I’ve spent the last twelve months secretly dreading my son’s first birthday, certain in the knowledge that I would be a complete mess and that I would become haunted once more with memories of his birth. In reality, my one year old keeps me so busy that his birthday was nothing like I’d imagined at all.
Determined to make up for last year, I went to town with his party and organised a do with his baby friends (without the mothers of these babies, I doubt I would be as sane as I am now) and family, as well as a family meal/ party for the actual day. I spent hours making a snowman cake in honour of the extreme weather when he was born, I shakily constructed a gingerbread house and I made party bags for almost everyone in the local vicinity. Yay, me!
Yes, it kept me busy. Yes, it kept my mind far away from the dark place I once never knew even existed. Yes, my baby loved every minute of it. Success! The only error we made was to give him a small bite of his own birthday cake- cue screaming all night in awful pain; that’s another story.
The only moment I had been truly but secretly dreading was the actual time of his birth. They tell me my baby was born at 6.45pm; I met him an hour later but again, that’s another story. So as the clock began to plod along to the special moment, we found oursleves sprawled around the living room watching the baby play quietly as his sister played noisily upstairs with her cousins. Now and then they shieked through the hallway, lively reminders of all my baby has to come; mostly they stayed upstairs playing schools and leaving us to it. It. Watching my baby. Watching his chubby little fingers grasping a new book, watching him clamber over his nanna and toddle across the carpet in his new trainers. Watching him was lovely, seeing him there and being able to touch him. All of a sudden he looked at me and crawled over to where I was sitting, onto my lap and into my face. Then, you know what he did? He gave me one of his special, snotty open-mouthed kisses and rested his head on my shoulder for a cuddle. Over his shoulder I checked the clock again and it was 6.45pm!
I made the most of that cuddle. The year before, I was lying oblivious on an unforgiving operating table, tubes down my throat and a knife at my belly. I didn’t get the first glance, I didn’t hear the first cries and I never got to announce his name or say ‘Wow’ when I found out his weight… I never got to hold him. But this time, I did. He chose me! He kissed me and cuddled me and laid a few demons to rest at the same time.
So now I wonder what I was dreading. Memories, yes. But seeing my baby with his family and friends, playing- happy, healthy and loved? That’s all I ever wanted!