My sweetest little Nolie turns one today.
Round about this time last year, I was chugging a castor oil milkshake, trying to eject her from my body. I still have a corporeal memory of her head ramming against the floor of my pelvis, and of what felt like her scritchy-scratchy fingernails clawing large chunks out of my uterine wall (I know this isn't possible, but it's what it felt like). This combined with three days of serious pre-labor, so serious that our bags were packed and we were about to head to the car each time, which is exactly when the labor stopped. The doctor wanted to schedule an induction, which terrified me, so I got desperate, drank the castor oil, risky as it might have been, and twelve or so hours later, she was out. Out in a giant whoosh of primal screaming and pushing, an honest-to-god out-of-body experience for both of us.
I was sick for a long time after, mostly because of the hemorrhaging caused by her birth, and then from being anemic and exhausted for weeks afterward. I still have this sad, dark feeling about that period, and remember having mixed feelings about the birth, about how hard it had been to labor naturally, how tired I was, how skinny and frail she seemed. In my narrative of her newborn-ness, it wasn't until I gave up breastfeeding and put her on soy formula at four months--at which point she began to sleep through the night--that things improved, that I was able to somehow truly see her, to feel wildly in love with her. Before then I think I felt mostly resentment, fatigue, and worry.
But I'm not sure of the truth of that narrative, now. It's cloudy and far away, and all I can see at the moment is the sweetness of my Nolie, her easy smile and deep old-man laugh, the way she lunges at you for hugs and big, open-mouthed fish kisses, or how she nestles her head into my shoulder when she's sleepy. When she was born, everyone said they thought she was an "old soul." I think sometimes people say this about newborns that are shriveled and hairy because they look like old men, their eyes scrinchy and dark. But maybe it's true about this Nolie, who is easy and detached, sure of her own self at one year old. I just know that I feel she is amazing and special when I'm with her, and I'm excited for her to begin talking, so we can find out more about who she is.
We're having a combination birthday/anniversary party next week, so we didn't do much to celebrate her actual birthday. But I did buy a big piece of cake and stick a candle in it, thinking that we could at least enjoy watching her tuck into it and make a total mess. Eric got out the video camera and we all sang "Happy Birthday." I blew the candle out, not wanting her to burn herself, and put the cake in front of her.
"Oh, no! The tape wasn't on!" said Eric.
"Let's do it again," I said, wanting Nolie to be able to watch this someday, to know we acknowledged her first birthday.
Back go the cake and the candle. Relight. Except this time? I somehow didn't blow the candle out in time, and Nolie grabbed it and singed the crap out of her thumb and forefinger. On tape, I'm sure I look confused, like, "What the hell just happened?" and Nolie is screaming her head off, pushing the evil, biting cake away.
Nolie's fingers are fine today--there's not even a mark (unlike the horrible glue gun accident with Addie when she was 18 months). And cake? She never did have any, which is probably fine. She's very picky with the textures she likes, and there's no reason to start loading her up with sugar at this age anyway. But it wasn't the sweet birthday moment I had expected. Happy Birthday, baby! I'm going to burn the crap out of your fingers now! Hip, hip, hooray!
All that aside, I'm so grateful to have her in my life, this little person, and am grateful to celebrate this milestone with her. We love you, Nola Jade.