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.



4 thoughts on “The First Year: A Letter to My Son for His First Birthday

  1. Shannon, that was absolutely beautiful! I love your honesty about pregnancy because it is never what you think it would be. Your son is so very lucky to have you!!!

  2. Pingback: Every Idiosyncrasy | Momma Bird

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