A year ago I went to bed consumed with the same thought that I had been for weeks. I propped my gi-gantuous belly up on a pillow, closed my eyes, and thought, Will this be the night?
At 3:45 AM I woke to a cramp and a gush of water. Exactly nine hours later, and after withstanding the most intense pain and the hardest work I have ever experienced, you were born at 12:45 PM. "A baby girl," they said as they slid you right up onto my belly. I have never felt relief as powerful as I did in that moment. Welcome Jezze Grace Pié.
And so Daddy and I entered the world of parenthood. A world full of crying, sleeplessness, poop, spit-up, crying, burp cloths, bibs, pacifiers, crying, sippy cups, diapers, toys, crying, giggles, LOTS of picture-taking, onesies, bubble baths, and...oh, crying. We have watched you grow from utter dependence and helplessness to a beautiful, bouncing, little toddler-independent and fiercely determined. You are as tenderhearted as you are passionate (just like Dad). You are cautious until you feel confident, and then you proceed fully focused on what you set out to do. And you will let the world know when you have declared even the slightest injustice-seriously, 12 months of diaper changing and you still refuse to accept it as a necessary daily task.
Over this last year I have struggled with the conflicting desire for time to pass quickly (I can't wait until she can...sleep through the night, crawl, be more independent, ask for what she wants, etc.) and for time to stand completely still (I never want to forget...the smell of her warm, sweet breath, the feeling of her tiny hand on my chest, all her little noises and facial expressions, the sound of her laughter, etc.). I anticipated your first birthday with much excitement. And joy burst forth from the depths of my heart as we celebrated you. Yet I felt torn again, saying goodbye to a year of firsts (the first time you...cried a real tear, laughed, rolled over, crawled, got a tooth, brushed your teeth, saw snow, opened your Christmas present, ate baby food, colored a picture, etc.). A whirlwind of memories that leaves me humbled with a heart of gratitude for the blessing it is to have you as my daughter.
You have unlocked in me the tender, simple spirit of a child. I am suddenly aware again of the fun of being silly and playful, and of the excitement of holidays, summer vacations, and the discovery of new things. You have also unlocked in me a confidence that I did not know I had. I am fully willing to do whatever it takes to protect you and to make decisions in your best interest, no matter the cost.
As you grew in my belly I was keenly aware that you are only on loan to me. You are my daughter, but you are first a daughter of the Most High. I love you beyond the description of words, and He loves you even more. My commitment as your mom has been and always will be to encourage you along the path laid out for you by God, so that you can experience His love and your purpose.
Since your arrival, life has truly flipped upside down. Nothing is the same. Yet, it is better; somehow more fulfilled. And my love for you deepens with each day and with each stage. Thank you for being such a joy. And though technically over, happy birthday little girl!