Ever since April Fool’s Day, I’ve found myself reflective and thoughtful at the sight of our daughter gleefully clapping her hands together or scooting from one end of the room to the other. Given this is her birthday month, I suppose it’s only natural for a mother to marvel at her daughter’s growth and achievements throughout the past year. It seems like only yesterday we welcomed her into the world.
Although there have been little ones in my life for years–three nephews, one niece, and eight children of women close enough to be considered family–I knew nothing of an infant’s development within his or her first year of life before our daughter’s arrival. When we brought her home from the hospital she was so tiny, I was scared to hold her without supervision. I remember wondering whether I would ever master the art of diaper changing like my husband, who had undertaken the task as priority number one at the hospital. When she was three months old, I laughed at the photo of a happy baby, pleasantly sitting on her mother’s lap, showcased on the Huggies website, wondering when Sophie would be able to sit up on her own. I clearly recall watching her struggle to rollover, stand up, and crawl, improving day by day. Today, she moves with reckless abandon. Once she nursed exclusively and now she eats anything she’s allowed to–sweet potato fries, avocado, broccoli, peas, Cheerio’s, yogurt, etc.–and, of course, tries to eat things she shouldn’t.
I am delighted by how quickly she learns new skills. I am in awe of her physical growth. Her hands and feet are so big (relatively, of course). And I am excited to see what her second year of life will bring. But a small piece of me grieves for how quickly the milestones–big and small–have been reached. I look back with fondness and nostalgia on the past 11 months, but I do not wish to relive any single moment. Given she is our first and only child, I don’t know this for certain, but I’d guess that life will forever be filled with recalling what she was like when. As a woman we briefly encountered recently shared, “Yes, the days can be incredibly long, but the years pass so quickly.”
As our daughter marks her first birthday, we will be embarking on new adventures. We will prepare for our overseas move to Japan–selling vehicles, down-sizing, and packing. And we will try to get pregnant again, using our single frozen embryo remaining from our first and only round of IVF. Yes, there is a lot to do. But the timing is perfect. The past 11 months have been a boot camp of sorts–a whirlwind of travel, visitors and new experiences–forging together our family of three and Blue. Post-year-with-baby, I like to think my husband and I are better communicators. That we know each other more intimately. That we are more patient with ourselves and one another. While the odds of us getting pregnant are low–10% at best, we are told–I remain hopeful. I am stronger–emotionally and physically–now than I’ve ever been. And as my husband tells me often, “All that matters is that we are together–together we can handle anything.”