First Birthday Denial

In just a few days, I’ll have a one year-old. For many reasons, that just does not seem real to me at all. This post will likely sound like a therapy session starting in a few moments one sentence ago, but I feel like I need to write it anyway.

First of all, the fact that she came early lingers as a tender wound in my heart. She was due toward the end of July, and she came June 20th. I still have to work hard to wrap my mind around her birthday being in June and her being a Gemini. I have absolutely no negative feelings about June or Geminis…it’s just not what I expected. I’ve learned that expectations around birth, parenting, and children are big, heavy things, and re-aligning them (even to equally lovely realities) can be really hard work. I don’t know why that is, but it’s true for me, at least.

I also feel a lot of guilt around her prematurity. I don’t know that there was anything I could have done to prevent it (my water broke spontaneously in the middle of the night after a completely healthy and uneventful pregnancy), but I still blame myself for all of the challenges she has faced after starting life outside the womb five weeks early.

The fact that she is TINY and still appears to be anywhere from 4-9 months old makes it harder to think of her as one. Twelve months. No longer a baby. At 15 pounds, we’re getting SO CLOSE to being on the growth chart (yay!), but when I see other 12 month-olds, I’m blown away by how bulky and sturdy they seem! She’s tall, her head is great, but she’s just a diminutive person.

Developmentally, she’s ahead with some things (she’s very smart, uses her pointer fingers and pincer grasp like a three year-old, communicates very well, and toilets like a pro), but she has gotten very delayed in gross motor skills, which makes her seem younger in a lot of ways. When I say “She’s almost one” to people when my daughter is not present, they respond “Oh, is she walking??” I cringe a little inside. She’s not walking. She’s standing while holding things all the time, but I know that she is months away from having the coordination to walk independently. She doesn’t crawl, and it’s not looking like she will (we have PT for this), and she’s able to roll but doesn’t really care to.

I should also mention the general denial most (all?) parents feel about their children aging – where did the time go? How are they already this old? Am I doing enough? Am I savoring enough? How can I get time to slow down?

So my denial is manifesting in a few ways. First of all, I don’t even think about where we were a year ago (getting excited to become parents, preparing for a baby shower that never happened, celebrating Father’s Day with my dad). Second of all, I don’t spend much time re-living the labor and first hours of her life. In fact, I completely forgot that we were sitting in the NICU for fourth of July fireworks last year, and this year in my mind I thought “This will be fun – her first fourth of July!”

My denial is also manifesting in the fact that we’re not planning a party. This is partly because I am philosophically opposed to huge birthday bashes for babies who don’t even understand what is happening. It’s also due to the fact that we have family in town this weekend and we’re traveling next weekend, so a party didn’t really fit into the schedule. Lastly, we don’t want any more stuff coming into our house, and parties equal gifts. But I would be lying if I said that my denial about reaching this milestone didn’t play a part in me ignoring how quickly this date has been approaching and not planning accordingly. Side note: we WILL celebrate her with our families when the schedules open up a little bit in mid-July, which will be close to her actual due date. Maybe that’s an unhealthy reinforcement of my expectations that didn’t materialize. (eye roll)

I don’t want this to sound too complain-y. I am SO, SO grateful for the last year. It has been a roller coaster, but it’s been great in so many ways. I will definitely write a positive and cheery “Yay for the first year” post within the next week – I just need to get some of this out of the way first. Also, I absolutely love my pip squeak, exactly as she is. I never anticipated having a somewhat frightening, early, and traumatic delivery, a tiny child with developmental delays, or a Gemini in our house, but I would not change her for a million bucks.

In conclusion, here are cute photos to reward you for reading my cathartic post about emotional birth and parenting baggage. Kisses!

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Chocolate “ice cream” face.

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6 responses

  1. Keep in mind that a lot of the stuff that is associated generally with a certain age isn’t true even for full term babies – walking at one is among them! The “normal” range extends to 18 months, and even then it wouldn’t be a delay until 2!
    I think the feels about year one are real no matter what! You get to feel them! It’s a milestone for you as a parent as well. I was SO tender right before A’s first birthday – I think it’s inevitable!
    She’s a doll and you’re doing a great job!

  2. Cute!! Omg that hat. 1 year is a daunting milestone. I think there are a lot of expectations that start coming at you when you have a 1 year old – toddler expectations. But as Andie said, there’s LOTS of time to meet those gross motor milestones.

    • For sure – I’m sure she’ll walk sometime. Just another way to find some momma guilt…is she not walking because I didn’t do something perfectly?? πŸ™‚

  3. I know quite a few kids that didn’t walk until around 16 months – there is such a huge window of ‘normal’ for baby milestones, especially walking. My daughter didn’t crawl (until well after she walked) and I definitely worried a bit about that – in retrospect, I wish I had trusted my gut instead of worrying about what she ‘should’ be doing. But in retrospect, I generally wish I had worried less 😊
    Happy almost-birthday to your little one!

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