Last month was my son’s first birthday. When he woke up that morning, I wanted to shout and cheer, “We did it! We made it through the first year, you and me! Through the sleepless nights and painful nursing. Through croup and teething and dozens and dozens of google searches when I didn’t know what to do. We did it!” However, there were no fireworks or parades. As with most aspects of motherhood, it lacked the fanfare it likely deserved.
I planned the day by searching Pinterest for a cute, yet doable cake, sending out invites to doting grandparents, aunts and uncles for a party and wrapped presents. What I didn’t expect with my child’s first birthday was the nostalgia that followed me around the whole week. The evening before as I put him down for bed, I couldn’t help but think, “Last year, this is when the contractions were getting more intense.” As my heavy eyelids closed my last escaping thoughts were of how at that time, my husband and I were getting in the car to make the drive to the hospital. On noon of his birthday, my memory wandered back to my doctor breaking my water to help labor progress. When I laid LM down for his nap, I whispered to that baby boy of mine, “This is when things got really intense and it hurt!” Then at 3:24pm as he was drinking from his bottle and staring at me, I gave him my own rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” since that was the exact time he was born. He didn’t give much reaction, just quietly listened. Just as he was born, quiet. No screaming, only a few whimpers. I remember reaching down and feeling his warm little body with my hand and praying he would be ok, praying for him to just make a sound. There was no skin to skin or cuddling. A whole slew of nurses came rushing in and took LM to a brightly lit table to check him over. I kept hearing over their mumblings, “He’s so little. Oh, wow, he is little.” “How little!?” I wanted to scream. Turns out he was 5lbs even. My doctor brought him over to me and said, “He’s a little baby, but a strong baby. Looks like he gets to stay here with you.”
All those memories swam around my head as LM finished the last gulp of his bottle and tossed it aside. He’s still small for his age, yet, still strong. He squirmed down to the floor on his quest to get to my shoes. It all felt like an achievement in that moment. Taking part in giving life to this little, curious, babbling boy. It’s an achievement lost on many, even on LM himself. Maybe next year, I’ll make myself a cake too.