Despite all claims to the contrary, I could so easily have another baby.
I have realised how much I love the newborn stage: those tiny hands curling around your finger, the little fat rolls on thighs (theirs, not mine), the way their head smells, their little fists, the way they do that little intake and sigh when they are breastfeeding. Especially the little sigh.
It is excruciatingly bittersweet, because it is over so soon. As soon as you are able to relax into their utter perfectness, they have grown into the next stage, and the newborn is little more than a fond and hazy memory.
When I am out with her, women of all ages stop me to look at her, touch her, smile at her. They all have the same look in their eye. Wistfulness. Peacefulness. They cross the room to seek her out. Sometimes I can see their fingers twitching, just itching to hold her. The braver ones ask for a cuddle.
In Woolies once, when Curly Mop was a newborn, with her adorable crop of chocolate curls, I turned around in the meat section to discover I had three women following me. They didn't realise they were following me, and all giggled and dispersed when they realised they had been sprung. It was almost like they were under a spell. I did the same thing once where I followed a man with a newborn in a sling around the grocery store. His wife got quite cranky with me.
Newborns are relatively rare. Of course, there have been over six billion of them in recent times, but as a stage it is so fleeting. It's not as though we stop loving our children when they grow up, but the new baby is a brief, ephemeral glimpse at purity.
So when you have one, you need to relish it, and the rock-star status that comes with it. After all, no one follows the mum of a toddler around the store. No one wants to cuddle a Year two.
And no one one wants to sniff the head of a teenager.