I was pregnant, and cranky, and bloated. We watched Sunshine Cleaning, saw a lot of blood, then woke up at 2 in the morning to blood and contractions.
My boy was born and placed in my arms and instantly I knew he was strong.
His sister walked into the room and cried and knew that he was her brother. She said later in the year that she knew when she met him that we are more than animal because she would do anything for him, she would die for him.
We learned how to be a family with a baby. At first we were in a force field of love, a trance of sleepless love, and then we got pretty stressed out with a lot of nursing pain and new-baby exhaustion. Then we slowly evolved, all of us kicking and screaming.
The dogs and cats learned to respectfully accommodate a new, warm baby who at first looked at them with hazy eyes and then smiled at them and now pulls their tails and kisses them and repeats after them, meow, meow (to the cats); pant, pant (to the dogs).
I learned to have to be okay with sleeping in past Rosie’s off-to-school hour because the baby hadn’t slept that night, or being up way before Rosie because the baby couldn’t sleep. I learned to be okay with not-so-great dinners and lunches packed by her father, which she often refuses to eat.
I learned to cope with a teenager for what felt like the first time. A sixteen-year-old now, fully inhabiting the complicated dichotomy of still-a-baby and you-can’t-make-me.
I felt the anxiety of wondering if my baby was succeeding, was rolling over at the right age, crawling in the right way, then watched my baby walk into my arms so soon, launching himself, stumbling, giddy in his sweet, quiet way.
I edited a manuscript, feeling my brain come back to me after a half-year of postnatal breastfeeding fog, and I find myself more proud of it than ever.
I began a new manuscript, and then another, and I keep writing, slowly, sleepily but earnestly, eager to see how they unfold.
I drew a lot of blankets, I sewed a blanket-quilt.
I sewed my baby a few pairs of pants while he slept, which he has thankfully outgrown.
I bought only three packages of disposable diapers all year, and I washed a countless amount of cloth ones.
I washed and folded, washed and folded, washed and folded with a baby sleeping on me, a baby sleeping beside me, a baby fussing beside me, a baby helping me unfold.
We drove to Pensylvania just before a snow storm with a one-month-old, flew to California with a three-month-old, flew to Baltimore with a four-month-old, flew to Pennsylvania with a six-month-old, flew to North Carolina and drove up the coast to New York City with a seven-month-old, flew to Salt Lake City with a nine-month-old, drove to Pennsylvania with a ten-month-old, and flew to Pennsylvania just after an ice storm with an eleven-month-old.
We opened up a dream and bought a farm. Twenty acres of land that we bought because we are all body now and so little computer, stooping for a baby and dreaming for a baby, working with our hands and kneeling on the floor beside him, feeling pure in this way, and slow and sleepy, and part of something grounded.
His language is unstoppable. First dada, then ball, then balloon. Leaf. The sign for more. The word mama – which usually means milk or some abstract wanting. The sound meow, then panting, then moo, which sounds like boooo. Ba for toothbrush, Ba for brush, Ba for fan. The whinny of a horse. Juice. The name he has given his sister, Ta-ta. A laughing sound which means Nana. Papa for my father. The hoo-hoo-ha-ha of a monkey. Baa for lamb. Doh for radio, Tah for guitar.
He woke at two in the morning this morning of the day of his birth and didn’t fall asleep until almost four and it occurred to me that maybe in some universe he understood that a year ago this is when he woke me with contractions. I wrote this to my mother, who said that when my brother and I turned one, we did much the same thing, waking crying at the minute of our birth. Tonight he went to sleep at 8, in my arms in the bed, and I held him and tried to hold the moment even as I wanted to jump up and finish making dinner, this moment when a year ago he started to breathe.
It’s not that I cry when I think of a year passing because time feels so short, because it hasn’t. It’s that so much is that wasn’t a year ago — so much beautiful and hard and patient and impatient. This human being, this mouth I love, this whole boy, I get to witness him unfolding and it is incredible. Life, humans, our complicated brains and hearts and way of being, we sure do make beautiful babies.