I'm a writer. I entered poetry and essay contests in middle school, started my first blog 15 years ago (!) and am ever loyal to my journals. So you can imagine how out of sorts I've felt this first year of motherhood having written only a handful of journal entries and even fewer posts here. Every day I've thought, oh! I need to write this down. I need to remember this. And yet... those words have remained largely unwritten. The joy, the amazement and wonder, the heart full of love and the moments of loneliness of our baby's first year have come and gone. I don't have heartfelt monthly letters to Clark or even notes about when he reached major milestones.
But I do have a wonderful hazy year of memories. I've decided to stop bemoaning the lack of documentation and to be grateful for the natural editing that time has afforded me. I may not have written down every thought or reflection, but now, on my son's first birthday, the important ones remain clear in my heart.
The early days are a blur. You were born at 12:31pm. We waited until the midwives left to call our parents and tell them about you. That first night we stayed up late even though we were so tired. You fell asleep at the foot of our bed, so we moved our pillows and slept there with you. The next morning we woke up as a family of three. You and I stayed upstairs in bed a lot in the first few days. Your dad would bring up snacks and then at night, he'd shut off the lights and lock up the house and join us. It was so dreamy, so magical. Your first few days here were a rainy reprieve in the middle of a scorching summer. When the sun came out, we'd open up the dining room doors to the yard and let the breeze in. Your dad would play Fleetwood Mac or Cat Stevens and we'd dance around and laugh and think about how very lucky we were. On your second or third day, your dad ran out to get a coffee and you and I were alone together. I put you in your basket and brought you into the bathroom so I could shower. It felt very brave, to do something, anything, with a baby. Our first trip out of the house was to city hall to get you a birth certificate. I was so nervous. I made your dad drive us all and had to bite my lip to keep from crying. How silly! I just couldn't bare the thought of you being out in the real world, outside of our bubble. Afterwards we took you to the park for a picnic. What I remember from the early days was a fridge full of food-- fruit salad, pasta, bagels, baked french toast and everything in between. My heart swelled each time we opened it and found the nourishment we needed. I remember your dad and I laughing so much and looking at you in amazement. It was a dream world and I loved every minute of it. You were such a charming newborn. You slept well at night. We were spoiled!
During a September trip to the co-op for some fancy cheeses, you bewitched and charmed the entire store. You were a sun beam, a bundle of star dust and every person we passed smiled said hello to you. Before we left, a woman declared you would be a great novelist one day and another asked if she could pray for us before putting her hands on your little body and praying for your health and telling you how lucky you were to have me as your mama. I'll admit I was embarrassed but knew that a prayer couldn't hurt.
One rainy Saturday night in October I woke to nurse you. The three of us lay in bed and as you and your dad dozed back off to sleep, I lay awake listening to the rain and watching the tree branches blow, realizing that there was nowhere else in the world I'd rather be. I'll always remember the way that felt.
You came to work with me when you were little and I'd wear you around the office and catch up on budgets and emails and meetings with you tucked right on my chest. I promised myself not to romanticize #babiesatwork but the fog of time has left only the good memories of my worlds colliding, of feeling whole, of de-compartmentalizing and embracing my overlapping role as mother and as a leader.
There was the Friday night when your dad was at work so I settled in to watch a movie. You curled up on me to sleep. I watched your chest rise and your fingers twitch and barely noticed the movie playing in the background.
Christmas morning you screamed and howled the entire two hour + drive to dinner. We pulled over at a rest area and with two of the three of us in tears, I thought, oh! I can't do this anymore. This is too hard. Babies are too hard. I want my life back.
The first time we dropped you off at daycare, after months of bringing you to work or to Nana's, was tough. Your dad and I went to get breakfast empanadas afterwards so we could delay the work day a little bit longer. I quickly saw, though, that you found a whole extra group of people to love and be loved by, and that's a very good thing, isn't it? You are thriving at "school" and I love how much you love people, especially other kids.
I remember when you stopped sleeping so well at night and started sleeping like, well, a baby. Some mornings you wake up so early that your dad and I have to take turns bringing you downstairs to play while the other sleeps a little longer. When it's my turn I sometimes cover myself up with a blanket on the floor and let you crawl all over, stopping by to hug and cuddle before finding a new toy to amuse yourself until the sun comes up.
Clark, I remember the hours spent nursing you and rocking you to sleep, the time spent frantically looking up a symptom or question on my phone. I remember how even on the hardest nights, as soon as you were asleep I dreamed about cuddling you. In the hazy first year I remember the moments when I finally felt like a mother: when I shhhhd and rocked you in the lobby of a diner; when I went to pay at the grocery store and a pacifier fell out of my purse; when I surprised myself by loving my postpartum body and all it has done for us; when my heart grew a thousand times stronger and softer all at once.
For years we dreamed of you and made plans for you and then finally watched you grow from the size of a poppyseed in my belly to a watermelon and into a baby boy. One year ago, we met you and our universe shifted. Happy birthday, my love. You have my heart, always.