“This time last year” is a phrase I’ve always uttered frequently, but never so frequently as I have thought and said it this year. I have never had such a strong measure of time as throughout 2012 and 2013: a pregnancy, with which to count down the weeks and then those agonisingly slow last days, and then of course the first days and weeks and months of the life of my tiny new baby, marking the start of the me-who-is-a-mother.
At the end of July, I was looking out of the kitchen window at the trees that line the pathway at the bottom of the hill and I was overcome with the feeling of “this time last year”. At that time in 2012, I remember, very clearly, walking back along that same path (ok, waddling slowly with great effort) on the way back from my 34 week midwife appointment. I was on the phone to my Grandma, wishing her happy birthday and making her open the presents that I’d sent her the day before while she was on the phone. The same presents that I’d bought the day before, at the last possible minute, thrilled to find something that she would like. The presents which my visiting friend had had to wrap up for me because I was too pregnant to kneel and do it myself. “The last time the trees were like this, was this time last year when I was very pregnant and still had a long way to go.”
And now, other little signs grab me and take me back to last year. The 3rd of August rolling around: in 2012 that was my last day at work, a date which had seen so far away, that I had counted down to every day. The start of my maternity leave. This time last year, I was trying desperately to make the spare room into a space fit for a baby. I managed to make it clear enough for a bed, a cot and a chair and took delivery of these things and tried to make it nice. I moved into that room myself and slept there because the bed was marginally more comfortable than my own bed.
I crocheted three blankets and finished a fourth. I held them close to me and imagined wrapping my baby boy up in them and holding him close to me. I wondered if he would have hair. I wondered if he would have a birth mark, what day he would be born and whether my family would be able to visit straight away. I wondered if I would be able to do it. I worried about labour.
I watched The Great British Bake Off and The Midwives and Hairy Bikers Food Tour of Britain on iplayer. This morning, I watched the first episode of the second series of The Midwives on iplayer. These programmes have stayed with me so strongly! I watched episode 7 of the Bake Off while I was in labour before I went to the hospital. That these programmes are back on the telly, and that the weather is beginning it’s descent into Autumn really means that we have come through a full calendar year. Full circle.
The passing of time is a curious thing. We move ever forwards through time, yet it is also cyclical. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. January to December. Monday to Sunday. Progress, and then back to the start yet still progressing. Never have I felt the passing of time so much as now. My little scan photo is no longer a pregnancy is no longer a bump is no longer a newborn baby is now almost one year old.
Now, September to September is my new measure. Birth to birthday this year, and after that I will no longer say “This time last year, I was pregnant”. I will say, “This time last year, you were born” or “This time last year, you went on the swings for the first time.” September the 21st will be a date that my son counts down to and anticipates and looks forward to and makes lists for and can’t get to sleep the night before. A birthday! So exciting. And that’s the significance that the date will hold for him. Birthday! Presents! Cake! Party! Cards! But for me, it will always be the day that I had my baby.
Tiny Tin Bird is eleven months old today, and of course next month he will turn One Whole Year Old. I thought I would feel sad about it, but I really don’t. He is amazing. I loved being pregnant (and was very sad to see the end of it, really), and while things were not easy, I loved having my baby. But he is so much more fun now! Again, still not easy, but I love him at this age! We have such fun together.
Perhaps one day I will feel sad that I don’t have my newborn baby any more. But right now, I feel that I appreciated and felt and loved and lived every moment that I could of that time. And that I try to do that every day. I reckon if I spend time feeling sad about things that have already happened then I won’t have enough time to make the most of NOW. Now is great. Really great. Better, oh so much better, than this time last year. I had no idea how much I would be changed by this kid.
Yes, I think on balance I’ll take “this time right now” over “this time last year”.