Emmeric turned 1 year old on June 2nd this year. I was so excited leading up to his birthday but strangely not in the way you might expect. Since his birth, I’ve quietly celebrated two occasions: his turning 6 months old and his turning 1 year old. Let me take a little time today to explain what exactly I was celebrating.
As we neared the six month mark of Emmeric’s life, I began plotting how I would celebrate. Up to that time, we’d taken the cutesy little photos each month to compare his size change and milestone developments. I stopped taking those photos for reasons I’ll explain in another post, but as six months approached, I wanted to celebrate.
For a person who has anxiety, small successes are huge. I knew it sounded strange even as I tested the words out for myself, but I wanted to celebrate keeping my son alive for six months. It felt like such a huge accomplishment to be able to say he was still alive. And while you might be reading this with a quirked brow or puzzled expression, I can honestly tell you that I wanted more than anything else to keep my son alive till we reached that milestone of six months.
The beginning of our time with Emmeric was a whirlwind of hospitalization, doctor visits, chiropractor visits, lactation consulting, cosleeping, constant nursing, formula supplementing, and wishing we could find enough time to cobble together a schedule. I blinked and six months passed, but in the moment, it felt like a lifetime. And I wanted to cherish the moment of reaching that sixth month where we could say we’d kept our son alive that long despite the odds.
Sure, Emmeric was never in a real danger of dying. We came close with his dehydration and put him in danger from the sodium overload. But we also heeded our doctor’s advice and took him to the hospital to get the help he needed. When his weight gain stalled, we visited the GI doctor. When I struggled to nurse, we took him to the lactation consultant.
In all these cases, we went to professionals to find the right course of action, and we took it. We worked so hard just to make it to six months, and I felt proud of myself for keeping him alive.
Fast forward six more months, and I felt that same sense of accomplishment, perhaps moreso, for reaching an entire year. This goal meant I managed to get us through a year of all kinds of setbacks, problems, and various doctor appointments. We’d finally seen the other side of the weight charts where his little growth line actually sat on one of the percentiles. We reintroduced dairy to his diet when we’d been without for so long.
We backed off on doctor appointments, finding time to start setting a schedule of naps, food, and bedtime. And life settled into somewhat of a routine that I could enjoy a bit more. The days plodded along toward June, and I began thinking about using his first birthday as my own private celebration for keeping my son alive for one whole year.
Perhaps I’m strange for thinking in this way, but my brain is just wired to think about my son in terms of keeping him alive. Or maybe it’s because we went through so much at the beginning of his life that I think this way. Either way, I privately celebrated his one year birthday as one year of keeping Emmeric alive and relatively healthy to boot.
Does anyone else out there think this way? I don’t know, but I do know that it’s a simple thing that I chose to celebrate.
The Big Why
I celebrated his life in this way because my anxiety kept me constantly on my toes, feeling like I was always tense about what would happen next. I believed if we could just get through his first year, we’d see some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. But I’ve learned now that simply isn’t true.
Parenting isn’t just moving from one problem to the next like I thought. The entire first year of his life I spent in a fog of turning from one problem to another as we moved from one doctor appointment to another. Getting through the first year seemed like the biggest challenge between all the problems we saw
Part of me just needed something to celebrate to start digging my way out of the depression that’s thickened these last several weeks. Emmeric’s birthday presented the best possible celebration that I could see.
We threw Emmeric a first birthday party with all the bells and whistles of traditional birthday parties. While I’m not a fan of the smash cake, Daniel wanted one, so we compromised and gave Emmeric his own slice of cake to eat. Our family and friends joined us for the party, and it was a great time to remember all that our son experienced in his first year.
I think perhaps my favorite thing was opening the gifts we received and being able to thank everyone for their thoughtfulness. Our little family has been incredibly blessed over the last year (and then some), and this small outpouring of gifts was just another reminder of the God who continues to take care of us.
I know keeping my son alive for one year is no real feat. Humans have done this for thousands of years. Technology, medicine, everything has advanced to make this task easier and easier. But for me, Emmeric’s party was my way of celebrating having kept this tiny human alive for an entire year.
I think that’s worth celebrating, don’t you?
Thank you for coming down this road with me today. I plan to share a little more about his birthday party and some other things that I’m working on, but I realize I took a long time off before posting this. I’ll just admit that a lot of that was due to sinking back into depression after our routine was tossed by the wayside due to travel and family sickness.
There’s a lot going on in my family and with Emmeric. I have loads more stories and lessons to share with you as we continue down this road called parenting. Please stay with me and be looking forward to more from us as we go! I’ll be back soon, so have a wonderful day and come back to visit some!