Today my daughter turns one and leaves infancy behind to embrace everything toddler. She is walking, calling me “Momma”, throwing tiny tantrums and letting us know what her opinions are. I love watching her learn new things every day and become a tiny person with her own personality, but today I am happy and a little sad too. I feel like I blinked and my squishy newborn became a toddling little girl with a toothy grin and a purpose.
I remember lying awake all night in the hospital, after she was born, just watching her sleep in my arms. I had waited so long to meet this baby and here she was. I wanted to memorize her face, her fingers and her eyelashes and I didn’t want to miss a single moment with her.
I was so exhausted during those first few months and it wasn’t always easy to enjoy the newborn phase, but I miss it so much sometimes. I get little glimpses of it now, when she nurses to sleep at night. The days of learning to breastfeed and all of the discomfort and struggle that came with it are just a blur of a memory. I still watch her as she latches and pats my heart with her tiny hand. I soak in the quiet moments just before she falls asleep like I did in the early days, but now when I nurse her, her legs hang off my lap and she stretches half the length of my body. My baby is teetering on the edge of being a little girl and it is bittersweet.
As I think back today on the day she was born, I remember it all. They say you forget the pain, but I didn’t. I remember the intensity and the hard work it took to labor without pain medication, against a spine fused with titanium. I remember what my doula, Marissa said to me when I decided I wanted a cesarean while I was in the birth tub, in hour 20 of contractions that were at most, 2 minutes apart and at their worst, 3 minutes long. I remember knowing she was there for me, no matter what. I remember the love I felt from my husband and mother as I was prepped for surgery and the tender care of my L&D nurse, Nita. I remember knowing they were proud of me. I remember the final contractions I had on the operating table, before I was put completely to sleep for my cesarean birth, because of my spinal fusion. I remember waking up and my husband saying, “It’s a girl! Meet Judy” as I cried the happiest tears I had ever cried. I remember the love we felt for her that I thought would make my heart burst. I remember the unconditional support and safety that my doula and birth team brought to Judy’s birth. I was heard, respected and loved through every step of my labor and the birth of my baby girl.
I didn’t have the birth I planned, but I had the support and care that made it the greatest experience of my life. As I reflect on the last year of my sweet girl’s life, I am so overwhelmed with love and gratitude. She completes our family and there is no greater honor than getting to be her Momma.
Happy birthday, Judy Lucille.