To my darling daughter,
Happy birthday! I cannot believe my baby is now a whole year old! This feels like such a momentous occasion and I want to honor it with gusto! I want to shower you with gifts and love and make you feel exquisite today. I want to throw you a magnificent party filled with everyone who’s life you’ve graced with your intoxicating smile. I want to write you an eloquent poem filled with flowery language and charming truths. I want to bake you the most decadent cake with vibrant colors and new tastes for you to discover. I want to shout from the rooftops how much I love you. I want to throw a lasso around the moon and pull it down for you, I want to give you the moon, Selah! But the reality is, you won’t remember any of that. So, I figured I’d write down a little bit about what your first year of life has been like to encapsulate it for you through my eyes.
Did you know that you’ve never gone a day without your mother dearest? I’ve been here for you every morning to start your day off with cuddles and milk and I’ve been here every night as you’ve slept just a few feet away from me. You’ve been my biggest and best responsibility each day since you’ve arrived and my sweetest and most complete joy.
Do you remember the first time we met? Me neither. I was too doped up and tied down to function and you were whisked away to the NICU. All I remember thinking when I saw you for that split second was, ‘she looks like my uncle ron’. Your first day was a sad one. I didn’t know where you were, what was wrong with you or why they wouldn’t let us be together. It was a day of tears and mourning. But thank God that His mercies are new every morning because the next day I finally got to hold you in my arms, even though you were mangled with all kinds of different wires and tubes. You were crying when I rolled up to your incubator and I said, “Selah, it’s ok, mama’s here”, and you heard my voice and instantly stopped crying. I’ll never get over the shock I felt when I realized that you knew who I was. It was truly an enchanting moment.
The first 12 weeks you had a bad case of the witching hour. Every single night, without fail, from the hours of 6pm-10pm, you would cry. There was nothing we could do to soothe you at home. We tried EVERYTHING! We rocked you, held you, bounced you, sang to you, we even ran the vacuum right next to you in hopes to get you to calm down. We quickly learned that when we took you out in public places during this time, we were able to distract you or lull you to sleep for a bit. That’s when I started feeling like you would be an extrovert. You’ve always loved being out and about around other people, even as a wee lass. You are so much like your dad in that way.
During the first 6 months of your life you could only fall asleep in my arms. This is something I’ll always remember. You were so precious and I will never get over the blissful feeling and surge of emotion I got every time you would close your sleepy eyes and cuddle into my embrace. It felt like I was your safe haven. I would work around you on my laptop with my free hand or read a book and there were even a few times I was on a video conference call with you tucked away on my lap. I read a bunch of blogs and baby books that suggested I shouldn’t let you do this…but I couldn’t help it and I will never regret those countless hours with you fast asleep in my arms.
The whole first year of your life, you probably only slept through the night for a total of 6 weeks. There were nights that you slept from 7pm-7am like an angel, but those didn’t last long. I like to think it’s because you just love me so much that you want to wake me up every 3 hours. Don’t get me wrong, I love cuddling and nursing you…but it’s not super thrilling at 12, 3 and 6am. I hope one day you sleep through the night, but until then, I’ll try and savor our late night girl time while it lasts.
That brings me to my next topic…nursing! I always thought nursing was weird when I was growing up, but when I had you, that was my biggest desire! Because you spent the first week of your life in the NICU, you were so used to bottle feeding, by the time you were entrusted to me you refused to nurse. I was more than ready to start nursing with all the milk I had received, but you wouldn’t have it! I was distraught and spent the first night with you (in the hospital) trying to get you to nurse but failing. I beseeched my friends and family to pray that God would help you to nurse and the next day…you did! Praise God! You’ve loved nursing your whole life and I wonder when you will want to stop. I’ve been so blessed to be able to nourish you with my body and I never thought I would feel this way. Breastfeeding has created such a bond between us and I am so glad we’ve made it a whole year! In fact, when it came time to introduce solids into your diet at 6 months, I cried because I was enjoying exclusively breastfeeding so much!
Bath time. You have ALWAYS loved bath time! Did you know that you have had a bath every day of your life ever since your umbilical cord stub fell off? It’s part of your nightly routine. We go to the bath every night, whether it be 7pm or midnight, then I nurse you, place you in your bed, sing your own special version of “You are my Sunshine” and pray with you. At bath time you like to splash and scream and your latest thing is that you like to have me kiss all of your rubber duckies repeatedly. I think this is just the cutest thing, so a kiss is never denied to your dear friends.
You are fearless. I’m constantly in awe of your courage and tenacity. Whether it be going off to the nursery to play with other kiddos, meeting new people or trying new things, you have a daring determination that is uniquely you. You’ve never cried because you were handed off to someone new or being introduced to something unfamiliar. I can only remember one time that you truly cried out of terror, and that was when you were 12 weeks old and your dad sneezed really loud while you were sleeping, but I don’t blame you…his sneezes are thunderous.
You’ve always been a silly girl. One of my favorite things you do is when you come into a room and people aren’t paying attention to you, you fake cough to get their attention. Ever since you were a small thing, you’ve smiled and have tried making us laugh by trying to mimic us. The weird thing is though, you didn’t REALLY start laughing until a few months ago when you were around 8 months. You would smile goofily all the time, but you wouldn’t laugh! Now you do this super cute scream laugh that your dad and I will do ANYTHING to hear!
My sweet girl, this year has been filled with so much joy and delight because of you. You are one of a kind and your dad and I thank God every day for gracing us with you. You are our sunshine and we look forward to all the memories to ensue this next year of your life as a toddler, though I will forever hold a special place in my heart for baby Selah. So here’s to you, Selah True! Happy birthday, love.