Max is turning 1 tomorrow.
I can’t believe how quickly it happened. I remember the day we brought him home from the hospital, April 17 last year. We dressed him in a fleece onesie, white with green stripes — his very first outfit — and carried him out of the hospital and into the world.
He was so tiny. It looked like we had poured him into the car seat, his little head flopping to one side, his newborn limbs all askew.
My recollections of that day are so vivid: the man who wheeled me out of the hospital; the fire engine we passed on our way home; our exhaustion; our excitement; Max’s sleep noises; the color of the sunlight on our bedroom walls.
How did we get from there to where we are now?
It feels like it has been forever since we had Max, but it also feels like no time has passed at all.
• • •
In one year, we have so many memories.
Raising a baby has been a hellish, wonderful, crazy, beautiful experience.
The first few months were difficult. I cried a lot — more than ever before — and became depressed for the first time in my life. Max was an extreme baby: He screamed almost constantly whenever he was awake, even when I was holding him.
Then, one day, the gloom lifted and he changed.
Max started smiling and laughing. He learned to flip the pages of books. He played with his toys. He splashed around in his bath.
At 10-and-a-half months, he waved to me and I swear it literally melted my heart. The gesture was like a little communication from an alien world: “Hello!” Max was saying. Or maybe it was, “Goodbye,” since I was heading out the door.
In either case, it was the happiest moment of my life.
• • •
At 1, Max is a cautious baby.
During parties, he is happy to sit off to the side and observe as other kids play. He is skeptical of strangers. My boss called him the “World’s Most Suspicious Baby.”
It was meant as a joke, but it’s kind of true. When my dad tried to feed him for the first time, Max — who absolutely loves food — kept turning his head and clamping his little mouth shut before the spoon could make it in.
When Max isn’t on Red Alert and giving everyone the side eye, however, he is fun, funny and fascinated by everything. He points at things and declares, in a voice of authority, “GAH,” to which I usually respond, “Yes, I agree.”
Having a baby in the house is hilarious.
Max makes the most ridiculous sounds — stuff along the lines of, “BLRGURGURGHURGH.” He rattles off extended monologues in the car seat. We are nerds, so we joke that he must be speaking Klingon.
At five months, when we discovered a vulnerable spot under Max’s chin and started tickling him there, he’d give what we called the “fat man chuckle,” a low, gleeful, “Heh, heh, heh.”
Books are Max’s favorite toys. He also likes doors: He crawls over to them, swings them open and laughs maniacally. He loves to go outside: When we take him on walks in the stroller, he pulls forward to see things better and kicks his feet. He enjoys food of all tastes and textures; he isn’t picky, but I heard he had a particularly good time when his grandparents gave him chocolate-orange ice cream at Sweet Jenny’s, a local confectionery.
Max is demanding (as all babies are), but simultaneously, he is easily pleased.
Just getting picked up and carried around the house brings him great joy. He chortles when my husband, Zak, holds him upside down.
He points at everything: clocks on walls; windows; cats; dogs; ceiling fans; cars in the street; school buses; city “wildlife” (mainly, squirrels); and the trees outside, which are just beginning to bud now that it’s spring.
All of these things seem to make the baby happy.
His delight over the ordinary is a reminder of all that’s wonderful in life. Sometimes, I look at him and he smiles and I smile back, and I think of how grateful I am to have him, this little being who is teaching me to be carefree again.
• • •
Having Max has been my life’s greatest adventure.
I love him so much, and though he doesn’t know how to say it yet, I think he loves me. I am exhausted — more tired than I ever thought I would be — but the work, tears and sleepless nights have been worth it.
It has been the most amazing year. For those of you who are reading this from far away, I wish I could have shared more of it with you. I can’t wait for you to meet our mini.
For friends and family on the East Coast who helped us through so much — particularly those who took turns holding Max while he screamed his head off four months — thank you! Max is now an awesome little dude, and we couldn’t have done it alone.
One! I can’t believe it.
Happy birthday, Max.