This year, when I’ve been at a doctor’s office or done something official where I’m required to say Bean’s birth date out loud, I would simply say the month and date. No year. She was months old, born in March, so a sharp person would know that the year was 2010. If prompted, I’d say “this year”, and not “2010”. Because this is the only year in which I will be able to do that for the rest of her life.
Having a baby changes the rhythm of your life. It’s not just that everything is different, because it obviously is. It’s that your very rhythm of eating, sleeping, being and doing is fundamentally changed to center no longer on yourself, but on a new person.
I minored in biology in college. Yet, until this year, I had never thought about the fundamentals of life in such a biological way: eating, sleeping, excreting, being clean, being warm or cold. It’s basic stuff to take care of a baby in theory, but it is life-altering in practice.
Then there’s the love factor. My sister asked me right after I had Bean about whether I felt an unbelievable love for the baby, like something I’d never felt before. I assured my sister that I loved the baby to bits, but I was too tired, too overwhelmed, to feel like this little person was the be-all-end-all. That was just my experience. But at the six month mark (September), I got hit in the face with that love hard, and I’ve relished the feeling ever since. I miss Bean when we’re not together, and I can only smile when I see her. When she cries at night, I don’t feel annoyed that she keeps me awake, as I did when she was a newborn – now I want to comfort her so she feels no pain. My heart swells thinking of her.
2011 will be another year of firsts and experiences, and I am eager for them. But I also want to savor what was in 2010: a new life, new smiles, new babbling sounds, new movement rolling on the floor and almost-crawling across the room, new teeth, new hair.
A colleague said to me that with children, it’s easy to remember all the “firsts”, but hard to realize all the “lasts”. So on this last day of the calendar, here is to a new year of firsts and lasts in a life that will be filled with love.