As I begin to ready my house for our daughter's first birthday party, I can't help but reminisce about the past year that has gone by in what feels like the blink of an eye. I cannot believe that my baby is going to be a year old. In fact, she is a baby no more, but rather a tiny little toddler.
I remember her birth like it was just yesterday. On July 22, my due date, I went to work as usual. I wanted to postpone maternity leave as long as possible. The baby just did not feel "ready" to me regardless of when the doctors said I was due. In the morning I was not feeling well at all, so I went to my new BFF - my obstetrician - and was told that I was going to be induced that Saturday. I was not sure I was ready for the baby to come so soon. I know I had 40 weeks to prepare, but all of a sudden it seemed to much too soon. I wanted to consult with my husband, but I was told this was not a negotiation, the baby was going to be born that Saturday, July 25.
As my husband and I drove to the hospital in the early morning hours, I cried. I cried because my mom, who is now a sweet angel in heaven, was not going to be there as her baby delivered her first baby. My mother-in-law, who has tried to be the best mother she could be to me in the absence of my mom, was there to support my husband and me during labor. After a few hours in labor with not much progression, the baby's heart rate started to drop so I was quickly prepped for a C-section.
During transport to the operating table, for some reason that I cannot even explain, I took a swing at the anesthesiologist and hit him square in the face. I was shocked at my actions, but apparently they have seen nerves get the best of many a patient so I was quickly restrained and a short time later, my little peanut was born. My husband announced, "Well Hon, she had us fooled. It's a girl!" My shocked response directed toward the doctor was "Wait, what? It's a girl? Are you SURE?" You see, we were convinced we were having a boy. I even went shopping a few days before delivery and bought a few boy blankets and clothes.
The next four days in the hospital consisted of a steady stream of caring visitors, and my husband and I repeatedly staring at this little beautiful baby and exclaiming our disbelief - and great joy - that we had a little girl.
She was just a peanut of a thing weighing in at 5 pounds, 15 ounces when she was born. So tiny, and so precious. Neither of us really knew what to do with her, and the first time we learned how to change a diaper was in the hospital. We gingerly handled her, and eagerly tried to squeeze as much advice from the nurses as we could. Though many mothers cannot wait to take their babies home, I was nervous and reluctant. How could I possibly provide the same level of care as these experienced nurses?
During the first few weeks, my husband and I adjusted to the sudden lack of sleep and the new roles that we faced. Becoming parents changed so much for us. The past 30-some years have been all about us and what we wanted, and all of a sudden, everything was about someone else and what she needed. There was no selfish in our vocabulary, it just could not exist.
In addition to learning what selfless meant, we had to learn to adapt to our revolving family dynamics. The "50 percent-50 percent" relationship my husband and I had worked so hard to develop was compromised and put in a tail spin. All of a sudden we were keeping score of the number of diapers changed, hours of sleep accomplished and who felt they were carrying the majority of the work around the house.
Over the past year we have had to re-define household assignments, taking into account all the responsibilities that come with a baby. We are not quite at 50/50 a year later, but we are very close.
The family circle changed, and although it became larger with the addition of Isabella, it's also become smaller in a sense. When we referred to family, we meant our large, extended family of many. Now, there are tiered levels of family ties and the first level has become more exclusive, consisting of my husband, my daughter and me (and our puppies, of course.) The large extended members are still very important to us, but we have realized that we need to first look out for our little tri-pod to play a supportive role to the larger family tree.
When it was time for me to return to the ranks of the employed, I found yet another role I had to adjust to - working mom. Letting go of your baby and letting her go to daycare is a hard thing to do. But I do feel it was the right thing to do because she has been exposed to so many new things and new people.
I admire my daughter, giggling and scurrying around the house - getting into everything that is within her reach. I just cannot imagine my life without her. She has been a lot of work, but has been the biggest joy of my life. She has my heart. And as I prepare to celebrate a year gone by, I look forward to another year of firsts with my little girl.