The First Year: A Letter to My Son for His First Birthday

 “The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones,” Tsukiko replies.
-The Night Circus, Erin Morganstern

Dearest William,

As I sit here, just 16 hours before the anniversary of your entrance into the world, I cannot help but reflect… on so many things. Your existence did not come as a surprise to your father or me. In fact, we planned you. We decided that we were ready to move forward in our lives. We welcomed the idea that adding a child to our marriage would truly make us a family. We prepared for your arrival.

But in every sense of the word, you were unexpected.

Before I conceived you, I possessed expectations and misconceptions of pregnancy and motherhood. I expected swollen ankles and mood swings. I pictured cravings for French fries and chocolate shakes, and tipping the scales at Publix. I saw pillows and blankets embroidered with a unique name your father and I agreed upon early enough in the pregnancy that we could shout it from the mountaintops and make it “Facebook official.” I imagined lying in bed at night, running my hands over my stomach, feeling your tiny kicks, and wondering who you would become.

Though I often wondered who you would become, and every once in a while, a book or a song on the radio would remind me of the life growing inside of me, my flowery visions of pregnancy withered shortly after the positive test. I never expected daily nausea and vomiting. I never expected to lose weight and be in the hospital. I never expected to leave the doctor’s office in tears—not because you were unhealthy but simply because I was so depressed and no one understood. I never expected to feel fatigued every night at 7:00 p.m. or to fight to keep my eyes open. I never expected to battle and debate and question name choices over and over again until three days before your birth.

You were unexpected.

When I watched my friends who recently became mothers, and thought about what my experience would be like, I shivered in fear. Sometimes, I closed my eyes and daydreamed about a tiny version of my husband—tan skin, brown eyes, black hair, and long fingers—and I smiled. Other times, I could feel the weight of the bulky car seat on my arm. I could see the faces of the disappointed people in my life because I would constantly be late for every occasion. I heard shrill screams and cries, and envisioned endless nights without sleep. I looked at bassinets and playpens and cribs and strollers and thought, “I don’t know anything.” What if I didn’t love you enough? What if I couldn’t be a mother? I pictured pain from giving birth, pain from breastfeeding. Sometimes, I asked myself how I ever thought I was ready for a family in the first place.

And then, on April 23, 2011, there you were.

And you were, so, so unexpected. This time, in the best of ways.

You made the sweetest noises. You had my skin tone and cheekbones. I didn’t think you would have anything of mine. You snuggled up so close to my skin, it was like we were one person. You started sleeping through the night at 5 weeks old. You yawned and you sneezed and you were all sorts of cute. From birth to four months, you were mine, all day every day. Every wake-up, every nap, every bottle, every bath. You were all mine.

William, although this year has been the fastest of my life, I can honestly say it has been the best. You have taught your dada and me so much about life and love and about ourselves, and for that, we are forever grateful. You have made becoming a parent so easy. Because you are kind and you are easy.

In one year, I have watched you blossom from a 7 lb 15 oz infant…
into a yapping, walking, laughing 21-lb toddler.

And I love every little idiosyncrasy that is you.

And I can’t believe I ever doubted that I would.

In a year, I was able to witness your first smile, your first laugh, your first roll over, your first crawl, your first words, your first steps, and unfortunately, your first sickness.

But I wouldn’t trade a day.

You are inquisitive and mellow and loving. You are stubborn and determined and intelligent. You are needy and independent. You are strong and you are soft. You like to throw things and clap things together and you love being in water. You have crazy blonde hair—seriously?—and the absolute most darling big brown eyes and longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen.

I feel ever so cliché, ever so sappy, ever so lame saying all of these things, but they’re true. You have changed me, and I love that I’m your momma.

So Happy 1st Birthday, William Thomas Rodriguez, my prince. Here’s to a year that was all about you, and to many, many more.

I’ll end with the words I whisper to you every night after you drift off to sleep:

William, you are the very best thing.

