*Edited on February 17, 2014 - I realized that this post I'd started several weeks back accidentally posted instead of being saved. So, here's my attempt to finish it!
Originally started, January 1, 2014 -
This morning I am sitting in my living room, sipping a cup of coffee, the t.v. on in the background, with my new baby boy laying asleep beside me on the couch. I am listening to the sound of him breathing, watching him stir as his little nap is coming to an end. Jamie is sound asleep in bed still, trying to fight off a sinus cold that has knocked him down the last few days. I am counting the last few hours until I go back to work tomorrow...back to reality, to the hustle and bustle of life, to the grind of teaching, grading, managing 24 little people all.day.long...and then racing home to enjoy the company of my husband and the snuggles of a little boy that will all too quickly be too big to snuggle.
The other day my mother posted on Facebook a list of reflections for 2013. My sister and I followed suit and reflected, also. That little exercise got me thinking and reflecting further, wanting to elaborate on some reflections a bit more. 2013 was a very good year...probably one of our better years in recent memory, for obvious reasons.
Little James was born...he made his appearance on August 19, at 6:45 a.m., in swift and decisive fashion. I'm very glad we had discussed and planned for a natural birth, because by the time we got to the hospital, there was no time for anything else! He has enriched our lives in so many ways, and his addition to our family has felt so natural, I don't even really remember our world without him. A year ago at this time I was barely pregnant; we had told no one and were busy navigating several social events and trying to hide the fact that I was pregnant and therefore, not drinking. We were in the beginning days of a stressful, exciting, roller coaster ride of a pregnancy that was blessedly uncomplicated, but overshadowed by our past. My mom asked me recently if we think any future pregnancies would be any easier, since this one proved we can have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. I honestly don't really know. Maybe a hair...but you can't outrun your past and it will always be with us, so I doubt very much that I'll ever be pregnant and carefree again in my life. So, what did 2013 teach me?
My most poignant moment was the death of my grandfather. I fully expected him to live to be 100, or more, so when we learned over the summer that he was terminally ill and would probably only live a few more months, it was a sad time. When he only lived a few more weeks and passed away just a week after James was born, it was a bit of a shock. I have grown close with my grandparents since I've lived near them as an adult and always knew their deaths would be hard, but I have been surprised at the emotion I feel going forward. I visit his grave and talk to him. I try hard to channel my mother's thoughts about his death, "This is not a tragedy." While she misses him and is sad that he's gone, she seems to recognize that his long life of nearly 90 years makes his a life well lived and not a tragedy. I try...I do. And rationally, I know that she's right. Maybe because his death was so closely tied to James' birth. Hormones, emotions...all wrapped up in one. I wrote before about the guilt I felt around the fact that Grandpa only got to meet James once. Once. At the hospital. He saw him, we talked. But he never held him and we didn't get pictures. I know my grandfather never expected something different, and I believe he knew that his time was limited. I know he was grateful for getting to meet him, but I am sad every day that I realize he will never know his great-grandson. That my son will only know his great-grandfather through the stories we tell. And I will tell them...because he was a very cool nearly 90-year old. And my world is a little smaller without him. But Heaven is getting an earful, let me assure you!
2013 was a good year. James brought us a world of joy that I didn't know could exist. My best friend told me once, "Having a child is like having a piece of your heart walk around outside your body." True words. If I could, I'd buy an island and put him in a bubble. Not really...but I definitely feel a sense of wanting to protect him at all costs. As hard as everyone said the infant phase is, it hasn't really felt that way. It's been amazing...and exhausting...and enlightening...and fulfilling...and frustrating...and heartwarming. Most of all, it's been healing. 2014 is off to a good start. May yours be filled with peace.