The First Birthday

Thank you all for the thoughtful birthday wishes.

Thumper spent a very quiet first birthday with her momma playing dress up. It was made even more enjoyable by the flailing arms and wiggly bottom.

We had a lovely lunch with Daddy where she got to practice her throwing skills.

She took a ride in a shopping cart and worked on her vocals. Many old women were charmed by her LOUD "hello" and one whiskered old man was surprised to be called "Cat" very loudly ... dozens of times.

She received many phone calls to wish her Happy Birthday and to sing her the birthday song. All of which she promptly hung up on as babies tend to do with flip phones.

There was cake, but that was not received nearly so well as the cat throw-up. What is a mom to do when she discovers her baby eating that? Call Daddy of course so he can share in the horror. (Nana suggested getting it on tape, but I decided seeing it once was more than enough.)

As for presents Sofie had long since sneaked into mommies drawer and ripped open the curiosity of sparkly wrapping paper - which of course has been played with far more times than the $30 gift inside.

There were tears all around. Daddy sadly realized Sofie is not a baby anymore. Sofie happily realized we get to do this all over again Saturday. Mommy realized she had a big mess to clean up. And poor Mocha, the cat, realized Sofie will be staying with us indefinitely...

To my daughter on her first birthday.

To my daughter on her first birthday.

The moment we met - I wept. You were safe. Alive. The satisfaction of my curiosity. Finally I could see more than the impression of your tiny feet pressed into my tummy looking for room to stretch out. Amazed, I tenderly held the person who'd been using my bladder as a pillow for nine months.

At one minute old I marveled. You had miniature replicas of my flare-nose and your daddy's pliable ears. Ten fingers and ten toes. God's beautiful creation a reflection of the love and intimacy of our marriage.

At one hour we figured out nursing. It was simple for us. A natural cohesiveness written on our hearts. My body had nourished yours from its own supply in the womb, but it was nothing compared to your instinctual, trusting rooting at my breast. For the first time in my memory I shared my body with another person without any awkwardness or doubt.

At the end of our first day, I tucked you into the curve of my arm and drank in your sweetness. A fierceness I'd never experienced welled up in my heart. I knew I was to be your advocate, the gate through which every other person would know how to treat you. Motherhood fit me as easily and comfortably as a warm pair of long-johns stretching over my every curve. I'd expected confinement, but experienced instead utter bliss. In you I found a place to pour out all my tenderness and affection without any fear of rejection.

You were so beautiful. Every time the nurses brought you back from a check-up your hair would be combed a new way or you'd have on a new set of clothes. Even though they worked with babies every day they couldn't resist your chubby cuteness.

Those first days in the hospital the three of us existed as if in our own fantastic world of tender smiles, photos op's, and no sleep. With every diaper we rejoiced that you were making progress and indeed getting food from nursing. I remember the first diaper your daddy changed. His gentleness reached into the core of my soul and spread joy like wildfire. You have the best daddy in the world.

The night we brought you home I cried - more of a baby than you were. They released us from the hospital with a bag of diapers and a new life. Things fell apart when I couldn't remember exactly where I'd put your Diaper Genie, but you were patient with me. When I locked myself in my room and wept you stared at me with your fathomless dark eyes bearing with me - uncomplaining.

By the end of our first week, we were as bonded as hot metal cooling on a new surface. I couldn't speak of you without tearing up. I was shameless in flashing your pictures to any person that happened by. Gushing, I would recount every detail of your day to your daddy. My friends were enthralled. Our family in love. The girl at the grocery check-out, the pizza delivery man, the mail carrier, our neighbors: all certain you were our first child.

After eight days, your personality distinctly showed up. You were determined. If we stuck our tongue out - you did too. If we reached out and touched you, you trainied your hand to follow. If I was slow to feed you, you let me know. Loudly. Already you were lifting your own head driven to be independent. A true first-born.

At one month, you already understood that sticking your bottom lip out was the easiest path to get your way, followed by a loud sqwuak of displeasure. Pick me up. Put me down. Hand me that. NOW! I began to suspect that God had not seen fit to give me a quiet or docile little girl. Predictions that "she will be just like you" nagged at me. I called your nana for reassurance that I was an easy baby. She reminded me of my teen years.

Above your belly button there is a smooth brown freckle that catches my attention. It is bold and arresting just like you. I suppose no one can appreciate your strong will more than I.

When you were almost four months old you rolled over on the changing table stubbornly trying to grasp the babywipes I stored behind your head. To this day no stone has been left unturned.

You were the joy and highlight of my every day. Nothing seemed as important as snuggling you, tickling your chubby thighs, or pretending to snack on your toes. There were some days though - I was so caught up in school or housework that I'd feel I failed you as a mom. I would lose my patience. I would cry. I would whine. But always I loved you. I couldn't get enough of you. Your soft baby skin and sweet baby smell captivated me and lifted me out of realm of dirty laundry, research papers, and car repairs.

Most days you never allowed me to be out of your eye sight and so I carried you everywhere I went: internship, class, grocery store, or bathroom. You were so patient with my busyness, and I was patient with your need. If someone said I was spoiling you, I would gently remind them that you were my baby to nurture as I saw fit. Nothing as generously loving as you could be spoiled.

At five months curiosity became your most outstanding trait. You learned to crawl, and I learned to think on my toes. You were a master at de-babyproofing the house. I quickly learned to watch for your pincher grasp. I never knew how many pennies and odd bits of this or that fall on the floor in a day. You made sure I was acquainted with each of them.

At six months you fell in love all over again. Your daddy had the summer off from teaching. He would wake up in the morning and steal all the snuggles I was used to having all to myself. He taught you all about loud noises and shoulder rides.Your mutual delight in each other was as romantic as any barefoot walk on the beach or walk the down aisle. I wasn't jealous because each night I knew you were mine alone. He never did figure out how to produce his own milk.

By seven months you were walking and my hair was falling out. I began to understand the mothers at Walmart who haven't brushed their hair or teeth, whose kids only have one shoe and mismatching socks, and whose cars are filled with toys and fast food packaging. Some days just surviving is good enough for the mother of a toddler.

Everywhere we went your baby babble and beaming eyes would arouse a smile from even the hardest of hearts. As your escorts we became like mini celebrities filling people with tales of your mischevious exploits, and our clumsy parenting.

Each new day brought new abilities and new challenges. Every week our relationship grew deeper, stronger. Your life became interwoven with mine creating a garment so comfortable and attractive I proudly wore it everyday. I have been: the voices of your books, the villian to your superhero, the water park in the bathtub, the pony ride at the park, the face behind the camera, the arms trapping you in diaper and clothes, the soothing pat in the night, the milk and chef when you were hungry, the sympathy and kiss when you fall, the loud cheering when you figured something out, and that same voice you first heard in the womb singing the abc's and every lullaby I could remember or make up.

You are one year old now, and I am unbearably sad that each new day you will think you need me a little less.

Even so, I eagerly await every nuance of personality, skill, and look this next year will bring.

You are my baby, and I am your mommy. Happy Birthday Thumper.