366 days of tired. Of nappies. Of sterilising.
Of wipes and tiny socks and the incessant, never ending, unforgiving carousel of press-studs.
One year ago, I had time to change my outfit. I had time to clean out my car. To pick chunks of hard skin off my feet. We could go for a night out. I could do some exercise. Read books. Sleep.
I came first. Even for Dave. In fact, especially for Dave, because he knows what's good for him.
Relaxation, pleasure, enjoyment; they were my everyday. Yet somewhere along the way, they must've become a bit of a bore. Because I decided to swap them. For the chance to pursue disorganisation, frustration and unrelenting mental torment to it's fullest, most debilitating edges.
Because we had a little girl.
And exactly to order, she left my previously spritely nether regions with one rather large suitcase, clearly marked 'HANDLE WITH CARE: CONTAINS MENTAL, PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL CARNAGE'.
No wonder I needed stitches.
And because of her, I made some new discoveries.
One year ago:
- I had never carried my lady parts about in a carrier bag before.
- I had never experienced the joy of toiling on a car park in a downpour with a collapsible buggy which will not collapse.
- I had never stood naked and shivering in the complete darkness of our landing for over an hour at 3:40am.
- I had never knowingly had someone else's poo behind my nails.
- I had never met anyone who would purposely and forcefully poke me in the eye, and with whom, despite session after session of the aforementioned poking, I would need to continue to be friends with.
- I had never before snatched out a clump of my hair attaching a tray table to a high chair.
- I had never tasted baby sick
- I have never, ever been excited about the bowel movements of another person (though, to be fair, I have always celebrated my own).
You think I've been had, don't you? Been sold down the river?
I give, The Poop takes. That it's a one way street.
Well, no, actually.
Sure, in the last year I've lost hair, various items of suspiciously stained clothing and my self respect, but inside the shell of a woman I have become, I have been gifted with the most overwhelming pride and intense love you could ever imagine. For my husband, for the new life we've made together and for my beautiful and incredibly aggressive assailant of a daughter.
I've always been proud. Or a show off, as most people would call me. My G.C.S.E results were an excuse to contact local papers; passing my driving test an occasion noted by the Pope. When I got my degree at Salford University, Moses bobbed in and parted the Manchester Ship Canal for me.
I was pleased; and a few times, I think congratulations probably were in order.
Yet never was I proud in the way that I am right now.
Because this is not a quiet, sneaking, one off pride. It's not a tiny, fleeting, "didn't she do well" pride. It's not the kind of pride that comes from passing an exam or organising something 'nice' for someone's birthday. It's not a one off.
It's background pride. Untouchable pride. An always there but never really celebrated pride.
It's an irrepressible, uproarious swell of honour that underpins my every second.
Resilient. Deep-seated. Fervent. Unfading.
And it was there from the moment she arrived.
Yet I have only recently stumbled upon the love part.
Exactly one year ago today, in the delivery suite, I was supposed to feel love. Instantly. Instinctively. Intrinsically. I didn't.
Although the feeling of joy and excitement at having Betty finally arrive and be part of our lives was undeniable, I can honestly say I did not feel a definite, immediate love. The love in my heart for the tiny lady in my life has grown; moment by moment, day by day, month by month.
It gets bigger every time she smiles at me. Every time she laughs at one of her own trumps. Every time she stands for a few extra seconds. Every time I look at her toes. Every time she shows me a new teddy she loves, or tries to say a new word, or shows me tiny parts of her emerging imagination as she plays with her toys.
Watching her sleep is the most overpoweringly perfect thing in my life.
It makes me feel like I can't breathe.
After one year of never really having chance to notice what it has become, suddenly, my devotion to our daughter runs so deep and is so hearty and so powerful and so absolutely rooted to my very core, that it has become part of my every thought and every breath.
One year ago, I had to 'try on' wearing this love for the first time. It didn't fit. It felt big and baggy and like the whole 'being a Mum thing' had bit of a rash purchase.
But I have grown into it.
Because a year ago she was 'a baby'. 'The little one'. 'Their new arrival'.
Now she's a person.
She's Elisabeth Rose Briars. She's Boo.
She's The Poop.
A laughing, interested, smiling, loud, thoughtful, deliciously cheeky person.
Who keeps breaking into this blog and reminding you all what a terrible mess I'm making of all of this.
But what a wonderfully fulfilling and incredibly exciting mess it's all been.
I'd do it all again tomorrow.
You know what? Forget that.
I've survived it once, let's not tempt fate.