My baby is one year old today. Where does the time go? It seems like yesterday that my skin felt ready to split open at the sides of my gigantic, extended belly. My body ached with the demands of pregnancy. I slept fitfully at night, heaving myself from side to side in an attempt to feel comfortable, fending off disturbingly vivid dreams. During the day, I would feel paranoid about my husband’s safe return from work, imagining worst-case scenarios in which I’d be left a widow about to give birth to a child who would never know his father. I fretted about the impending home birth, fearing the pain and the sensation of a watermelon tearing through my crotch, the cramps and bleeding and stinging urine. Having done it once before almost made it scarier, because I already knew how tough the recovery can be (despite having had it quite easy by comparison to many other women).
A friend who was starting up a photography business came over to take photos of my pregnant belly. She told me I’d want those pictures some day, even if I was sick of my belly at that point and considered it anything but beautiful. She was right. I’ve been looking over those photos and reminiscing about that chapter in my life that seemed so endless at the time, yet was so fleeting in retrospect.
A year ago now, I was in labour. I spent the day with my mom, had a stretch-and-sweep performed by the midwife in an attempt to stimulate the labour contractions which had already begun and ended several times. I had a prenatal massage that involved much more tension than relaxation on my part, and by the end of the massage, I announced to the therapist that the baby was definitely arriving that day. Mom and I went out for lunch, had a miserable walk around the block with the screaming toddler in a blinding snowstorm, with me stopping every now and then to breathe through contractions.
The midwives arrived just as I put A. to bed at 7 pm. My baby was born in our living room within four hours. It was amazing. I’ve written a detailed description about my home birth experience in an earlier blog post, so please take a look at it here. I’ve never felt so empowered, so exhilarated, so deeply connected with the original biological purpose of my female body. To push out a tiny human that’s been growing within me for nearly ten long months is a sacred act, and the midwives truly understand that.
Baby L. fit into our routine quickly. Calm, quiet, and cuddly, it took about two months to return to our old lifestyle. By then he slept on a predictable routine, learned to nurse well, I figured out his particular signals and cries, and we began to feel like a complete family, instead of us three with a little invader in our midst. He was my perfectly happy baby. Because of his mellow personality — utterly unlike the rest of us — he was happy to fit into our life without demanding much more than some warm arms or a solid lap, hence this photo that I love:
The changes that take place in the first year of life are incredible. L. has gone from being a bundled-up newborn with basic animal needs to having a well-defined personality and unique take on life. He’s gentle, snuggly, soft and chubby. He likes to suck his thumb, hates nursing, eats like a Hoover, refuses to feed himself, crawls really fast, likes to growl and play wrestle, tries to climb into the shower at any given chance, drives cars back and forth on the floor, climbs the entire flights of stairs, sleeps extremely lightly for long periods of time, and babbles on and on about his day.
He’s the source of so much love and joy in our family, and it’s hard to imagine life before he came along. Because of the wonderful first year we’ve had getting to know each other, I feel more excited than ever to see what the next one holds for us all.