To my beautiful daughter, Freya,
Mummy loves you!
I don’t know how many times I’ve told you out loud, or how many times I’ve whispered it in my heart, but you and your brother have opened me to a world of love and joy that I can’t explain. I love you doesn’t cut it. It isn’t big enough, or deep enough, though love is infinite.
Today you are one year old.
This past year has simply swept by, and you have grown from a tiny, sick newborn into a feisty, opinionated, and much too clever little girl.
From the moment you were born, unbreathing and blue, you have fought to assert your place in the world. You fought and you won the hearts of everyone you touched.
I remember the harrowing days waiting beside your crib in the special care nursery at the hospital, watching your vitals move up and down, hoping to hear your little voice when you stirred. We waited for days, praying that you would wake up. How we hated the invasive tests, the cords and tubes attached to your tiny body. I still feel guilty for not holding you while they took your spinal fluid. After everything else, I wasn’t strong enough to go through it; but you were.
You were unmoving and silent for over a week as you fought against the infection you’d contracted at the hospital. When they told me it was meningitis, I finally lost it. Your Papa held me as I sobbed myself to sleep and in those moments, realised just how utterly and completely you had claimed my heart.
When other babies in the special care unit would cry, I wished it was you. I wished you would make a single sound that would let me know you were okay. When I watched the other mothers taking their babies home, I envied their happiness. I didn’t believe that we would see this day. I have never been so grateful in my life to be wrong.
It was St. Valentines day when they told us you were through the worst. We had only been living in the hospital for a week then, but it felt like month upon painful month. Knowing you would be okay was one of the most incredible feelings I have ever had.
I will never forget the compassion in your doctor’s eyes as she told me (tears streaming down my face), “She is NOT going to die”. Then you opened your eyes and cried, and we fell in love with you all over again.
When we finally took you home, the joy and exhaustion was incredible. We slept curled up together for days, just relishing in touch without tubes between us. You finally got the hang of breastfeeding, and have been milk-mad ever since.
Your hair went from brown to red, and has now turned into strawberry blonde curls where new growth is peeking through. Your eyes never changed – they are still the same deep ocean blue as that euphoric day when you opened your eyes in the special care unit.
You smiled early. Everyone said it was wind, but we knew. You laughed soon after. Sleep was your arch nemesis then too, and your Papa would march up and down the hall, cradling you in his arms and singing silly songs for you until your lids became heavy and you drifted off held close to his chest. You were fussy about your music then. You liked your songs in German, unless they were Brahms, and then you didn’t like them any way at all.
Your first word “katze” was German. Your first taste of food was chocolate when you grabbed my sticky dessert fingers and stuck them in your mouth. Your unhealthy obsession with bananas is legendary in our house and your penchant for sharing your half-chewed vegetables by stuffing them into your father’s mouth is gross, but so very adorable. Your passion for exciting new foods reminds me of your Grandfather. He would have loved you so very much.
Every day you continue to amaze me. When I think I couldn’t love you more, you smile and every hurt in me is healed. Your joy is my life, your laughter is my world. Watching you with your big brother is everything I could have hoped for. I love you both so much.
Now, you race down the hall on your hands and knees, squealing in delight, chasing JJ or scuttling away from your Papa, giggling and looking over your shoulder in excitement as he crawls along behind you. These days you can stand, and your frustration with your own limitations has turned to excitement and curiosity. Nothing is safe when you’re cruising from table to chair, discovering all the things, eating dust bunnies from under the sofa, or simply removing every book from the shelf until you’re satisfied no tome has gone untouched.
On this day, your first birthday, I wish you all the love, joy and happiness in the universe, forever. May your bright light, your wonderful belly laugh, your playful nature, and your gentle and generous heart continue to grow as you do.
Happy Birthday, my darling girl, I love every bit of you. From your fiery temper and sweet, gentle hugs, all the way down to your tiny perfect toes. You inspire me to be the very best that I can be. I pray that I can always be in every moment, the mother that you deserve.
Forever and always,