Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

“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:

Moments after birth. I tried editing the contrast to make the picture actually visible for this post. I'd just caught her myself. The tenderness and majesty of this moment makes me cry!

On my due date demonstrating how she could still fit!

First three generations picture. Look how excited I am!

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:

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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:

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The whole birth art series!

20120118-085216.jpg!

It is a total coincidence that I ended up making 12 figures--I didn't plan it that way and I didn't make one during every month or anything (though, that would have been cool. I wish I'd done that!)

Okay, time forย  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,ย  “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.

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Again with that hair and face of mischief-making!

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What a sweet face too!

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!

23 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

  1. I’ve been spending the last two weeks anticipating some lovely little girl birth days and thinking about both their first days/the journeys that got them there. It’s hard to believe she’s already one! The feeling of walking in to your house that day is still palpable…the raw emotions, joy and relief, that were present…the instant tears for your family. Happy Birth Day to you both (tomorrow) and much love! โค

  2. Happy Birthday to your lovely girl. I could have written this post. My little boy is now nearly 18 months and he was the easiest, sunniest baby. Then he started moving!!! He is still a joy and so funny, but he is into everything and is a bundle of energy. We have to get out with him every day and he can be absolutely exhausting. The difference a few weeks made!!! Once he turned one everything changed, but thankfully he is such a charmer it is hard to get mad at him for all his mischief!

  3. I love the symbolism of your birth arts, especially the mother & child duos. It’s so fun to read about your daughter’s birth and growth, since my little one is just 6 weeks behind yours!

  4. Yay! Great post! Her sleeping baby face is SO sweet. โค
    I LOVE love your two new sculptures, they may possibly be my favorites to date, but maybe that's because I see their forms in my future with my girl baby and me.

    Happy birthday Alaina and birthing day, Molly!

  5. There isn’t a set time for the return anymore than there’s a set time for the journey in . . . but when I teach the Laborynth I do generally say 3 years. I LOVE the double spiral mama & girl. Your blog feels like an alternate universe mirror to me in some ways (I was homeschooled, I am UU, I am a childbirth educator and doula, I have two boys and then a girl) and my girl is 2 1/2 now – that’s the perfect image for us, still, though.

    • When I give mamas a labyrinth charm at blessingways, I usually say three years too. As far as our parallels, I would dearly love to train as a BfW mentor at some point! I feel like it is was the best resource for me, personally, in preparing for my own births and I would love to teach classes that “dig deeper” and help mamas do so too.

  6. That was great! I can definitely relate to the strange division of being both saddened and delighted by the growth and change. My kids are now both as tall as me and I remember laying them on my belly like you did in the picture above (though with Jace it wasn’t “he can still fit” it was “HOW did he fit?”). It’s a bit surreal. I love that she’s developing her own personality and it makes me realize that I haven’t seen you both in quite a while and that I miss you!. Luckily we have book club in a few days. ๐Ÿ™‚

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