They do not make them any sweeter than you.
What a year, my big girl. Friday morning, on the ninth of July, as I stretched out across the sheets, buried my head in the pillow to block out the summer morning light, and rolled from my side of the bed to your dad’s – a spot long ago vacated by him for less vital things like actually going to work – I heard you chirping through the monitor, a sign that you were emerging from the depths of nighttime slumber towards the lighter sleep of morning. I raised my head a few inches, squinted through the light at the clock, convinced that surely it couldn’t be seven o’clock yet, that I still had time to luxuriate in my own internal snooze button mode. The digital numbers spelled out 6:15, and I stretched out contentedly knowing that I still had time before you were really, truly awake. But before I could doze back off I thought about it being your birthday, and then about how you were born at 6:18 in the morning, and how those last three minutes were the hardest and best part of the whole ordeal. I remembered how I felt so focused, so completely and utterly in the moment. For hours I had needed the support of everyone around me, but in those last few seconds I only remember me and you, me and you, me and you, and then just you. You were here, and the room began to come back into focus. The outside noises emerged from the tunnel that they seemed to be traveling through and were distinguishable yet again. You were here, and you were in my arms, your dad leaning over my shoulder to drink you in. We adjusted our breathing again to a more normal pace, from the forced rhythm of pain management and panic management to the easier breath of relief and joy. You were here, and our family was changed, not by just a number but by a shift in roles and relationships. You gifted us all with new roles: an over-the-moon big sister, father-of-two, a mother who couldn’t dream of having a spare inch of heart-space leftover from the first and then finding her heart swelling within her chest the moment you rested your head there. Did it really swell in that instant, did it really double in size on that morning? It certainly felt like it at the time – a bittersweet combination of overwhelming love sickness and growing pains.
It is one year later, and your moments with us are so dear they almost hurt. We breathe you in and soak up your smiles and wallow around in your intense love of the world and your place within it. I’m back in this moment, in the early moments of your birthday – not your birth-day, and the monitor has fallen silent again as you’ve hunkered back down for a few more moments of rest. And the tears run out of my eyes, past my ears and onto your father’s pillow, and I know now that our hearts did not grow on that day. My sweet girl, they were large enough from the very beginning, and you always had a place inside them, before we were smart enough, brave enough to think of you, before you were even here.
Happy, happy birthday, my happy, happy girl.