Can I just start out by saying I suck at completing baby books. I really like the idea. I still have my own half completed baby book from my own mother. And it’s my only reference to what I was like as a wee one.
With my son, I made a good effort, but I found myself dreading it like a chore. Even being snarky on occasion with my responses: sleeping through the night… nope, I’ll never sleep again.
That said, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I knew I wanted a different way to document her childhood. I read blog ideas… but nothing stood out.
Then, she arrived 6 weeks early. During our short hospital stay in the NICU, I grew close to her nurses. Especially the night nurses. You see, in the final days of our stay, I woke up every three hours to walk down the hall and feed her. As I held this tiny baby, the nurses would fill the silence with instructions on how to care for a baby, but they also shared stories of their “miracle babies.”
One night, I asked what they liked best about their job. In response the nurse asked if she could show me a picture on her phone. But before I saw the picture, she told me that 15-20 years ago when Beanie Babies were popular, the hospital provided one Beanie Baby for each child. That toy sat next to them in their incubator. There parents took pictures of their baby with it: a tiny baby who looked giant next to this miniature stuffed toy. A few parents, continued to take pictures with these Beanie Babies as their baby grew and was eventually discharged from the hospital. Then, they took pictures at each milestone, with that Beanie Baby close beside.
After this brief story, the nurse reached into her pocket and grabbed her phone. She said, “I recently received this picture from a former patient.” It was a tall boy, standing in full cap and gown, obviously a graduation picture, holding a tiny Beanie Baby.
“Wow,” I thought. Besides giving the nurse a reminder that what she did mattered, it gave game me hope for my baby and an idea: take pictures at each milestone with a specific doll or toy.
I didn’t have much time or energy to find that perfect object.
Seemingly, the next day, they offered to let us go home. We quickly bought a car seat that was rated to carry a 4lbs baby, cleaned out our car, and that is where I found it: my son’s $1 plastic dinosaur.
“This could work,” I thought. As I placed this perfect tiny baby into her car seat, I placed this dinosaur next to her. Right then, I got my first milestone picture: coming home from the hospital.
Each few weeks, each weight check, each new month, I took her picture with this dinosaur. It wasn’t a chore; it was a joy. I loved taking photos and this seemed meaningful.
One year has gone by, and I have loved every picture with our “shrinking dinosaur” as my social media friends quickly named it. Though taking pictures of a crawling baby has gotten harder! Lots of blurry photos.
I look forward to the day when my own daughter stands in her cap and gown holding that tiny dinosaur. I look forward to capturing more moments that matter.
I challenge you to find a fun, stress free, cost free, way to document the meaningful moments as your child grows. Maybe you will do that traditional baby book, a journal, or even writing a poem. Or maybe this inspired you take pictures with a tiny toy, a family heirloom, or while standing under a special tree. I don’t think it’s the object that matters… it’s the growth of the child!