Today marks one year on this planet for you. I’ve tried to write this a billion times and erased every start except for that one sentence. You’d think I could get nostalgic on command – I’m a writer, after all – but at this moment it’s difficult for some reason.
I think part of the problem is that I’m still a little numb to the realization that an entire year has passed. I remember your birth clearly, I remember those early days, then three months, four months, and suddenly you’re a toddler, staggering between pieces of furniture to maneuver your way around the room. How did that happen?
I remember that birth so clearly because it was not only your big day, but it was also my victory. Circumstances prevented me from having the birth I wanted with your older sister, and I was determined to not be separated from you like I was with her. Thankfully, I got to have the birth experience I wanted. I remember you gave a quick cry at the shock of emerging into the bright, cold world. But the moment you were placed on my belly, I remember how you immediately quieted. You peered up at my face, squinting in the bright light, and gave a big, contented sigh. Your father leaned in and said, “Welcome to the world, baby girl,” and your eyes widened and your head turned towards his voice, as if you already knew him. At only seconds old, you seemed to know your place in this world.
Your big sister wasn’t quite so convinced. You were ignored for the first 4-5 months by Cordelia. I’m not sure if this was her way of dealing with this intrusion into her time with mommy and daddy or if she really thought that if she simply didn’t acknowledge your presence you would disappear into the ether. Either way, you didn’t seem to mind at first. But slowly we noticed that it affected you. Cordy would run towards you, and I’d see your face light up with joy as your big sis came towards you. But then she would run right past you, and that joy would turn to confusion and then a gloomy look as you realized she wasn’t interested in you. Repeat 100x. It was heartbreaking.
But slowly Cordy took an interest in you and watched you as you held your head up, rolled over, sat up. And then that one day where she came to you and, without prompting, hugged you. I thought your little heart, and mine, would burst. From that point on, the love-hate relationship between you began. Sometimes you genuinely want to play with each other. Other times I am convinced you’re trying to kill each other. Your new hair-pulling trick is not endearing, although when Cordy trips you as you try to walk I can see why you might want a handful of her hair.
I have spent much of this first year comparing you to Cordy. You breastfed for eight months, while she gave up practically at the start. You both suffered through colic. You lagged behind her in weight (she was a big baby!), but kept up in height. She is blonde, you’re a brunette. You met physical development milestones faster than she did. She was the world’s happiest baby, while you are the baby who is Not Amused.
But at one year old, you’re so different from your sister – in both good and not-so-good ways – that I don’t think I can keep making those comparisons much anymore. You’re clearly a different person, with a different agenda, and each day you make it known that you are not your sister in any way. You are the yin to Cordy’s yang (or maybe the other way around, depending on the day).
You are the child who will always test my limits, too. You push me to the edge each day, checking to see just how far you can go before I break, and then turning on the charm and the snuggles with a mischievous smile. You delight in picking up carpet fuzz and holding it out for me to see – knowing you fully intend to put it in your mouth – and then crawl/stagger away as fast as possible (always giggling) when I move to take it from you. You really do have a glint in your eye when you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing. I can’t imagine what you have in store for me in the years to come.
While I never had to deal with it, I know it must be hard to be a second child. You’ve never had me all to yourself, other than those few short hours each week when Cordy is at preschool. Add in all of my nursing school responsibilities, and it’s amazing you haven’t been forgotten at some point. You handle the lack of attention well at times. However, lately we have taken up a new hobby: bird watching out the back window together in the morning, after taking Cordy to school. I never would have guessed that a backyard bird feeder could provide so much entertainment, but your fascination with our winged friends can’t be denied.
I wasn’t sure I could handle two children. I wanted a second, but worried that it would be too much. Even while pregnant, when there was no turning back, I still felt some hesitation when I tried to imagine us as the perfect two-child family. In the early days after your birth, I continued to feel overwhelmed. But slowly I adjusted to the new responsibility, and thankfully you and your sister rarely need me at the same time. It also helped that you started sleeping through the night far sooner than you sister. It’s amazing what a little sleep can do to help a mom feel on top of a situation.
Today? I can’t remember what it was like without you, and I never want to go back to that time. Even if your dad and I joke about selling you off to gypsies (or your sister – we’re equal opportunity) the truth is we adore you and our family isn’t complete without you. I never realized how much I needed you. And though I’m happy to see you reach this first milestone, I’m sad to leave behind these infant days. I want you to stay this age forever: sweet, snuggly, fascinated with everything in the world, and still needing me. But you must keep growing, learning, and finding your own way. I can still wish, though.