Shea’s first birthday

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I’d better write about this before it’s 2009. There are so many blog posts that I start and put in my Draft folder and then never get around to finishing.

Some women in my moms group said their baby’s turning one was an emotional experience for them—one that brought back exciting and painful memories of the birth and anxiety that their son/daughter was now no longer a baby. I didn’t have this reaction. What WAS hard for me was giving up breast feeding, which I did a couple of weeks before Shea’s first birthday. I wanted to nurse him until he was at least one (preferably 15 months or longer), but I wasn’t disciplined enough about pumping (it’s hard to keep that up for an entire year) and had run out of milk by 11 1/2 months. I fought it for a couple of weeks, taking Mother’s Milk Plus drops and pumping more often, but I’d get just an ounce or two and Shea drinks eight, so it seemed pointless. About a week before he turned one, I stopped completely, and once I was resigned to that, I was fine with it. He’s moved on to sippy cups now anyway.

The birthday party itself was a lot of fun. We had it the day after his birthday and had about 55 guests—11 of whom were kids and babies—which is more than we ever have at our wine tasting party (good thing, or we’d have a lot of drunk kids). We had two beautiful cakes courtesy of Shea’s grandma and tons of food and balloons. I debated about whether to have Shea open his presents while everyone was here, but it was too hectic, so we let him open some that night and the rest over the next couple of days before we left for Christmas in Michigan. We now desperately need a toy chest because our living room looks like a toy store.

Most people didn’t see this, but we did sit Shea down on the rug and surround him with items of various professions for his first birthday. I put this together last minute, and couldn’t think clearly about what items to lay down, so I put: a thermometer (medical profession), a toothbrush (dentist), a comb (hey, this is the Bay Area), a pen (writer/academic), a calculator (accounting/business), a spatula (chef) and Martin’s iPhone to represent a computer scientist. Shea went straight for the toothbrush, which was predictable because he LOVES his toothbrush and because it’s bright green. Next time I’ll put a bright green pen and add some money to the mix.

We were very happy to have our good friends—Martin’s family, Ani and Aditi, Claire and John, Julia and Tim, Jon and Helen, Glen and Kari, Betsy and Steve, Amy, Whitney, Molly, Elizabeth, etc. and many we haven’t seen in a while—Joachim and his family, Erika and hers, Neal and Val, Kit, etc. etc.

Shea still isn’t walking, although he did take seven steps again in the hotel bathroom near Universal Studios. He’s very close, but seems too content with crawling to give it much effort. I’m in no hurry. They say it’s that much harder to keep up with them once they’re walking, and Shea is already into EVERYTHING.

Everyone says the time passes so quickly, and I guess it does, but I also feel like we made the best of Shea’s first year. Some things Shea got to do/see:

MOMA
The European bookstore in SF
Little Farm several times
Steam Trains several times
Our local park 2-3 times/week
Tilden and other parks
Many walks through the cemetery
Many trips to the Russian River
Two trips to Michigan to see my family
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Universal Studios
Oakland Zoo
Detroit Zoo
Henry Ford Museum in Detroit
Weekly swimming classes
Weekly Music Together classes
Trips to Grandma’s and Aunt Kasia’s
Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek
Fireworks show in Michigan
Camping trip with moms group
Dickens Christmas Fair
Piedmont Avenue Halloween Parade and Pumpkin Patch

As far as his development, he’s learned to play ball, stack wooden rings on a stick, put things in boxes and take them back out, walk a few steps, cruise all over the house with and without his walker, say, “mama,” “dada,” “Ba bye,” “Ba” (ball), “Uh oh,” “nan” (banana), sign “more” and “milk,” clap his hands and point at things he wants. He loves to play peek-a-boo and run away when you chase him. He loves cats and dogs and music and jumping and playing in the sand and sticking small objects through the cat door. Recently he’s begun imitating more—copying gestures and sounds as you do them. In Michigan I learned, “How big’s the baby? Sooo big” (Did that come from Pat the Bunny?) and it’s hilarious to watch him imitate me, holding his hands in the air and saying, “Daaaa da” with the same intonation.

People say once you have a kid you stop buying things for yourself and only buy for them. That’s been largely true. I do go to H&M now and then and buy clothes, but for the most part, it’s all about Shea. I’ve also noticed that selflessness breeds selflessness. I find that I spend SO much time taking care of Shea that it feels more natural to spend time cooking and doing things for others than it did before—it’s like I have this fountain of energy and good will—and yet it’s not boundless. I do get exhausted and retreat to my bed to sleep or read, sometimes in the middle of the day.

More often, though, I’m in this state of go-go-go where, when I do have a break, I just keep going—cleaning the basement, sorting out files, running errands, cooking meals for Shea, etc. I feel depressed far less often than I did before I was pregnant and I feel in need of exercise (to fight depression) less often, too, which has resulted in my climbing three times in the past year and a half (and yet I did start running in November). I miss climbing sometimes, but not enough to sacrifice other things for it—my reading, my writing or spending time with Shea. He’s SO much fun to play with, more fun every day, and I’m looking forward to year two as he transitions into toddler hood.

It’s hard to believe that a year ago I was afraid to take him in the car alone, afraid I wouldn’t be able to get the stroller open or the car seat out of the car or be able to nurse him or change his diaper in public. Those first few months were like a crash course in parenthood, but eventually we settled in and started enjoying the ride.

Birthday pix are here

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