Her first birthday invitation.

Anais is approaching her second birthday. Its a bit of an emotional time for me and I’m a little surprised by that. Her birthday isn’t just her anniversary, its mine too. Ididn’t realise this before becoming a mother. I’ve never thought about my own mother’s anniversary on my birthday, even though I am her firstbornand my birthday is the very dateof her becoming a mother. And she did it younger,ten times as anxious as me, and without a mother of her own.

I think this is why I really wantedto celebrateAnais’s first birthday. Of course she was too young to understand or appreciate it but that’s not the point, this was my anniversary too. The anniversary of my survivingthe mostextraordinary year of my life.

On the daysheturned one I remember being stirred by memories of a birth I hadn’t enjoyed. This year the birth seems quitedistant but I think I will spend a little ofthe daythinking about the passing of her babyhood, for if I thought it was gone last yearit is most certainlyvanishing now. Among other celebrations planned for her second birthday, we’re buying her a bed.

Our co-sleeping arrangement is about to come to an end. I’m sure it won’t finish overnight, though it may, as itwill be mostly up to her. I’m not about to tell anyone to sleep with their baby in the bed if they really don’t want to, but I will say that I have loved co-sleeping.I hadn’t planned* toco-sleep with our baby, he talked me in to it. I am a light sleeper and I like my space but co-sleeping has beena million times more rewarding than it has been burdensome. Really.

Itbegan as the only way to getsleep because of my light sleeping andAnais’s haphazard sleeping,but as nights progressed itjust became lovely to have her so close to us.Sleeping with her, I know very quickly when she is insecure, having bad dreams, sick orfeverish and, I also know when she is none of those things – when she is just super contented.But I don’t do it for those reasons,a sleeping child is surely one of the most beautiful sights in the world. I want to spoil myself with it whileI can.When I firstread about co-sleepingthe books warned me that initiatingit meantwe’d probably be signing up to it for two years. It seemed like a daunting commitment then.But I’ll miss it..

In reflecting on the milestone of her coming second birthdayI’m including a diary entry (below) that I wrote almost a year ago to the day, when my year of maternity leave was finishingandAnais was about to turn one. Warning, its not just sappy, it includes talk of vomit.

The odyssey of this year is about to come toa close -one and a half weeks away. After I return to work will I still have time to be as reflective about my life as a mother? To say Anais has made me see myselfand my life differently is a ridiculous understatement. I want different things in my career, I think I want a different career.

I never knew I could become this mother of hers. Infinitely patient.Strong and comforting.When she caught that dreadful stomach bug I held her while her poor little self vomited, convulsing with the spasms and thefear. She fell asleep crying in my arms butit wasan intensely fulfilling moment -to knowshe found relief purely in me being there.

She is losing her baby self, she is becoming a toddler – walking and thrilled with her independence. So far, I haven’t really mourned the change. I hope I stay relatively comfortable with that. I hope I let hergrow away from me as she will most surely do over time.

I started this year of ours with someone I didn’t know, who didn’t know me either. I started it so unbelievably anxious. I can still summon that raw feeling when I visit certain places, but not so much in our own home anymore.

I love her, I love her, I love her.

* Co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding, and baby sign language have been my most surprising best decisions as a parent.


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