The First Birthday Blues

Since the moment my son was born, I’ve had this strange, otherworldly feeling like I can’t believe he’s real. I catch myself gazing at him wondering how the heck I was ever so lucky to get to be his mom. I have to pinch myself regularly to confirm that this is not all just a dream. I mentioned this to a few friends and asked if they, too felt this way about their babies. I asked them how long I can expect this to last. They all echoed my feelings of wonder and disbelief at the state of their lives after the birth of their first child. Most of them agreed that it all finally became real to them at almost exactly the one-year mark.

As we approach my son’s first birthday, I have noticed that this feeling of disbelief and wonder has started to fade.

I find myself gazing incredulously at my son much less often as the weeks and months pass, and he is rarely still long enough for me to gaze lovingly at him for very long. But those sweet moments have gradually been replaced with feelings of delight and amusement at the array of new skills he acquires almost daily, and the escalating pace of his mobility.

I’m still in awe that I get to be his mommy, but we’re starting to settle into a life and a routine now and he has become a part of the family. It’s no longer Dan and I and the baby. Now it’s Mommy, Daddy and Lukas. His own little personality is developing right before our eyes. He contributes to our family and he inhabits his own space now — this makes my heart swell with joy and pride for our growing boy.  

But it also breaks my heart into a million tiny pieces and makes me want to sob salty tears into my coffee. I had no idea it would all go by so fast.

The sleepless nights. The joys and frustrations of breastfeeding. The spit ups. The blowouts. The diaper rashes. The late night calls and early morning trips to the doctor’s office. The crying fits. The smiles. The coos. The giggles. The first sign of a tooth. The rolling over. The army crawls. The pulling up on all the furniture. The flying through the house in his walker. The laughing at the dog and cat. The first bites of real food. The tiny little toes. The baby clothes. The bottles. The swaddles. The bassinet, and the crib, and the moving into his own room. The peek-a-boos and the “uh ohs.”

I’m not ready to move on yet, but time is not going to stand still for me. I know there is so much more happiness to come, and each phase of my son’s life will bring new joys and challenges of its own, but there will never be another first year. And as good as I expect all of the years to come to be, I can’t imagine any year ever topping this first one with my baby.

I’ve learned so much from my little man — about him and about myself. As I watched him grow over the past twelve months, I somehow grew up too.

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