Updated on June 28, 2016
To My Youngest Son On His First Birthday
A full year has passed since Petit Prince made his incredibly speedy arrival into our lives. It feels like just yesterday that I was sitting around the house willing my contractions to get going, pacing around the house, walking up and down the stairs, and even doing lunges around the kitchen island. You see, by the time I was doing all of those things, my water had been broken for roughly 27 hours. I hadn’t had much more than the lightest of contractions and certainly none that could even be considered the least bit consistent. So there I was, 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant, willing my body to do what it knows how to do, and staring at the unopened container of castor oil and verbena oil that my midwife had given me the day before. Once my contractions finally started, they were hard and fast. On the 29th of June 2015, after just two hours of active labour and 27 minutes after arriving at the hospital, Petit Prince was born. In that moment, everything changed. Since it’s his first birthday today, I could write about the milestones he’s reached over the past year, but I’d much rather delve into the things Petit Prince has taught me over this last year.
1. Patience. If there’s one thing Petit Prince has taught me over this last year, it would be patience. Though he has taught me much more than that, patience is one of the big ones. Right from his arrival to his milestones, Petit Prince has been an education in being patient. Yes, he arrived quickly once things got going, but boy did he take his sweet time getting things going. I spent many appointments with my midwives talking about labour. When it would start, how it would go the second time around, if my water would break before labour started, and so on. You know what they both told me? Almost all second time moms go into labour before their water breaks, and if my water does break baby is likely just 20 minutes behind it. That really helped to alleviate a lot of the anxiety I had about the when and where of going into labour the second time around. Petit Prince, however, had other plans. My water broke 32 HOURS before my contractions even really kicked in. I had to be patient. Once Petit Prince decided that he was ready to make his debut, he wasted no time getting that show on the road. This really became Petit Prince’s way of doing things. He wasn’t the first of his peers to sit up on his own, and he wasn’t even close to being the first of his peers to start crawling. Once he did start crawling though? He has become unstoppable. He is a force to be reckoned with, and let me tell you he is fast. I can only imagine that once he starts taking his first steps, he’ll be running in no time. Over this last year, I’ve learned to let things go and be content to just wait it out. Amazing things can and will happen if I’m just patient enough to let them start.
2. Give more. Petit Prince has taught me that sometimes giving is far better than receiving. Through his entire first year, I’ve donated breastmilk. I do it partly because I am able to, but mostly because it makes me feel good. Every day I take some time to sit down and pump not for my own baby, but for someone else’s. It gives me all the good feels to be able to do this for other families, and it is something Petit Prince makes possible. I can’t say that I knew for sure that I would be a breastmilk donor before Petit Prince was born. I had looked into it, and I wanted to, but I never imagined that it would be something I’d want to continue doing for as long as I have. It is actually quite humbling to be able to share something so precious with babies who truly need it. That I have been able to support other families in my community in this way over the past year is all thanks to Petit Prince. He’s inspired me to give more of myself to others and want nothing in return.
3. Love deeper. I think every mother wonders if she could possibly love another child as much or as deeply as she loves her first baby. I will never forget giving one last hug and kiss to The Heir as my only child. I was briefly in between contractions when I stopped to hold my only child one last time, and I know I shed a few tears over it after getting into the car with King Dad to head to the hospital. It was such a mix of emotions to be leaving an only child behind knowing I’d be returning to a big brother. And yet, something incredible happened the moment I held Petit Prince in my arms. I loved him just the same as I loved The Heir. Over the last year, my love for both of my children has only grown deeper. To watch my sons develop a bond as siblings, as brothers, has been nothing short of breathtaking. It’s something so impossible to describe. Sometimes it’s sweet, sometimes it’s funny, and sometimes it’s even heartbreaking. With each passing day I love them both more deeply than the day before.
4. Dance with abandon. Petit Prince is a dancer, and he dances like he just doesn’t care! It’s cute and hilarious, but it’s also an excuse to just let loose. This boy will dance to anything, and I mean anything. At the moment, he’s loving the Oompa Loompa song (You know, the songs that the Oompa Loompas sing in the original Charlie & The Chocolate Factory movie with Gene Wilder? That one.). Yes, King Dad and I know the words, and yes we sing it to Petit Prince. He loves to dance and every time I see him wiggling his little body to the beat of the music, it reminds me to just relax a little and be carefree. It’s okay to stop what you’re doing and just dance!
5. Change can be great. Petit Prince absolutely changed everything, and it was (and continues to be) a great thing. He is the boy who made me the mother of two children. He changed me in a way that can never be undone. I thought I had it all figured out before he arrived. I was going to rock this parenting two kids thing. After all, I already had the basics down and felt like I knew what I was doing. Oh how wrong I was! The adjustment to two kids was HARD. It was so much harder than I ever anticipated it would be. Sure, I knew what I was doing in general. The basics of caring for and feeding a baby I had covered. That I could handle. It was just that everything else was different. Not only was Petit Prince a totally different personality than The Heir (despite being a carbon copy of him in the early months), but managing life at home with two kids was just harder than I ever expected. It took a few months for me to feel like I had this whole thing under control, and there are still days now where things seem to be totally out of hand, but I think I’ve got it now.
I’m not the only one that has been forever changed by Petit Prince over this last year. He’s also responsible for changing The Heir into a big brother, and that has been an incredible transformation. To watch my first born son go from an excited little boy waiting for the arrival of his new baby to a caring and devoted big brother is one of the greatest gifts Petit Prince has given me. The Heir loves his baby brother, and as Petit Prince gets bigger and more mobile, their relationship as siblings is only growing stronger. Now they cuddle with each other, play together, and fall into fits of giggles and belly laughs together.
Of course King Dad hasn’t made it through Petit Prince’s first year without some changes coming his way too. He is an even greater father now than he was before. He is not just present with The Heir and Petit Prince, but he is involved. He is my partner in parenting both our children, and he wears his role as “dad” like a badge of honour. We’ve learned to divide and conquer as needed, but he is equally capable of handling them both when I’m not home. Over this last year he has created his own rituals with Petit Prince that are much like the ones he still carries out with The Heir. The look on Petit Prince’s face when King Dad walks through the door at the end of the day is the sweetest thing to see.
6. Cherish every moment. This is a big one. Petit Prince has reminded me to cherish every single moment. Even when everyone is crying (myself included), remember those moments. There are great moments like the first time The Heir held Petit Prince to the first time Petit Prince crawled. Each of these firsts needs to be cherished. Every time he does something for the very first time, I’m seeing that “first” for the last time. These moments are bittersweet for me. Every new milestone is a reminder that he’s getting older and that he won’t be a baby like this forever. I try to hold on to each moment and really cherish even the simplest of things. The way he wraps his arms around my neck and pats my back when I hug him after his bath. The way he looks at me with his grey-blue eyes while he’s nursing until a big smile takes over his lips. The way he giggles and squeals with delight when King Dad flies him in for his bedtime feed. In the blink of an eye he has gone from fitting snugly on my shoulder to having limbs that drape over the arms of the glider in his nursery when I cradle him. Just tonight I nursed a baby for the very last time; tomorrow we will wake up and I’ll be nursing a toddler instead.
I know there are many more wonderful moments yet to come over the years, and I can’t wait to see what kind of little boy Petit Prince will be. For now, I want to remember what his first year has taught me and stop for just a moment to take it all in. I’ll be spending much of today watching his nose crinkle when he giggles, counting the six little teeth in his smile, and singing songs to make him dance.