This time last year, I basically looked like this…

I was quite pregnant. Elena was kicking and beating up my insides, begging to get out. I spent the beginning of August feeling tired and run-down, ready for the pregnancy to be over. I slipped in some mud and even though I didn’t fall, I pulled muscles and my doctor suggested I take it easy for a few weeks. So for most of August, I did school in my house. My birthday is this week and I remember last year for my birthday, I had my little girls down to the house to watch a movie for the afternoon. There’s a pretty good chance I’ll do that again this year! 🙂

August last year was full of anticipation. And nerves. And excitement. I remember thinking how everything was going to change – nothing would ever be the same once the baby got here. It was our last birthday just the two of us. It was our last winter just the two of us. Elena’s room was all set up and I remember just standing in her room, folding her baby clothes, arranging her bookshelf, sitting in her rocking chair, and dreaming about what it would be like when she finally arrived.

I was doing laundry yesterday, hanging up piles of baby clothes and I remembered a year ago, washing all her newborn items for the first time and hanging them up to dry. I always meant to take a picture of the drying racks filled with tiny baby clothes waiting to be worn for the first time. But the only shot I ever took was:

This is one of my favorite “before baby” pictures simply because it, to me, captured some of my excitement and anticipation. It was weeks before she even fit into these clothes and weeks before she was born when I hung them up – so probably more like two months before we put her in any of these even! I was ecstatic to be carrying a baby girl. I could not wait to meet her.

I wish I’d journaled more. I wish I’d kept track of more of my pregnancy because there’s so much I don’t remember. I remember my friend’s baby being born on August 3 and then my memory goes downhill from there until I’m in the clinic having the baby. Honestly. Everything is very vague. The timeline is hazy. The memory is depressing, really. I ended the pregnancy on such a down note.

I still wonder why I got those awful shingles. I had a back pain the other night that reminded me of the starter of the shingles and I just froze and whispered, “Oh God, please not shingles again.” Brian stopped what he was doing, looked at me and said, “Babe, it’s not. Don’t worry. It won’t happen again.” He was right, but with all the stress I’ve been under, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they sprang up again.

So here I am, a month and a half away from my first baby’s first birthday, four days from my **th birthday. My how times have changed. I look over at my husband and instead of having to look around a big, pregnant belly, I just see a baby (who is swiftly looking more and more toddler), zonked out on her daddy’s tummy, her whisps of hair sticking up everywhere, her little feet in her footy pj’s propped up on the blankets. We spent the evening laughing at her “dinosaur voice”, her “dancing” to our music, and her belly laughs as Brian tickled her feet. She sat in her high chair and ate her grilled cheese like a big girl, all the while making funny faces at us and laughing as we laughed with her. Once out of her high chair, she took off like a rocket, getting into everything she’s not supposed to, trying to climb on things that will hurt her (like the glass end table and the stairs), and then crawling away from us at “lightning” speed to avoid a spankin’.

Maybe people are right when they say the memory fades of pregnancy, labor, and childbirth, especially as the joy of having the child abounds. The pain, frustration, humiliation, and, did I mention pain?, memories are fading, I must admit. Are they gone? No. But, maybe they stay to serve as a reminder of what I am capable of living through. Maybe they are there to remind me that God didn’t leave me; He held my hand when Brian couldn’t and He pulled me through things I can’t believe I lived through.

And look at this:

This is my little girl.

This is my baby.

This is the end result.

What God does, God does well. How well I remember it.