Today Zeke is one.
One year of motherhood.
One year of 24 hours per day.
One year of less sleep than I ever imagined I could survive on.
One year of my heart exploding every day.
One year of wanting to do everything I could to comfort, support, and love this tiny life.
One year of coming into my own as a mother.
A year ago yesterday, I knew having a baby was imminent. I knew I was going to go into labor, give birth, need to figure out nursing, not get much sleep, and need to learn a new life. I think back to a year ago yesterday and realize all that I didn't know, all that I couldn't know.
As this year comes to an end I realize that there is so little about how I've experienced motherhood that I had anticipated. The intensity of emotion is far more than even I, a very sensitive and very emotional person, could have conjured up. This afternoon I put one of Zeke's toys in my mouth and made a funny noise with it and he cracked up! I dropped the toy on the floor and he went to pick it up and handed it to me to do it again, so I did. He laughed again and handed it to me. This whole interaction was so new and I was so incredibly impressed by it all! I said to Gideon, "Do you see? He's handing me something and asking me to do it again! He is so smart!!" I mean I was totally proud and impressed. Seeing him change, develop and grow every day is such an out of control amazing experience.
Looking back, I gave birth to Zeke on March 29, 2015, but becoming a mother is a journey. It's a transition out of a previous life and into a completely new life. For me, I now live a very new life. I feel like a new person. I changed at my core and that didn't become clear to me until months after having Zeke, which I feel made those first months more challenging.
Initially I tried to do things to feel like my old self. I fought so many parts of this newness and
I can still feel Zeke's movements inside me. His hiccups, constant kicks/punches that always went to my right side and often made me laugh in meetings at work. I can feel the big waves and absolutely adored staring at my belly wave from side to side wondering what on earth was going on in there! Now I see him screech down the hallway racing on all fours to open another cabinet and picture those tiny limbs when they were inside me. When he reaches up from the floor to be picked up, races down the hallway on all fours in search of another cabinet or door to open and close, picks my nose in the mornings when he's waking up, I think about those little limbs inside me.
There have been so many times this year that I encountered something, had a slew of thoughts and feelings around it, shared with friends and found out everything I was experiencing was "totally normal." Oh how I wish there was a manual! But no manual can ever put into words what it's like to feel all of this. I am failing to put it into words right now.
No one could prepare me for the unbelievable amount of sleep deprivation I've had over the past year+. But here's the craziest thing: I would finally get Zeke to sleep and then I would watch him sleep, hold him even longer once he was already sleeping in my arms, lay awake after putting him down thinking about his smell and how I love him so much. It's such a new kind of love and it shocked me.
And that smell. My goodness. Sometimes i walk into Zeke's room and I am hit with his incredible scent. It's absolutely intoxicating and makes me attack him with nuzzles and kisses. What's it like to be a baby attacked by kisses? For people to want to eat your toes? That seeing your belly makes people go crazy with noises and kisses?
I knew I wanted to nurse, but 1) didn't know how much it would take for us to get into a rhythm with it, 2) couldn't imagine how much I would obsess and worry about milk supply and 3) never imagined how much I would adore nursing. It's changed so much overtime. Now it's a special time for me to ask Zeke about his day, tell him stories, and make funny faces or noises. One of the funniest things ever is when he smiles or laughs with the boob in his mouth. He's looking at me saying, "Keep going! This is very entertaining!"
I struggled and still do with the decisions we were making. Now, completely responsible for another person it's all so heavy.
In a lot of ways, life is "normal" again, but it's such a different normal. I went months without cooking, doing anything creative, exercising, writing, blogging and more. I simply didn't have the capacity. I am back at many of these things now and it feels good. I miss the little tiny baby, but I am thankful for the confidence I've built as a mom and for finding my way through all of this.
Milestones, anniversaries, change, transition... these have been hard for me and a very big deal for as long as I can remember. Zeke turning 1 is no exception. A doula friend who I've gone to for years now for advice said it beautifully: "Go with it. So so normal. You see now that our kids' birthdays are more for us than them. Re-live it. Reminisce. It's almost a bittersweet day in a way. Go with your emotions. They're all so so normal." I have a tendency to want to dismiss these emotions, to move past them, to disregard them, but being in this and feeling everything about one year into this HUGE role is what I need right now. So I am now keeping more of a journal. I wrote Zeke an email last night to wish him happy birthday. I'll make an album of pictures about his first year as well. I'll keep watching videos of him from his first weeks and months for years to come. I will do my best to document and hold on to memories and these feelings because they mean so much to me.