On this day exactly one year ago I knew it wouldn’t be very long until we met you. You had made a little hole in my (your?) amniotic sac, and I had lots of regular Braxton Hicks contractions. In the early hours of the morning I went downstairs and listened to the song “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran, on repeat. Your father was still sleeping, and had no idea. It was just you and me. Whenever I hear that song I think of those special hours we had together, when just you and I knew what was going to happen. In the end you were born on the 6th of July at 00:16, and that means that tomorrow you are one year old.
Thanks to my work I see the tiniest babies, and I know better than anyone how quickly time passes. When I bump into clients just a ‘little while’ after a newborn shoot, there’s often no sign of that tiny baby any more, and it turns out months have already apssed by. Time flies, and babies grow so quickly.
That’s why I was determined to enjoy your babyhood as much as I could. But how do you deliberately ‘enjoy yourself as much as possible’?! I don’t really know the answer, but I know I did it. I was so happy that it moved me to tears almost every single day. Especially at night, lying in bed together while Papa slept next to us, and you fell asleep while nursing. I would kiss you gently, and you would pull funny faces, because you didn’t want to be kissed – you wanted to sleep. I wanted to cuddle you so hard, but I couldn’t, because you were still so small. I could stare at you for hours, and listen to the little noises you made. Most mamas find the first few months very intense, often because they are uncertain, but for me it couldn’t have been more different. I loved it, I was in my element. You went everywhere with us in the wrap, it was summer, the weather was wonderful, and we were so relaxed. So were you. We Enjoyed it, with a capital E. When I close my eyes I can still see you, such a tiny little baby.
I found it difficult when that tiny newborn baby stage had passed. Everyone around me told me ‘It just gets better!’ and I understand why they say that, because you could do more and more things, but oh how hard it was to say goodbye to the tininess. To put away the newborn sized clothes, and to realise that you already fitted into size 6-9 months clothes. Luckily I know I couldn’t have enjoyed it more than I did. Luckily so much love doesn’t always suffocate, otherwise we would have had a problem. 😉
I had arranged everything so that I could spend six months at home with you, but there were things planned in, and the closer it got, the more I dreaded it. I didn’t want to leave you! Luckily you could stay with your papa, otherwise I would definitely not have gone back to work. Almost everyone around me told me ‘once you’re back at work you’ll get used to it, and you’ll enjoy it.’ The last part was true – I did enjoy it, but I never got used to it. I wanted to be with you. I felt that the days were now flying by faster than ever (which they really did), and that I just couldn’t enjoy it all as intensely as I did before. I cried so much. Your papa was my rock, and if he hadn’t been there I would have certainly stopped working.
Once you’re no longer a tiny baby, you start reaching milestone, one after another. I wrote them all down, and we have a wonderful book now, in which we’ve recorded it all. You starting to chatter, grabbing things, rolling over, crawling around the room. Then the sitting, the standing, and walking while we hold your hand. More and more sounds and words you’re trying to copy. At every milestone we stand and cheer like two crazy people. Grown ups can be a little crazy when it comes to their own child. 😉
And now the next milestone is at the door. Just a few more hours, and it’ll be here – your first birthday. I’m amazed by how much you understand. If I say, “Do you want some mama-milk?” you get all excited and your tongue sticks right out. If we say “Shall we go and look at the birds?” you look for the closest window, and once we’re outside you always see the birds first. When you stick your finger in the air, and say “He he!’ or “Oe oe!” then we know you’ve definitely seen a bird. When you get hold of the remote control and I say, “Give that to mama, it’s not yours,” you push it gently back into my hands, and it’s the same with anything you’re not allowed to have. You listen astonishingly well to the word ‘no’ and we have no idea why. When you have a piece of food in your mouth which is too big, we say, “that’s a bit much Liv, spit it out,” and your tongue pushes it out immediately.
You’re also very good at fetching the dog, the cat, the cow, the horse and the sheep when we ask you to, and often you also say ‘moo’, ‘baa’ and ‘woof’, or something which sounds a bit like it anyway.
But my favourite, favourite thing is how very sweet you are. I am so lucky that you have inherited your father’s character. You’re sweet, caring and careful. When you wake up in the morning, you sit straight up. When I carefully open one eye, you come and hang over me, grinning, and often I get a sponateous kiss from you too. You love to give me kisses, and if papa is lucky, he gets one too, every now and then. I understand that though, because papa’s ‘beard’ is prickly. My heart melts when you’re so sweet.
It’s incredible how proud we are of you, and you know: even if you couldn’t do any of these things we would be just as proud. It doesn’t matter what you do, how much you do, or what you’ll do with your life later on. This love is unconditional, and always will be.
The second year of your life is getting off to a good start with a 6 week trip to Australia, and after that I’ve taken some time off to once again – just like in the beginning – just enjoy you, full time. We waited so long for you, and we probably won’t experience this again, and I don’t want to look back in a few years and think “If only I had…” Hopefully the second year won’t fly past too quickly.
Dear Liv, I wish you already a very happy first birthday. I love you more than I ever could have imagined.
(and, of course, I’m crying again as I type the word ‘mama’, because it’s something I still can’t believe. I am YOUR MAMA. I am the luckiest woman in the world!)
P.S. Just for fun we re-produced two photos. Then and now 🙂