The other day a friend of mine said a curious thing. At the close of her daughter's first birthday party and surrounded by the colourful detritus of torn wrapping paper and presents, she turned to me with an oversized grin on her face and proudly announced that they'd "made it". A year had passed and they'd kept their daughter alive.

I laughed at the comment because, of course, like most new parents they'd done so much more than that, but as I face this massive milestone myself this week, with the first birthday of our son, I can suddenly relate to her proud relief.

Only 12 short months ago we were gently pushed out the front door of the maternity ward and charged with what seemed an insurmountable task; providing the necessities of life to a brand-new human.

A firm believer in the power of education, there are few tasks of any sort that I have undertaken without some form of instruction. And very few items come without a manual. Even the new mascara I bought this week had one in the box.

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And yet a baby - its complexity matched only by its dependency - was put into the back seat of my car and into my safekeeping for the next 18 years, with no manual.

Of course I had plenty of books stacked on my shelves giving me instructions on what to do when and for how long, but the only conclusion I could universally draw after reading them was that there simply was no straightforward how-to guide on raising children.

Such is the blur of the past year that it is only when I pause long enough to reflect that I realise how far I have come. For the first three months the idea of putting my baby into the car and completing even the simplest task seemed insurmountable.

Now I think nothing of the daily routine which sees me in the car and off to Granny Nanny with a clean, fed and happy baby by 8.30am and getting home at 5pm after a busy day at work to clean and feed the happy baby (again).

It helps that said baby now sleeps 12 hours at night instead of the two-hour stretches that a year ago made me wonder if it really was possible to lose one's mind permanently from lack of sleep.

It helps too that I am in the incredibly lucky position of having not one but two incredible grandmothers whose existence and willingness to help I have since learned is the new parent's equivalent to winning Lotto.

We have all heard the saying that "a lot can happen in a year" but frankly, I challenge anyone to match the change that happens in a human in the first year of its life, and to its mother.

Just as we marvel at how much Edward has changed in a year, I marvel at us and what we have learned and continue to learn every single day.

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It seems hard to believe that all across the world people just like us (and people nothing like us) have been going through the same transformation.

How amazing that something so ordinary can be so extraordinary for those at the centre of the story.

For me, the day itself is a milestone, and possibly one of the biggest of my life. I now get exactly what my friend meant. I've made it through the first year and kept my baby alive.

It feels like passing a difficult exam. Perhaps not with flying colours because there are many times I have felt close to failure, but a pass is a pass and I am ready now to graduate into life as the mother of a toddler. Gulp.

-Eva Bradley is a columnist and photographer.