. I don’t know if I’d be a very good mom to three kids. But I can manage two. I have admiration for those of you who can do it!

  19. Oh you made me all nostalgic, particularly as I hope one day to have another. I find these moments catch us all unaware, they don’t hit us at the anticipated milestones, but at other times. For me, just recently, it happened at my 4 year-old’s school open house. We were hanging out in the gym, and I just felt it. The sense that he is growing up and I am the parent. It was huge!

  20. We are master swaddlers too, especially husband who doesn’t have breastfeeding in his parenting arsenal. What caught me? My baby turned three this year and now she had big kid feet. No more chubby little flat baby feet. Oiy.

  21. I remember that sleep position well 😉 My son ALWAYS refused to have his arms inside his blankets, starting from the week he came home from the hospital. That’s when I knew I had a boy who was going to break my heart…

    I do remember one unexpected milestone. When he was in kindergarten last year I scrambled to the front door to help him with his backpack and shoes only to see that he wasn’t even there. The door was closed and his dad was getting out of the driveway. My son had gotten his shoes and backpack and jacket on himself and gotten himself into the car on his own. I remember standing in that empty front entrance feeling proud but incredibly sad…

  22. The fact that I would never be pregnant again, that didn’t phase me. I was way OK with that. The lack of dependence on me, doesn’t bother me on some levels. On others it does.

    That I’ll never get to hold my own newborn, that bothers me. That sooner, rather than later, my daugther, my baby, will no longer need a crib. It went too fast. That I don’t have to feed someone, not so much. That my kids are getting too big for them to snuggle on my lap while they sleep? Stab me in the heart.

    I only want a newborn for the snuggling and dependence, everything else you can keep. So you know, for all the other selfish reasons.

  23. I still remember the joy of a firmly wrapped baby. So cosy, so easy to handle, divine. But both my boys were wrigglers and always managed to get one arm out… ah, memories. Thanks for Rewinding at the Fibro!

  24. Aww, this is sweet 🙂
    When they start talking properly and no longer talk ‘baby’ – it makes me realise that they are growing up, and fast!

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