I suppose that it never gets easier to believe that your child has gotten as big as they have. I look at Dora and she is so tall, so grown up, so full of intelligence and vocabulary and awareness, it's just amazing to me.
I thought a lot about Dora's birth today, of course. I tried, at various times throughout the day, to remember exactly what we were doing at that moment three years ago today. Calling a friend, taking one last look at my belly cast, spending a quiet moment alone in the nursery. Walking the dogs, eating watermelon, trying to sit outside and being chased back in by mosquitoes. The agonizingly long drive to the hospital, when for once my husband drove too slow. The jokes I somehow made even in pain, my incredible doula, my doctor who was kind but strong when I needed her to be. The mountains outside my window, the way everything stood still for a moment before the baby arrived. Finding out we had a girl - meeting her, hearing her cries, a family now instead of a couple.
The memories are there still - they will always be there - but I noted with sadness today that they have faded a bit. There are a few more details that have escaped me, exact times when events occurred are slowly fading, it takes more concentration to call up the exact details. I realize that it will get harder and harder to return to that day in my memory, but I want to hold on to it, want to believe that I will always be able to recall exactly how incredible that day was.
We had a lovely little evening together, with presents and cupcakes and a new book to read. We all sang happy birthday. We put the magnetic letters all over the fridge, the mark of a toddler in residence. After books and bath and phone calls to grandparents I climbed into bed next to Dora for our goodnight snuggle. I thought back to this night three years ago, to laying in bed next to my new little baby, all wrapped up like a burrito with only her face visible. That night as I laid there beside her, a new mother spinning in a whirlwind of hormones and emotion and exhaustion, I felt my heart expand to welcome this new love, felt my life break open like the Earth's surface in a tremor, light and energy and heat pouring in. I remember being surprised that I really liked her a lot, that she really seemed like a special, perfect, interesting baby.
Tonight, as Dora fell asleep, her face relaxing and looking once again more like an infant than a child, I realized that her birth - the growth and change and transformation that took place that day - continues on. My heart is still expanding for her, my life still opening up for her, my world continually transformed by the power of this love. The memories may fade and the little details may become hard to remember, but I am still shaped by becoming a mother, by growing with Dora into the mother I am now. I have written before that there are many days when I think, "I cannot possibly love her any more than I already do", and the next day comes, and I do love her even more, somehow. The same can be said, apparently, for how we grow and learn as we become parents. Every day I think I cannot possibly be transformed any more than I already have been, and then, somehow, I am.
Happy birthday sweet girl. You are special and perfect and interesting, and I love you more than I will ever be able to tell you.