One year ago today, our lives changed forever.
I remember it so clearly - I had had no physical signs that labor was imminent, but I felt different. I felt clingy to Dan when he left for work. So I called my mum over to keep me company. She kept asking if I wanted to go out to a cafe for hot chocolate and I kept saying no, that I didn't feel like being near other people. Looking back, I think I was getting ready to have a baby very soon and I didn't even know it yet. Little did I know, by 11am the next day, I would be meeting my son for the first time. I remember when I realised that it was go time and I felt excited. I knew nothing about what was to come, but I was excited.
Alfred came into this world after an intense and dramatic labour. It wasn't a calm birth, as I had hoped, it was very stressful for all those involved. Luckily, after 17 hours and no intervention, he was born safely, with an epidural rather than a water birth, which I would do again with no regrets.
As I held this tiny and slightly squashed looking thing in my arms, I couldn't even begin to comprehend what it was going to mean to be his mother, or how much I would love him.
While I was pregnant, I couldn't quite believe there was a baby in there. When Alfred was born, I was so shocked that he was finally here, I think I might have even said "oh, a baby!", like it was the strangest thing ever.
But even then, as I held him to my chest, I knew that he would be the most important being in my life. I made a promise to him there and then, that I would always look after him to the best of my abilities.
As the months flew by, he changed and grew at an alarming rate. Before I could even say "I need more sleep", he was babbling, crawling, standing and then almost walking.
He has grown into a smiley, happy and affectionate little boy, who has a certain cheekiness to him and likes getting into mischief - he has a penchant for eating ants and trying to climb the stairs. He also knows what he wants and definitely asserts himself to get it!
He understands so much now. If I ask him "where's daddy?", he points to Dan. If I say "go and get it", he will go and retrieve a toy.
He says Dada or Daddy for Dan. At night when he needs me, he calls out "Mamamamama"!
We think he might have been trying to say cuddle the other day, as whenever we said cuddle, he replied with a "dooll" sound.
He doesn't walk yet, but crawls really really fast (like lightening). He also cruises around the furniture and can stand up unaided in the middle of the room.
We are still breastfeeding, but he LOVES his food. I don't think there is anything that he doesn't like, but his favourite foods are probably bananas, raspberries and ginger bread men.
Dan and I have tried to include him in as many of our activities as possible, whether that is hiking, going to restaurants or dancing in the living room. He entertains us with that, most of the time. At this stage though, he would probably rather crawl around the park!
Through the sleepless nights, joyful laughter and endless games of peekaboo, I have learnt a lot from him. He has taught me so much more about myself in one year, than I have learnt in most of my adulthood.
Happy first birthday little one! You are very much loved.
(Photos by Dan Raynham)