It’s hard to believe a whole year has passed since we welcomed you into this world. (A year and a bit, now, actually… I’ve not been very good at keeping on top of recording your moments, have I?) The details of your arrival are fuzzy, I’m afraid—your birthday was a long, boring 14 hours of hurry up and wait followed by three terrifying hours of plummeting heart rates, morphine-induced nausea, and finally, emergency surgery. Much like your sister’s arrival, your birth did not at all go according to plan and even included an overnight in the same nursery where your sister spent many of her earliest days; unlike your sister’s arrival, however, we had you bundled safely at home with us within 36 hours of meeting you.
And from the moment we placed your bucket seat on the carpet in the living room and welcomed you to your humble abode, you have ensured that your life and all who touch it are encompassed in chaotic joy; a never-ending cacophony of midnight cries and sibling giggles and frantic cries of No! Fred! Don’t touch that! You are an exhausting ball of energy who seems to be lacking an off switch; big blue eyes with a Buddha belly and an insatiable appetite for getting into everything that isn’t a toy. You are reckless and relentless and at times, impossible to keep up with. You are an assault on all five senses; you are, in the best way imaginable, a beast.
I can’t believe a year has passed. I can’t believe you outgrew your newborn phase as quickly as my mat leave ended; that in the months since I’ve been back at work you learned to sit, to crawl, to walk, to talk. You’ve been walking for the better part of three months now—more often than not dragging one of your muslin blankets behind you, looking like a drunken, drooling Linus lumbering about the apartment—and your vocabulary has grown from just ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ to include titi (kitty), ñañaña (Nyana), go, no, uh-oh, and more. Your big, toothy grin makes up for the harshest of your tantrums (which these days are frequent) and your infectious giggle (almost) makes the fact that you still don’t sleep through the night (almost) tolerable. At one year old, you eat three square meals a day with six teeth and counting: you love spaghetti and curry and berries, you dislike eggs and peanut butter and lemons. You love bath time, you (mostly) love nap time, and you love car time as long as we’re not stopped at red lights. You are wearing clothes meant for kids twice your age and you weigh in at thirty pounds, give or take a few ounces.
I used to spend hours thinking about you when Nyana was in the NICU, day after day in a glider chair wondering how and what our second go-round at pregnancy and parenthood would look like. I used to wonder if the fight for life she and I had endured together would bond us in a way I could never replicate with a second child; and on the other hand I used to wonder if the sterilized welcome to motherhood I received in her earliest days meant that I missed out on a critical bonding moment with her, one of late-night feedings and exhausted days which I was able to experience with you. As it turns out—as I learned with your arrival—motherhood is motherhood and there is no doling out varying amounts of love based on circumstance. Which is lucky for you, Freddie, because you are blanketed in love, despite an absence of blog posts in your honour.
You are blanketed in love that I didn’t know was possible to feel. I thought when I fell in love with your dad, I was all full-up with love and no being could ever mean more to me than him. And then I met your sister and I learned the true meaning of unconditional love. Of love at first sight. Of I-would-run-into-a-burning-building, yes, I-would-DIE-for-you love. And then you, Freddie, came along, and taught me that not only does my love run as deep as the ocean, it runs as wide as the horizon, too. You fill in the tiniest of cracks in my soul that I didn’t know needed filling; you slid perfectly into a void in our family that we didn’t know was there. You are the yin to Nyana’s yang; cut from the same stone and very much kindred, yet entirely opposite, and you provide the perfect balance to our fambly.
The past year has been full of more laughter and less sleep than the past ten years combined, and it’s all with warmest thanks to you. I can’t say it’s all been a good time—I’ve said some words to you that are probably inappropriate to say to a baby, and you’ve had more than a few moments where you displayed a shocking lack of respect for your dad and me—but as with most things in life, it’s all been two steps forward, one step back, and we have a lifetime to perfect that dance.
Big love to you, my Little Big Man,