He went ahead and turned one whole year old. I have sat down to write this post a few times, and in the end I really have so much to say that would never even catch it all. It makes me feel a bit scattered. But it is also about celebration, however, so I will sally forth in the name of fun and record keeping.
I can definitely say this year has brought the heftiest change to our life, and even though it's not always rosy, the happiest. I cannot say the overwhelmed and most tender love was there from the instant they put him on my chest (I'd say shock and adrenaline were pounding the strongest downbeat!), but it was not long before the flood gates opened. I would stare at him, floored by the sweetness of his spirit. His energy was pure and it made me want to be better. It broke my heart a little, too, and still does. I don't know how many times Jeff came into the family room where I'd be found holding him with big, juicy tears streaming down my cheeks, and he'd put his arm around me and gently make sure I wasn't sad. And I wasn't sad. It is just an intense rush of all things new, so much love, and I felt full of hope like I never had before. I suddenly had this small life on my lap and I was smothered with hope that he'd be happy, and that he'd thrive and do all that God wants him to do. This made me vulnerable like never before.
He was so quiet (for about 2 weeks before colic kicked in), and I wondered if he knew how much we loved him. I would ask Jeff and my mom all the time, "Do you think he knows? What if he doesn't know??" I decided I'd better kiss his delicious cheeks an average of 72 times an hour so he'd know. When I'd walk around with him in the Bjorn I'd rub his floppy little legs constantly. I didn't know then if it would register with him, but now I'm convinced it did.
In many ways it seems he came home from the hospital with us just yesterday (let the cliches roll!). But when I think back to the expectations I had then, the things I didn't know yet, the assumptions I made soon after the surprises, THESE things age Jude to me.
Some fun "days of yore" items:
- No one told me "days and nights mixed up" meant he'd want to party all night. I thought in the first week or so I'd feed him a few times at night but he'd go back to sleep after each slurp fest. I felt I was abandoning Jeff by leaving him all alone in our room (but then, I don't think he was that distraught about a full night's sleep :). Once I realized I'd better embrace the night life with my baby boy, and stopped hanging out in his dead-silent, sleep-inducing (for me) room, things got much better. I camped out on the couch with handfuls of Cadbury Mini Eggs and was able to stay awake with the help of Friday Night Lights, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation. About the time I ran through those shows, Jude was sleeping for pretty good chunks during the night.
- I had imagined swaddling him tight, that he'd sleep by my bedside for a few months in a bassinet we inherited from Angie, and that I wouldn't give him a binky for the first 4 months (hospital's recommendation, as it can cause nipple confusion). Ha! He hated swaddling. He hated the bassinet (up for grabs, Aunt Michelle!), and I gave him a binky on Day 4 -- it was heaven-sent. I rue the day I have to take that thing away from him. It is his drug of choice.
- When the colic kicked in I was in denial. Then once I hit "acceptance" I slowly eliminated every potential irritant from my diet until I was living on a steady diet of Soy Milk. When he still screamed his head off most of the day, I said "Whatevs" and went back to my normal eating habits.
- I slept him on his tummy from about week 6 and I have no regrets. He went from sort of sleeping to really sleeping. My mom spurred me on, pointing out that my nephew Ian (10 days older than Jude) had been sleeping on his back and almost choked on his spit-up. Jude had no breathing problems and was very robust. I also have kept his bumper on his crib. Judge me if you wish, I trusted my instincts on this and it worked out. (P.S. When Jude had the pukes last month I took his bumper off for a few days to wash it and he'd wake up from rolling around and bonking his head on the crib bars. No thanks.)
- The colic really unnerved me, although I didn't realize just how much until it was over. It was incredibly disparaging to put all your day and night into making a baby happy, and it's just not enough by a long shot. I took it personally, like he was mad at me for not making it better or something. Comparisons got the better of me. Lyla was the ultimate dream baby (still is!). She would sleep in her car seat, slept through the night at like 1 month, without any sleep training I might add, was so go-with-the-flow. I was so jealous and frustrated that Jude was full of, what the books would call, "extreme fussiness". But, I learned to deal and then it was over. Our friend Julie Weaver was right when she said, "Babies outgrow every difficult thing." I feel much stronger and more confident now -- if our next baby is colicky too, at least I know it won't kill me.
My sister-in-law Erica said "There's just something about the way a little boy loves his mother" and now I know what she means. Jude LOVES me. It's just an indescribable joy. I love being able to make him so happy, I love being his companion, and it is one of my dearest wishes that I will always be a welcome and valuable presence in his life. He is worth every bad moment or day. There is no job I want to do more fully.
We love, love, love our loudly jabbering, silky curly haired, twinkly blue eyed, long and lean, effervescent, antsy, cruising, non-walking 1-year-old Jude Jeffrey Hayes. Thanks for everything, buddy.