This week my gorgeous little boy walked by himself for the first time and I couldn’t have been more proud of him. I can still see the huge grin on his little face and hear his shrieks of delight when he let go of the sofa and walked those couple of steps across the open floor before launching himself into my outstretched arms to be covered in kisses and showered with praise.
Few things have made me as happy as seeing those first few staggering, bandy-legged little steps and the gleeful giggles of pride when he realised that he was doing something new and exciting. With each milestone Squidge becomes more and more independent, moving further away from the the tiny, spiky haired newborn that he was and closer towards the clever and willful little boy that he is rapidly becoming.
Something that did surprise me was the pang of regret I felt when I realised that Squidge is only going to continue to grow up. One day in the not too distant future he will go off to his first day of school, learning new things and making his first friends and from that day on I will probably no longer be the centre of his expanding world. The day he walked for the first time was also the first time I seriously considered the possibility of having another baby; something that even a few months ago would have seemed impossible.
Anyway, back to the present where walking quickly turned into a wonderful game for Squidge. Even though he could only manage three or four steps before losing his balance he kept crawling back to the sofa, pulling himself to standing and then turning to launch himself at me once more. Each time he reached me I told him how clever he was and how well he had done, which only seemed to spur him on to repeat his feat of genius.
We experienced a slight hitch when he became a bit over-excited with his own success and started trying to walk before he’d actually stood up properly and without really moving his feet. Instead he took maybe one tiny step before throwing himself in the general direction of where I was sat on the floor, relying on me to catch him. Bearing in mind I got next to no warning and my reflexes are usually slow at best, the result was more than one incident of face-planting the floor.
After his initial success Squidge has been rather reluctant to continue practicing his new found skill and instead has wanted to be carried instead of walking or standing. I do wonder if he realises what a huge milestone he’s reached and that he now worries that I won’t be there for him to the same extent. I tell him that he’s my big, clever boy but also that I am still here for him, for cuddles and reassurance and to help him with things that he finds difficult. I don’t know how much he understands or whether I’m reading too much into his unusual clingyness of the past few days but I figure that even if he doesn’t understand now it won’t be too long before he does.
Squidge definitely took his time before deciding to walk, waiting several months between starting to toddle up and down the living room with his little wooden baby walker to taking those first few unsupported steps steps into my outstretched arms. But Squidge has never done anything in a hurry and in that sense he is very like me; carefully considering every move, weighing up the pros and cons before making his final decision.
I say toddle, but what actually happens is Squidge practically runs from one end of the room to the other with next to no regard for toys, books, other peoples feet and immovable objects like the sofa. The running is accompanied by over-excited yelling and quite frequently ends with him bent in half over the handle of the walker, feet dangling a few inches above the floor after having crashed at full speed into the living room door.
I do supervise him properly, honest.
A few weeks ago, speaking to my mum on the phone I mentioned the fact that although Squidge loved racing around with his walker, so far both the Northern One and I had been unable to convince him to let go and try walk by himself. On the odd occasion that we did manage to persuade him, instead of attempting to walk Squidge would instead develop comedy wobbly knees and sit down with the type of resounding thump that having a heavily padded bottom allows.
Although 16 months is hardly late to be walking I did wonder why he seemed so confident with the walker but so reluctant to try and walk alone. My mum made the very sensible (and rather obvious) observation that our house has laminate floors and that Squidge was likely to be well aware that bumping himself onto a hard surface multiple times per day was unlikely to be all that fun.
As a reward for walking for the first time we took Squidge to the toy shop to chose a present for being such a clever boy. It was the first time we’d taken him to chose something for himself and while it was a hugely fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon it was also another indicator of how my baby is growing up. We came away with a dinosaur jigsaw puzzle and a very happy little boy who had just spent several minutes charming the ladies on the till with his beaming grin and coy head tilt. I have no idea where he learnt the second thing from, so my money is on him copying another child at nursery.
It’s not often that I write about the positive aspects of our life as a little family of three, mostly because writing helps me to process things that I’ve found difficult. However, now that my mental health is more stable I’m hoping that in the future there will be many more joyful events that I can write about and share with you all. I’ll continue to write about work, my mental health and to look back at the more difficult aspects of my life so that I can share my experiences and reassure others going through what I did that they’re not alone.
I have no idea what Squidge will do next although I’m sure it will be equally delightful (or quite possibly destructive) so watch this space (and maybe send gin).
Louise is a full time mum and a part time neonatal nurse who has battled depression for many years but particularly during her pregnancy. She lives with her husband (the Northern One) their little boy (Squidge) and their three guinea pigs who live in the kitchen.
Louise blogs at 23weeksocks (http://23weeksocks.com) about lots of different (and seemingly unconnected) topics that she’s passionate about, including mental health, antenatal depression, neonatal care and baby loss.
In 2015 she was shortlisted in the ‘Fresh Voice’ category for the BIB (Brilliance in Blogging) Awards and the ‘Bereavement Worker’ category for the Butterfly Awards. She was also one of the keynote speakers at BritMums Live reading’Twinkle Twinkle’ which was her account of caring for a premature baby on the day that he died.