Tomorrow, she turns one.
There are moments I will always miss and cherish, like those moldable cuddles where her little body melted into mine and I could not tell where I ended and she began. I will cherish the first night in the hospital, my body exhausted and traumatized and yet unmatched by the ferocity of tender joy in my heart forcing me to stay awake, because if I closed my eyes, I could not see her. If I put her down, our skin would not be touching, I must feel her breathing, I must memorize her sweet skin.
I will cherish the moments where our days were full of cuddles and coos and feedings and not much else. The first year had at least a dozen moments when I could not think to do anything but let the overflow from my heart come out as salty streams down my cheeks, over my smile, onto my girl. I will always cherish and miss her newness, but I am not sad.
There are now new moments to cherish, like the moment where I can distinctly tell where she ends and I begin, because she is squirming and large and her very own person. We still cuddle and kiss, but now she can kiss back, glorious kisses with teeth and tongue and lips. I now cherish the morning moments when I see her sweet face and bed head peeking through the crib rails as her strawberry lips unveil that toothy smile and her plush arms reach out for me. For me.
I cherish the moments where she discovers new things in her world, her giggles, her smiles, her fake cough and fake cry, her love for black beans and broccoli and scrambled eggs. The moments where she tries to do what I am doing, slinging my purse over her arm, with a pen in one hand in a paper in the other, immensely proud of her adultness.
I am not sad, because I have a beautiful, vibrant, goofy and wonderful little girl. I do not feel like a missed a moment of her first year, I was fully present, even through the days where I felt an other-worldly exhaustion, it was never fuzzy.
This year has been large and calm and magnificent and by far, the best year of my life. Best because it has stretched me where I needed stretching, humbled me where I needed humbling and spoke to me in the deeps crags of my soul, places I was afraid to go, but found out that those crags were actually cool, calm caves. This year has held some of the slowest, longest days of my life, but in those days I have been forced to slow down, to recognize the blessings that surrounded me. In those caves, I found refreshment and healing and purpose.
If it were not for holding my precious newborn, I maybe would not have rediscovered my “cause”—my desire to see a world where every baby had a chance at life, with parents who would love and nurture them. I remember holding Audrey when she was days old, releasing fresh falls of tears over her tiny and perfect body, wondering how anyone could ever end a life so innocent, so precious, so worthy. A fire that had become embers was relit in a way I have never felt: all fury and drive and love and clarity burning and raging and growing, and it is still growing. If you get close enough to me, you will hear its crackles and feel its warmth.
I feel like so many people get nostalgic and grieve over their babe’s first birthday, at the end of the baby chapter. But you know what? I love this next chapter, even with its stained and ripped-out and half-eaten pages. It is my favorite chapter yet. The first chapter is full of poetry and gentle words and yawns and deep, heart wrenching love. The next chapter? Well, it has lots of big, vibrant pictures and loud words and bold moves and first steps. It demands all of me, it is rough and real and wonderful.
It’s title? Hugs, On Purpose.