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Are ‘the lasts‘ one of the most heartbreaking parts of parenting?

Lucy Cheek

Lucy Cheek

Lucy is an experienced writer and editor who believes in the power of storytelling, especially when it comes to parenthood – there's comfort in knowing we’re all hurtling along on the roller-coaster together. Based on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, you’ll usually find her by the beach with her greatest loves: a large flat white and her two small children.
Created on May 14, 2024 · 4 mins read
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The last onesie I’ll ever put on one of my babies is a faded pink zipsuit that’s seen a thousand washing-machine cycles.

Remembering the lasts

The last baby gurgle, the last crawl, the last breastfeed, the last nappy change, the last totter on wobbly legs before it becomes a smooth gait. The last piggyback and the last time they crawl into your bed at 2am. The last time you strap them into a high chair; the last time they lean over it, point to the half-chewed noodles on the floor, and loudly declare, “Mesh.” (Mess.) 

Of course, I should mention some good lasts, too. It could be the last excruciating breastfeed before the latch improves, the last time they wake 14 times in the night, the last time they posset and poo at the same time all over your new white trousers, the last time they jack-knife on the floor until you cut their sandwiches in triangles, not squares. The last time you wipe a bottom and the last time you have back-to-back daycare viruses until their immune systems get stronger. Yes, there are some lasts I’m glad are well and truly in the (nappy) bin.

I know Betty, almost two, is my last baby. So, when she koala-clings to me before bed, wrapping her little arms around my neck and saying, “Wuv woo, Mama,” I find it desperately hard to let her go. I press her pillow-soft cheek against my own, gently swaying from side to side, closing my eyes and wishing time would stand still. She’s getting heavy now – she’s 80% toddler, 20% baby – but I’m clinging on to the 20% for dear life as it slips away from me (and my back pain gets worse).

 The first onesies for my firstborn, Otis, could almost fit in the palm of my hand: tiny, soft scraps of fabric to hug tiny hands and feet. In the first few weeks, they were often soiled within minutes from various bodily fluids. I valiantly tried to use the beautiful button-up or stud ones gifted to me, but quickly abandoned them for night-time, as a weary 3am fumble with various under-crotch buttons felt like doing pythagoras’ theorem.

In the blink of an eye

Babies grow so quickly. Before you know it, the designer onesie your dear auntie bought – that you’d been so excited to put them in when they reached three months – is now too tight, and they’ve only worn it a handful of times (and, in your foggy, sleep-starved state, did you even remember to take a photo of your baby in it to show your appreciation for her spending $80 on something the size of a large napkin?). My favourite onesies – other than crowd favourite, Bonds Wondersuits – were from Marquise: soft and icing-sugar-white with a little duck or chick emblazoned on the front. 

As a seasoned second-time mum, of course, tired-looking zip onesies were the go-to: a blend of Otis’s offcuts and hand-me-downs from friends. Zip, unzip, zip, unzip, I went as the days rolled by and Betty started filling out; her fingers and toes just as kissable, but no longer thimble-sized. When the second (and third, and fourth) children come along, time accelerates. The lasts fly by. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it life.

The last onesie

And now we have the last onesie. Unlike the final time they slip a little hand into yours to cross the road, I know when this last will be. I’ll throw it in the washing machine one last time tomorrow before it’s folded and donated to another baby who has so many of their own firsts and lasts ahead of them.   

Time marches on and, as a parent, all you can do is embrace the bittersweet endings and silver linings (no more fiddling with onesie press studs). And, most importantly, embrace where you’re at right now. 

The lasts are hurtling towards us and are out of our control. What we can control is slowing down and soaking up those sweet cuddles – even if there’s laundry to fold, vegetables to chop, or work emails to answer. Because before you know it, you might be trying to bear-hug a surly teenager who doesn’t want a bar of you. So, hold your babies in your arms for as long as you can – the back pain is always worth it.   

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