This time last year, I was a ticking time bomb of baby. I was on the final precipice of my very last remaining nerve, waiting for this kid to arrive. I had pre-eclampsia, and my doctors had said 39 weeks was the very longest I’d be allowed to go without being induced.
My water broke an hour before the appointment to schedule my induction, and since that gush of amniotic fluid all over my pants, life, as they say, has never been the same.
My kid turns a year on Monday, a milestone that is wonderful and terrifying all at once.
Kudos to me and Jeff: we kept him alive for a year. And we did not die in the process! Or get divorced! Or start using illicit drugs or alcohol to cope. Well, at least not an excess of alcohol. Mommy needs the occasional pre-game glass of wine to make it to through bedtime.
In those first days, someone told me something I have found to be very true: that having a child is full of long days and short years. The days seem like they will never end sometimes. The year, or this one, at least, has gone quickly.
I say “someone” because I cannot wrest the memory of who it was from my sleep deprived brain. Whoever they were, they are wise.
What have I learned in this short year of long days?
I can do fucking anything. Birth itself taught me that I am capable of doing what I did not believe I was capable of doing, even as it was happening. I did not know I could do it. I know I could do it now because I did it. Breastfeeding, non-stop night waking, and the general pitfalls of infancy have taught me this lesson time and time again. Can I do it? Of course I can. I am a mother.
My kid is the best kid. Except for your kid, of course, who is the best kid to you. But seriously, I love this kid like crazy. All that stuff about your heart expanding and you never knew you could love a person this much, blah, blah, blah – totally and completely true. I walk around all day, kissing this kid and telling him I love him like 345 times an hour. I breathe a sigh of relief when he’s finally in bed, and then I miss him and want to go cuddle next to him. Crazy big love for a little person.
A baby is a person. There are lots of baby books that make babies seem like puzzles. If only you have the right strategy, you can crack it. These books tell you about your baby’s progress – how they will do this and then that and then this with that. The thing they don’t tell you is that babies are people, and people are weird. Babies will have several days or even weeks of sleeping soundly and then go back to terrorizing you with insane crying at 3 a.m.. Babies just have bad days sometimes. Babies figure something out and then forget all about it because they are working on some other part of being a human. They tell you it’s this great trek forward, but really, it’s up and down, day to day, a few steps back and forth, cha cha cha. You cannot crack a baby. Or, at the very least, it’s frowned upon.
Something terrible is about to/just happened. When you have a baby, people like to tell you how your life is going to suck. Even before it gets here, people are warning you that your life is about to end. And then when it gets here, every new milestone is a supposed reason to wring your hands and wail. “Just you wait until he rolls over/sits up/crawls/walks/talks/puts you in a headlock. Then you’ll really be in trouble.” I have “really been in trouble” a number of times now, and can I tell you – it’s really not so bad. Others have theories about when it gets easier. If you can make it past three months, six months, two years, etc., you’ll be home free. I don’t know what this home free looks like. Will a waiter bring me endless pina coladas on the sun deck? If so, I am not there yet.
Sometimes I want to say to people things like, “Just you wait until you get old and your kids put you in a nursing home. Then you’ll really be in trouble!” But I never have the guts. Maybe I’ll work on that in year two.
Having a kid is the best and hardest thing ever. Except if you don’t want to have kids. I really respect that, and I’m not saying you should want to. But also, despite all the shit, it is really awesome. Raising a person is incredibly hard and incredibly rewarding. I am not just saying that to justify my sacrifices, no matter what the New York Times says.
That’s all I can think of. I probably learned more things, but I’m too tired to remember. Still waiting for a good night’s sleep. That’s something I haven’t seen in a year for sure.
Anyway, here’s to year one! I made it. And to many more years ahead! I can’t wait.