21 days. That’s how many days I have left as a mom to a baby. My baby boy turns one in 21 days. 21 days before we celebrate this baby turning into an official toddler. I am slowly wrapping my mind around the fact that we have been parents for almost a year. A year of so much love I can hardly stand it. A year of so many lessons and sleep deprivation by brain is officially fried. Life and parenting can be crazy hard, so I believe we should acknowledge accomplishments often and celebrate. And parenting the first year is one of the biggest things that I believe needs to be celebrated.
Once that 1st birthday hits, it feels like his infancy will fade forever. I realize it is just a day, but for me, and maybe for you, that day is a beautifully hard parenting milestone.
The 1st birthday is the milestone that says we made it as parents. We have kept this baby alive, and loved him hard for a year. The 1st birthday is where more words will be learned and skills will be mastered as he grows into a toddler. The first birthday is the beginning of the end of babyhood, where baby moments like nursing, diapers and two naps a day will eventually come to a halt.
There’s a phrase that I wish I had copyrighted: “Feeling all the feels”. Its nothing new, but it has resonated deep within me as a new mom. Over these next 21 days as I plan for a party and savor my still 11 month old, I know I am going to feel all the feels.
But I also know I want to spend time remembering. I want to spend time celebrating our success as parents. I want to remind myself, and Owen, what we have accomplished since he arrived. I want to celebrate everyone in our village. I want to shout from the rooftops what we all have done. We have started to raise this beautiful, energetic, hysterical, adorable, fun loving, stubborn, happy little boy. But I also don’t want to forget what we have had to trudge through to get to this point. Our year of first experiences should be remembered. These experiences are what led us to this point of parents of an almost one year old.
A crazy, emotional, and physically exhausting pregnancy. My pregnancy with Owen can be summed up in one word: heartbreaking. Heartbreakingly beautiful because this baby was so wanted and we were so excited. But also heartbreaking because it was near impossible to enjoy. It was a pregnancy filled with so much pain and sickness for a variety of reasons. But I overcame. We all did. My terrible, awful, no good pregnancy led me to so much good as a momma.
The first weeks home. We mastered nursing. We figured out how to change diapers quickly and efficiently. Our dogs didn’t try and eat the baby. We realized we wouldn’t break him. I still remember the day we were left alone for the first time. I cried a lot. Owen cried even more. Our neighbor came to help so I could sleep. But we made it through.
The never-ending worry. So much worry the first year. There were the usual worries but then fears of sickness too. Croup that sent us to the hospital. More fever viruses and stomach bugs than I care to remember. So many missed days of work and daycare. But, we made it out alive and hopefully better for it. Our immune systems better be stronger for it, that’s for sure. And I have learned how to take a lot of deep breaths and trust; trust the doctors that are here for a reason and myself as a momma.
Finding our new normal. This one took the full year and it is still evolving. We did full-time daycare. We did a full-time nanny. Then we did a mix of both. Now I am staying home with some writing and tutoring and who knows what else on the side. It took 11 plus months, but we have almost figured out a routine. Of course it will change again once a nap is dropped or a new milestone reached. But for now, I savor the normalcy.
Checking off the milestones. Rolling over. Sitting up. Babbling. Eating solids. Crawling. You have done it all, baby boy. And I couldn’t be more proud. I didn’t know what it would feel like to watch you in these moments. It feels like having ice cream at the beach, watching the ocean tide go in and out without a care in the world. It feels like hugs from a long-lost friend. It feels like the sweet spot before you fall asleep. Momma pride is better than I could have ever imagined. I want to bottle the momma pride feeling up and let everyone try. Everyone should have a taste of this heavenly feeling of love and pride, all mixed in one.
I am so very grateful for this life. I am grateful every day when I wake up and pick you up out of your crib. There is a lot of pain and hurt in the world, baby boy. But there is also a lot of kindness, compassion, wonder, excitement, curiosity and so much love. You will feel both kinds of feelings. I will continue to feel both too. We will feel the feels together.
As life continues to happen, I want nothing more than to feel the feels with you baby boy. I want to reflect, learn and grow together. I also want to acknowledge what your dad and I have accomplished. Because life is hard. Parenting is hard. Every day is an accomplishment. I want to celebrate those accomplishments with you and the rest of the world.
Most of all baby boy, I want you to be happy. Happy like you have made me for one simple reason: because I am your mom. So in 21 days we will celebrate. We will celebrate you, baby boy. But we will also celebrate us as parents. Because your dad and I, well, we have tackled the first year as parents head on. And we have come out stronger, a little wiser, a lot more tired, but with more love than we could have ever imagined. So here’s to you baby boy. Happy almost first birthday sweet baby boy. The world truly became brighter the day you were born.