Jackson, my dear, sweet, talking, walking, toy-shaking, laughing, cuddling little man -- today you turned 1.
When I look back at the past year, there is so much I know I am forgetting. It really did go by in the blink of an eye. I swear I was just bringing you home from the hospital. And moving you to your crib in your own room. And feeding you solids for the first time. Watching you crawl. Helping you take your first steps. Rocking you to sleep. Watching your chest rise and fall as you slept in the middle of the night.
You burst onto the scene at 10:25 p.m. a year ago today and my life will never be the same. I remember saying as you popped out, "Oh my Gosh! He's here!" That first glimpse of you is burned into my memory, all wet and puffy, lying on the table, scrunching your little face up and waving your arms.
In that moment, I became your Mommy. I kind of ceased to be Amy. Well, I shouldn't say that. I became a different Amy. One that is more patient and laid-back. One that puts your needs before her own (and that was certainly never the case before you came along). One that needs less sleep and knows the secrets to things like how to kiss an owie.
The last year has been amazing, but the last month has been just as incredible.You got two more teeth -- both on the top -- for a grand total of four. You look adorable when you smile, with your two tiny teeth on the bottom of your grin. Your Daddy said just last night how he thinks this is such a cute look and how he'll miss it. He'll probably miss it even more when the bill for your orthodontia comes in a few years. Your two teeth are slightly crooked, so I suspect you will be looking at braces like your Mommy and Daddy both had.
Your vocabulary is starting to expand now too. Just this week you started saying "baby" and "kitty," which brings your grand total to five words, along with "Mama," "Dada," and "Ney-Ney," which means "No, no."
"Baby" comes out loud and clear, but "kitty" is so cute I laugh every time you say it. You get the hard "K" sound and then sort of hiss an "s" sound, so it sounds like "Cah-sssi."
Your eating has also improved. You are almost totally off baby food, which we still feed you here and there because we have to get rid of it and, well, sometimes you refuse to eat vegetables off your tray and we know if we give them to you pureed in a jar, you will probably eat them. But you are eating more and more “people food” and we’re thrilled about that. You’ve had everything from pickles to cake to pasta this month and you’re found many new favorites. But let’s be clear, your allegiance is still to Veggie Booty, chicken noodle soup and carbs of any sort.
You went from walking a few steps here and there at the beginning of the month to walking full-time by the end. You crawl a few inches and then pop yourself up and away you go. You learned how to stand yourself up about two weeks ago and now it's like you've been doing it for years.
It's hysterical to watch you after your bath at night. Daddy dries you off and lets you run around naked for a few minutes. From the back, you are one skinny man. You are pretty much a straight line from shoulders to toes -- hips? What are those? But then you turn to the side and the Belly That Ate Chicago commands the eye. Your tummy is HUGE. It looks like your legs poke right out of it and you toddle around, laughing and not looking where you are going with your arms held high in the air, usually clutching some toy or article of clothing off the floor. Likely culprits include your socks, Daddy's socks or a rogue shoe. You have an absurd obsession with socks and shoes, and grab them whenever you can and take off as fast as you can, while shoving the item into your mouth.
I look around the house at the end of the day and it's like a tornado has hit it. There are toys everywhere. Trains and cars and trucks and dinosaurs and wagons and basketball hoops and blocks. You have the attention span of a gnat, but you like to make the rounds of your toys, so you end up playing with everything a few times in a day.
And by the end of the day, I am usually so tired that I don't feel like picking up toys. But after you go to bed and I am putting everything away, I remember something funny you did with a block or how you like to walk around with your penguin in your mouth and I always smile and tell Daddy a little story about some funny thing you did.
Your sleeping is so improved from the past six months, I barely remember how bad it was. Notice I said "barely" because trust me, some of the memories of you waking six and seven times a night will never fade. And someday, when you are 16 and I crawl in your bed at 3 a.m. and cry and yell and ask you to please get me a glass of milk to drink, and then a glass every hour on the hour for the rest of the night, you will understand what it means to sleep fitfully. But for now, you are sleeping 12 hours overnight and taking two one-hour naps during the day.
Speaking of milk, we decided about two weeks ago that we should probably figure out once and for all if you had a dairy intolerance. Your skin had really cleared up in the last two months and we were hoping you might have outgrown your problems. But the only way to figure it out was to give you some milk. So one day, we gave you a little whole milk in a sippy cup. The ground did not open and swallow us whole. You seemed to like it and your eczema was really no worse the next few days.
So we started slowly giving you more each day. You are now up to two 5-7 ounce sippies of whole milk a day. Tomorrow you see your pediatrician and if he gives us the go ahead, we will wean you completely by next week. You couldn't seem to care less where the milk comes from. You've always been happy to take your milk from a bottle or a boob, just as long as you were getting yours.
Which is making me feel a little sad about weaning you. For the last year, you and I shared that special time each day. Some days, we shared A LOT of special time when you were going through a growth spurt or not feeling well. I had said from the beginning that I wanted to nurse you for a year and that I didn't want to give you any formula. I achieved both of those goals. You never had a drop of formula and I feel really good about the whole nursing experience. Sure, things were tough in the beginning, but we really hit our stride.
I will really miss nursing you to sleep at night. I will probably miss nursing you in bed in the mornings even more, because that's how we convince you to sleep past 6 a.m. I told your Daddy tonight that you won't need me anymore. Next thing you know, you'll be staying out until 1 a.m. and making out with girls and I AM SO NOT READY FOR THAT. But the time has come to close the breastaurant. But I'll always remember what a great experience it was for both of us.
Buddy, I just can't believe that you aren't my little baby anymore. You're a toddler now. Every day you do something new or say something different and grow up a little more. I try to remember the little things: the way you stand on your tiptoes to look out the window, the way you scream in delight when you see the cats, the way the light hits your face when you sit in front of the patio door in the morning, the way your smile takes over your whole face when Daddy opens the door when he gets home from work. Those are the moments that make up a childhood. Sure, everyone remembers first steps and first words, but I want to remember how you lean in and get very quiet when you want to give me a kiss.
This last year has been such an amazing experience. I try to put it into words, but I really can't do it justice. It's nothing like I thought it would be. It's easier, it's harder. It's faster, it's slower. You are nothing like I thought you'd be. You are so much fun. You love to love to laugh. You love to learn. You love to move.
I see so much of myself in you. And I see so much of your Daddy, too. But I don't want to project on you. I want you to be your own person, to see the world in your own way, to make your own fun and experience your own joys and triumphs.
You Daddy and I want you to know how much we love you. How much more we love each other because you are in our lives. How we look forward to not only your second year, but your 102nd year. You are the light of our lives. We are blessed to have you and thankful to experience the world through your eyes each day.
PS I am hoping that y'all, even the lurkers out there, might leave a comment for Jack. I'd like to print them all out and save them in his baby book. Thanks!