Now I know....
....why parents say they don't know where the time goes to, children grow up so quickly.
It can't be a whole year since that last day of pregnancy, the last day that I wasn't a mother. I can't type 'the last childless day' because, of course, the baby was pretty much in evidence, and letting my internal organs know all about it. But it was the last day that I got to wake up in my own bed, at my own pace, without having to get up and tend to anybody. That evening, I went into labour - Jamie arrived at 4 .33 the next morning, and life as I knew it changed and kept on changing.
The in-laws are arriving today ready for the birthday party tomorrow, and my mother and sister, who live nearer, are travelling up tomorrow morning. Barry's baked the first of the two sponge cakes he's making, and we're planning a dinner of fish, baked potatoes and cauliflower florets - things Jamie can join in eating. I was originally going to buy him a toddle truck with blocks in, but then Barry's parents decided that was what they wanted to buy him. So I went in search of anything that makes a good noise, and ended up buying the kind of ghastly one-trick plastic toy that mothers hate and manufacturers love, because Jamie seemed to be siding firmly with the manufacturers on this one - he played with it for ages in the shop, giving passing attention to the various other bits of plastic all around but always returning to this one. I tried to find an on-line link for it, but without success, so, for the benefit of anyone who was wondering, it's a toy dashboard with steering wheel, controls, and a little model of a bear in a car at the top of it, that makes an amazing array of electronic car sounds when you touch any of the controls. (Moving it from the old house to the new one was quite interesting.)
But - this time last year I was still huge, and believing it would probably be weeks yet (I was full-term, but the majority of first-timers go over the forty weeks). I didn't even have my hospital bag packed (I packed it that same evening, when the period-type cramps I was getting seemed to be getting stronger, and went into labour while I was packing). I only knew this little one as a big bulge and an active little pair of feet. Now, he's sitting on my study floor playing with the deflated mini-Rover I bought to use as a birthing ball (which turned out not to be a blind bit of help in labour, incidentally - a hot bath was far better).
I've learned how to do things one-handed, with the other hand supporting a baby on my hip, and how to to get nappies on a wriggly baby while he crawls away from me, and how to type/eat/live my life with a child attached to my nipple. He's learned how to walk with support (and apparently to lurch a step or two without, although he persists in only doing this when I'm not watching), and how to eat finger foods and drink from a spouty cup, and press small buttons to make Daddy's bedside radio or his musical star switch on and off, and how to climb up the back of the sofa, or the array of cardboard boxes that Mummy and Daddy have so obligingly been leaving around for him recently.
Which all leads on to the question: what will the next year bring? According to all accounts, we are now in for a year (absolute minimum if we're lucky) of hell, in which Jamie will mutate into a screaming, tantrumming, irrational little monster, and all we will be able to do is cling feebly to what remains of our sanity until he emerges at the other end of toddlerhood. By which time, we are planning and hoping to have started the whole thing again with another one, so things are only going to get more difficult from here on out.
I am so lucky. So very, incredibly, lucky.