Erik was born a year ago today, and not a day too soon, if you ask me. It's hard to imagine our family being happy without him, and he truly brings out the best in each of us. This is what I had to say about Didi in June, when he was about a month old:
"I love to kiss his fontanelle. His forearms are delectably pudgy. Even when he's hungry he hardly lets out a squawk--mostly he just contorts his face, opens his mouth and complains silently. He already tries to fit his whole hand in his mouth. He is a champion burper--louder even than Uncle Bryce. When he smiles he grows his 13th dimple (after 10 fingers and two elbows) in his right cheek. He loves to snuggle and is perfectly content in any arms. But he still seems to love Mom's the best. He is my beautiful, brown-eyed angel and I can't imagine him being more perfect or irresistible. My heart is his forever."
Shortly after we arrived in Tianjin, life was struggly for me and I made this confession:
"With my bad attitude and Ellie being Jek-Elle/Hyde these days, Didi is the one who has really kept me together lately. When I feel unhappy I can hold him and know that things are going to be okay. He rarely withholds a smile from me and even more rarely makes one complaint. He is perfectly content with his life and a wonderful example to me."
In October, I wrote,
"Didi has been melting my heart lots lately. He's starting to sit up on his own, although usually resulting in an awkward flop one direction or another. His constant craving for nourishment (you should see the way he smacks his lips when he sees someone eating, or his ruthlessness in grabbing my plate or bowl at every meal time and sucking on it) has led me to introduce some tiny pieces of solid food into his diet. Even Ellie delights in the way Didi's face changes as he experiences the taste of scrambled eggs, mashed sweet potato, or the innards of jiaozi. The day he is old enough to have complete control over how much food he shoves into his mouth will not come a day too soon in his book."
"Didi, that sweet, sweet baby Erik. Was it really only six months ago he came into this world? I already can hardly recall a time when he was not here. Kyle said recently that although before Erik was born, he was concerned about finances, future plans, emotional capacity and more, now that he's here and we love him so incredibly much, he can't imagine our family being complete without him. Indeed Didi is more than just the icing on the top--he is probably half of the cake itself! I am going through that stage of motherhood in which I think my baby is so adorably irresistible that I feel like I must explode with love for him! [Probably a scary thought for any who haven't experienced it.] There is truly nothing more beautiful and divine than a new baby-- the love I feel for him cannot nearly be expressed or quantified."
And in December,
"Cute things about Didi:
-pudgy hands that grab anything and eagerly shove them into his mouth
-sometimes while nursing he unlatches for a few moments just to give me a huge grin
-he smiles and offers his boyish charms to pretty much anyone
-the "beached whale" shake during tummy time
-little beads of sweat gather on every pore of his head when he nurses, even in the dead of winter
-he cracks up when Ellie dances for him
-long, black eyelashes
-he sticks out his tongue a lot, often sideways or curled upward, and he also sucks/smacks on his top lip
I actually think everything is irresistibly adorable about Didi. Numerous times daily, I'll just look at him and my heart will skip a beat, and I'll just well up with an inexplicable and overwhelming love and adoration for this sweet, precious babe. Didi represents to me all that is good and beautiful in this world."
People here are naturally confused when they first see me out with the kids, since I look much more like Ellie's ayi (household helper) than her mother. When I explain that she looks like her father, though, they always knowingly nod their heads. Here it is commonly accepted that daughters look like their fathers and mothers look like their sons. Didi and I share more than just dark eyes and big ear lobes, though. We share a mutual attachment--I need him every bit as much as he needs me. Sometimes his smiles are all that gets me through the day.
This may sound kind of silly, but before Erik was born, Kyle and I were seriously concerned that we might not feel as strongly for our new baby as we did for Ellie, or that we wouldn't think he's as cute as her. The miracle of parenthood proved us wrong, of course. We are every bit as obsessed and enamored with our second as our first, which is also good news for any more children we may have.
When it comes to Didi, I really struggle trying to avoid superlatives, as my journal excerpts and commentary have demonstrated. I try not to be obnoxious about it, but to me, he really is the most and best of everything worthwhile. It's hard to imagine him ever doing anything wrong or being a nasty teenager someday. For now I just bask in the reality that, as someone wise once said, "Babies are such a nice way to start people." I have to agree.
Happy birthday, little D.