(Again, pics courtesy of www.abryanphoto.com)
It's hard to believe that one year ago today, your Daddy was begging me to stop cleaning the house and doing laundry and GO to the hospital. I'd been having contractions since 5 am, and at 2 pm I was still nesting like a crazed animal. I finally gave in, but insisted that we stop and eat at Subway on our way, because I hadn't eaten all day and I knew they wouldn't give me anything once we got to the hospital. So, your Daddy and I were sitting in Subway, where I was happily enjoying my Club on wheat and the look of panic on your "normally calm when it comes to anything medical" Daddy's face, when he finally ripped the sandwich out of my hands, stuffed it in the bag and said, "I can't take this anymore. There are a bunch of innocent people in this restaurant who don't realize that you could plop a baby on the floor any second. Get in the car!"
We went to the hospital and 2 very short hours later, I was holding you in my arms--in absolute awe to be meeting the little person that had been bustling around in my tummy for the past 10 months...The following 2 months would be a blur. Bebe was so sick, you had to be hospitalized for a week with a UTI, because we were in the hospital, Pace celebrated her second birthday in Dothan without us, and then there was the normal new-mother-who's-up-4-times-a-night zombieism. As soon as the doctor released us from Children's, we three girls left Daddy to fend for himself and moved to Dothan to help/be with Bebe. There are some things about that time we spent with Bebe, your second month of life, that I want you to know.
It was a dark time for me. You needed me for food, for comfort, for bouncing (Oh how we bounced to keep you happy!)...and nobody else would do. In some sense that was hard, because I felt like Bebe needed me too, and I wanted so much to be close to her as often as I could. Bebe needed you too. You--such a tiny, perfect, glorious distraction from her pain. But you were also a distraction from the sleep she so desperately needed. So we would escape, you and I, and since you wanted to nurse every 3 or 4 hours, we would escape a lot. You would nurse, and as I sat in the dim quiet rooms, I would stare at the white peach fuzz, perfectly round head, and angelic profile that made you and there I could find a release for all my emotions. You heard me cry out to God, begging that He honor His promise to heal Bebe. You were the comfort for my paralyzing fear. And you, new life at its most pristine, served as a constant reminder that the world would not stop turning--no matter what happened with Bebe. We sang "Great is Thy Faithfulness" a lot during that dark time, and I can remember lifting my heart to God as I sang "strength for today" and then catching my breath as I squeezed you in my arms and sang "hope for tomorrow."
While Jesus called Bebe back to himself, in His great mercy he left me you. And as you learned to smile at the world, I felt myself learning how to smile again as well. You have a smile that is filled with such joy that it's irresistible. That smile has brought more happiness to my life over the past year than any other singular thing. You are such a gift to your Mama!
There have been those who have chided me over the past year for your great dependence on me. You have been, unquestionably, a Mama's girl--screaming as though limbs were being ripped from your body if anyone attempted to take you from my arms. But I haven't minded the criticism or felt the need to explain. I know how deep the valley was that forged our dependence on one another. Only you and I know how many tears that sweet head of yours has had to absorb. I believe you took in a little piece of me that I couldn't hold myself.
The majority of your first year may have belonged to me, but I am afraid I am rapidly losing my spot. Your sister mothers you so, and takes such delight in all your little nuances that you can't help but belong to each other. There are many mornings at breakfast when you two just look at each other and giggle uncontrollably. You delight in secrets born of childhood, that I am afraid Mommys cannot understand. Then, there's the fearless spirit you've been developing over the past few months that whispers to your Daddy's heart. We both were trying to coax your big sister, on her long sturdy legs, into the waves at the beach. I looked beside me, and you were going face first, on all fours, right into the splashing spray. I've laughed as you've bravely attempted to follow your sister down every slide, off every step, and up every hill. You have an adventurous and brave heart, that reminds me so much of what I love about your Daddy. So, while you are still the daughter of my body and heart, I am sadly happy to watch as you plant yourself more deeply in the lives of those who love you.
Thank you for loving me unconditionally in the most unloveable period of my life. Thank you for the privilege of teaching you and watching you grow. Thank you for your smile, that sets my world ablaze. And thank you most of all, just for being Mapple Dapple. I love you, and happy happy first birthday baby girl.