I was the first one who knew you existed. I was the first one who had the teeniest feeling you were there. It was a morning in June when I woke up, congested and exhausted. As the day went on, an unfamiliar metallic taste in my mouth and tightening in my abdomen sent signals off in my head—these were the signs you were there.
Later that day, the home pregnancy test confirmed what I already knew. I was the first one to feel that rush of excitement for you. I was the first one to feel protective of you, to worry for you. As you grew and changed in my body, it was me again who experienced a new series of firsts. The first time I heard your heartbeat. The first hiccups. The first time I felt you flutter and kick. The first time those kicks could be seen from the outside.
Then there were the other firsts. The first discernible labor pains. The first push. Your first breaths; I was there. Your first cries; I was there, too. You were mine, intrinsically, and all of your firsts were my firsts too.
You recently had your 1st birthday, and as I’ve reflected on your first year and all of the firsts we’ve experienced together, I’ve come to appreciate that, although I will always have those firsts, those firsts are not only my own. They are not only mine, just as you are not only mine.
Early on in your little life, it was difficult for me to share you with anyone besides your daddy. When others would hold or play with you, I could feel my chest tighten and stomach clench nervously. Were they playing gently enough? Were they doing it “right”?
When you started spending days with Grandma when I went back to work, I worried that I would be replaced. And while there were still many firsts I got to see, there were other firsts I probably missed, too. Suddenly all of your firsts were not mine, and there were others to share in your precious, exciting little life.
Learning to share you has been my most selfless endeavor as a mom. Separating the instinct to love and protect from the instinct to close off and control has not been an easy road, but it has been so worthwhile. As I watch you now, making choices of your own and delighting in the company of those who love and care about you, I realize that keeping my heart open opens up your life to so much more happiness.
I will always treasure our firsts. No one can take them away from me, nor would I want them to. I imagine it may always be difficult for me to share you and allow others to share in your life. I know these early challenges are good practice for other firsts—your first day of school, the first time you get into trouble, your first friend, the first time you drive a car.
Every day you are here is a day further away from the time all of your firsts were wrapped up in me. I doubt it will ever be easy for me to fully accept that you are not only mine, and as you become more independent, I’m sure it will continue to wear on my mama heart.
I will keep you close for as long as you will let me, and I will share in your love and life as much as you will allow. But today, you are still my baby, both literally and figuratively. You will always be my first baby, and your firsts will always be in my heart.