A few days ago, we celebrated your first birthday. The night before your birthday, I couldn't sleep. I was really tired, I had been tired all day, but for some reason could not sleep. And while I was laying there in bed I started to think about the night before you were born. I couldn't sleep that night either. I was tired then too, a deep kind of tired, results of carrying around 45 extra pounds of baby, water, and 9 months of haphazardly eaten cheese burritos and M&M McFlurries. But much more than tired, I was nervous and excited and anxious. I knew that the next day you would be born, that the next day would be the beginning of my new life with you. I had no idea what that really meant, but the possibilities kept me awake, in spite of being 9 months and 45 extra pounds tired.
I woke the next morning very early, and while it was still dark, your daddy and I drove to the hospital. Our bags were packed with all the possible things we might need. Your brand new car seat was in the backseat, still smelling like the box it came in.
I spent the rest of the day waiting for you to arrive. I was hooked up to lots of different machines, and had all kinds of tubes attached to me, which made going to the bathroom even more unwieldy than normal. I had to unplug myself from all kind of stuff, wrap the cords around my back, hoist my increasingly swollen self out of bed and waddle to the bathroom-all the while pushing an IV and trying to keep my hospital gown from showing all my parts. It was hard work. Thankfully I had some help, because I think I went to the bathroom about 800 times that day.
People kept telling me I should try to get some rest, but really, how was I supposed to sleep? At some point during the day I was going to meet my brand new baby! I had no idea if I was going to meet a boy or a girl. I had no idea if the names were going to work. No idea if I even liked the names we had picked out. I had to think about the inevitably increased contractions, water breaking, and...the actual birth. Oi. And, What Not to Wear was on! How could anyone expect me to sleep with all that?
You were born at 11:26pm, on April 7. When Dr. Crownover first held you up, upside down (they really do hold babies upside down right after they are born...) my first sight of you was the back of your thighs, the bottoms of your feet and your rear end. I just remembered that, Norah, just now as I typed the words. And its funny, because I can still see it: the green of Dr Crownover's scrubs, my puffy white legs, and your pink rear-end. Really, its kind of a hilarious first sight. They quickly wrapped you up in a pink blanket and laid you on my belly and Norah, I had no words. You were so beautiful. You had this glorious and clear pink skin, these black eyes, and black hair all over your perfect little head. I had nothing to say. I just stared at you, totally overwhelmed.
Sometimes I still do that. Sometimes, when you are playing with your toys or jabbering or laughing at me dancing in the kitchen or flinging your poop out of your diaper, I just there and look at you, overwhelmed. You're amazing. Your little brain is always working, you are always learning and watching and mimicking. These days especially it seems like you are constantly on the verge of something new. Its like you go to sleep at night and wake up having learned another trick.
When you were born, I could not imagine what you would be like a year later. I never could have imagined how beautiful and wonderful and sweet and hilarious you would be. I couldn't have thought up the way you cross your legs like me when you sit on the floor, or the way you cross your feet when you eat. I couldn't have thought up your maniacal little laugh, or the way you sometimes give me impish little looks when you are trying to get away with something. I couldn't have guessed at the way your mouth turns down and you wimper when your feelings are hurt. I couldn't have imagined the way your tiny fingers feel when you absentmindedly scratch my arm while we snuggle, or the way they seem to tear off itty pieces of my flesh when you pinch me. I also couldn't have imagined the incredible frustrations, anxiety, and craziness that have come with you as well. You are by no means perfect, Norah, and motherhood is one hard business. But at the end of it all, it is so worth it.
A few days ago, I swept the back porch. While I was pushing the broom in the space between the bottom of the house and the top of the concrete, sweeping out a giant pile of dried leaves and dirt, I realized that I had not cleaned off the porch in over a year. There are so many chores that I have just neglected for the past year, as I've tried to become accustomed to life with you. It doesn't seem like it should take a whole year to settle down, but it has. It has taken 12 months to get used to things. I certainly don't have everything figured out, but now, 12 months later, I'm ok with that. And tonight, I'm sitting in bed with a pile of your clothes and bibs at my feet, your monkey rattle on the floor next to the TV and an entire living room overrun by your mountains of toys, and I can't remember what the house looked like before you came and daily dismantled everything within your reach.
Norah, thank you for all the things you have added to my life. You are so fantastic, so special, so joyous and so very very dear to me. I love you in every way that I can, with everything that I can.