Last year, on October 25th, we were shopping with my Mom for some last minute items for our baby. I hadn't yet purchased the outfit I wanted to carry her home in, and so we were wandering the mall looking for something suitable. As we wandered, I started feeling significant cramping and started watching the clock. Although still relatively calm, the contractions were coming at approximately 10-15 minute intervals for about an hour, then quickly changed to being about 5 minutes or less apart, and lasting at least 30 seconds. I could walk through them, but it was more comfortable to stop walking or talking and wait until they passed. Since I had to be induced with Clara, I wanted to be sure that I gave this baby - and this labour - as much time as possible to progress.
As it turned out, I still needed to be induced, which is its own story, but the next morning - just before 10am - Audrey Grace Rayne was born. If you feel like reading the whole story, here is Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
Last Saturday marked the anniversary of my baby girl's birthday. She is now a '1 year old'. It's more than a little bit sad for me to know that I will probably never again experience all of the joys and strains of raising a newborn to this point in life. Audrey was - more than likely - our last baby, and I'll miss that.
Dear Audrey, on your First Birthday:
I don't think I really understood how different one baby could be from another until I got to know you. You are so much different in temperament than your sister - maybe to make sure we notice you! For the first few months of your life, you could really only be described as the 'perfect' baby. You rarely cried, and only if you REALLY needed something - you would wait quite awhile if you were hungry before demanding anything - which, as a Mom who was new to juggling more than one child, I appreciated more than you could have known. As I struggled to figure out how to parent an increasingly challenging toddler while now parenting a newborn simultaneously - you became the baby that I needed you to be.
Maybe it's because you are my second child, but I've loved how much more relaxed I feel with you. And you respond in kind, because you are so relaxed as well. You love each member of your family - you adore your sister, and follow her around everywhere. You love your Daddy to the moon and back, and get hyper excited when he comes home from work each day. I think I have a bit of a special place in your heart still, though, and although sometimes it's irritating to be so needed - I love it at the same time. You follow me around the house sometimes, and every once in awhile, I feel a small little tug at my pant leg - requesting to be picked up.
You are CUDDLY also, and I love that. At your birthday, you were given a toy doll from Clara, and the first thing you did was to pick it up and snuggle it close to your face. After being picked up by just about anyone, you will first lay your head on that person's shoulder and snuggle for a moment before lifting your head and looking around. Yesterday, I sprawled on the living room floor and you crawled up to me and over me, stopping to hug me repeatedly and to give me very sloppy, drooly kisses.
There are so many things I still can't check off of your list of 'Can do's' - still no teeth, no walking, no words - but I get the impression from you that you have a very active brain inside that giant head of yours, and I know that your physical inabilities now will never slow you down in the future. You are an explorer - you will crawl into, onto and over anything in your path and will fight with determination to overcome something that may not seem easy or even possible at first. You have definitely had your share of bumps on the head, but I think that also will not slow you down.
We made it to one year of breastfeeding, and I think it is just about time to stop entirely. We're down to once or twice each morning, but that is all. There is so much I love about breastfeeding, but there are things I don't like also, and you - at this point - much prefer a bottle. You drink a ton - I have been giving you lots of milk, and water, and you guzzle everything down in lightning speed. I hope I don't forget to keep you hydrated, because it's clear that you intend to drink a lot! You will eat just about everything, if we market it carefully to you, although you are a sucker for 'something better', and will turn down what you are offered if you think there is even a chance of something you would prefer. Just today I had left a small package of snack crackers on the kitchen table while trying to feed you lunch, and it took me a moment to realize that your grabbing at the table and refusing your food was in hopes of some crackers rather. After I moved them, you ate much better.
Today was the first day I actively disciplined you. I have, on occasion, tried to use a stern voice when saying 'no', to indicate that something you have done is not something that makes me happy. Typically you giggle at this, and continue doing what you were doing. Today, however, I couldn't let you do this. You had discovered our carbon monoxide detector, which lets off an extremely high pitched squeal when the buttons are pushed, and you made it angry. The first time Clara did this, she required no further correction because it scared her enough that she never again wanted to touch it. You were a different story - I saw the look of intrigue in your eye, and I looked you in the eye and said 'No'. Then I put you down to see what you would do. You smiled and went straight for the detector again. Just as your little hand reached out to push the button, I gave you a small slap (enough to mean business) and said 'No' again. You were quite offended by this - your face slowly turned into a scowl and you began to cry. Then you immediately started crawling onto me - pleading to be comforted. I gave you a hug and realized that this particular battle was perhaps beyond you and your inquisitive ways, and instead of attempting the practice again, I moved the detector.
You are still a baby - and you have quite awhile to remain a 'baby' in my eyes. But you are no longer an infant. You will soon be a toddler. And instead of telling people that I have a baby and a two year old, I will have to say that I have 'two little girls' - aged 1 and almost 3. And the older you get - the more that you and Clara are interested in and enjoy some of the same things - the more fun we have together. I'm looking forward to what the next year brings.
Now - I hear you fussing in your room, 2 hours after bedtime. You still are not a very good sleeper, and I will go and re 'plug' your 'gummy' and hope you fall back to sleep.
Goodnight, Audrey. And Happy Belated Birthday.