“Our lives can sometimes feel like passages through harsh landscapes that shake us to our core. Yet these difficult passages bring us to our most profound transformations. In the midst of heartache and greatest need, we find that grace descends. And at the end of it all, we often discover that we have become someone new, stronger and more alive…the tender moments of heartache, illness and inner strangeness that we all experience at times. They illuminate the path of healing–when awe, self-love and grace touch our very being, leave us breathless, make us whole.” –Carolyn Brigit Flynn (Sisters Singing)
“I have hands big enough to save the world, and small enough to rock a child to sleep.” –Zelda Brown
(I wrote this second quote on the first page of the baby record journal I kept of her first year)
I’ve spent multiple days trying to gather some minutes together to work on a happy birthday reflective post. While sometimes I hesitate to write posts that are “too personal”— thinking things like “who really cares anyway?” and “why do I feel so compelled to share my life online?”—I’m so glad I’ve written regular updates about this first year of life with my baby girl. Even if no one else does really care to read about it–I care and I’m glad to have a “permanent record” of her infancy in this manner. The main thought that comes to mind when I reflect on her first year of life is, but it has all been SO REAL. I’ve expressed that same sentiment previously and maybe it doesn’t make sense to anyone else, but that it is the feeling I return to. This life, this past year has just been so real. By that I mean so vivid, so present, so conscious, so physical, so embodied, so here and now, that I can hardly believe it has now passed. I am likely to never have another crawling, drooly, grabbing, fuzzy headed baby of my own in my house again–and, even if I do. It won’t be this baby. This little walking, minimally talking, amazed, and amazing, energetic and enthusiastic, baby girl. I paid attention, I told about it, I remembered to look, listen, feel, and to embed precious moments and memories as deeply into my soul as I possibly could. I’ve struggled with life balance, come in and out of various states of equilibrium/disequilibrium. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve marveled, and I’ve been ragged. And, we’re here. We did it. We’ve taken our first trip around the sun together. After having walked the labyrinth of pregnancy after loss in 2010, in January of 2011 I greeted the labyrinth of birth with wild joy and sweet relief, and now we’ve been on our “return” journey–step by step and in my arms, Alaina and I have now completed our postpartum return labyrinth together (though, I think it might actually last three years…).
Just this time last year I was wondering aloud if the full moon would bring me my baby and sure enough, my labor began that night and she was born at 11:15 a.m. on January 19 (full birth story in case anyone missed it). For me, the first birthday is really as much about memories for the mom as it is about the baby! Some favorite early pictures:
Here is a video we took for family when she was a couple of days old. I love my voice in this video—in you can hear how marvelous I think she is—and how my fingers tenderly touch and explore her as I talk.
And now, fast forward a year and we’ve got some early steps:
And, then more real walking at Baba’s house:
And, of course I had to make some more polymer clay birth art goddesses to commemorate the big birthday! This mama has her baby on her hip, which is still Alaina’s most preferred mode of transport:
This baby is stepping out a little, but still intimately connected with mama. Double spiral symbolizes our interlocking labyrinth path, forever joined, but now able to separate too:
The whole birth art series!
Okay, time for twelve month update too! After many months of posting about the best baby ever, I am here to report that Miss A has taken a turn for the wild. If anyone has been secretly annoyed by my “perfect baby” and wishing to crow with delight, now is your chance! Oh my goodness. I don’t even know where to start. How about with this picture?!
Yes. That would be some of the wood from the back of the kitchen chair. Peeled off by a baby. And, the set of her mouth is because she’s also eating it. The slightly wild, manic-clown-type hair also sums it up. This girl is on the move. She’s into everything. Wants it all. Is constantly making one of two sounds to indicate her many wants–a cute little question-intonation “huh?” sound, or a grating, “aaaaaaaah!” sound that makes you want to yell, JUST STOP. She is incredibly grabby and shockingly destructive. Nurses very roughly (this isn’t new) and uses my skin as a handhold or toehold often enough that my upper arms are covered with little fingertip sized bruises. My thighs near my knees are also covered with small toe-sized bruises from being kick-walked on during lying down nursing. BUT, lying down nursing is pretty rare, since she pretty much will only nurse while standing up in the Ergo. And, that is how she goes down for nap every day (down to only one nap per day now). Nurses lying down during night. Potty strike is finally pretty over, but sitting down to pee just takes too much time. I still mean to write an EC post, a common refrain in which will be, and then I got peed on.
She loves to get into cabinets and also to take lids off of stuff.
She weighs about 24 pounds and I need to measure her height. Has 8 teeth. Thought recent personality shift might have to do with more teeth or the developmental milestone of walking or the fact that she had a yucky cold, but it seems to be her new way of being. Markedly less verbal than she was last month—I know that is supposed to be a worrisome sign, but I think in this case it is related to the brain being able to concentrate on one significant developmental leap at a time. Right now, walking is primary and language has taken a backseat. I remember the boys doing this too. She often seems disgruntled lately–like whatever we are doing, she wants something different. Wants to get on top of table, counters, and stove. LOVES to be outside and asks all day long to go out (even when it is 10 degrees–then she complains and wants us to make it magically warmer). Has thrown several fits about this (and other things too). Is constantly aggravating the boys by getting into their games and wrecking their stuff.
She is very tough and brave and surprises me still with her unflappability in the face of change or drama. A couple of days ago I accidentally scraped her face with a tree branch when going out to open the chickens and didn’t notice what had happened. She made a small sound and had a turned down lip and I said, “oh, what’s wrong?” Upon getting inside I then noticed the two inch long bloody scratch down the side of her head and face!
Spends a lot of time in-arms still. Really enjoys mama and wishes to be mainly with me, though she does like visiting my parents and playing with daddy too. So far she still prefers to crawl to get things, but on two occasions this week, she has chosen to walk toward something rather than crawling. Crawling will soon be history! I swear, sometimes it feels like my heart is breaking when I think about the little baby of one year ago and how she is growing so fast, but at the same time of course I’m just so happy to see her developing and changing and being amazing. It has been a beautiful year.
Happy Birth Day to both of us!