The first birthday is a milestone that is well anticipated as a mom. It's as if as soon as the baby is born there is a countdown set to that mark in their life. There are monthly milestone posts, many women who breastfeed (myself included) have a goal of making it to the one year mark, and for the first time you can give the baby's age as a year rather than counting the months. You may think about how it might feel to witness this landmark come and go but you never really know until it happens. Xander's first birthday was this past Sunday and I am flooded with a swarm of different emotions as I reflect on his first full trip around the sun. One of the things that came up most in my brain was thinking about the days before and during my labor with Xander, some day I will post his birth story. For today I'm going to stick to reminiscing the time over the past year.
There was a lot going on in my life and within my family during my pregnancy. That combined with Xander coming at I time that I wasn't necessarily planning on starting to have babies of my own made it difficult to wrap my head around the fact that I was going to be a mom, and what that really meant. I knew about the lack of sleep, the constant nursing, the mental difficulty of postpartum, and the attention and care a baby would require for the first year of life. These are many of the things people love to give warnings about whenever you tell the world you are expecting a baby. I believe I was prepared for these parts of being a mom.
On the other hand, there are many things that I was in no way prepared for as a first time mom. For example, what it felt like to hold Xander for the very first time. His tiny (or huge, 9 pounds 13 ounces is a lot of baby) body laid against mine in the warmth of the birth pool. Another example is the ridiculous swooning I felt necessary for the simplest of things, like sneezes or yawns. The insane pride I felt when he rolled over for the first time on a towel on the bathroom floor after a blissful bath. He rolled over, all on his own, no one helping him or showing him how or even coaxing him to do so... he just did it! Something so silly but so exciting. The sheer shock and joy I felt walking in to the nursery after I heard Xander stirring from a nap, only to find him standing up holding on to the wall of his crib, smiling ear to ear. These are the things that might get mentioned briefly here and there as exciting but they are in no way celebrated as much as the hardships are forewarned.
For me, the physical milestones of rolling over, crawling, climbing the stairs, and standing up for the first time, are all beyond exciting and prideful moments as a mom. On the other hand, hearing him intentionally call me mama for the first time, rather than just playing with the sounds he can make, hearing him giggle for the first time, experiencing him snuggling or reaching for me for the first time, these are the things that truly overfill my heart with joy and love in a way that I never knew possible. I think the reason that the forewarnings of having a baby are often discussed before the magic of all of these other landmarks is because it's so much easier to put those gripes into words than it is to describe the feeling of bonding between you and this brand new small person.
Xander and my first year was spent getting to know and trust each other while forming a relationship unlike any I have experienced. I loved Xander far before he was born. The bond that we have grown has blossomed over time, nourished through teaching each other and learning along side one another. I am so blessed to have the memories I have of this past year from exploring new places to sleepless nights filled with tears, and everything in between. Looking back on this year with Xander makes me giddy with excitement thinking about getting ready for the baby in my belly to get here. I am thrilled to learn about their differences and similarities, to watch them get to know each other and interact, and how this will change our family dynamic once again.