We have experienced so much this year and we have more to come than I can even begin to contemplate. In our near future, I know that your first words are very close as are your first steps. Today you are still committed to using everything you can to assist in your walking--toys (especially your dump truck) furniture, my legs, the dogs-- instead of trying to break free and walk. You have mastered the very difficult feat of rising from a seated to a standing position without holding onto anything but as soon as you realize you are holding yourself on your own strength, you quickly sit down. Today you prefer to babble away with bababa, blahblahblah and mmmmm no matter what I might try to encourage you to say. You have always had your own ways and I believe this is how it will always be. Now I wouldn't want to change a thing about you.
Today it is almost impossible for me to conjure the feelings I once experienced when I learned that I was having a son and not a daughter. I never imagined being a mother to a boy which your dad always found irrational since there was always a fifty percent chance that you would be. It was clear on the ultrasound that you were not who I believed you to be and this had a profound impact on me. I suddenly didn't have the imagery for you--the thousands of ideas, emotions, constructs for myself as a mother to a daughter. I asked the universe: how can I be a mother to a son? Me, the daughter who has been looking for a mother, whose whole life has been in pursuit of the mother-daughter bond, whose interests revolve around women's issues? I had no framework for a boy. I felt robbed of my dream and I didn't know how to handle it.
For weeks, I tried to pretend that your rather pronounced appearance on the ultrasound was actually a protruberant vagina and allowed my mind to return to the months when I called you my Mira, but day by day you grew inside me, becoming more and more who you are today. A healthy, lovely, boy. My boy. I learned to stop saying, "I am not having a daughter." and instead declare "I am having a son.", but it was not until we were together that I realized that what we are is meant to be.
Sasha, I never wish that you were a girl or lament what I may not experience without a daughter in my life. My love for you has expanded me. It is you that I love and not some fantasy of what I need in my life. You are my son, the one I was fortunate to birth and feed and tend to each day. And not a day goes by when I don't feel immense gratitude for every breath that you take.
I had so many expectations for our birth experience, our early days, how our life would unfold as motherchild. I'd never held a new baby and I have to say I was nearly stunned by the experience. Even though I felt you coming for hours, and eagerly awaited your arrival, by the time we reached our final contractions and you found yourself wedged under my pubic bone, as much as I wanted to just push and relieve the intense pressure, I was frankly also a bit terrified. I knew how to be your mother with you inside me, contained and safe, what did I know about motherhood? But within minutes there you were in my arms and I kept looking at you and looking at your dad and back at you. And I began to imitate what you were doing, the expressions on your face as if I had completely lost my senses. You broke me wide open.
You can never know what it feels like to be a mother until you are a mother to a child. No matter what I'd heard or seen or read, Sasha, you have taught me to be a mother. I didn't always understand everything this first year as quickly as I wish I had. Perhaps I am a slow learner at times but you have made me who I am. I have grown into the mother that is the mother for you. Especially in those first months, I lived my motherhood too much based on what people said was best for you, or for me, or for my relationship with your dad, but soon I learned to take only your cues--that you were the only book that I needed. Reading you ultimately awakened everything in me.
It is hard to have regrets about something that is so important. I am always focused on what I could have done better or differently and as much as I try to let that go, perhaps some part of that will keep me always striving to do the best I can at all moments. One thing that I do wish for is more photos of those early months to augment my memory. We spent most of our time feeding and I think I was self-conscious of how much of a wreck I was most days. I didn't think to ask for photos of us in the bed together or breastfeeding late at night or just making our way through the hours. Your dad is not the type to document everything, he prefers to just experience things in the moment, but for someone who puts stock in images, I regret not pushing him into action. I'd love video of your early breastfeeding--your snuffling sounds, and the way you held your hand in an okay sign just to the side of your eye.
Your severe reflux definitely lives on in my mind and as does friends' exclaiming My baby never screamed like that when I fed him. Certainly your discomfort and the overwhelming amounts of spit-up kept me home until I gained confidence to feed you even when people looked at me as if I might be torturing you and we were both covered (and I mean covered) in spit-up. Despite all of that, we mastered breastfeeding and gained an intense connection in the process. And your dad did manage to take two night photos of us in your first weeks and though I look exhausted and unshowered, we are skin to skin and you are smaller than my breasts and the moment is just perfect.
But largely your birth, the time in the hospital, and those early weeks were infrequently photographed and will have to live on somewhere in my memory. Looking at you today, they they seem like a lifetime ago. You are not the 5 pound 15 ounce baby I gave birth to. Thankfully once I got my bearings again, the camera was out and I captured your every first--when you began to smile (and you smiled early no matter what the doctors like to say), to prop yourself up, roll over, discover your thumbs and feet, and sit up. I had the camera out so much that you learned to become a bit of a star, always camera ready. Your dad documented the first time you tried solids at 6 1/2 months, and how I had resisted that, wanting to be your only source of nourishment. Once we got the hang of it, breastfeeding was easy, fun, convenient and so much more intimate. All the mess of food--let's just say I wasn't all that excited. But we have it along with many more exceptional and ordinary moments.
How our lives changed when you began to crawl and once you started, you have never stopped. You are too fast. I think you are modeling yourself after the dogs, racing around the house with your blanket in your mouth, the way they carry their toys in theirs'. They will be surprised when you decide you are ready to start walking. I imagine we will be in for many surprises as well. And honestly I can't wait. Every day you bring me a joy I've never known before. You are a problem solver and you love to make things happen. All I can say is Bring it on. This is the best time of my life.
Even though everyone says that you look exactly like your dad, I see myself in you as well. We both love to sleep late. We crave long baths with lavender and chamomile and massages with the same. We are fussy eaters with tender stomachs. We adore your dad. We have a bit of a sweet tooth. We are crazy for the dogs. We love music and lots of it all of the time. Music calms us and animates us and my taste in music (not your dad's) is something we have shared since your conception. We like to have friends but we are not indiscriminate about those we include in our lives. I think that you are much more open than either myself or your dad around people. And your smile is far cuter. You are beginning to show my love of books. You are sensitive and attunded to what is happening around you and prefer that you are spoken to and touched gently and with compassion. Like your dad, you are focused on all feats of physical strength especially climbing. I can see you up in the trees with him far before I am ready for it. You are stubborn and determined and passionate and far too intelligent and just an all around wonderful guy.
Sasha, while having a son may not have been what I envisioned, it is more than I ever imagined.