It's your first birthday today.
Three hundred and sixty five days ago, at right about this time, I woke up in a hospital room from a quick nap that was my first real sleep in more than twenty-four hours. It was still early in the morning, and they had taken you to the nursery for a bath and a check-up. Not at all sure what I was supposed to do, I pressed the call button hanging from my bed. An unfamiliar voice blasted out of the speaker next to my head, asking me if I needed anything. "Um, my baby, I think?" I said in a tentative voice. "No problem hon," the voice said, and hung up.
Five minutes later the door to my room opened and a nurse came in, wheeling you in a plastic bassinet. She smiled, lifted you out, handed you to me, and walked out, calling over her shoulder that I should page her if we needed anything. I thought that I probably needed a lot of things, but at that moment I didn't know what any of them were, so I just let her go.
And there we were. Just you and me.
Sometimes it seems impossible that this all happened an entire year ago. I've written to you over and over again over the last twelve months about how time seems to be flying by, and I'm feeling that again today most of all because today you are one, but it really does seem like yesterday that the nurse handed you to me and sailed out of the room, leaving me to get to know you.
And I did. I do.
I know that you love to sit on the kitchen floor while I cook, but only if you have a spoon in each hand to play with. I know that the second you push your bottle away at night I have to put you straight into your crib or it takes you a long time to fall asleep. I know that you love corn and hate scrambled eggs. I know what cry means, "I'm tired" and what cry means something hurts. I know Mother Goose Club will keep you occupied for hours but Sesame Street isn't really your jam. I know you rub your eyes when you're a little tired and your nose when you're exhausted. I know that you hate pants with buttons. I know you like the blue ball but not the orange one as much. I know you never met a television remote or a smartphone you didn't need to grab, immediately. I know that when you really like something, your smile reaches all the way up to your eyes. I know how to make you laugh. I know what your face looks like first thing in the morning and right before you fall asleep.
You were mine the very second they handed you to me one year ago, even though I didn't quite understand it yet, and it's been my great pleasure to watch you grow.
And you are growing, fast and furious. This month, you discovered that books are good for reading, and not just chewing on. Your favorites are Where's Spot and Pat the Bunny, but really, anything with pictures and bright colors is just fine with you. I've started reading to you every night before I put you to sleep, and you sit on the carpet, legs spread, and listen with rapt attention.
You love to stand up, and you are getting so steady on your feet. You mastered pulling yourself up on everything from the bathtub ledge to the gate that we had to put up to keep you away from the stairs, and you'll take some steps if we hold onto your hands or if you balance yourself on your walking toy. I really love watching you figure out this new little slice of independence, and I'm pretty sure that you'll be toddling around in no time.
You are finding your voice too. Aside from "da da," which you figured out awhile ago, your first word, strangely, was "wow" followed closely by "uh oh," and, just yesterday, "see ya." I'm still holding out for "mama" though. Just humor me and get to it soon, ok?
Sometimes I just step back and watch you as you go about your business, still amazed a year later that you're here, and that you're mine. Amazed that the six pound baby I met for the first time twelve months ago is a smart, strong, curious little boy. Amazed that I had a hand in making you that way. And then you notice me watching you and you look up and grin and my heart grows wide because for all of the tough stuff and the exhaustion and the worry and the details, motherhood is miraculous, full stop, and these are the moments that remind me. That I have been given this gift - to raise you and to watch you grow - fills me with a gratitude so huge that I sometimes feel like I can reach out and touch it with my hands.
I spent a lot of time over the past year wondering when I would start to feel like myself again until I realized that the answer was, I wouldn't. Because you changed me the day you were born and you keep changing me, every day, in ways I see and in ways I haven't even begun to figure out yet. Motherhood, with its sharp edges and slippery angles, cracked me wide open and then filled me back up again. I'm not the same person I was a year ago, but I think that having you, raising you, loving you, has made me a better person. A little more open, a little kinder, a little more patient, more confident and comfortable with who I am and who I want to raise you to be.
One year ago today you came into my life, and over the past twelve months, you have made it shine.
Happy first birthday, my sweet, sweet Will.
With love as big as the sky,