Today the most wonderful Christmas present arrived in the post.
It is the lion you see pictured above. I bought this keepsake, handmade lion for Boy 3 for Christmas. My beautiful baby boy, at almost four months old, doesn’t really need any presents this year, but this was a real find. Having heard about these keepsake teddies from a friend, I thought it was a lovely idea, and so I had a look around on-line, found a local seller and went ahead and ordered one. But I hadn’t realised what an emotional purchase this would turn out to be. As I held our keepsake lion in my hands this morning, it sparked off the most poignant of days with Boy 3 so far.
Firstly, let me just credit the wonderful lady who made our lion. Her company is called ‘My Baby Keepsake’ (www.mybabykeepsake.co.uk) and she is a local lady. However I do not know her. She is not a friend or a friend-of-a-friend. She is just someone I found online when googling keepsake companies in my local area.
Yet now I feel like this lady and I have a connection. I know that sounds ridiculous and sentimental, but that is genuinely how I feel. She has taken something so precious from me (Albie’s first baby clothes) and turned them into something even more wonderful (our keepsake lion). I do not believe this lady just makes these keepsakes as a way of making some cash – our lion is too well thought out for that. I believe that each keepsake she makes, she does so with time, effort, patience, care, attention and love. She is a mum herself (I know that because I follow her on Facebook and Instagram – social media stalking at its finest!) so I guess she understands the emotion that is attached to her work.
Let me briefly talk you through the lion and its sentiment – just so you may understand a little of my emotion and not think I am totally mad! His left leg bears an emblem from the baby-grow my mum bought for Boy 3. It reads ‘Born in 2016’. His right leg says ‘Little Brother’, words taken from a vest Boy 1 and Boy 2 chose for their baby brother before he was here. His body is made from a selection of newborn baby-grows – all chosen by me whilst I was pregnant. They represent hours of shopping joy! His right paw has a picture of a cow that says ‘I love milk’, which is so appropriate for my breast-fed, well-fed, chubby bundle of joy. His back paws are embroidered with his name and date of birth.
And the most special part of this lion is his ears. They are made from a Jojo Maman Bebe hat that I bought, together with its matching baby-grow, to be his first ever outfit that he would wear. You know how you find that special outfit and know it will be the one you keep forever? It was an expensive outfit but worth every penny. (The husband however did not agree – apparently I could have bought twenty baby grows in Asda for the same price!) It holds memories because I bought it when out shopping with my bestest girlfriends, but that is not the only reason why is it special.
When Boy 3 was born (four weeks early) he had breathing difficulties. He was taken away from us at one hour old to the neonatal unit, where he was hooked up to various machines and drips. Sadly, he wasn’t able to wear his new baby-grow for the first couple of days. He needed to be naked so the midwives and doctors could watch the movement of his chest. However he needed to wear a hat. He was naked apart from a tiny hat to keep his head warm. An expensive, beautiful, tiny hat. A hat that even impressed the midwife! A hat that is now a pair of ears on our beautiful lion.
Okay – I need to stop now. This is turning into a mushy spiel of emotions. Let me move on…
The point I was trying to get to was that this lion is FULL of memories and joy. In just four months the presence of our baby Boy 3 has already created the most wonderful memories and moments. I have seen my older boys behave in a gentle and loving manner (not to each other of course, but to their baby!) I see the love they have for their brother. I see the joy that his early-morning smiles bring them. They do not resent any of the attention that he gets from me. They understand he needs it. They take selfies with him, they read to him, they talk with him and they love him.
I know that Boy 3 is our last baby. I always wanted 3. I like odd numbers and 3 is my favourite number! And I am knocking on the door of being 40. My husband is through the door! I don’t have the energy or patience for the ‘baby and toddler scenario’, nor do we have the money for double childcare and further extensions to our house. Or the bigger cars we would need. So I know that Boy 3 is our last baby.
And every day that goes past is so bitter sweet. I know we are creating last moments. Moments that will come and go and we will not experience again. First smiles. First words. First steps. I am treasuring every moment this time around. Not to say that these moments weren’t important with my older boys, they were of course, but I must have known deep down there would be more moments. This time I know there will NOT be more of these moments. We are done. I am done. And that knowledge is bitter sweet. Sad and poignant, yet also satisfying. We have the most wonderful, boy-filled family and I am grateful for that. I am full of love for them all, even on their most trying days! We are complete.
And I got all this from one stuffed lion!
Buy one, keep it and treasure it. It is precious, like our babies.
(But if, like me, you have older children without a keepsake teddy, be prepared to explain why they do not and cannot have one – mine have already asked!)