Happy Birthday Monkey Girl!

Dear Baby,

You turned one year old this morning at 5:56 am. In what seems like both the longest and the shortest year in history, you've gone from a squirmy, bony baby to a squirmy, chubby girl.

12 months ago, I was laying in my hospital bed introducing Javi to his new little sister, amped up on adrenaline from only a few hours ago pushing a human being headfirst into the world. 12 months ago, I was excited to breastfeed you and keep you forever safe from any pain or suffering.

I didn't know then that my milk wouldn't come in, that we'd spend the first few weeks sleeping only an hour or so at a time as you cried and rooted for something - anything! - to quelch that hunger. I didn't know that you'd only be getting enough nutrition to keep you hydrated and that the fat would melt off your frame.

Sitting in that bed with my family all those months ago, I knew only that I had the most special, most beautiful, most amazing children a mom could ask for. I knew that I was so lucky that God gave me a son and a daughter to love. I knew that your father and I were about to travel down a whole new road - one that includes fairies and bullfrogs, princess parties and pigtails, sleepovers and a housefull of teenage girls.

What we didn't know is how is how watching you blossom from baby to child would take us on our own rollercoaster. You will be our last baby. Every step you take into toddlerhood takes us further away from the smell of baby neck and the sound of baby laughter. Every breath you exhale is another second ticking away on this phase of our lives. I love the sound of those breaths, but they remain bittersweet.

At a year old, you eat whatever you want, love to drink out of a big person cup, lay down for naps and bed time and fall gently into sleep without so much as a whimper. You laugh, run, and climb. You dance, you clap, you try to sing. You look up at your brother with a face full of light and admiration for this big boy who is so sweet with you.

Little girl, you are the best thing your father, brother and I could've hoped for when we looked at that tiny swimming seahorse on the ultrasound screen 18 months ago. What has struck me the most today, however, is the memory of the placental abruption at 16 weeks in utero. When all that blood flowed out of me, I think I took a really deep breath and held it.

I wanted to brace myself for the pain of miscarriage, for the gaping wound of it, for the empty chasm of it. When I heard your strong and rapid heartbeat the next day, tears streamed as I struggled to mentally get back to that happy-go-lucky place so many pregnant women live in. But, I realize today that I never got back there.

I spent the rest of your time inside of me holding my breath - would you be healthy? would you be a little boy? would labor go well? And after your birth, I've spent these months holding my breath - are you full? will you sleep? are you developing correctly? are you hurt?

I never stopped being afraid that something was going to go so horribly wrong that I would be forever in love with a child taken too soon. Yet everything is going to be okay. I'm breathing today. I feel like I've finally settled into this role as your Mama and that no matter what winding, twisty road we wind up on, our love and respect for you will keep us safe.

Happy birthday sweetpea,



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