The baby fusses and whines. She’s half-awake, if that, and hungry. She fusses for me. She wants her mama’s arms, her mama’s milk. Nothing else will do.
I am wide awake as she nurses, painfully aware of the plugged duct I have at the moment. Her delicate eyelids flutter softly and I stare at her tiny features. One whole year. She’ll be one year old in four days and I just can’t believe it.
I think for a moment that I wish I could live this year over again.
What would I do differently, if I could?
Some things, I’m sure. I’d get more sleep, I think. I’d purge half our clothes so I had all that laundry-folding time for snuggles, probably. But would I hold her more, snuggle her more, stare at beautiful sleeping face more?
I’d like to think I could find extra pockets of time in there somewhere… but she is my fourth baby, my last baby. I know three times over how fast the time goes and I practically let my house fall to shambles that first month because I could not have cared any less how the house looked. I read all the stories while my baby slept peacefully on my chest. I wore her in the Moby wrap or sling when I walked around helping her big siblings and I sang to her while I changed her diapers.
I have nursed her, rocked her, bounced her. She surely knows You are My Sunshine by heart, and quite a few others, too. Her first year has been rich with books, snuggles, tummy tickles, conversations that were half-word, half-babble. There were walks, hikes, baths, bubbles.
She’s had a good first year… but still I am sad it’s already over.
She is fast asleep again. My family is all fast asleep and I am wide awake, in too much pain to sleep. They recommend a hot shower or bath to soften up that plugged duct and now, while nobody needs me, is an excellent time to slink down into a hot bath and read a chapter or two of a good book. If only we had hot water.
Instead, I write.
I sit at my table and write. To my right is an evergreen view so intense I almost have to pinch myself. Straight ahead, obscured by the boxes on the table, is the soft glow of the fire. Save for the boxes, this is every writer’s dream. To my left is a perfectly unobscured view of that baby. Striped raccoon pajamas she is the fourth baby to wear. One arm up, one arm down. Her curly hair is wild and her cheeks are round and sweet. To her right is her daddy, his cheek pressed into one pillow and his tattooed bicep curled around another. I crane my neck and dip my head and there they are, my three little musketeers packed into one twin bed together. We had a triple bunk bed already assembled on the day we moved in, three beds they’ve all been so excited about, but they’re all sardined together in one.