I could not see my feet.
I had eaten all of the candy bars my children were supposed to sell for school.
Walking up the stairs seemed like the worst thing someone could ask me to do.
No. Asking me to sit on the floor and play and then get up seemed like the worst thing someone could ask me to do.
I was 39 weeks pregnant and this little monster squirmed inside me. All. The. Time.
364 days ago, I knew that he would be a fighter. People would ask, hesitant but endearingly eager, "Is he kicking?" And if he was snoozing in my belly, all I had to do was press my hand down, and boy, did that baby get mad. He would kick my hand away, like, "Hey! Encroaching on my space, here!" On sonogram days, and there were many, the second that magic wand was pressed against my stomach, Little Man would knock it away. "Whoa!" was what the radiologist would say. I couldn't help but smile. My baby was fierce, and there would be no messing with him.
It's hard for me to write about Max. He is unexpectedly different from his brothers, but similar in nuance-y ways. He'll do something that will remind me of one of them, but it's just a hint, just a breeze of their different personalities. He takes everything and makes it completely his own, including his face, despite the never-ending moment-to-moment narration by extended family of who he most looks like. (He looks like himself.)
So. For the sake of simplicity, here are the highlights of what I have loved most about being Max's mom in this first year of his life:
1. Holding him. Even though he's by far the heaviest of my babies, he's all round and delicious and fuzzy, especially at bedtime.
2. Kissing his cheeks. Have you seen them?
4. His silly faces.
5. The fact that he tries really hard not to laugh, but sometimes they slip out, and then he's all mad at himself over such an emotional display.
6. He is, for the most part, a very content baby. Very chill compared to Noah. (Though the Incredible Hulk is chill compared to Noah.)
7. His cankles.
8. Feeding him anything.
9. The way he has always been very decided about being done or over something. He closes his eyes, turns his head dramatically, and shoves whatever it is away. I love someone who knows what he wants. Or doesn't want.
10. Bath time.
11. Finding out that if I could go back and do it all differently, I won't actually do it differently. At least as far as mothering infants is concerned. Joey and Noah are nine and six, and memories of their babyhood were growing fuzzy and rose-colored. When people remarked about how anxious and, frankly, crazy I was with them as babies, I shrugged, thinking of how far I'd come as a mom and how much I'd learned. Then along came Max, and it turns out, no, I didn't learn anything. I worry about all of my children in equally irrational and insane ways regardless of all logic and lessons learned. Soon after Max was born, I was sitting criss-cross applesauce in front of him on the floor, worrying. Joe said, "What are you doing?" and I said, "Worrying," and Joe said, "Huh. Most people mellow out after they've had three kids, but not you. You just...sure love them a lot." So diplomatic.
12. His ear lobes.
13. His chubby wrists.
14. Honest to God--changing diapers. Nothing keeps you vibrant quite like a wild diaper change filled with the unexpected.
15. Waiting and being rewarded. First because it was my most miserable pregnancy. Then, all the milestones. They felt like they took forever--smiling, laughing, sitting up, crawling--and in some ways Max definitely took his time. But I didn't feel the rush so much this time. I loved him being squishy and round and all the things he is. When all the milestones finally happened, it was just more of an excuse to squeeze him and love him. (As opposed to how we were with Joey, who probably will find all kinds of Ivy League brochures in his baby books when he grows up because not only was he early with all milestones but achieved them with real panache. Apparently.)
16. His eyelashes.
17. He said "Mama" first but now prefers to fling "Dada" in the faces of all loved ones. "Dada" and, weirdly, "Poo." He says it like a little pigeon.
18. He loves music. He's instantly calmed by it and loves to dance around with his mama.
19. He loves his brothers. He (quite mistakenly) puts all his faith and trust in them.
20. He is all the good of all of us rolled into one little person. He is Joey's sound sleep, Noah's earnestness, Joe's silliness, my amazing charm and wit.
It was easy a year ago to know that each life in our family would change with Max's arrival. It's easy to say that they did. It just isn't easy to explain how. One small person, filled with so many smiles and so many poops, made us disorganized, out of control, confused, and crazier than we ever were. He changed all of our roles in this house in a huge way and we won't ever be the same.
We'll forever be better, and happier, and more full of love because of Max.
(above photo taken by Natalie Komosinski)