Today is your first birthday. Today we're going to celebrate our first year as a family. The first year I've had the honor and privilege of calling you my daughter. We're going to celebrate the joy you've added to all our lives, the hard work it has taken to get us here and most of all we're going to celebrate the wonder of you.
A year and a few days ago I went to the hospital knowing I'd soon meet my daughter. I was terrified and excited, but mostly terrified. I wanted so badly to hold you in my arms but I was unsure I'd be the kind of mom I desperately wanted you to have. I wasn't sure I either knew or had what it takes to raise a healthy and happy child. What if my "motherly instincts" never kicked in?
Then they placed you in my arms and I knew. I knew you were my daughter, my heart, my love. I knew that you were the daughter I was meant to have- the daughter of my dreams- and that I'd be the mother you needed to thrive. I looked at you and felt such relief that we found each other.
Hayley, this year has been difficult- some days more than others. Daddy and I haven't always known what to do and sometimes we've disagreed. Sleep deprivation took its toll during those first few months and my worry about your safety has also kept me up more nights than I can count. But everything daddy and I do is out of our love for you and the family you gave us. The road can be rocky at times, but we're in this together.
Over the past year you've been the most special baby I've ever known- and not just because you are mine (though I'm sure that helps). You were pretty much always a good eater and an excellent sleeper. You didn't cry unless you needed something. You smiled early and often. You found everything fascinating and wore a curious expression most of the time. As you got older, mobile and more independent your curiosity grew but we were happy to learn that you're also a good listener. Your laughter is contagious and we come down with a case of the giggles all too often around here. You have an excellent sense of humor and showed us your first joke when you were just a few months old and purposefully pretended to sneeze (a joke you still do and find just as hilarious). You've been gracious and patient with your daddy and me as we've sometimes fumbled as new parents often do. You've become a loving little person and anyone can tell, just by looking at you, that you are a genuinely happy child who is very, very loved.
Over the last few months as I've planned your birthday party (yes, it's been a few months in the making) I've had quite a few people tell me to relax- you're not going to remember it anyway so why make it a big deal? Each time I heard this I took great offense- for you, for me and for everyone that wanted to gather and celebrate the beginning of your life. If this first year of Hayley Olivia, my first year as mommy, our first year as a family isn't cause for celebration then I sure as hell don't know what is.
Happy 1st birthday, cupcake. I love you to the stars and back.