I suppose in order to remember this first year, I’d have to start with the first day. To be honest, I avoid thinking about it. It was the day our son was born, but it was also the day he almost didn’t make it. I had flashbacks for months. I’d wake up sweating and afraid. I’d feel it all. All over again.
A year later, I’m finally beginning to feel the freedom to claim that day back. I’m ready to put the pain, fear, trauma, and anguish behind me. To truly celebrate this day. Our last first birthday*. The emotions where high when we finally heard him cry. When he finally breathed. We almost forgot to ask but then they told us, “It’s a boy!” A boy. Our son. When they placed him in my arms, the deep purple color was beginning to fade from his face. Oh, it was so good to meet him. The most desperate and raw gratitude a heart can muster flooded my chest. This boy. How is it that this is still a mind-blowing mystery the third time around? This is the squirming, kicking, hiccuping baby that I’ve carried with me for months? Now he is just out? Now he’s just a regular outside kind of person instead of an inside mystery baby? I can’t wrap my mind around it. I don’t understand how it’s possible. Judging by the look in Jordan’s face, he couldn’t wrap his mind around it either. Our son, right here in our arms. He made it. Thank God. He made it.
We named him after his Daddy and his great grandfather, Jordan Joseph. He immediately donned the nickname Jordan had as a kid, “Joey”.
The first few months of his life, we were in a hibernation of sorts. Jordan was traveling for training a lot and then opening his new State Farm Agency in town. So, a lot of the time, it was just me and the three. We hunkered down for winter. We read a lot of books, we took a lot of group naps. We made it through days and Joey and I struggled through nights. I remember there was a period of time where he woke up every half hour. I’m talking, I’d get him back to sleep, and a half hour later, he’d be up again. That just doesn’t work with a third baby. I still had two other kids who needed me all hours of the day! One week of Joey and I sleeping downstairs and sleep training together and he became the best sleeper of the three. Thank you Lord. Thank you Joey. It’s amazing what a full night of sleep can do for a mama trying to find her way through the long days.
Joey came out hungry, and his appetite hasn’t been satisfied yet. He is always eyeing the room for his next snack. He’s like Winnie the Pooh. Always looking for a smackerel of something. He breaks from thinking about food only to sleep, or to find something dangerous.
Yes. Food and danger are his passions. Well, to be fair, he’s not looking for mischief, just exploring and adventure. Unfortunately for a baby, those happen to be dangerous things. He’ll eat just about anything. While he loves a good mash of veggies, chicken, and rice, nothing compares to that little cap over the bolt that holds the toilet seat down. If only Mom would let him have it…
Joey has been pretty laid back. He goes with the flow. As long as there is food, he’s happy. He’s been like that and continues to be like that. He’s adaptable and well mannered. (again, as long as there is food.) He has a unique connection with each of us. Lila is his Moon and Stars. He just can’t get enough of her and the feeling is mutual. She makes him laugh, feeds him, carries him around and always talks sweetly to him. He has major heart eyes for her! Daniel and Joey are the definition of brothers. They play cars and do this thing where they kind of roll around on each other. Daniel (3 1/2 years old) and Joey weigh the same so it is hard to explain to Daniel why he has to be gentle. It works for them though. They have a sweet bond and Jordan and I are excited to see their brotherhood play out.
“Da Da”, three for three, have been the first words of the kids. To my dismay (remember the waking up every half hour?!?). Glory, they love their Daddy. Joey is no exception! Captain Good Times walks into the room and Joey lights up, “Da! Da! Da!” It’s only fitting that Joey is named after his beloved Da Da. And, from what I hear from Dale and Lisa, he is a miniature Jordan for sure! Equal parts charming and trouble. Who knows what kind of shenanigans these two will get into.
And as for Mama. Mama loves her baby and the baby loves the Mama. I’ve done all I can to soak up this baby year. To smell his head, to kiss him one million times a day, to look at his little baby feet and his floppy baby ears. I’m so in love with this goofy boy. The precious part about it is how I know he loves me too. He can’t say it, he can barely call my name, but I know those big brown eyes. They find me when he’s hungry, they find me when he’s done something that he’s proud of, they find me when he falls down and needs comfort. They tell me he loves me. Oh, sweet-stinky-naughty-silly-adventurous boy, I love you too.
The first year is huge. So much changes day to day and week to week. There is the pulse to simultaneously savor it and survive it. To hold him as he cries and know that these days are limited, he won’t always need me this way. The thought holds both promise and dread. Because it is hard to be needed so intensely, but it’s also so beautiful and the very thing that I’ll miss most about this time.
And so, he turns one today. Our little miracle boy. Little Joey. JJ. Mister Man. Our Jogi Pogi. Joe Nugget. Sloppy Joe. The Beast. Baby Brother. Jordan Joseph. Look at you, boy. You belong with us. How did we ever not have you? You are the perfect piece to our puzzle. The biggest smile in the room. The biggest everything in the room. The sweetest laugh, the most intense eater, the juiciest legs, and the most darling cheeks. Our boy. My boy. You are a gift. You are absolutely meant to be and at the same time, I pinch myself to make sure this is all real. We get to know you as a baby, we get to walk with you and challenge you and celebrate you as you journey into becoming the man you’ll be. We don’t deserve you, we know that, but we are so thankful for the gift you are to our family. Jogi, my baby, Happy Birthday. I love you so.
*(If Jordan and I have any say in the matter, we are complete as a family. If God chooses to bless us with another baby down the road then we’ll celebrate fully! But, as far as we are concerned, Joey is our caboose and the perfect puzzle piece to complete our family)