Dear Noah: Happy Birthday.
I remember a year ago when you were born. We were so ready and so totally unprepared. The labor was long and hard and I couldn't really talk about it for days. When you were three months old I told Chad I was getting an epidural next time. And somehow by now it has faded enough that I got all offended yesterday when my dad reminded me how shaken up I was by it.
What I do remember clearly is when you were finally born and placed on my chest, shaking, crying, and so ferociously alive. You were immediately trying to figure out how to eat, how to see, how to hold on, what the hell just happened to you. I remember after a while the nurse took you aside to check you out and clean you off and I could hear your tiny little cries. I felt happy and relieved and tired but most distinctly I felt amazed. That you were here, you were real, you were ours.
You could breastfeed right away. This was amazing to me. I analytically understood that millions of years of evolution had set us up for this task: you for eating and me for feeding. That I am biologically designed to be a mother. But I was just amazed that it worked. For me. For my baby. I was amazed at what my body could do.
The nurses left us alone for a while so we could just rest and be together. Our new family unit. Daddy and I sang "Happy Birthday" to you.
Daddy and the nurses took you to the nursery to check you out some more, and when you came back you were sleeping and swaddled. A perfect little baby worm, warm and quiet. And breathing. And twitching. A real little person. Alive.
Noah, over this past year you have never ceased to amaze me. As you have learned to use your body - to look around, to lift your head, to lift yourself up and finally crawl. To take those first tenuous steps, collapsing into our arms. To become strong and coordinated enough that you don't need us to walk around, to pull the toys you want out of your toybox, to help you drink out of your sippy cup. From the very beginning you were interested in everything, intently studying your surroundings and us. Now you know so much. You can call out to the kitties and know where we should look for them when they are hiding. It has been amazing to watch you learn to manipulate your world. I remember when you were a few weeks old, all of a sudden you were able to bat at a toy. Yesterday you used a spoon to eat applesauce by yourself.
I am amazed by how defenseless and unskilled we are when we come into this world. I am amazed by how much you can do now, a short 12 months later. When I look at you it is obvious that you are a one-year-old. Instead of a tiny baby, you are a toddling, chattering, giggling child. I cherish that we were able to watch you undergo this transformation, but it is hard for me to believe that we went though that much - that you learned and grew that much - in such a short time. I am so proud of you.
I love the child that you are now. I love how ferociously alive you remain, with your energy and quick sorrows and intense joys. I love getting your huge smile (the one where your entire face squishes up and we can see all of your little teeth) just for walking into the room, or for stopping what I am doing to smile at you. I love that I am having trouble finishing this post because you keep walking, grinning and clapping, over to talk to me so I will pick you up (and maybe let you play with the keyboard). I was so proud to sing Happy Birthday to you yesterday with our extended family. I am so proud to have brought you to this family.
I love you so much, Noah. You are everything we hoped for and so many things we never imagined we would have. Happy birthday, my sweet boy.
P.S. Dear family: birthday photos will follow in another post.