On March 6, our sweet little Adeline turned ONE. Dan and I got her out of bed together in the morning while singing Happy Birthday, we put a candle in a stack of pancakes for breakfast and sang again, and we spent the day together as a family reading, singing songs, napping, and strolling around the zoo. Adeline's amazing daycare threw her a Tinkerbell party in the afternoon where she actually ate about half of her cupcake despite being incredibly picky about food most of the time, and all of her friends ran circles around her while she hung out in her Tinkerbell outfit and read books. The following weekend we celebrated with a HUGE crowd and lots of donuts at our house, and Adeline wore a flower crown her Godmother made her and clapped when everyone sang to her. I only cried a little bit, and the whole time was absolutely magical.
I wanted to write a post on her actual birthday, but as I usually do, I put too much pressure on myself thinking it needed to be something profound and decided to reflect more before actually sitting down to type. And here I am a couple weeks later, finally with the realization that what I really want to write about are all of the things I genuinely hope I will always remember, for the rest of my life, about this child who has made me whole. The faces and mannerisms and little sounds that I have tried desperately to burn into my memory so as to never forget them, because every little tiny thing she does makes my heart so happy I can't even put it into words half the time.
I want to always remember how excited I get when she learns or does something new, and how excited she gets with herself when we exclaim "good job, Munchkin!" I want to remember how awe-inspiring it is to literally WATCH someone learn - it's incredible. It's almost like you can see the wheels turning in her head when she gets this furrow in her brow and concentrates extra hard. Her mind is a sponge, and in the last 2 months alone she has started doing half a dozen signs and visibly understanding both English and Spanish. I knew it would be fun to watch her grow, but I had no idea how awesome it would be to watch each individual little part of it.
I want to always remember her laugh. Her fake laugh. Her singing in the car on the way to and from daycare every day. The noises she made in her sleep when she was an infant that sounded like a baby goat. The first time she said "UH OHHHHH!" and raised her voice a solid octave to do so. How she sort of snores a lot of the time because she is always congested, and how she yawns with great drama and I cannot for the life of me manage to catch it on video.
I want to always remember how it feels to nap with her. She is SUCH a cuddler and I every time she snuggles up to me I pray that she will always love to do so. I want to remember how deeply she sleeps when she is with one or both of us, how when she opens her eyes at the end of one of these amazing naps she smacks us in the face to wake us up and then breaks into a huge smile when we look at her, and how when she was an infant she would scoot around until she was nose to nose with whoever was laying with her. I was far too paranoid to ever fully co-sleep, but now that she's old enough that I don't have to worry about the scary statistics of SIDS and the like quite so much I find so much peace in our weekend naps together.
Perhaps more than anything else, I want to remember her habit of sucking on her two middle fingers when she is tired or overwhelmed. And how once she finds those fingers she kind of hums herself to sleep. I adore that habit so much I actually cried when for a few days I thought she wasn't going to do it anymore. Thankfully, she was only teething and as soon as they popped through she was back to the fingers and all was right with the world again. No matter how big she gets she always looks smaller to me when she does it - and for just a few minutes I have my little baby back.
I want to always remember how much this child loves her daddy. And how sometimes, I end up in a complete daze just watching them together because it makes me so happy that the rest of the world disappears for a few seconds. When she hears his car locks beep in the evening she gets so excited waiting for him to come in the door that she sometimes ends up on the verge of tears, and they have already started mastering the art of sneaking up on me together and then cracking up when I jump. Their profiles are eerily alike, she has his calm demeanor and his big dark eyes, and probably (unfortunately) his sinuses. Early on, his tickling was the only thing that got those first giggles that came straight from her gut and caught in her throat before coming out, and to this day I haven't seen her laugh at anything as hard as she laughs at him.
I want to always remember how much stronger I have become by becoming a mother, despite feeling weaker in many ways. My mama bear instincts kicked in quick when I was told before she was even born that she would go straight to NICU, and in the 12 months since then I have found myself fiercely protective of her on every level. I am passionate about doing my part to create a better future for her and learned early on that the most important job I have right now is to advocate for her. I want to remember how I took something I was ridiculously pessimistic about - breastfeeding - and stuck to it and we figured it out together and now here we are at almost 13 months still nursing morning and evening and I not-so-secretly dread the day those times together will end. And I want to remember how when she's nursing at night she pokes the exact same spot in my collarbone over and over and over and it drives me insane and is one of my favorite things all at the same time.
And I want to always remember how grateful I am. I cannot count the number of "just you wait's" I've gotten about the terrible twos, or threes, or fours, and while I know these comments are all with good intention (and I'm sure plenty accurate), I don't ever want the negatives to overshadow all of the rest. It took a long time for us to get pregnant, and my pregnancy and delivery all had it's fair share of complications. We have had to have some really honest conversations about whether or not it would be a good idea for us to ever try to have another biological child, despite the fact that neither of us really expected to have just one. What good will it do me then, to let a bowl of food thrown on the floor or a meltdown over applesauce or a boycotted nap take away from the joy I have over the fact that despite all of the complications and unknowns for the future we DO have Adeline, and she is the most perfect blessing I could have ever imagined. I am forever a better person for Adeline being my daughter, and I thank God every day that I was chosen to be her mother.
Happy first birthday, sweet girl. Mama loves you so so much.
Photos by Diaz Photo Studio