My youngest child, Norah, turned a year old today. The cliché of how it doesn’t seem plausible isn’t so cliché now. I blinked somewhere in October and now we’re here.
A first birthday has always been bittersweet for me with my girls. It’s an acknowledgement that as parents, we were okay enough to navigate through the year of their lives in which they’re the most vulnerable. For the child—it’s an “I can’t believe I survived with those idiots as my parents” celebration. It’s also saying farewell to babyhood. Bottles, sleepless nights (unless you have my zombie children), onesies, baths in little tubs shaped like whales, counting ages by months vs. years, giant diaper bags; it’s all quickly behind you while the joys (note the sarcasm there) and trials of life as a toddler loom ahead.
With Norah, this melancholy that is a first birthday is enhanced. She’s my last baby. I chose to have a tubal ligation after her birth due to pregnancies racked with medical issues and the realization that financially, we couldn’t support another (or Norah, for that matter). I knew as soon as I was pregnant with her that she was it. I never flinched or hesitated the million times my OB/GYN asked me during prenatal appointments if I was sure. Uh, of course I was sure—go look at my house with its flooring of smashed up Cheerios, piles waist deep of dirty laundry and children whose lack of hygiene rival the kids on TV you can sponsor for $9.95 a month. I certainly had NO business having another baby. Nor did I want one.
The finality of it all was what I failed to realize a year ago. It cannot biologically happen again. The chapter of our lives that involved weekly trips to hear heartbeats, picking out coming home outfits and first pictures, oohing and awing over tiny feet and hands—it’s a thing of the past. I don’t want another baby, what I do wish is that I had decided against the tubal because I liked having the option. Without options, you must accept reality and push ahead. My reality is that I’m be thrust forward towards sleepovers, sports practice, after school activities and dances.
However, this time, I refuse to blink.