Today you are one. Ten o’ clock tonight I’ll be sitting in the livingroom, thinking about how you shot out into the world, right there in front of the TV, into a pool of slightly too cold water. Without even looking at you properly, I pulled you to my chest and knew that love could be instantaneous.
If you’re reading this years later, you totally know I’ll be crying on that sofa tonight, right? In fact, you’ve probably guessed I’m getting all teary-eyed over the keyboard right now.
You are the happiest baby I have ever met. I can’t remember when you first smiled (and I’m sorry, I don’t even know if it’s written in your baby book – you are a second child, after all) but you are so generous with your smiles.
Even when you are tired, ill or a bit out of sorts, you are likely to return a smile. That transatlantic flight we took to Trinidad when you were six months old was a marathon of rocking and nursing you but you still smiled at any stranger who looked your way.
You smile at Talitha when she’s having a grumpy moment and she usually tells you that it’s not funny. But you soon win her around and then you two are laughing.
That joint laughter could break my heart with its beauty. I try to lock it in. I forget a lot of things. Talitha’s already figured this out. I don’t want to forget the important things, like the sound of your baby laugh next to her big girl laugh.
It’s not been an easy year. You’ve been attached to my body in some form or other for most of it. You have clung to me in a way your sister did not. I’ve struggled to get to grips with Talitha’s changing needs alongside yours. My resources and your father’s have poured out in unexpected directions.
You’ve only recently started spending part of the evening in your bed. We have not had the resolve to repeatedly resettle you as we did with Talitha so you’ve spent your nights being passed from parent to parent. We both feel utterly bonded with you. But it’s also nice that sleep is changing.
Speaking of change, you are going through so much of it now. Yesterday you took your first five steps. The day before I walked into the other room for a couple of moments and heard you crying upstairs. How you got up those stairs so quickly, I have no idea. I didn’t even know you could climb stairs. I am going to film you bum shuffling today because I have a feeling you won’t be doing it for much longer.
You literally seem to learn something new every day. You’ve started scribbling on paper, putting a hat on your head, eating accurately with a spoon, emptying cupboards and posting stuff everywhere. Thanks for hiding things in our boots, by the way.
You tell the cats “Meow” and light up when you see them. You pull my pyjama bottoms down shouting “Mah-mah-mah-mah”. You say something that sounds awfully like “Hello” when you’re pretending something is a phone. Your Daddy says you say “Daddy” but I don’t know. Let’s say you do, OK?
There is a sound you make when Talitha comes into our bed in the morning, a sound that you reserve only for her but I can’t even think of how to write it right now (see, I’m forgetting already!). She rushes in to see you. You are the first person she wants to see.
The two of you start the day with play. It amazes me that you can already play – though I’d actually rather you waited until you were both out of the bed as it kind of translates into the-most-annoying-way-to-wake-Mummy-up.
The only words your sister uses more than “Mummy” every day are “Ophelia” and “Effie”, your nickname. Talitha’s started correcting me when I call you Effie, though, so I’m not sure whether I’ll still be calling you that by the time you read this.
You may not have had as many photographs or as much undivided attention as your big sister did in her first year – why am I even saying maybe? Of course you didn’t. But you’ve had parents who were calmer and more certain. Even if we did have way too many conversations about vasectomies this year.
You may be my last baby. I don’t know. I have drunk in your babyhood as if you were. Before I start blubbing again, Happy Birthday.