Like any proper milestone, Bub’s first birthday gave us pause, gave us time to reflect on this wild and crazy new script we have taken the lead in.
A year ago today, we were just a day or two removed from the hospital, having spent 4 nights after my wife’s C-section. She was having all sorts of trouble getting around. She was up every three hours, pumping. I was back at work, exhausted. But since Bub was eight weeks early, we were home alone.
This four week period that ensued I often refer to as parental purgatory, a hapless limbo of limited responsibility, but zero control. Knowing your child, who has never breathed fresh air, is in the best best hands, yet those hands are not yours. A bruising grind of ‘Leads fail’ alarms, incubators, setbacks and baby steps. Watching, waiting, rocking, holding when permitted. The feeling of coming home empty-handed every night, the bassinet getting dusty.
We’ve come a long way. Bub crawls now, soon he’ll be walking. He is very expressive, kind of a ham in front of the camera, and loves a good, long bath. He also enjoys mangoes and kiwis and clapping. Give him two objects, any two objects, and he’ll make beautiful music. Give him one, and the floor or your head might help make said music. He’s mostly weaned himself. Two of his favorite toys are a toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste (very hygienic, Bub)—ironic, since a tooth has yet to touch down on his gummy runway.
He’s healthy, we are very lucky. He recently had a little cold, really his first ailment all year. Pretty gross. Were boogers art, the Tate might have called about his catalogue; if snot were copper, he could have bronzed a small nuclear sub with it. But with no other symptoms, we let his immune system handle it, and it knocked it out in a few days.
We don’t own any hand sanitizer, we don’t boil his toys. Something falls on the floor or ground, unless we’re touring a waste treatment plant or in the middle of swamp, we wipe it off and hand it back. He puts unsavory things in his mouth on a fairly regular basis; it’s all part of the experiential learning process. He ate the majority of a Post-it note one time. I draw the line at bird doo and Irish Spring.
We adhere to a liberal 5 Second Rule for Bub, a bit more for ourselves. My wife and I were just trying to figure out recently how much food we eat off the floor these days. I put us around 15%, give or take. I’m not a picky eater.
Bub has sustained some injuries over the past year, of course. Nobody likes to talk about this stuff, but it happens. Just a couple weeks ago, Bub was bleeding from the mouth, the result of trying to pull himself up on the TV stand. If he had had any teeth, he might have lost them right then and there. You feel like a bad parent, neglectful, etc. The truth is, it can and will happen regardless of how careful you are, likely in front of your face (in this example, both my brother and I were less than ten feet from him). And there’s little you can do about it, except live and learn. Soothe and redirect attention; the scare is always worse than the physical pain.
Sleep training has worked wonders. We now get a pretty decent night’s sleep. The first six months were hard, but even that seems like ancient history now.
We did not stick to the Wait Three Days to Introduce a New Food rule; I admit it. What can I say? The kid’s a picky eater. He’s a lot more fun to dine with now, though, since he eats (or will at least try) most things we eat.
There are a lot of hard things about parenting, a lot of trade-offs, negotiations and sacrifices. There are times you miss your former life and freedom. But then just yesterday, Bub got up from a nap, all smiles. I took him out, changed his diaper, then gave him something similar to a zerbert and he just laughed and laughed and laughed. It was so pure; kids don’t have the ability to fake emotions. I kept it up for a minute or two, savoring every second. It’s totally worth it.