It’s my baby boy’s first birthday today.
As this special day approached, I found myself thinking more and more about the day he was born, and his future.
Recently, while I lay in bed at night waiting for sleep to take hold (does anyone else’s brain work overtime when their head hits the pillow?), I found my thoughts centred around Nathan’s arrival last year. How we had hoped for him for years, and then for nine months we almost refused to believe it was true for fear of it ‘going away’… then all of a sudden (though not quite quickly enough, in the end) he was here, a wrinkly, pink bundle in our arms, dark hair crimped and curly from being so wet for so long.
I’ve been reliving the labour, willing myself to feel it all over again, the most precious and impactful moment of my life, which I never ever want to forget despite what it did to my body. I’ve been thinking of the days before he came; waiting for the induction to kick in, the Rice Krispies I ate, the pyjamas I wore, the stir fries my husband brought me from home while we waited. I’ve been thinking of the moment the nurse woke me to go down to the labour suite, of when they broke my waters, of Alicia Keys singing on the radio, my husband being an amazing support throughout those sixteen hours, the moment I finally caved into gas and air, and then to diamorphine (thank goodness for that stuff).
I’ve been thinking of the days that followed his birth, spent in the baby unit, the first night so frightening, terrifying – the tears that rolled over my cheeks, soaking them with salty tasting water, the silent sobs that escaped, despite parents around me suffering far worse. And I’ve thought of when we were finally home five days later, this tiny little newborn baby laying next to me in his crib. I would check he was breathing every hour, not able to turn out the light because I needed to see he was still there. Even now, a year later, whenever I wake in the night I have to pop my head in to his room to check I can hear him, see his chest rise and fall with each tiny, warm breath. Will every year of his life be like this? Will I still check he’s breathing when he’s 15, when he’s 21?
And then I find myself thinking of him growing up. Already a year has passed and it’s been a wonderful whirlwind (especially when you’re the sort of person who accidentally bakes their baby three cakes for his first birthday – don’t ask), but so quickly he is no longer a baby but is a teeny, tiny little boy. I have no doubt that the year that follows will disappear just as quickly, so – naturally – I think about all the hours and days and weeks that will pass, and I push the thoughts away because, before I know it, he’ll be standing proudly in his school uniform, me waving him off as I blink back hot tears, my chest puffed, bursting with pride.
I can only hope that in his future he is safe, and happy, and healthy, and kind, and that we as his parents can protect him but simultaneously allow him the freedom to fly. And, until he spreads his wings, I vow to live in the moment because, actually, it all becomes too overwhelming. Whether that moment is cooking his tea, or trying to get him to sleep, or hearing him laugh, I will live in it, because these precious moments are disappearing more quickly than they appear, and I can’t bear the thought of missing a single one.
Images: Kris Miller.
Cake: one of three, by me.