Peeper was five or six weeks old when I realized that I hadn’t taken a one-month picture of her.
You see them all over Facebook and Pinterest: monthly shots of a baby, often with a button or brightly decorated chalk board marking her age. Look at a year’s worth and you can see a child grow from a slumpy infant to a one-year-old who will hardly sit still long enough for a parent to snap a photo.
I felt guilty that I’d let her month-birthday pass without commemorating it. And since I missed the first one, I figured I couldn’t catch up later. What’s the use of having a “I’m two months old!” photo when you don’t have the one-month-old one?
At the time, I was struggling to do anything besides nurse. Breastfeeding was still an awful, painful, teary, bloody struggle. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t add one more expectation, even if it seems like taking a photo is pretty minor. Because when something as fundamental as feeding your child is really, really hard, staging a photograph, printing out a sign with a big “1 month” on it and taking a picture with an actual camera is also really hard.
So we don’t have a series of photos that shows how Peeper has grown each month. But we have other ways to mark her changes.
This weekend, we met some friends at Milo McIver State Park outside Estacada. We walked down to the river where we always go. Finn sprints in circles on the bank, kicking up clouds of sand; Eric and I stare out over the water and talk about building a house on some other river someday.
I asked Eric to take a picture of me and Edie as we stood there. She was too busy looking at the current, the birds overhead and the dappled light that fell on the bank to pay much attention to the camera, but we managed to capture the two of us together anyway.
I wanted to mark the moment because I had stood there mere days before I gave birth. The weather was unbearable, and we’d endured the drive and hot hike to get to the Clackamas just so I could lower my hugely pregnant self into the cold water. Nine months later, we brought Peeper back and she wanted to get her hands on everything she saw.
Walking through the park was like a stroll back in time. I remembered bringing Peeper here when she was just two weeks old—she hardly woke up the whole trip.
I remember hiking with her and having to stop at a picnic table to nurse her.
I remember strolling her around the disc golf course the day she got a round of shots and what a terrible idea that was: She was furious and uncomfortable the whole time, and I ended up speeding home early.
The park is a touchstone for us, then. It allows us to reflect on just how much Peeper has grown. From the trip when my every pregnant step was an effort, to the time we had to stop at a gas station to nurse her on the way because she was wailing in the carseat, to this weekend, when I kept a vigilant eye on her to ensure she didn’t eat a daisy, we see the same park through a lens colored by each of Peeper’s stages.