12 months ago was the hardest day of my life. And the most rewarding. In the first moment I held you in my arms and looked into your eyes, my heart swelled in my throat and I felt a different kind of love than what I ever knew was possible. I still feel this love every. Single. Day.
11 months ago, we were getting to know each other “on the outside,” and finding our groove with breastfeeding, coping with loneliness while your papa was away, and just soaking in each other’s presence. The fourth trimester is just that. We were still connected 24/7, you depended entirely on me, and I on you. We may not occupy the same space all the time any more, but you and I are still so entwined, in body and in spirit. You and I are never alone.
10 months ago, you started paying attention to the world beyond my face and my breasts. You wanted to make sense of things. From the moment you were born, everyone commented on how alert you were, and your awareness of the shapes and sounds around you was quite clear. You were a sponge. (You still are.) You didn’t want to miss a thing. (You still don’t.)
9 months ago, we were venturing out together more, and babywearing every time. You were no longer nursing 12 hours a day, and started having longer stretches of “happy awake time” (time when you were awake but not hungry, so we could play and sing). You were getting better control of your body, and expressing your emotions, not just your needs. Smiles and laughter filled our days. I feel so grateful that you are still such a happy child.
8 months ago, you fell in love with books. You loved to watch us turn the pages, listen to our voices reading sing-songy prose, and take in the colors and shapes of the illustrations. Is it any wonder then, since your love of books has only grown, that one of your newest signs is “book” (as soon as you sit on the potty)? Now, you turn the pages yourself, know how to “lift the flaps” on interactive books, and have some favorite books you keep coming back to.
7 months ago, you began teething. I wish I could say it has been quick or easy for you, but you’ve pretty much been teething ever since then. In fact, today you are working on tooth number 8, and it’s giving you a hard time. I wish I could take away your pain.
6 months ago, you were sitting, rolling, pivoting, grasping, shaking, chewing… PLAYING. I began to have a love-hate relationship with the second half of the night when you wanted to nurse nonstop while I dozed on and off. I loved snuggling you and waking up to your sweet face, but was feeling truly unrested for the first time since you were born. These days, you’ve added crawling and cruising around furniture to your locomotive tools, and although you still wake to nurse at night, we are both sleeping much more soundly.
5 months ago, we had just completed a month together alone, during which time I got horribly sick with a stomach virus (but you hung in there like a champ while I vomited. A lot.) You were trying so hard to learn to crawl, and we finally gave you your first food since your daddy had come home. Now, time on our own has become more routine since your papa has been here and there, getting ready for deployment, you zoom around the whole house, and you eat entire hamburgers and bowls of peas.
4 months ago, you were STILL trying to figure out how to crawl and working on those darned teeth. So frustrating for you! But you were doing so well with pottying, even at other people’s houses and in public (in “big people” toilets). You were becoming such a social butterfly, and having playdates with little baby friends all the time. You started waving at people, and interacting in new ways. Lately, pottying in public toilets is frequent enough to be unexciting, and you’ve upped your social game from just waving to actually flirting with strangers, playing peek-a-boo: smiling coyly, then hiding in my shoulder, then peering around again to see if the other person is still watching you.
3 months ago, you were communicating so much with us. You were using your sign language to let me know what you needed, and to tell me when you had to potty. You were starting to feel confident with crawling, and learning to sleep better at night. Your papa and I tried to get you to nurse more at the beginning of the night so your long sleep stretch would be while I was asleep too, and this was making me feel much more rested, so I could be a better mama for you during the day. Since then, you had sign language strikes and potty pauses (mostly due to TEETHING — on both counts), but now you are signing again, and you have added “book” and “please” to your ASL vocabulary. You also say “yes,” “hi,” and “Dada” out loud (in the right context).
2 months ago, you started really babbling. You had made some sounds before, of course, but now the super-cute “baby talk” had started. It wasn’t constant, but you were definitely using tone and inflection to get your meaning across when you needed to. You were also getting better at falling asleep in your bed on your own. I could hug you and kiss you and leave you alone, and you would fall asleep after not too long. And now? You talk. All. Day. Long. And I love it. Especially when you say “tay-too” or another approximation of “thank you.” What a sweetie. And I love that you haven’t ever said “no.” A LOT of “yes” though. You are still doing great with your floor bed. And sometimes, when we are playing in your room, if you get sleepy you climb onto it and lay down for a minute, which signals to me that it’s time to wrap things up and let you nap.
1 month ago, you had settled into what had become a bit of a routine. And, teething aside, that’s where we still are. Lots of snuggles, some good naps (if I don’t run you around town too much), playing, eating food, nursing… the pace of our days is wonderful. And that different kind of love I suddenly felt a year ago at 5:56 when I held you in my arms?
I still feel this love every.