I was startled yesterday to realize that Maggie had turned five months old. Five! She is almost half a year already! How on earth did that happen? The baby-ness seems to be going by so much faster the second time around. Every morning when I get her dressed, there is somehow more clothing that is too small, and she develops a new skill every time I look at her. Sigh. My only consolation is that she grows more charming by the minute. She smiles and giggles constantly, she reaches out her arms to be picked up, and she talks frequently and with great earnestness. I have no idea what "gooopapapththththpfft" means, but she will grab my face and turn it to make sure we have eye contact while she says it, so apparently it's serious.
Today is also the two-year anniversary of my due date with Max. I have noticed this date every year since Max was born, but this is the first time that I've noticed it in a happy way. When Max was born, I felt profoundly grateful (as I do now) that he existed at all, that he was extraordinarily healthy and strong, and that his medical journey was short and without lasting ramifications. On his due date, though, I did think about what it would have been like if he had not been premature. I thought about that week that we couldn't bring him home, and I grieved for that lost time. It was difficult teaching him to nurse, and I grieved for that lost time, too -- time that I had to spend making bottles and feeling guilty, instead of enjoying my baby. I also thought about the many small details -- how I never got to finish setting up the nursery, how none of his carefully selected newborn clothing fit, how he had to be delivered by a doctor instead of a midwife -- that added up to simply grieving for the fact that some of what I had anticipated and envisioned about becoming a mom had been changed, or lost.
Last year on this date, I had just found out that I was pregnant with Maggie, and I was really overwhelmed by the possibility of another early birth. I was scared that with my attention divided between Max and a new, sickly preemie, I would be unable to adequately care for either. With help from my much lower stress spouse, I did manage to put my fears on the back burner, but I paid close and obsessive attention to every twitch and twinge my body made, and it wasn't until I had passed the thirty-seventh week that I was truly able to relax and anticipate my soon-to-be-born daughter.
Today, watching Max and Maggie play, I feel really happy to be sitting here on this date. The truth is, every new parent feels overwhelmed and afraid and guilty from time to time. Things happen the way that they are supposed to, and every part of every person's life helps to create and shape them. If any piece of Max or Maggie's story had happened differently, then they would be different. And I would not in a million years want either of them to be anything other than exactly who they are.