Friday, June 24, 2011

Reflecting on the First Year

Where Love Began
I will never forget the feeling of seeing those double lines appear on the pregnancy test. I had no idea I could love someone the size of a poppy seed so much. Already I found myself rubbing my belly protectively and praying for the health of this little life. I tried not to get excited. I tried to remind myself of the long family history of difficulty carrying children to term. But I couldn't help it. No matter what the next weeks might bring, this was my first baby and I loved him.

We'll skip over morning sickness and the other joys of pregnancy to this morning one year ago. I woke up a little early to go to my 40 week OB appointment. I was already fairly certain labor was near and anxious to hear what the doctor would have to say. She encouraged me to do some walking, I took her advice and was in the early stages of labor by midnight. I won't recap the entire birth story, but just after noon the next day I gave birth to a healthy baby boy with a true knot in his umbilical cord.

I've said many time this year that his cord was exactly as thick as it needed to be for him to survive and as knotted as it needed to be to remind me that I am only a steward, his life and health belong to God. It's something I've needed to remind myself of many times over this past year!

And Now...
This morning, I woke up at 5:30am to a little boy who sleeps through the night, takes only minutes to eat and then wants to crawl and explore. Looking back, it amazes me that we could come so far in one short year. I would certainly consider everything I have learned this year about our son and our marriage to be the greatest accomplishment of my life thus far. I still tear up when I think how overwhelmed we felt sometimes during those first few months contrasted with the joy we feel now.

The Recap
The first 3-4 months are an absolute blur to me now. Sometimes I feel guilty for how little I enjoyed being a mother during that time. It often felt like it was all I could do to survive each day. Caleb never really had a sleepy newborn stage. During the day he slept no more than 20 minutes at a time and "at night" (midnight-10am) he slept 1.5 hours at a time.
I spent 8-10 hours every day for the first month just nursing him, since it was the only thing that calmed his colic. He never did take a pacifier well (as you may have noticed in the photo above where I'm trying to keep it in his mouth). I got mastitis during his 5th week of life. The AC died a few days after arriving home from the hospital during a summer of record breaking heat and didn't get fixed until he was 6 weeks old. He had blood in his stools for the first 4 months, so I went on an extremely restrictive diet. This problem (thankfully) resolved itself with no explanation.

I don't say all that to complain, but merely so when I say I didn't start enjoying being a mom until he was 5 months old and every single month has been better than the one before it, you'll know where I'm coming from. I felt so helpless to make him feel better during that time and so inadequate as a mom.

Those difficult months taught David and I to lean on one another in a way we never would have had to without Caleb and to give grace generously. David was tireless in his efforts to bring me relief. He never took time to relax when he got home from work. By then, I was at my breaking point from holding the crying baby all day. He told me work was his break, and then scooped Caleb out of my arms and held him almost the entire night until Caleb finally went to sleep around 10. I took night shift so David would be able to function at work. I don't think we've ever admired each other so much.

Of course, there were some wonderful things about the first few months. I loved the feeling of him sleeping on my chest, the joy of getting to know and love him more each day, the itty-bitty-ness of it all.

However, after 5 months old, the fun really began. His colic began receding (though his reflux remained into the 7th month), he started sitting up. He actually smiled at us. It was a truly amazing time.

Each month he began exploring more, interacting more and crying less. We learned his quirks, the (sometimes strange) things that bring him joy- being held upside down, pushing furniture everywhere, turning pages in a book, etc. Now, he frequently smiles and laughs with us. Some days it almost seems surreal. Four months of crying doesn't seem long looking back, but the days we lived it seemed to be endless.

Even before I became a parent, I used to write an Elizabeth Stone quote on almost every baby shower card I wrote. It read, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” I could never have imagined the depth of those words until I became a mom.

This little guy is such a treasure, such a gift. Even the challenges we faced at the beginning have only added to the deep bond our family has formed over the past year. I can never express fully enough our thanks to all the friends and family who helped us through the hard times, encouraged us, and watched him grow this year. We are so blessed!

1 comment:

The Vogt Family said...

Absolutely beautiful! You should never doubt yourself as being a wonderful mother!

Happy Birthday, Caleb!