Hello, 24th of May, 2019. I couldn’t have imagined you one year ago.
On the 24th of May, 2018, I’d been in hospital the previous thirty-six hours; most of those hours waiting for a space within the hospital to become available so I could birth my baby. At the first minute of this day, one year ago, I was finally in such a space. My induction was about to begin, after which I would wait for my cervix to dilate, my contractions to begin, and my then-unknown baby’s head to drop into the “correct” position. With the increasingly-increased application of artificial hormones, the first two would occur over the first few hours of this day, but the last just would not. The then-unknown baby was not ready. Gosh, if I had known then what I do now, I would never have let them convince me to force her. Now that she is a now-known baby, I know she is not one to be forced into undesired positions.
I can say with unthinking ease that this past year has been the most worrisome, exhausting, difficult, painful and tiresome year of my life. Hence, this birthday I actually consider to be, rather than a celebration of the now-known baby’s life, a celebration that we the parents fucking made it. Made it through the birth, and the year.
At 7.04am today, the minute of her birth but one year later, she was rolling about our bed. She had just been breastfed and was ready for us to get up and give her breakfast and play and explore.
Now-known baby’s name is Xanthe. She has blue eyes and surprisingly thick blonde hair. She is in the 90th percentile for weight for her age and sex. She is crawling all over the place, but would much rather hold onto our hands so she can have some balance as she walks. She grabs onto anything she can to pull herself to standing. She’s climbed the staircases by herself probably a hundred times.
Her first word was “cat.” She talks constantly, although only she has any idea what she’s actually saying. She is quite keen to experiment with the new sounds she observes people making; just this week she has been trying to copy the clicks we make to the cats, and it is the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.
She doesn’t observably have an imagination yet, but has a sense of anticipation/expectation. She knows what is going to happen when any number of words are said: bed/goodnight, bye-bye, boobie, up, bottle, water, biscuit. She knows that when we say “what’s in your mouth?” to take it out and give it to us. She knows when she’s put in her high-chair that deliciousness is coming, that when I put my handbag on my shoulder we’re going out. When she sees a sock or a shoe she holds out her foot so we can put it on. She loves bath-time and will pull herself up to the side of the bath-tub and yell at me to run the bath for her.
She likes to put small things inside of bigger things, and to grab anything on the coffee-table and throw it onto the floor. She likes to press buttons and push doors closed and pull drawers open. She likes to hold an item out to someone until they take it and say “thank you!”
When she meets new people for the first time she goes quiet and just stares at them for a while to learn who they are. She crosses her arms with her hands close to her body, because she has learnt that new people like to try to hold or touch her hands, and she doesn’t like it. She is not a physically affectionate baby. She dislikes cuddles, and she doesn’t like to be touched on her hands or face. She pushes away from kisses or hugs. She grimaces or cries if her face or head or hair is touched.
She raises her arms if she wants to be picked up. She holds her arms out to the person she wants to be held by. She points in the direction she wants to go, or towards the thing she wants to be taken. She is very good at communicating her boundaries and discomforts and desires.
After her evening bath and breastfeed we have quiet time in bed. She lies next to me and is calm and sweet and happy. She rests her head on my arm or my chest. She cuddles. She lets me smooch her face and smiles. She giggles when I give her eskimo kisses. She puts her mouth on my cheek, and copies the sounds I make. It’s the only time she is really peaceful and loving and I cherish it every night, even though by then I am exhausted and have been counting down the past three hours till the time I can put her to bed and be without her.
I can’t be without her. Happy birthday Xanthe.