My little Mr 4 is going to become Mr 5 in a few short weeks, and here I am looking at his newborn pictures and feeling just a little sad about all this time that flew by in a blink of an eye.
When he was born I was already a photographer. I knew I wanted and needed to capture these first few precious weeks, so apart from arranging for a photographer friend to come and take a few, I also prepared all my gear and resolved to practice taking the most perfect newborn pictures now that I had my own model to hand.
What I didn’t know then was those “cute-baby-on-a-white-blanket-curled-up-in-a-perfect-pose” pictures would not be the ones I will treasure in 5 years time. Sure, they are cute and pretty, but he’s just one of many equally cute babies curled up on a pretty blanket that Pinterest is full of. It tells me nothing about him as a baby and us as parents, nothing about those first weeks and I can look at that picture as long as I want and I won’t remember a thing.
But there are a few precious pictures – snaps, really – that I almost deleted back then, because they were so damn imperfect. A few snaps that tell a whole story about our trials by fire and learning all about being parents.
A picture of my husband in the hospital ward, his tiny newborn son asleep on his chest – the only position he’s sleep in for many more months to come. My hubby gained a few more wrinkles and grey hairs since, and it’s amazing to see him in his picture, before he truly became a dad, before the sleepless nights and arguments about the best way to change a nappy.
A picture of a hospital breast pump, that reminds me of those 4 horrible days when after the perfect labour and birth my baby just. would. not. nurse.
A picture of our messy bedroom, me just waking up and the baby asleep in his Moses basket, from the days when we still tried to have our son sleeping separately, and the mess on the shelf a story by itself. A phone with an alarm clock as I was told to feed every 3 hours on the clock (oh I wish I didn’t listen to this particular piece of meaningless advice). A sheet where I recorded the times of feedings and nappy changes (oh god really?!). An empty bottle of expressed breast milk as we my little boy still struggled to latch on. A pile of pillows by the bed as that was the only way I could even attempt to feed him. Nipple cream because they hurt like hell. Glass of water because I was always thirsty. A remote to switch the night light on when I was done feeding.
I didn’t think I remember any of it, but just looking at this picture it triggered an avalanche of memories of those early days that I thought were lost in the haze of early parenthood.
I wish I’d had more of those pictures. Breastfeeding. Changing the nappy. Dressing him. Going for a walk. Shopping for a new buggy. Reading a parenting book trying to figure out this sleep thing. Working with a baby on my lap/chest/arm.
But I didn’t know I’d want those, so I didn’t take them, and didn’t ask them to be taken, and now I don’t have those memories. I know better now and I urge you, new parents, to ditch the perfection and embrace the imperfection.
Those will be the newborn photos that you treasure and cherish the most.