On the eve of Liam’s nine-month birthday, he spent the night the same way he did the night after he was born – sleeping on my chest. At the nine month mark, I jokingly say he’s “been out as long as he was in.” Nine months of pregnancy is a bit of misnomer though – typical pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, and in my case, it lasted 40 weeks and 5 days.
As he slept in the dark, rising and falling with my breath, I remembered that first night. I was too wired to try to sleep, but I was exhausted. My spouse Evan was sound asleep after sitting up all night with me while I labored. Liam was bundled like a baby burrito, had nursed well, and according to everything the nurses told me, should be sleeping. But he kept fussing, little cat like noises rising up from the plastic bassinet at the foot of my bed. I picked him up, unwrapped him, and held him to my chest. In an instant, he was asleep, curled up against my body, which had so recently been the whole world. And as if I had found my missing piece, I relaxed and finally fell asleep.
Nine months later, literally twice as big as that first night, Liam slept on my chest again. Whether it was because Daddy had to go on a work trip, a cough picked up from daycare, new teeth, or getting ready to walk, he refused to sleep in his crib that night. The nine months he’s been “out” certainly seemed to go by much faster than the nine months he was “in.” I’ve been dumbstruck with awe and delight more times than I can count in these past nine months. The first year of human development is a time of rapid change. Within nine months, he’s gone from being unable to control his limbs to sitting, crawling, pulling himself up, babbling, and showing off his stellar personality.
Before Liam came into our lives, life seemed to be steady and static. We had settled into jobs and routines, and from a developmental perspective, we were done physically growing. Things hardly seemed to change, and days often melded into one another. But for Liam, every day brings something new discover or try: I was with him the first time he saw a bird take flight from our back porch – he startled, then laughed. For me, it’s like getting to experience the world for the first time all over again. Liam is teaching me to slow down and pay attention, not only to the world he is discovering, but to the ways he is growing and changing everyday. It has always been a challenge for me to simply slow down and be present in the day-to-day. Liam’s rapid growth and development forces me to be present in a way I was never capable of before he was born – just one more thing my little wise one continue to teach me.
Johanna Hatch is a feminist activist, writer, and amateur hagiographer. She currently resides in Wisconsin with her spouse Evan, son Liam, and their mostly blind dachshund.