Written September 2009, for my son, Jack.
Little Jack, it has been one year since you were born.
One year ago, your dad and I got ready to go to Avera McKennan Hospital to have you. He tried to take a picture of me in the kitchen, but I was so nervous, so scared about what was coming, that all we have to remember our last moments home without a baby is a photo of me glaring at the camera.
You came so fast into the world, crying and flailing and blinking like mad. Your dad held you, all bundled up, and he was bursting with pride. Our son. Our beautiful, tiny baby boy.
We were struck dumb with love and hope and pure joy. We peeled back your little blanket, took off your tiny hat, marveled at your eensy toes and skinny froggy little legs. I rubbed my cheek over your velvety head, tucked you close to me and fell madly, wildly in love with you and your dad, all over again.
I can’t believe a year has passed already.
A year since we brought you home and your dad went to work and I thought, really? You really are going to leave me home alone with the baby? I felt clueless. Exhausted. Overwhelmed. We spent hours sitting in our overstuffed chair together, you crying that new-baby, mewling cry. Nursing until you passed out, milk dribbling down your cheek, letting out huge, satisfied baby sighs. I slept with my hand on your chest, feeling the rise and fall, wanting to keep you safe.
I was reading in Anne Lamott’s “Operating Instructions,” about her son’s first year about how you are “mind-numbingly wasted” taking care of a newborn. It’s so true. She also says you have no idea how you’ll cope, how you’ll get it all done, until suddenly realize that “you’ve already gone ahead and done it before you realize you couldn’t possibly do it, not in a million years.”
Soon, all too soon, I realized you could hold your little head up as you leaned on my shoulder. Then you did your baby push-ups, and eventually turned yourself right over, so very proud. And then it all just happened so fast — scooting around the crib, with your legs jammed through the rungs, pounding your baby fists because you were stuck.
Banging a sippy cup. Grabbing a spoon. Sitting up all on your own. Scooting in a circle. Trying to crawl. Pulling off the moulding in the guest room and trying to cram the lead-painted, nail-encrusted bit of it in your mouth. Desperately trying to get to the dog’s water dish.
A woman came into the pediatrician’s office the other day with newborn twins, and I had to bury my head in your back to hide my tears. Oh the hope that a new baby brings!
I feel like I turned around, and you were a little boy. And yet I know that when I look back in another year, I’ll laugh at that thought. You’re still just a baby. I wrap you in your towel after tubby and call you my baby burrito. “I’m going to cover you in salsa and take a big bite,” I say as you giggle. One day I stuffed your baby blanket into my purse so I could have you with me all day at work.
Little Jack. My heart is bursting right now. How will I write about you when you can walk, tell a joke, throw a ball, drive a car? When you have a job, a house, a wife, children of your own?
My dad told me, “Oh Jackie, it all goes so fast. So, so fast.” And it has. It is.
Slow down, little Jack. I want to just sit with you in our chair, your little bottom resting on my lap, your baby arm reaching for my glasses. I want to tickle your fat little feet and watch you laugh when you see the dog. Just a few more times, before you get too big.
Happy birthday, little boy.