One year ago I was enormously pregnant and it was the night before my scheduled C-section and I was so, so scared. Then we were at a hospital and waiting waiting waiting for the surgery to get underway and then all of a sudden, oh my god, then there was a baby.

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That was you, Dylan Emmett. You looked like a tiny elf when you were first born. Or maybe a hobbit, considering the relative size of your feet.

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When you were one month old I was struggling; loving you with all the helpless surging gallops of a mother’s heart but so humbled by the task of caring for you. Five months later life had taken on new, easier rhythms and I wished for the ability to slow the relentless acceleration of time so I could more thoroughly enjoy your squirrel-cheeked infanthood — but that’s not how it works, baby mine. Days tumble by at liquid speed and now it’s been an entire year since the day we first saw your face and I’m not sure I understand how that can be true, but I suppose it is. The evidence is everywhere, after all. Just look at you.

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At one year old you are insatiably curious, easily entertained, and you never sit still. You’re still crawling and can move at an alarming pace — I’ve watched you go scurrying from one end of the house to another, your chubby legs a blur and your hind end wiggling back and forth. You love to follow your brother into his bedroom (he shouts, “Come on, Dylan!” and you squeal with glee) and studiously pull yourself up on his easel in order to grab handfuls of crayons and scrawl across the paper, or traverse his floor examining one toy after another.

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It’s very easy to make you laugh, Dylan. You spend much of your time with your mouth wide open, giggling and clapping and generally being riotously happy and loud. You are delighted beyond all reason by the cat, who patiently endures your slobbery hugs and the way you bend your head down in her fur and rub your cheek against her. The other day you spoke your very first word, in honor of the kitty cat: gee gah! To be honest I was sort of gunning for “Mama”, but I suppose gee gah will do just fine.

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You are trying very, very hard to walk, and you can do so by holding our hands, taking great staggering, wobbly-legged strides like the mini-Godzilla you are, your face an open flower of pure joy. Sometimes you manage to stand up all by yourself, without hanging on to anything, and it is a startling image: you, just . . . standing there in the middle of the room.

You love most goo-ified foods and you are quite the dense little butterball at 23 pounds or so. I always carry you on my left side and I can only assume my spine is slowly developing a permanent curve from hefting you around. Oh, it’s a blissful weight, though, your body held in my arms. This I know from past experience: soon you won’t want to be carried. This is the last bit of time when it’s your greatest desire.

You and your brother have started playing together, even wrestling gently on the living room floor, and I don’t have the words for the happiness I experience when I see the two of you enjoying each other’s company. It is raucous headache-y chaotic perfection.

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I have this hopeful idea that someday in the future you and your brother will have access to these entries I’ve written — even the cuss words — and that you’ll have the opportunity to understand a little about my life and who I was as a person, way back when you were a baby and Mama was 34 years old. Maybe there will even be a day when you have a child of your own, and you will understand with great clarity what I mean when I tell you, right now, that you can be a wondrous, glorious pain in my ass. If you are easily entertained, you are even more easily frustrated, Dylan. A great portion of your day is spent complaining at top volume about one injustice or another, and sometimes I have to assume that the very air molecules surrounding you must be pissing you off, because for god’s sake, what else could it be?

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And if you are in many ways a much less suspicious baby than your brother was, well, sniglet, I hate to make comparisons but at least Riley slept through the night. I never thought I’d be so intimately familiar with the hour of 2 AM, and yet here we are, you and I, night after night.

I surely miss being able to sleep uninterrupted, but here is our routine when it comes time to putting you to bed: I hold you nestled in the crook of my left arm while you drink a bottle, and afterwards, you immediately start turning over in order to be held facefirst against my body. You pull your arms underneath you and burrow your nose into my chest until you find the most comfortable spot, and that’s how we stay, with the chair gently rocking and my lips brushing the top of your hair. I can feel the movement of your breathing, your belly warm against my own. It is a quiet, peaceful time of pure contentment, and how I love these moments with you. Even at 2 AM.

Sometimes in the midst of your full-throttle play you stop and suddenly crawl into the arms of your father or I with a joyful babbling squeal, and just take a quick break with your face buried in our arms, your eyes briefly closed in pleasure. I know you won’t always be this affectionate but I hope we are always a source of comfort, Dylan. I hope you always feel like you can come to us, because we will always, always be eager for you to do so. This I promise.

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You are growing so quickly and while I cannot wait to see the child you become, I want you to know how very much I love the baby you are now. You are so loved, by your parents, your brother, and even the long-suffering cat. Happy Birthday, Dylan Emmett. What an amazing year it’s been, and what an amazing boy you are.

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