Jack, today is your first birthday. One year ago your daddy and I were on our way to Lutheran General Hospital so I could give birth to you. (You were in my tummy, but you decided it was time to come out!) At 8:05 p.m., when you finally took your first breath, we cried tears of relief and joy.
I thank God every day I get to be your mama. Watching you grow, learn and explore the world has been awesome. As I reflect on our year together, I think the biggest lesson you’ve taught me is that there is wonder in every moment of this life, great and small.
In this picture, you’re only a few days old. You had just left the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit and were receiving heat lamp treatment for bilirubin. Your daddy and I were eager to bring you home so we could all be more comfortable. (Although, as brand new parents, we were also a little scared!) We asked God for strength and wisdom to keep you healthy and safe as we learned how to be your parents.
I wonder what you were thinking and feeling this day. There was so much to see and process in your new environment! It was exhausting, and you took a lot of naps. I hope you felt safe, protected and loved when we swaddled you and held you close.
Fast forward a couple months. We’re in your nursery doing tummy time. You don’t like it but Dr. Graham says we have to keep doing it so you can strengthen your neck! I have two weeks left for maternity leave and I’m savoring these slow, sweet days we spend together. After I took this photo, you lifted your head off of the knitted blanket and observed the gray walls of your room. You might have even watched our pug, Gus, playing on the colorful carpet. All the wonderful things around you were coming more into focus. A couple weeks ago you’d learned to smile at me and were trying it out a lot. This made your tired mama so happy and proud.
At six months old, you’re working on pulling yourself up. When you discover daddy at the top of the couch, you burst into a smile. Your one-of-a-kind smile, with its dimples and cleft chin, lights up my heart. (Your unique cry, on the other hand, is terrifying–did you learn that at daycare?!) In this picture, your mama was delighted by your good mood and feeling worn down by the juggling act of working and motherhood. We had just started teaching you to sleep by yourself but it wasn’t going great. You eventually get the hang of it, some months later. I’m sorry that was so hard.
You love your daddy so much, Jack. Many people say that you are a miniature version of him. While I agree, I also think you look a little bit like me. Nearing eight months, you are still especially attached to me but as you grow older, you and daddy deepen your bond. In this picture you are napping on his shoulder after your first visit to Valparaiso University, where mama and daddy met and fell in love. Watching you two spend time together makes my heart sing.
Jack, I love seeing the world through your eyes. On this day, we were celebrating my birthday. We ate brunch at Ann Sather’s in East Lakeview, and you had the best time munching on eggs, fruit and potatoes. You also loved looking out the restaurant window. What did you see? Lots of dogs, I think, and neighbors waking to and fro. Daddy and mama were so excited to show you our old neighborhood that day. We lived there for more than five years before you entered our lives.
Here you are peeking out the mail slot of our home. At 11 months and two weeks old your curiosity is insatiable. You’re getting into everything–the kitchen cabinets, the toilet paper roll in the bathroom, the dog’s crate. You especially love finding small corners and spaces sized just for you and snuggling up against them. Your little world is expanding and it’s such a blessing to watch you explore it.
Now you are one year old and becoming more and more independent. I see how much you’re learning at daycare and feel grateful for the friends you’ve made and the experiences you’ve had there. This makes the time we’re apart feel a little bit easier.
Jack, I admire your adventurous, loving spirit. You’re constantly on the go, climbing, crawling and exploring. You show others how much you care by giving them hugs or pats on the back. I especially like your silly dance moves and your infectious laugh. You wave to friends and strangers, clap your hands to music, and make some funny noises with your mouth. You’re babbling “Ma-ma” and “Da” and “Na-na” (for banana) and you’ve even said “Hi!” and “Uh-oh.”
With you in my life, everything is new again. And so much sweeter. Happy first birthday, Jack buddy! We love you so much.