It's nearing midnight on August 31, 2012. In less than an hour, it will be your first birthday. A year ago tonight I was getting restless bursts of sleep in between weak contractions, fighting to get comfortable on a tiny hospital bed with an IV in my arm. We had been stuck back in a quiet corner of the labor and delivery floor waiting to be relocated to a bigger room in the morning when things had quieted down for everyone else and picked up for us. I was so nervous that night, anticipating not only labor and delivery itself but the total rocking of our world that was imminent with your arrival. When your sister was born I was terrified of the unknown, of how I would handle being a mother and how our lives would adapt to the challenges of parenthood. This time I was anxious about all of the things I KNEW were coming (the struggles of nursing, the lack of sleep, the constant shifting of schedules) as well as the added difficulties of integrating you into our little threesome while still keeping Laine on a familiar routine. I'll be honest with you, my thoughts strayed to her even as I was preparing to meet you, worried that she would feel lost in all of the new baby hubbub. That mommy guilt is a strange beast, Lawton boy. The second I would start to worry about Laine and her feelings, I would feel guilty for not being focused solely on you, anxious that you would not get the same uninterrupted attention she had had for almost two years.
While Laine may have gotten more of my undivided time and attention, I have to say that in some ways you were lucky to come second. You got a more confident, strong, relaxed mommy. Don't get me wrong, I can still rock a routine like it's nobody's business, but I have learned where I can let things slide and sometimes I do. I knew what to take special joy in during those difficult newborn months, soaking up the weight of your little body on my chest, the tiny uncontrolled movements of your hands, the soft smell of your head after a washcloth bath. I delighted in your milestones without consulting a single book or website. I did the best I could and knew it was enough. And now I celebrate the passage of this magical, crazy, wonderful, exhausting first year with pride in both you and myself.
I remember being astounded when Laine turned one at what a huge change seemed to come over her in a matter of weeks and I have noticed the same phenomenon with you. All of a sudden you seem so much less like a baby; I get glimpses of the toddler and the little boy you will soon become. You've entered the "dat" phase, wanting me to identify every new thing and person you see over and over and over (and OVER) again. You point at and reach for and touch and look at and study and chew on EVERYTHING. You pull up and wave bye bye and nod yes and shake your head no and mimic animal sounds and kissy noises and are soaking things up like a little sponge. Watching you and your sister learn and discover things has truly been the greatest source of joy and pride in my life.
You're a little terror and a little delight. You get into everything you're not supposed to, discovering things I never would have thought to baby-proof. We can't go anywhere without you befriending everyone we meet, charming them with your enthusiasm and your smile and your silly little tuft of bright blonde hair on the back of your head. We also can't go anywhere without you trying to stand up in the seat of the shopping cart but that's another story. You adore your sister and your dogs, throwing balls, dancing, and climbing in the Cozy Coupe and waving bye bye. You are so fearless and spirited and loud, quick to get frustrated and vocal with your anger (or your "baby rage" as your daddy and I call it), but just as quick to giggle and shriek with joy. You make me laugh out loud every day.
I was worried about so many things while waiting in that tiny hospital room because, as you will learn, your mommy is a worrier. But now, a year later, I realize that I had nothing to worry about. You were exactly what and who was meant to come into my life, your daddy's life, your sister's life. You have added to our family, not just in number, but in joy. I am proud and blessed and happy and so, so very lucky to be your mommy.
I love you so much, my little man. Happy birthday!