A first birthday is full of nostalgia, as it should be.
Where is the sleepy curl of a newborn, all milky breath and radiant warmth? Who is this toothy, mop-haired, grinning, babbling, climbing, crawling ball of a boy who took his place?
And was there really a time we lived without him?
My thoughts this birthday week have tended towards the usual thanks to God. Deep gratitude for the gift of life, the chance to parent times two. Blessed thanksgiving that his first year was healthy and fear-free. Extra joy for his happy nature and chipper smile, the icing on his charming cake.
But my thoughts of thanks became more particular as we neared this day. Faces of friends and strangers surfaced: all those who, knowingly or not, accompanied me on the journey of birthing this babe, one year ago this early morning.
Because none of it would have happened without God, of course.
But neither would it have happened without them.
The doctor who suggested new diet and vitamins before we leapt back into drugs. Let’s try this first. I’ve got a good feeling.
The grocery cashier who grinned as she rang up the pregnancy test on that snowy Saturday. Hoping for good news? I’ll cross my fingers.
The family whose loud whoops at our announcement met this baby with as much joy as his brother. Are you guys serious? Best Christmas gift ever, again!
The friends who kept calling, stubborn and faithful, for the dark stretch of months when I was too sick to get off the couch. L, it’s me again. Thinking of you, sending love, call when you can.
The husband who brought me bouquets on the worst days and made me smoothies on the best days and never once complained when I spent months complaining. It’s ok. I know it’s going to get better soon.
The yoga teacher who refused to relent with all those agonizing goddess poses, the squats that strengthened my resolve to birth naturally. You can do it, mama! You are strong. Your baby needs you.
The smiling priest who stopped before giving me communion one Sunday and made the sign of the cross in front of my belly before offering me the host. As if to say, Welcome to the family. We’re already glad you’re here.
The neighbor who greeted me with shrieks of delight every time she saw me waddling through the neighborhood that endless hot summer. Oh, honey. You are so beautiful.
The family and friends who started praying me through labor as soon as we made the calls. We’re with you. All our love.
The mother-in-law who showed up grinning at one in the morning to watch the sleeping sibling. Wow – you’re in hard labor! Am I ever glad I’m not in your place right now!
The nurse who paused on the phone with my husband when she heard me holler through a contraction from the passenger seat. Are you sure there’s no hospital closer? Sir, if the baby starts to come, PULL OVER.
The staff who met us at the emergency room door as my husband squealed the car to a stop, who wheeled me up to the birthing center, flying past the bewildered receptionist with admittance forms in hand. You’re going to make it. Everything’s going to be fine.
The kind-eyed, grey-haired doctor who glanced up at me over her glasses in the final moments, with a smile calm and steady. You’re almost done. Baby’s almost here.
The doula who showed up ten minutes after the baby was born, fast and furious and bigger than any of us expected. I’m so disappointed I missed it! But you did it – you had just the birth you wanted!
And the baby himself, the wee lad who’s now made one trip around the sun.
Thanks to you, sweet One – in the words of a favorite baby book - for trying so hard, for traveling so far, for being so wonderful,
just as you are.