My baby girl is one today. My tiny baby, a whole entire year old. And this girl…she’s my lucky penny, my blue sky, a gift sent from the universe directly to me. I cannot believe she’s reached this milestone. It feels astonishing, and joyful, and a little bit sad.
Mostly I feel grateful. She was not a foregone conclusion, my sweet girl. My husband and I prevaricated for years – literally years – on whether or not we should try for another baby. And then when we finally made the decision to take the leap, she was not as easy to come by as I (rather naively) thought she would be. She is my advanced maternal age, high risk, let’s-hope-this-one-sticks-because-trying-again-is-not-a-good-idea rainbow baby, and we are so very lucky to have her with us.
Some mornings I wake up and hear her chatting to herself through the baby monitor, and I am overwhelmed with joy so potent it feels physical, like a wave washing over me. Even the shitty nights where she’s teething and miserable and neither of us gets much sleep…even on those nights I am profoundly aware of how fleeting this baby stage is. (I was not so aware with the first two. I believed that somehow the infant stage would last forever, with all of its big joys and tremendous challenges.) With this baby I’ve been surprised by the depth of my gratitude to have her in my arms, and I haven’t minded being awake with her as the clock strikes 3:00a.m.
Because let’s face it: now that she’s one year old, my days of mothering a baby are behind me. We could argue about the precise location of the baby/toddler line, I guess, but that doesn’t give me any satisfaction. It doesn’t magically slow down or turn back the clock, or keep my life from racing forward at this exhilarating, sometimes frightening pace. She isn’t a baby anymore. There will be no other babies. That time of my life is done now, done forever.
And yes, I love love love having older children – there is so much great stuff still to come! I believe that in my heart, I really do.
But this sweet season of babies is over. No more newborn smell, no more milky, toothless smiles, no more tiny baby sleeping folded in my lap as as I rock in the rocking chair and read a book.
Instead I must concentrate on remembering those moments, remembering them as clearly as I can, so they can feed me for years to come.
I try to focus on the joy and the gratitude, and mostly I succeed. But I am mourning, too. I think that’s OK. I think it’s normal. I will only smile – smile for real, with no tears in my eyes – when we blow out her first birthday candle tonight.