A tale of two birthdays

The paper crinkled beneath me as I shifted the weight I had spent the last nine months gaining. I clinched the stiff bed sheet tight at my hip, checking that I was still fully covered. The doctor let me know that my body showed no signs of impending labor while tapping her pen on my chart, as if she was the impatient one. I rubbed my bulging, itchy belly, smiled at my husband who was standing in the corner. The doctor looked at my chart again, and with a look of surprise, realized that it was my birthday. “Try to relax this weekend,” she said, trying to sound encouraging. “Your baby isn’t going anywhere.”

I let myself cry a little bit on Rafe’s shoulder in the parking garage. A baby would have made an excellent birthday present. He kissed my forehead and told me to follow the doctor’s orders: enjoy my day. Cozy up with Netflix. He went to work, and I went home.

I sprawled on the couch under the fan with my giant water cup, hopeful to escape the August heat. I couldn’t get comfortable. My back kept intermittently cramping. No stretch seemed to relieve it. Just when it chilled out a little bit, the pain would start back up again.

I texted my sister. How do I know what a contraction feels like?

That. They feel like that.

Twenty-six hours later, I held our baby boy.

Since his August 15 birthday, I have become closer friends with Google than I care to admit. I have survived on fewer hours of sleep than I thought possible. I have been covered in an every possible human excrement, usually multiple varieties at once. I have felt deeper joy than I have ever known.

Today I sit here annoyed because everything I want to say about our experience so far is just so common.

It goes by so fast!

You’ll understand when you’re a parent!

It’s a love you’ve never known you’re capable of!

Ugh. Stop being so true! I rolled my eyes when I heard these things before last August and now all I want to do is clap my hands and nod and offer up “mhmm”s like a church lady. I shiver at the number of times I have bored unsuspecting acquaintances with stories of THE CUTEST NOISE THE BABY MADE.

The point of all this is that I want to do something different. Objectively, there is nothing extraordinary about a baby turning a year old. They do it all the time. So how could I take something so deeply commonplace and make it special to me? To us and our family?

By doing the not commonplace.

This summer, to celebrate our son’s first year and my 27th, I am attempting to do TWENTY-SEVEN things for the FIRST time (see what I did there?).

For so much of my life, I have been comfortable with what I know: ordering the same thing off of a menu because I know it’s delicious, watching that same movie AGAIN because I know I enjoy it, staying home because there are people out there and people are terrifying. It’s heartbreaking to think of what I have missed out on simply because I was scared. If I want my son to see and taste and experience all our world has to offer, I need to do it myself, even if it means talking to people.

So, with a deep breathe and sweaty palms, let’s get started.

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