One year ago today I held my new daughter to my chest. She was wet and red and wrinkly and warm. The room was calm and quiet. I starred at her in awe. She was born at 2:21am in the morning, which meant I had five hours to hold her, before we called the first person to announce the birth. These five hours are so precious to me. As soon as we told people the calls and texts started rolling in, the excitement was shared, but my attention was split. I held her close and looked at my phone. But those five hours were absolute bliss. Just me, my husband and our new daughter. I was completely overwhelmed. (You can read her birth story here).
This morning, my daughter woke up and reached for me, snuggled in and started feeding, as she does every morning. It was a cold morning, yet we were warm and snuggly, alone and close. I was wide awake so I starred at her. She’s so big now. Yet she still needs me so much. She reaches for me every time she stirs in the night. And again I felt overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by just how blessed I am. Overwhelmed because I love her more than I knew I could. I am often overwhelmed by her – by her cuteness, by her new tricks, by how fast she is growing and changing.
Now, she is one. One. No longer a baby. At this stage she is big and little at the same time. She is friendly, affectionate (lots of cuddles and open mouth kisses), loves music, moves her body and dances when she hears it, is great at clapping and waving, is truly loving life. It is very important to her to never be still, to not let go of something she is holding. If she is upset she throws her hands in the air, arches her back and screams. She can be very dramatic. Loves playing peekaboo and has just started covering her face with a blanket and popping out. She loves feeding other people, brushing my teeth while I brush hers. She feeds herself oats every morning with a preloaded spoon, she has just started (and absolutely loves) drinking rooibos tea (she must truly be a South African girl). If anyone laughs, she does too. She makes sure she laughs the biggest, as if to show she is included in the joke and knows exactly what is going on. Loves it when we sing songs to her. She doesn’t like shoes and even when it is freezing cold she pulls them off her feet. At the supermarket she always tries to climb out of the trolley seat. Actually she tries to climb everything – out of her high chair, up the burglar guards at home. She is into everything and loves unpacking things. I find bits and pieces in all kinds of places all over the house. She is a true delight and just like her middle name, full of joy.
She really has rushed through life so far. The day she turned 10 months she took her first steps and started acting in every possible way like a toddler. It seems like no time ago I was teaching her to lift her head of the ground in tummy time. Now she is literally running, at full speed, towards the future.
And what a year it has been for me. I have learnt so so much. Yet I still have so much to learn. I became a mother, and then had to create myself as a mother. I had to work out what type of mum I want to be. I became a breastfeeding, cosleeping, half working / half stay-at-home mum, who doesn’t mind my daughter getting dirty but doesn’t know how to get her clothes clean.
And the year for me has been split into different seasons – the newborn awe stage in Australia (0-3 months), the family time stage when we first came to South Africa (3-8 months) and the finding my feet as a mum stage (8-12 months). Though I panicked at the thought of my husband going back to work and I didn’t want our extended holiday to end, it was the third season that allowed me to really step into life as a mum, find my mummy village and bond with my daughter in a new way, taking ownership of her routine and days.
It took me a while to find my mummy village. Though I have lots of friends with kids they are all different ages or live in different places. I did search for my mummy village – I joined Mums and Babes and postnatal yoga, and though I met lots of lovely mums, I didn’t connect with them on a deep level. But then 2 months ago, myself and a couple of mums from my church started a mums group, and something special happened. Mums popped up from everywhere to join and we instantly and deeply clicked. Some were new faces for me, some were old friends, some were friends who I didn’t know that well. And it is becoming a group that is so much more than a once a week catch up. Special connections and doing life together. Because being a mum is not easy, especially when living away from family, but having a mummy village does make it a little bit (a lot) more lovely. Mums need each other, for the first year, and well beyond.
It’s overwhelming how much has changed in the last year. I wish I didn’t have to say goodbye to this year – the first year of my daughter’s life. I’m not even sure I’m ready for the next one. But we cannot pause time, so instead I’m approaching the next year with the same excitement my daughter is – running head first into it with lots of laughter. Incredibly grateful for life and making fun wherever we are. Happy birthday beautiful one.