Katie turned one year old this Monday. Can you believe it? It's hard to believe that it's been a whole year already since I gave birth to our beautiful daughter, but it's also kind of hard to believe that it's only been a year since Katie became part of our lives.
She walks everywhere now. No need to hold onto things - she just takes off, straight down hallways or across the middle of a room, arms stretched out to her sides, hands flapping, or hands clutching some little favorite thing (a bottle top, a CD, a Weeble, a flat metal disc from my cookie press, a book) into her open gnawing mouth. If she drops whatever she's holding on the floor, she has about a 50% chance of picking it up and standing up again without falling over.
Walking around her room.
She has five teeth - the two middle ones on top and bottom, plus one more on top, to the right of the front two. We keep waiting for a sixth, but so far no sign of it.
She says dog ("dawww"), cat (sometimes "cat", but often "dat"), hi, and tickle ("ticka ticka"). Just last week, she started saying "Daddy," although it comes out like "Da-Da." She's been saying "da-da" forever, but now it's suddenly clear that she's using it to refer to Geoff. So far she won't do the same for me, but last week when I asked her to say "Mommy" she repeatedly responded by saying "Ny-ny-ny." This morning I asked her to say mommy and she smiled at me and said, clearly, "Da-da!" Huh.
She doesn't say very many words yet, but she is starting to understand so much. She knows what we mean when we say: mommy, daddy, bottle, bath, dog, cat, yogurt, fruit, spoon. She will clap if we say "clap" or "pat-a-cake." She will shake her head back and forth if we say "shake your head." She will stick her tongue in and out rapidly if we say "stick out your tongue." If I ask her "where" something is, she will look. If I tell her to "look," and then point, she will look in the direction I'm pointing. (When we take her out and ask her to shake her head, clap, stick out her tongue, etc., it's a little bit like we're showing off our favorite pet's tricks. Heh.)
Katie with her Aunt Stephanie
We visited Geoff's family in Halifax the week before last, and while we were there, I repeated everyone's name whenever I got a chance. By the time we left to come home, she knew who I meant when I said Stephanie, Matt, Kim (Geoff's siblings), Nana, and Grandpa. I'd ask her, "Where's Stephanie?" and Katie would turn and look until she found Stephanie with her eyes. We praised her profusely, of course.
She has learned a new laugh, a loud "ha ha ha-ha-ha!" that sounds almost fake. Almost every time she laughs like that, we laugh, too. She has figured that out, and so she laughs even more.
Katie's hair is starting to get longer now, starting to curl up a little bit at the ends. It's this beautiful goldeny honey color that shines in the sunlight. The other day, as she was walking around the room near me, I had a flash of how she will look when she is older - taller, leaner, faster, maybe with long curly hair, and with her same Katie face, just a little less baby-like. I said to her, "Katie, you are going to be," and then I sucked in my breath and felt a catch in my throat. "I mean you are," I said. "You are so beautiful."
Goofing in the playpen
A co-worker stopped by my office this afternoon and asked, "How's the little girl?" There are black and white pictures of Katie up on my door and on the doors of my cabinets above my desk. I printed them out on my laser printer. They are not high quality pictures, but I like having her bright smiling face around me when I'm here at work. I told him that Katie is fine, that she just turned one. He got that look on his face that he's had on his face before - the face that says that new parents are silly and naive - and he started to giggle (that's really the best word for it), and he gestured at the pictures, and he said, "I guess you're a fan!"
"Of course I am," I said. And then, as he was starting to make his way out the door, I said, "Every parent should be, shouldn't they?" He has children, but they are teenagers, and I have only heard him talk about them with a hint of cynicism in his voice. I don't know if this is how he has always been, or if years ago he was different - if there was ever a point at which he had nothing but a bright smile on his face when he talked about his kids, a smile like the one I have when I think about Katie.
In her crib
I am starting to believe that she is mine, she is ours, she is not going to disappear or fade away, she will be around for a long while yet, that it will be so amazing and interesting to watch and help her become the adult person she will one day become. I am starting to believe that she really truly not only needs me, but loves me.
These are good feelings.
Katie on the day she was born
I have been thinking back on the past year a lot lately, especially back to those first few days after Katie was born. It was so hard. I was so tired. Did I ever tell you about how they moved us over to a different part of the hospital on the evening of Katie's birth, and how Geoff slept on a foldout armchair type thing? Did I tell you how he slept so hard that he slept through visitors coming to our room? My mom, my dad, my grandpa, some cousins - he slept the whole morning through (I think he was awake for my brother and my stepmom, at least part of the time). He slept so hard that in the middle of the night, when Katie was crying, her crying did not wake him. Neither did my saying, "Geoff! Geoff! Geoff!" He didn't wake up until after I'd thrown some pillows at his head, and then finally, FINALLY, he got up and got Katie out of her isolette and brought her near-helpless, tiny, red body to me so that I could hold her and try to nurse her. When I mentioned this to Geoff the other day, about how irritated I had been that night and the next day, when he WOULDN'T WAKE UP, he said, "I was so tired!" I looked at him and blinked, deliberately, a few times. Oh, he was tired. I see. I didn't realize! After a year, it's funny.
Did I tell you about how, in the first week or so after Katie was born, the skin on her hands and feet was peeling? Candace and Erin visited us in the hospital, and I remember Candace pointing out the peeling skin, and asking if we could put lotion on her or not, and I had no idea. Was that allowed? Could we do that? Eventually we spotted some baby lotion in our hospital room, apparently left there for our use, so we figured it was ok, and we rubbed lotion on her tiny hands and feet.
At night, in the hospital, she would not sleep, and she would not sleep. Our second and final night there, the nurses kept coming in (they came in all the time anyway - we almost-but-not-quite hated them a little bit, waking us up over and over when we had just gotten to sleep) to try to catch Katie when she was sleeping. They had to take her for a hearing test, they said, and she had to be asleep for that. She was never asleep. Finally, at 4 or so in the morning, a nurse swaddled Katie up tight, and Katie went to sleep, and the nurse successfully gave her the test, but I remember the others, acting irritated with us because our baby was not sleeping. Believe me, I wanted to tell some of them, I would be happy to have her be asleep. This is not my ideal situation, either.
My father was there when a resident came to stick needles in Katie's feet and squeeze blood out of her heels onto several circles on a piece of paper. It took so long, and Katie cried harder and harder, and eventually my dad and I were crying, too, I think. I know I was. It was the first of many times in the last year when Katie's crying brought me to tears, too.
Some of those memories are clearer to me right now than my memories of last weekend. I bet they will always stay so clear.
Katie, riding high on Daddy's shoulders.
I want to sum this past year up with some new words of wisdom. But what would I say? I have already said all of the most important things, and they are all simple: I love her. I love being her mother. It has been difficult. It has been wonderful. It has been scary. It has been hilarious. It has taken a lifetime and a minute. It has been just like I expected and yet incredibly surprising.
I am happier now than I was a year ago, I can tell you that. I am closer to Geoff now than I was a year ago. We have become more of a team. I am proud of him and grateful to him for being such a good father. I am confident that I am a good mother. I am more at peace with my body, my job, my life.
And we have this baby. This wonderful, beautiful baby. Not a day goes by when I don't feel lucky to be her mother.
Family portrait on Katie's birthday.
(If you'd like to see how Katie's grown and changed over the course of the year, go here and view the set as a slideshow. There's one picture for each week of the year, plus one on the day Katie was born and one on her first birthday.)