The night before Theo's first birthday, Elie and I watched the video from his birth. It was the first time I had seen it, and it seemed like the right amount of time to go back and re-live that night. The battery on the camera died right before Theo was born, but we can to see the moments right before. The room was calm, the lights low, voices soft, my Mom was standing beside me, Elie was feeding me ice chips and wiping my forehead, waiting to be the first hands our baby felt. I couldn't have asked for a better way to bring our sweet boy into the world.
After watching his birth, we watched dozens of the little video clips we took in those first weeks. When Theo was born, a friend told us, "Take a lot of videos! You'll want them." And while I felt like we did take videos frequently, I wish I had more. Every small moment is so precious and so fleeting. You think they will make those sounds and noises forever, that he'll always sleep with his arms above his head. But they change so quickly. I'm grateful for the videos of him sleeping, nursing, cooing, laying on Elie's chest. I wish we had even more. So I will pass along the advice we received: take more video. You'll never regret having all those little snippets of time captured forever.
I've been so emotional this week, thinking about how much our life has changed and the enormous responsibility of raising a kind, engaged, respectful, brave human being. This past month, as Theo transitioned from baby to toddler, we are getting a glimpse of the person he is and the person he might become. Loving, giggly, playful, curious, observant, resilient. He is just delightful.
The first milestone I have to talk about this month: sleep. This is big. A few weeks ago, we decided to get strict with our nighttime routine. We did a consultation with a sleep specialist we had talked with when Theo was four months old, and she helped us come up with a plan. I have to admit, I was hesitant. But it worked! It only took two nights, and he was sleeping through the night, from 7 p.m. to 6:00 or 6:30 a.m. Magic. I won't go into details here, but it you want to know what we did, send me a message. Not only did our new routine work for bedtime, it also works for naps. No longer are naps a struggle. He might sometimes play in his crib for 30 or 40 minutes before falling asleep, but he just eventually curls up and happily drifts off to sleep. It has been life-changing for us.
The next big milestone for this past month: walking. This is another big one, because Theo is now a fully independent, confident walker. And while everyone likes to warn you that life ends when they start walking (presumably, because now they get into everything), we think it's the best change. Theo has wanted to walk for months, and now he is so happy, toddling around the house, chasing the cats, picking out the toys he wants to play with, exploring. It's been amazing, and I find it liberating for everyone and such a sweet victory for him.
Also, once Theo wasn't concentrating on trying to walk, he started leaping forward in other milestones. All of a sudden, he started signing to us. One morning he seemed frustrated, and I asked him to tell me what he needed. He made the sign for 'milk,' and we cheered! It was his first initiated form of real communication, after waving. Soon, he was signing 'hungry,' 'more,' 'all done,' and 'wind.' He started blowing kisses, which is an adorable finger or thumb in the mouth. But, we know what he means. When he wants us to turn on music, he stands in front of the speaker and dances, a little half-squat, half-bounce that never ceases to make me smile. He continues to learn more each day. He can point to his nose, his ear and his hair. If I ask him to brush his teeth, he waves his arms and comes running, and I pick him up and we brush our teeth together. As first-time parents, we think it's all amazing and oh-so-cute.
Last week, Elie was gone all week for work, and so it was just Theo and me hanging out at home, mostly stuck inside because of a crazy February snowstorm. Luckily, Mimi lives next door, and so she also came over frequently to play. We missed Daddy, of course, but we had such a great time together. He has become such a fun little boy to hang out with. Amazingly, Theo loves to help me clean the house. If I ask him to help me vacuum, he starts waving his hands and running around, excitedly. It cracks me up. When I'm cleaning the kitchen, he holds his hand up to get his own towel, and then he'll take it and wipe the cabinets, the floor, the bench seat, and sometimes, the cat. While we're making the bed and picking up the bedroom, we play hide-and-seek and chase each other around the room for tickles and hugs. He now initiates games of peek-a-boo and chase on his own. Plus, he's become really cuddly over these last few weeks, laying his head on our shoulders and snuggling with us on the couch. It's the best.
Being a mama is the best.
I guess 12 months was a big one, because it was also the end of breastfeeding. I thought I would be really emotional about not nursing any more, but it's actually been a good transition. At the risk of oversharing, a few weeks ago I got my period for the first time since Theo was born and my milk just suddenly went away that same week. I noticed that Theo's diapers weren't as wet, so we started supplementing with some bottles of an organic formula that we had used from time to time. Since Theo was almost a year, I decided to see if he would take a bottle of whole organic milk, and he did, with no problem at all. Over a period of about a week, we just naturally started dropping nursing sessions, until he was only nursing first thing in the morning. Then, one morning, I just gave him a bottle of milk, and he happily snuggled in my arms while he drank it. It wasn't a traumatic change for either of us.
While I secretly was hoping to be able to nurse a little longer, the change has been a good one. Now, when I give Theo his milk, we cuddle on the sofa and read book after book, often for an hour. We'll giggle, and I'll tickle him, and we'll play games and sing songs. It's actually turned into a better time to connect that nursing had been. Since Theo is a good eater, Elie and I have been discussing whether or not he actually needs milk or how much milk is appropriate. Even though I am a nutritionist, I am not an expert on child nutrition, so if anyone has guidance on this subject, I'd love to hear it. For right now, he's drinking about two cups a day of milk. We also give him water and chicken broth (especially when we're sick). And while we've been giving him water from a sippy cup since he was six months old, I'm still giving him milk in the bottle, because he prefers it. One small change at a time.
For Theo's first birthday, we threw a big bash with about 60 of our close friends and family. I had so. much. fun. planning this party. The best part of throwing a big first birthday party is seeing so many of those people we love in one room, people who are going to love on and support Theo as he grows older. The other best part was how much fun Theo had! He thoroughly enjoyed every moment, which was something I wasn't expecting. I am going to write a separate blog post on the party, sharing all of the details and photo, so stay tuned!
This post will be the last of the monthly series of 'Life with Theo' updates. I will certainly do yearly updates, and perhaps even a mid-year report at 18 months. But now I'm planning to transition to other topical posts like our favorite books, where to buy ethically made baby clothes and the best sustainable toys for the first year. And I'm going to get back to writing about food! And travel. And design. You may have noticed that the logo changed, and I'm going to be re-branding the site in this next year. The focus of this blog has changed since I had Theo, so I want the name and site to reflect those changes. I don't have all of the details sorted out yet, so stay tuned for that, as well.
In the meantime, thank you for following along with our journey. Your comments and personal messages really mean a lot to me, and I appreciate every single person who reads these words.
Photos by Matthew Land Studios. More photos to follow of the birthday party!