Year One

Dear Olivia,

You’re turning one, and I need to stop and let this sink in for a second. Wow. Ok.

You’ve survived a whole year with us and our craziness, and we’ve survived the whirlwind of having you enter our lives. Before you were here, a year seemed like a pretty long time, but now it seems so much shorter. It’s as if all that fussing you did made the year stop and go, “I don’t know if I can do this for another 300+ days people. Can we cut this down to about 60?”

Now don’t get me wrong, I would be upset too if I was removed from my warm, watery cocoon and thrust into the bright light of a delivery room. It also didn’t help that your bilirubin level wouldn’t go down and the doctors wanted to bake you a little bit longer. It was stressful for everyone. We wanted to take you home and show you where you were going to live, but we had to wait a little bit longer. Ironically, that seems to be the running theme for you so far. Wait longer for the bilirubin to come down. Wait a little longer for your teeth to come in. Wait a little longer for you to become a famous actress and buy your wonderfully supportive parents a mansion. See what I mean?

Finally at midnight, after two long days of waiting, your test results came back positive and we could go home. Our friend Holly was super kind enough to come pick us all up and bring us to Bay Ridge safely. And there we were. It was in the middle of the night, tired and confused, that we started this adventure together. No car chases, no explosions, no extended action sequences that end with the bad guy being caught. Just silence in the dead of night. That is, until you woke up (and boy, did you).

We quickly learned that your little body needed to get used to drinking milk from mommy, and that the process was not going to be easy for anyone. First time parents don’t know how certain things are just part of the baby growing versus actual problems. It was too early for us to be able to distinguish your cries of “I’m hungry” from your cries of “Who’s on Letterman tonight?” But we learned, mostly through trial and error, and a LOT of listening.

Time passed, and we all started getting used to life together. Your mom and I were getting the hang of being parents, and you were getting the hang of life on the outside. We learned some of the things you liked (Red ‘W,’ being close to your mom, hang gliding) and the things you didn’t like (gas cramps, laughing, people who use the subway stairs as a phone booth). You had that great new baby smell, and your diaper bin always smelled like butter flavored topping. Don’t ask me why it did, it just did. Going to a movie theater has never been the same for me.

However through all of this, there was one thing we could not ignore: fussiness. Sure, babies only have one way of communicating (via Morse code) what they need, and you made sure you were heard loud and clear. I don’t blame you, because I don’t remember what it was like to be a baby. As adults, we don’t remember any of the things we had to go through in the early part of our lives. Thankfully, through the magic of having a child, nature gives us the gift of going through all of these things again (but from a different perspective). It makes you appreciate your faulty memory, as well as making you want to do any and everything to help ease your baby’s pain and suffering.

Yet through the fussiness we started to see the first hints of your personality and development as a person. You were very interested in the world around you, and you wanted to touch and see it all. Whenever we would change your diaper you stared in wonder at the alphabet wall above you; your little mind trying to figure out what those symbols meant. Your smiles lit up the room and made every morning worth getting up for just to see them (they still do). We were even able to draw a laugh out of you on one occasion, although I still can’t remember what joke it was that did it.

At 3 months we had to put you in daycare so your mom could go back to work. Neither of us liked the idea of people we didn't know caring for you, but we had no family nearby and neither of us could quit our jobs. Luckily we found one that was on the same block as our apartment, which also shared the same building as your pediatrician. In a big city like New York that's the equivalent of winning the lottery, just without all that sweet, sweet money (who needs it?).

Daycare turned out to be a good thing for everyone. You got  to socialize with other kids and learn all kinds of great things, and we went to work knowing that you were in good hands. In fact, you like it so much you don't want to come home. But we'd miss you too much if we left you there, and we would need to hire another baby to take your spot in our family. It's a logistical nightmare for our HR department to do something like that. Would a higher salary and an office with a view help sweeten the deal and make you stay?

From around that time on, it’s been a blur. You started teething, or rather, you started doing your best impression of a banshee who stubbed her toe. You started making sounds like “ba,” “da,” “ducka ducka ducka” and the noise a Transformer makes when it’s changing from car to robot form. You started scooting. Not crawling, not walking, but scooting. One leg kicks out to pull you forward while the other is tucked closely to you. All we need is a onesie made by Swiffer and we’d have the cleanest hardwood floors in the neighborhood.

As we prepare to throw you your first birthday party, I’m reflecting on how much has changed for you up to this point. I’m looking forward to seeing you get bigger, become more mobile and eventually start talking. Before you were born, I wondered what it would be like to talk to you and share my experiences with you. I worried about how I would handle certain topics, teaching you how to live in the world and whether I would be a good enough dad. But now I think I’m more concerned with how quickly it’s all going to go. In the blink of an eye you’ve turned one, and I’m sure it’s going to go even faster once you’re walking and talking.

I’m very excited about seeing the person you will grow up to become. I can’t wait to share with you the things I’ve learned in my lifetime, the things I like (movies, comic books, music, etc). and to see you turn your nose up at them and tell me they’re terrible or for old people. Hopefully we’ll be able to meet in the middle on some things, and hopefully you’ll be willing to teach me some things along the way as well. Most of all I hope you’ll know how much I love you, and that I can’t wait for you to sleep through the night. Happy birthday baby girl.