A Year in a Baby's Life

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Well, it's happened. There were days that I felt would never end. There were weeks that flew by. But somehow we blinked and our adorable little alien blob has turned into an incredibly active, smiley, chattery, fun little kid. It feels as much of a celebration of Finch as it is for us parents to give ourselves a high five for making it through this last year. And what a year it has been!

Before Finch was born, so many of our worries were centered around the cleft. Of course I had the normal, everyday anxieties about the unknowns of parenthood, but always with that were my worries about the cleft. But then the moment he was born, so many of those cleft worries washed away and became inseparable from those everyday parenting worries and enjoyments. We started to realize that every single parent has their unique challenges (or seemingly unique) and that ours just happened to be one we knew about ahead of time. 

I look at the cleft as a blessing in a lot of ways. Having to mentally prepare for a perceived challenge ahead of time allowed me to let go of some of the anxieties that naturally come with being a modern-day parent...or really a modern-day mom. I had worried so much about what people would think about my kid based on his cleft. But then in the end, I just didn't care what people thought. And likewise, I started to realize I didn't care what people thought about my/our parenting choices either. This is particularly interesting in the modern day mom circles that can feel, well, a bit, judgey. (To be clear, I'm not speaking of the moms I meet and know in person because everyone in my everyday world is a badass that I have something to learn from and I'm really lucky to have a pretty amazing support system of mamas out there). I'm mostly speaking of the social media-generated mom circles where opinions and emotions tend to run high about some parenting decisions. And I've become surprised that those opinions have made less of an impression on me than I thought. I don't know if it's because of the cleft, or that I have a kid that tends to make it easy, but I surprisingly have very few anxieties as a parent. (I should note that I believe this came as a huge surprise to people like my parents, sisters, and husband who have seen my everday anxieties about really stupid shit...seriously, I know that I get worked up about dumb stuff quite often).

That all said, reflecting on our experience after a year in the life of our kiddo, I realize that our cleft journey will in some way always be a part of Finch's journey. We don't know how it's going to affect him in the future. But I know we hope that he will look at his cleft as inseparable from him and maybe even beautiful. We do know he'll have some additional procedures as he gets older. We know that, like every kid, he'll have to go through adolescence (oh man, I don't wish that time period on anyone, but alas, it must be done to grow up). But we know we can speak about the cleft positively and hope he will value it as an essential part of who he is. 

Now here we are, just past the one year mark and it's amazing to see this little guy turning into a kid. I, quite frankly, think he's amazing. He has his moments (it's not my favorite thing having a baby whining at my to pick him up while I try to get food on the table). But that's part of the journey. 

The kid is mostly smiling, even in those stormy/fussy periods, his MO is smiling. His laughs are contagious and the child looooooooves dogs. In fact, he thinks most non-human animals are dogs. He's chatty and always showing us the the things he plays with ("This!" he says as he holds the toy up to us). He loves to climb despite not able to walk yet. In fact, one day, Cory was working on one side of the kitchen island when he looked up and saw the blond top of Finch's head peaking up on the other side (I had turned away for a moment). The child had climbed up on a cardboard box we had there. That, luckily, did not result in an incident, but we have already had some blood. He's not terribly cautious. Our little risk-take doesn't make sure he can do something before he does it. Before he started taking steps, he'd stand there and just do a forward-facing trust fall of sorts into my arms. Now, though, since he's taken some steps (first ones were a couple weeks ago), his falls are a little less treacherous. But we anticipate stitches with this one. We expect he'll be on his way to walking shortly and he's apparently ahead of the game on the talking front. So just like that, we have a pre-toddling toddler and we can't wait to see what is to come.

A Year in Review

With the completion of a year of life, it also offers a reflection of the past year. Because I was moving the blog content over to the new site, I had the opportunity to go back through Finch's journey this year. And like any mom, I got teary and wistful at all those moments. One of the beautiful things about parenting is the amnesia one develops for the difficult parts of that parenting journey. There were the normal sleepless nights, but there were so many fun adventures along the way and it's so amazing to see Finch's crazy wide smile from the very(ish) beginning. 

So, to mark this journey that we've all achieved, I thought I'd post one photo from each month of Finch's first year. There's nothing like a year encapsulated in a few images. 

Elizabeth Doerr