I'm not sure how so many long days can add up to such a short year, but tomorrow my baby turns one year old.
One year ago today she was a mystery—a genderless, active, rather pointy baby who liked—during ultrasounds, anyway—to suck on his/her upper lip. We've learned so much this year: She is a redhead, a tall one, a ham, an adorable bottom-up sleeper, a persistent climber, a dog lover. She loves to swing, loves to unpack and disassemble, loves to shove blocks and rocks down the back of her own shirt. She loves her big sister. She eats dirt.
She says a lot of words, but most of them sound like "Aap-hm." She signs fan, light, all done, bell, and occasionally more. She does not want to be contained. She can draw with a crayon. She can climb all our stairs, up and down. She can point, when asked, to her head, ears, nose, tummy, and toes.
She likes nursing, but she likes bananas even better. She looks great in brown. She still loves to pee with her diaper off. She'll put up, good naturedly, with a lot: erratic scheduling, squashing by her big sister. But wrong her (take away her sleepy doll, or show her Mama or bananas without handing over the goods) and her face and voice tell you in no uncertain terms how very unjust she finds the situation.
She is ticklish. Rolling around on the bed makes her laugh. Dancing makes her grin. What she really wants most is to eat the cat's tail. When she stretches (she has done this since she was a newborn) she holds her elbows right next to her ears. She likes to experiment with her orifices: Can she breathe in and out with a finger in one nostril? How about the other? How about with her fingers in her ears? She explores these things with a look of fascination on her face.
She hardly ever holds still anymore, except when I nurse her in the middle of the night, and sometimes I—I, lover of sleep—stay in her room, holding her, long after she's done nursing, looking at her round little cheeks in the mostly dark, feeling the weight of her head in the crook of my arm, her legs soft and still in my lap.
On Tuesday Iris stood on her own for the first time, grinning, chuckling, and clapping her hands. Yesterday she took her first three little falling steps, crash landed in my lap and then backed up to stand again on her own—a sturdy little tripod of two legs and an arm, then an upright, grown up girl looking right into my face with her big brown eyes.
Tomorrow we'll celebrate with banana cake (not this but this—poor, nutritionally deficient second child) and a toast to our family of four and to the little girl who keeps on surprising us all.
Happy birthday, little bear. I can't wait to see what the next year holds.