The first year? Don’t talk to me about the first year.
Sometimes I manage to view it with a little perspective and recognize all the grace we received in the form of a healthy, beautiful, bright baby girl. But other times I just lose it completely and feel like I was robbed of so many of the small joys you’re supposed to enjoy during the first year of your first child’s life.
I didn’t sleep more than four hours straight until MJ was eighteen months. And those four hours were very, very rare.
She was colicky and we spent seventeen hours a day holding her in our arms and bouncing on a yoga ball. When she did sleep, she did so only tucked under my armpit and would wake up if I moved so much as a muscle. She wouldn’t go into a stroller or a carrier until she was four months old; until then we lugged her around in our arms in the official “colic hold.” She was miserable, she made us miserable, and we were miserable because we couldn’t help her.
When the colic ended we went straight into major medical anxieties because she stopped growing at six months. She had tests for cystic fibrosis and for how her organs functioned and for metabolic disorders on and on. All the tests came back fine, thank God. (And I did thank God.)
She’s a wonderful toddler. Sweet-tempered and musical, lovely and smart.
But that first year? It’s hard to pick a worst moment.
I think it was one day when I walking with her in her carrier, one of the few things that calmed her at the time. I was sort of hissing at her under my breath, telling her about all the things I loved to do and used to do, but couldn’t do now. Because of her.
Being angry at an infant is a terrible feeling. You can’t take it out on your baby, so you take it out on yourself. Those mutterings over my baby’s head were the one time I took my frustration out on her, and I still feel terrible about it.
The best moment? The moment she was born. My labor was long, twenty-one hours, and drug/ intervention-free. I had wanted a natural birth, but for the last, oh, eight hours or so, I couldn’t remember why. By the end I just kept my eyes shut, concentrating on working with my contractions to push.
“Annie!” I heard the resident say, “Annie, look!” When they put her into my arms, MJ was looking straight into my face. I think her eyes were open before mine were.
The best moment of the second year? I wouldn’t know where to start, but once I found my place, I wouldn’t know where to stop.