Dear One-Year-Old Isaac,
Part of me feels like I can’t honestly type this letter until tomorrow when you know, you’re actually one – but whatever, I’ll count your 364 days as enough to write you now. I’ve really struggled to let you grow up (which I realize sounds ridiculous considering I have very little say in the matter) and watch you become less and less baby. What I want to say to you is a million things with one common thread – I just adore and could not love you more. So here goes nothing at cramming that sentiment into every last word of this letter and to not ugly cry as I do.
With that security, I want to say, I still can’t believe I birthed a baby boy this time last year. It wasn’t that I was surprised, but as far as my own plans, you were supposed to be the sister I didn’t grow up with to Marin – and you weren’t. Only in the last couple weeks have I come to realize that I still struggle with that disappointment deep down. It has nothing to do with you, but the expectation that I’d have all girls or all boys – and instead, I had what a lot of people desire – one of each. I’d see how much your sister loved you, and feel silly, but I longed for the clothes sharing, or the future coffee dates, the secrets that ‘my girls’ would share or whatever it is two sisters close in age do together. It was a lifelong longing that quickly passed in a flash as your Daddy and Catherine placed you on my chest and the excitement of a fresh beginning came over me.
Then came the postpartum infection from hell, and I genuinely thought you could be my last (biological) baby. I sobbed going to the doctor’s office like they were wheeling me into my hysterectomy and a part of me clung to you so deeply at that time that I felt like I loved you with all the love I had for those future babies my heart still craved. I bonded with you so deeply those days, and I didn’t let you leave my chest – which for your purposes was like a cozy incubator from my fever. Even now, I can imagine just keeping you there, not wanting to disturb you as tears trickled down my cheeks and onto the top of your head. I felt robbed that I did ‘everything right’ by resting well this time, and still, there was something that wasn’t allowing me to focus solely on the euphoria of my new baby.
Kuncle didn’t understand why I became so protective of you – I was not like this with Marin. But you were now ‘my boy’ and ‘Daddy’s “Buddy’. We dreamed new dreams of life with a little boy, and somehow you seemed like the most obvious addition to our growing family. I constantly fended off your sister’s unwavering attention to you, nursed you while you slept in my arms and I did crafts with your sister, and tried to survive what was arguably the worst winter New England’s ever had. Car trips, especially for Well-care visits, made me feel like a combination of Superwoman and a deranged lunatic. The first time I walked you both to the park, I was back home in about 5 minutes – it felt like the winter of uphill battles and making no grounds.
Despite all of that, I loved you as a baby. In some ways, I feel guilty that your first year was encircled by a long string of chaotic or stressful events in and around our family that really had very little to do with you as a baby. Somehow everything you did was cute – even the aggravating bits. When you’d wake up constantly, I’d get frustrated until I laid beside you to nurse and see you smiling at me from ear-to-ear. A lot of me felt compelled to enjoy those endearing, flirty glances with a 2-year-old that did not see me as flawlessly, a home that often felt cramped and messy, and the fact that I fully expected you to grow up and forget about me.
I think that was the other aspect of your boyhood that plagued me – how long would you want to stay in my arms and nuzzle so peacefully? Well, I can tell you, not very. I used to think that Marin wasn’t a cuddly baby, and then you came, and I realized how cuddly she was. As soon as you could mobilize yourself, to at least smack or bite me, you pretty much have. Some of me recognizes this as self-defense and coping strategies from being the second child, but the other mourned that I was leaving you to wander by yourself more than reading books with you upon my lap (which to date, you have zero patience for). You did your own thing – which sounds nice – but that also meant you got into stuff. For the first time ever, we ‘childproofed’ our home – I put up all the chemicals and medications that you could get into up, began to recognize the sound of hands splashing in a toilet bowl and the thud of the back of your head hitting our wood floors. Honestly, you’re making us look like a pair of negligent amateurs, but you’re our first kid to play with Tupperware, climb up a trampoline, and cruise on every piece of furniture in the living room relentlessly.
The biggest scare this year didn’t come from a trip to your favorite water table, but seemingly out of nowhere – just like the tooth that caused it. After a warm bath and a noticeable fever, I put you down early and noticed you were breathing heavier than normal. While skimming my emails, I heard a strange sound and walked into our room where I greeted your convulsing body. I never got to finish writing you about it, but Isaac, for about .5 seconds I thought that I was going to lose you. Panic filled as I held you and my phone frantically deciding between calling Daddy and 911. In the ambulance, as I prayed over you and evaluated your glossed-over face and expression, I held your hand and for the first time, you didn’t squeeze mine back. Until that point, the sheer responsibility for you helped me maintain my composure, but I finally broke down and cried wondering if you would ever squeeze my hand again. The whole night felt like a bad dream, but thankfully, after running every test that Children’s had to give you, we were home with a febrile seizure diagnosis and a belief that you were going to be just fine.
The whole experience didn’t phase you, but it felt like an addition to the long list of weird stressful events that bonded me closer to you this year. Even still, on the days that I can literally plop you on the ground and let you roam free for the most part, you come back to me. At bedtime, you insist on curling up as close to me as possible, with a loving butt pat and kisses on the back of your head to fall asleep. Your toes, no longer in your Merlin Sleepsuit, but contained in a Sleepsack, still find their way curled up on my legs. While during the day, you typically live your own life, except to eat or be rescued, at bedtime, you mince no feelings about wanting to be close and cuddly. In some ways, I imagine you as this hard exterior with a soft, cuddly bear inside – so it’s no surprise you’ve acquired the nicknames “Isaac the Brut”, “Brutus”, and “Bruiser” (pronounced “Bruisy” by MK) from me these last couple months in addition to “my Dougie”,“my Sweet, Sweet Boy”, and the newest addition, “Bubs(y)”.
All in all, your personality and dual nature, contains still a tremendous amount of mystery. It reminds me of the wonder that filled our home this time last year, as we decorated our tree and imagined when you’d arrive and who you’d be. As we round the corner of your first year, we are just scratching the surface of who you are and who you will be in the months and years ahead. We are so excited to learn and love you more deeply, intimately, and fiercely than ever before – starting with trimming your bangs and dressing you in sweater-vests till Christmas. I’ll be enjoying that comb-over as long as you don’t care about being cool. You can’t say I didn’t warn you.
I love you my baby boy. Thanks for being much of my joy and laughter this last year.