We celebrate three birthdays in my house this week. Micah turned 8 on Sunday. I turned 38 today (which pretty much gets trumped by the kids) and Judah, my baby, turns a year old on Thursday. It makes for a busy week, although I’m glad that each of my sons has their own day to be celebrated.
Several people have asked me recently how I feel now that Judah is a year old. “How does it feel that your last baby is one? Are you sad that the baby year is over? Do you think you’ll have more kids?”
I wasn’t sure how I would feel when Judah turned one. And if you’re curious, yes, he is our last baby. That is a post for another day, however. Although I will say that as much as I wanted to fight being done having babies, I find myself saying, “it is well with my soul.”
There’s really nothing like that first year of your child’s life. The magic of knowing a child is growing inside of you, the beautiful feeling of pushing your child out into the world, the first time you lay eyes on your baby, the joy that floods your body and the physical relief that comes with birth. The way their tiny body curls up on yours, the way their weight feels when they lay across your chest, their total reliance on your milk for sustenance. The first time they smile at you, the way they hold your finger and stare at your face, as though saying, “I know you…I love you.” The scent that lingers on their soft silky hair and their smooth perfect skin is somewhat intoxicating. And that feeling of awe as you see them grow without ever actually seeing them grow, until suddenly, they are rolling over, cutting teeth, eating real food and taking their first steps.
At the end of year one, I find myself saying ,“What happened to my baby?” How have I been so blessed to have said that same thing five times now?
It is well with my soul.
And while I’ve never said, “thank goodness that year is over,” and while it’s one of the most amazing times of motherhood, it’s also exhausting. Being on demand for eating, diaper changes, and just holding your baby constantly is physically demanding. The lack of sleep and trying to keep everyone afloat can be emotionally exhausting as well. And who wants to have a baby forever? If they never grow out of that first year, we’d be going crazy, am I right mamas?
So often at the end of the first year, it’s easy to want your baby back. Because while each stage is meant to be cherished, there’s nothing quite like the baby year, when they are so utterly dependent on you, when their innocence and newness is still so evident.
You know how people say you never know when your baby will suddenly do something for the last time? And to cherish those times that are really hard because it might be the last time they do it? Knowing that Judah is our last biological baby allowed me to sort of mourn some of those lasts. He’s my last baby I’ll nurse, my last baby I’ll watch take first steps, my last baby to wake me up every night, and the last baby who’s bottom I’ll wipe (well, I won’t be crying over that one).
Of course I’ll have to wait for some lasts, which is fine with me. One day I’ll sleep all night, zip his jacket and tie his shoes for the last time. One day he won’t need his hair combed or want me to cuddle him until he falls asleep. One day I’ll look around my house and wonder how all my babies are so grown up. I know that day is coming. I read the posts mamas write about it all the time. And I’ll gladly wait for that day.
I’ve already said good-bye to some lasts, some harder than others. Resting my hand on my growing belly, pulling out those tiny newborn clothes, watching my baby learn to crawl, playing ‘so big,’ cutting the first tooth, and making pureed food day after day after day (whew).
And still. It is well with my soul.
I look ahead to what is coming. I look at my older children and know what’s next. Each new age and stage has so much to cherish. And while I would never rush the young years so they can be older, I do look forward to them. I look forward to seeing who Judah becomes, what his talents are, watching his face change from baby, to little boy, to older boy (and one day to a teenager…how surreal that must feel).
So as Judah turns one, I find that I’m not sad. I’m not lamenting his baby year is gone. I loved him this year as I’ll love him in the years to come. I held onto the sweet baby-ness knowing the day would come when it was gone.
Yes, it’s the last time I celebrate a first birthday for my own child. Yes, it’s the last time I’ll take pictures of that first birthday cake mess. It’s the last time I’ll have that thought, “where did my baby go?” And I’m okay with that.
Because I thank God for my son Judah, the gift of his life, the gift of his place in our family. He’s my baby and always will be. He’s my last baby and he always will be. And I’ll hold onto all the lasts of year two, not just of his, but of all my babies. Because that’s the story of life. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Our babies are born and they grow. They cut our apron strings a little more every year. I will try to live in the moment and watch them in awe and with love until the day they sleep in our house for the last time and forever beyond that.
Even so, it is well with my soul.