One Year

{ Wednesday, June 30, 2010 }
Today, at 3:23 pm, we will be celebrating the anniversary of the bean's birth. I've thought quite a bit over the last couple weeks about what I want to remember in this birthday post. I wanted to remember the bean's birth story and how I had wondered for nine months what contractions might feel like and if I would recognize them, then laughed when the first one came because it was unmistakable. I wanted to tell how we had taken so many classes and read even more books, but during transition, no relaxation technique could have helped me. How, at the moment of her birth, I was consumed with the pain of labor and didn't realize she had been born until our midwife told me to open my eyes and see her staring up at me.

But going back that far, to the moments before and during her birth, leaves out all of the magic and pain and tears and beauty of this first year. I also wanted to talk about how surprised I was the day I put her on her stomach for tummy time and she rolled onto her back for the first time. And how proud I was day that I tried to put a rattle in her hand and she held it for a moment before it fell to the ground. The first time she pulled herself up onto her hands and knees. The first time she looked up at us and smiled back, or the first time she laughed a big, joyous, belly laugh. Her first step. The first time she tried to put her toes in her mouth. A celebration of our bean's first year must also include a celebration of these, and many more, happy moments.

I also want to remember the struggle, to see how far we've come. I remember so many tears those first two weeks--we were all so tired and the three of us were learning how to be a family; how we were going to get along and what it would take to take care of each other. I wanted to talk about how I thought I would die if we weren't sleeping through the night by six months and how, when we still weren't (and still aren't now) we figured it out. We made it work and learned to get by and its not as hard as I thought it would be.

I wanted to tell the story of how hard breastfeeding was in the beginning, how exhausting and painful it was, how I literally could not take a shower without the bean crying to nurse while I was away. I wanted to say that sometimes it still is exhausting and painful, but now its mostly just sweet and lovely. A year is such a big milestone and, while we aren't planning to wean just yet, I'm starting to see that someday this will end and there is more sadness and less joy at that thought than I had imagined. I love being able to comfort and nurture out little bean and my heart melts a bit when she reaches for me.

Most of all, I wanted to remember the day, the exact moment when I hit my stride as a parent. I want to remember when the idea of going to the grocery store with the baby stopped terrifying me. The moment when I stopped wondering how the world could continue as it had before, while here I was just trying to function. The day I decided it wouldn't really hurt anything if I pulled my dirty hair into a ponytail and went on about my day without a shower. When was the exact moment that my peripheral vision and reflexes becamed sharpened to the point that I can now catch a dropped sippy cup midair without pausing my conversation? The day that I learned just how many diapers to pack in the diaper bag without running out or having too many? The day that being vomited on stopped fazing me? I wish I knew. Sitting here now, as the mother of a one year old, I feel calm and confident and its only when I look back at the new parent I was a year ago--scared, confused, and unsure--that I realize how far we've come, but there are no exact moments I can point to.

Today, we celebrate the bean's birth and all the joy she's brought to our lives. We celebrate the fact that we made it through this first year and we're also celebrating this subtle transition. The bean is no longer a baby. I'm not sure when in this last year it happened, but today its unequivocal. The boy and I have also grown. A year ago, we became parents but at some point during that year, we turned into moms.


Strawberry said...

What a beautiful, touching post. I can identify with so much of it, too. The first year is such a roller coaster filled with high highs and low lows. Happy first year to you all, as this is as much a celebration for the moms as it is for the bean.

Beautiful pictures, too, btw.

Val said...

Kathleen... this post was amazing... So wonderfully written. Loved reading it and you captured it all...

Anonymous said...

This post brought tears to my eyes and I'm not even a mother. I so appreciate all that you share with us and I enjoy watching your beautiful family grow. Happy 1st Birthday to the Bean and congratulations to the three of you.

Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful post to mark all that you experienced that first year.

Anonymous said...

I'm the mother of a 18 and 14 year old who has followed your blog since before the Bean was born. De-lurking to tell you that I don't think I've ever read a more accurate AND well writen tribute to the first year of motherhood. (As a strong proponent of child led weaning, I especially like your comment about nursing ending 'at some point') The love and joy you feel in parenting comes through in every word you write.
The Bean is a most fortunate little girl to have such caring and devoted moms.
Lori in Canada