Our baby turns one today. Wow! This year has just flown by!
We celebrated Madeleine’s birthday earlier this month with family and a few local friends. We wanted to try to keep the party somewhat small because she becomes over stimulated at large group gatherings making the following days extremely difficult at home. We decided a backyard luau would be relaxed enough to allow her to regulate her nervous system and reduce the chances of over stimulation.
I was so stressed about Maddy’s party. If you can believe it, I think I was more stressed about her first birthday being perfect than I was about our wedding. I barely stressed at all in planning our wedding or on the actual day. I easily let things that didn’t come out just right roll off my back. That was not the case for our luau celebration.
I was super stressed that the luau was going to get rained out. Having started my new job the week before, and having Maddy home with a GI bug and then the flu, we hadn’t had a chance to clean the house. It was a mess. On top of that, a lot of the decorations would only work if the luau was outside. Despite the rain, the temperature was high, and the house would be so warm with all of those people crammed inside. I’m so happy to report that the rain stopped mid-morning and we were able to sit outside.
You might remember that ‘Happy Birthday’ banner from this post. We had a funny find when we hung that bad boy up… but I’ll save that for another time.
I was also really sad that Maddy was going to be sick for her party. She had been miserable all week, and her party was no exception.
My sister, Lindsay, made Maddy a beautiful birthday cake. Thanks, Linds!
But, Maddy didn’t show much interest in it (but really, who wants to eat cake when they’re sick??).
Maddy might not have eaten much of her treat, but, boy did she examine how the icing felt. She squished it in her hands for a long while before she even thought about bringing her hands to her mouth. But, as soon as she was done exploring, she wanted that stuff off of her immediately. Apparently she was not enjoying the mess.
FYI, for anybody local with food intolerances/allergies, we purchased her cupcakes here. A great little gluten-, vegan-, peanut-, soy-free bakery. So delicious!
I’ve done a lot of thinking about why this party was so important to me. For the most part, I think I wanted to celebrate – not just that Madeleine was turning one, but that we survived the last year. I feel gipped of the maternity leave I always thought I would get. This past year was one thing after the other; an emergency C-section, nursing problems, food intolerances, SPD. I felt like I couldn’t get my feet under me. As soon as I would come to terms with and figure out how to handle our situation, it seemed that our world would get flipped upside down and I would be starting from scratch again. I wanted to celebrate that that part of our family’s journey was behind us…. and I felt like in order to do that the day had to be perfect.
I also think that focusing on having a perfect celebration would help me get through the pain of this milestone. It’s so hard thinking about how I felt around this time last year. Before Maddy arrived, I was so full of joy, so excited to meet her, and so ready to love her. I never imagined how painful it would be after she was here. No part of me ever believed I would have a baby that would be so unhappy, that required me to be spending good portions of the day at therapy, or working on therapy techniques at home. As I’m sure every pregnant woman feels, I imagined our baby as healthy and happy.
Now, I do realize that to place all of those expectations on a birthday party is silly. Intellectually, I know that her luau party was time to spend with family and friends to celebrate Maddy turning one, and to celebrate all of the incredible progress she has made this year. But, emotionally, it is hard to separate that celebration from the pain of the last year. It’s really hard to celebrate your baby turning one, when you feel like you didn’t really enjoy that special baby time you feel like you should have. It feels too fast, like I’ve missed out on important time with my happy baby.
It’s a happy day today, but a tough day. I am preparing myself for the coming year, knowing it will have its own unique challenges, but also knowing it will have a lot more rewards than this first year. I am reminding myself how lucky we are to have such a special little girl in our lives, one who has responded so well to therapy, and I am remembering all that I have learned this past year. I am so thankful for how this past year has shown the true strength of our family. Next week we are taking a day off to celebrate with just the three of us.
I am also so grateful that I am surrounded by so many loving friends and family. To my friends who spent their days off with me (and let’s face it, a lot of that time I spent either crying with you or venting), continually drove to our house despite the fact that you had done that the previous umpteen times, sent me messages and emails telling me they were thinking of me, took me on special girls’ day outings, sent me cards in the mail telling me how proud they are of me and Eric, and loved Maddy like she was your own – THANK YOU! I never could have survived this past year without you. I know that you’ll be my cheerleaders when with trepidation Eric and I decide to chance our luck again with baby number two. I feel so lucky that so many of you were so understanding and non-judgemental, despite the fact that many of you have not had babies of your own… and, when your turn comes around, I hope you know who you can call when you’re having a bad day (or several) with your little ones.
To my family who has been there through it all, words are not enough – thank you.
Happy birthday, Madeleine. Mommy and daddy love you so much.