Love,
Momma

An Only Child? My Family, My Decision

People pry. Seems like that’s just what we do. Is it human nature, or are some people just infinitely more curious than others? Whatever the reason is, I am not a fan of prying or condescending questions or unsolicited advice. Especially when it comes to decisions about my family. One decision I have made (although I will admit that things might change, planned or unplanned) is that my son will be an only child.

For some reason, people think this is just the absolutely worst thing that I can do and consistently ask me when I’m going to give my son a sibling. Since when is that someone else’s business but mine? So, I wrote about it on Liberating Working Moms this week.

Immediately after I posted a picture of the glamorous princess-cut diamond my soon-to-be husband fit on my ring finger on March 17, 2007, the questions started: “When’s the big day?” “Outdoor or indoor ceremony?” “What kind of dress will you wear?” “Who’s your caterer?” Hey guys, I’m busy watching my diamond sparkle in the lights. Give me a few days.

Immediately after I returned from my honeymoon, I heard the famous question: “So, when will you be having kids?” None of your business. My uterus. My decision.

Immediately after I gave birth to my son on April 23, 2011, I heard the excitement in the voices of family members, saw the amazement in my husband’s eyes, and listened to the advice of wise mothers who had done this already. Then, within a few months, the dreaded question arose. “When are you going to give William a baby brother or sister?”

Oy…

Continue reading An Only Child? My Family, My Decision by clicking here.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Do you ever feel less of a sexy woman because now, you’re a mother? My post on Liberating Working Moms discusses just that topic. Since becoming a mother, I’ve noticed differences in my body as well as in my self-confidence. Read about it here:

When I was finishing high school and during my first year of college, I probably looked my best. I didn’t work full-time. I spent every afternoon in the gym, usually running two miles or more, lifting weights and doing Pilates. I had an eighteen-year-old metabolism. I felt my best, weighed in at my thinnest. But like I said, I was in high school and college. Things were a tad easier.

I have never been the skinniest, the prettiest, the most fashionable, the most popular, the tallest, or the most likely to do, well, anything. I’m an average plain Jane, and until motherhood, I was always okay with that. I’m shorter than most people. I have some meat on my bones. Admittedly, I’m not the most intelligent person I’ve ever met, but I worked hard in high school to get good grades, qualified for scholarships, and attained my Bachelor’s degree in college. I’ve always known what I’m good at, and I understand my limitations. I’ve always just liked me.

Thing is, I feel like I knew myself better back then. I possessed a solid self-worth. Sure, it was nice when that guy came along to sweep me off my feet, propose to me, and tell me I’m cute as hell, but I didn’t need that. I didn’t work out because I knew it would make me look better. I did it because I wanted to be stronger and healthier, and because I had the time to. I didn’t need make-up to define me. I didn’t need to frequent the tanning bed or dream of having enough money to spend on plastic surgery. Those things just weren’t me 

Then came pregnancy.

Because I was sick for every day of my pregnancy, I didn’t gain much weight. Bonus! I only gained 14 lbs from my first OB appointment to the date I delivered my son. 14 lbs? Easy to lose. No stretch marks? Rock on. But my body still changed. And so did my body image.

I’m a mom now. I’m not just a woman. And I feel like there’s a big difference that often times, we either fail to realize, or we fail to acknowledge. By no means am I saying that I’m all “woe is me, I’m so fat, I’m so ugly, boo hoo, feel sorry for this poor working mom.” I’m just saying my confidence level, though not shattered, is not at its peak. I’m new at this…

Continue reading more of Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: A Working Mom’s Body Image.

Working Mom + Technology = Meltdown

Have you ever cried over a cell phone? No, seriously. I had a complete and total meltdown over technology this week. Because I’m over technology. It’s supposed to make life easier, but all it ever makes easier is the process of getting a headache.

…read more about my stressful experience with technology on Liberating Working Moms. The post is called Working Mom + Technology = Meltdown.