What A Difference A Year Makes

by Alison Friedman in Mommy's Musings

We are on the heels of Madelyn’s first birthday which is this Thursday, August 9th. People keep reminding me that she’s about to turn one, commenting how big she is and how fast the year went. None of this is news to me. She is big now and I swear I blinked and it’s already August again.

I’ve been pretty emotional as we approach her birthday and it’s not because I don’t want Madelyn to get older; I’m excited for toddler-hood and know we’re in for a treat of many laughs and fun times. I just know that if this year zoomed by, then I know all the years after will, too.

I worry. What if I didn’t appreciate X? What if I didn’t spend enough time doing Y? What if I missed out on Z? I don’t want to have any regrets, especially about Madelyn’s first year. I have no control over time and can’t press the pause button. The clock is going to strike 12 on August 9th and just like that, Madelyn will be one. One year down in the books. Next!

The one-year mark is not just about Madelyn getting older. Now that I am a mother, I feel as though birthdays should celebrate the children who were born, and also the mothers who brought them into the world. To think about what I went through, what I felt, what I experienced a short 12 months ago and how I ended up 12 months later is remarkable.

The Alison of August 2011 had no idea what life would be like today. A year ago at this time, I didn’t even know when I’d be having a baby. All I knew is that I was past my due date and twiddling my thumbs. There had been talk of a possible induction, but it wouldn’t be until the day before Madelyn’s eventual birthday that the induction would actually be scheduled. A year ago at this time, I was so swollen, I could hear my feet go squinch-squinch as I walked. My chins were aiming in vertical and horizontal directions. I was peeing every 45 minutes and only making a drip-drop each time. I was frightened about birth and pushing out a baby. The Alison of then had no idea she’d never even get to push.

The Alison of then had no idea that after she brought home her baby, she’d go through 11 weeks of pure hell, recovering from an extremely painful and serious infection at her incision site. The Alison of then was intending to breastfeed for a year, never even considering she’d last only 10 days. The Alison of then didn’t expect the overwhelming strong support and love that would come pouring out of family and friends after the baby would be born, and she had no clue how she could possibly re-fall in love with her husband and fall madly in awe of a new little person. The Alison of a year ago assumed a few months of hard work would bring her body back to normal and was unaware of the unfortunate combination of gravity and pregnancy.

I tell the Alison of 2011, “Oh, Alison of 2011, only a year ago, you are a completely different person than the Alison of 2012. A year changed your priorities and passions and it was the best year to ever happen.”

So I guess I’m not sad about the year quickly passing. I’m not happy about it either. I’m just… fascinated. In awe. I am still adjusting and figuring it out and recovering in my own way. But the timer is about to go “ding!” on the year and I’m not sure I’m ready to turn off the oven and start preparing a new year. I like this year. I went through a lot, some shitty things happened, mostly amazing things happened, and I don’t think I’m really on board to move on and start over. To file this year away seems rude.

I’ve tried to explain this to various friends and family members and I’m not sure it made sense then, and I am pretty sure it still doesn’t make sense now. I am a sentimental fool and the symbol of a birthday — of turning a year older — makes me realize that the past is no longer of importance and our eyes must be aimed toward the future and what comes next. But the thing is, some of the most important things happened in the past 363 days and I don’t want them to become distant memories.

And this is why I write.

  1. Sarah
    8/8/2012 8:36 PM

    that last picture of all your family and closest friends on the other side of the window makes me so happy every single time I see it!!! I’ll have to remember to get a picture like this when I get a little baby!!!