On the Evening of her First Birthday

One year ago this evening, at 34 weeks pregnant, my water broke. And a couple of hours later, contractions started. I labored until just after midnight, and then they took me back for a C-section because Baby Girl was breech. At 12:34 on December 10, I met my daughter, Elizabeth Claire. So tiny, just 5lb, 11oz and 19in long. But so healthy and strong, she was. Looking back now, I had no idea what was in store for me over the next year.

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One year ago. Everyone told me it would go by so fast. Savor every moment, they said. Soak up every second, they said. Enjoy every phase, they said. And I have. I have loved every single phase of her first year of life. Those early newborn snuggles made for such simple days, holding her and resting together. Then she could hold her head up, and we didn’t feel as afraid of breaking her all the time. Then she could sit up by herself. And then she could crawl. And now she can walk behind a push toy or holding onto something. I love all of those phases. And I have soaked up and cherished every day of being her mommy. But my goodness, they were all right. It is so cliche to say it, but it just went by so fast. And I know it will keep going by so fast, and I will keep enjoying each phase as it comes.

Last weekend, we had a one-year photo shoot and I am dying over the pics. On Sunday, we will have her first birthday party. The theme is pink and gold with crowns. A crown on her head and a crown on her cake. I may have gone a little overboard, but I just can’t make any apologies. I love my birthday, and I love her birthday more. And I will always always always make a big deal about it.

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I heard someone say on NPR one day that motherhood¬†is the “terrifying joy of unbearable responsibility.” What a perfect phrase, each word so true. As I have written before, I pray over her every night and every thought that goes through my head is filtered through my experience as her mother. I am a better person because of her. I am a much better school administrator because of her. I am sometimes a worse friend because it is so hard for me to choose to be away from her. More than anything, I love being her mommy. And tomorrow my baby turns one. This is just the beginning of the great adventure of life with Elizabeth Claire. What a sweet and wonderful life it is…

These are some of the little wonders about her right now:

*When you change her diaper, she reaches down and pulls off the left tab. Only the left, and she will do it as many times as she can before you put her clothes on.

*She says “Aaaaahhhhh” when she hugs her stuffed animals.

*She gets tickled looking at pictures and videos of herself.

*She loves to play chase with me or Jon or PepperCat.

*Her favorite toys that aren’t toys are remote controls, measuring cups, toothbrushes, and paper.

*When you put her lovey on your shoulder, no matter what time of day, she has an automatic reflex to lay her head on it.

*When I pick her up at daycare, as soon as she’s in my arms, she turns to her teacher and her little friends and says, “Bye bye!”

*She waves at everyone as you walk with her in your arms in public.

*Opening and closing doors can keep her entertained longer than anything else.

Tomorrow she turns one. Her first year has been the most joyful year of my life.

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