Today you turn one year old. You weren't supposed to be one today. You must have been so ready for this world that you came out 10 weeks earlier than we expected. When you were born, we were scared and worried but also full of love. The doctors and nurses who were there with you and with us were also full of care and love and support too. When you were born, they let mommy kiss you on your forehead and then they whisked you away for many hours. It was scary not to see you or be able to hold you, but we knew you were being taken good care of. When we finally got to come down and see you, you were in a special bed, full of special stuff to help you breathe and to check your heart. There were all kinds of beeping noises and screens showing us that you were doing ok. Even though you were sleeping, I wanted to touch you. I wanted you to know that we would always be there for you. So, I washed my hands with the special soap, opened the doors of your special bed, moved a few of the wires hooked up to you and reached in to touch your tiny little hand. I couldn't see your face because of the special equipment, but I think you must have been happy because as soon as you felt my touch, you opened up your hand and squeezed my finger. It was at that moment, I knew a special kind of love I had never known before.
Today you turn one year old. You weren't supposed to be one today. You must have been so excited and ready to explore this world that you came out 10 weeks earlier than expected. But the world wasn't quite safe enough for you yet. You got to stay in that special bed for a few more weeks. And each day, mommy and daddy would come down to visit you for as long as we could. Mommy would read you stories and sing to you and she would hold you close. Each day you would learn something new: how to breathe on your own, how to swallow, how to breathe and swallow together. Each day, you would smile and cry and eat and sleep. The nurses and doctors took amazing care of you and helped mommy and daddy to know what to expect. Many of your family members came to visit you. You were still so tiny. There were other babies around too. Just like you. They couldn't wait to come into this world either, so they came early. Some were there a lot longer than you and some came and went in a few days. But they all had doctors and nurses who loved them all the same.
Today you turn one year old. You weren't supposed to be one today. You must have been so excited to be a part of this world that you came out 10 weeks earlier than we expected. Finally after 40 days, you didn't need the special bed or the special stuff and we were allowed to bring you to our house. We took the hour drive home from the hospital very slowly. Daddy never drove more carefully than he did that day. Mikey was at the door ready to greet you, tail wagging, and was excited we were all home together. We got to show you your nursery and all of the gifts our family and friends had given you. Over the next few weeks and months, you did a lot of sleeping. We had many doctors visits and at each one, they told us that you were growing very slowly. They told us that someday you would catch up, but for now, you are just small. They told us that we had to do everything we could to help you grow. (Later in life, when you want to know why you have the desire to eat every hour, you can blame us...or the doctors.)
Today you turn one year old. You weren't supposed to be one today. You must have been ready to play in this world because ever since you knew how to roll around on the floor, you haven't stopped playing. You go from toy to toy, a non-stop whirlwind of movement. You are sitting up and standing on your own. You are crawling faster than we can keep up. You are walking with help. You are saying a few words: mama, dada, baba, yeah. You love to listen to music and to take baths. You love to dance. You love Mickey Mouse. You love all of your toys. You love your books. And you love to smile.
Today you turn one year old. You weren't supposed to be one today. You must have been ready to learn in this world because you have never stopped learning new things. As you continue to grow, we will read lots of books together and listen to all kinds of music. We will visit museums and historic sites. We will travel to new places and we will meet lots of people. We will see the world with wonder and amazement. We will see people as interesting and of value, both to us and to this world. We will always want to leave a place better than we found it. This is something I hope we will always have in common. I hope we can provide you with a love of learning and a love for life itself.
Today you turn one year old. You weren't supposed to be one today. But I am glad that you are. I am thankful to be able to share you with the world. You were meant to be here, right now. You have been everything I expected you to be and more. You have been the light in the darkness and brought joy where there was once heartache. You fill me with pride that is bursting at the seams. I know that you are only one today but there are so many amazing things to come. I know that we are so busy trying to help you grow but we selfishly want you to stay this way forever. Secretly, we want you to always need us in your life, despite knowing that our hope for you is to become a strong and loving individual. Even though we celebrate this milestone, this one moment, we are also celebrating all that you have overcome and all that you will become.
Today you turn one year old. Tonight I will hold you in my arms as you drift off to sleep. You will gradually close your eyes, your breathing will settle into a rhythm, and you will let go of the tight grip you have of my chest. I will say the same prayer I say for you every night as I lay you down in your crib and you will dream whatever it is that babies dream about. Tomorrow there won't be cake or presents or nearly as much excitement. By definition, tomorrow will be just another day. Except it's not. Tomorrow you are one year and one day old. Tomorrow will be full of hope and dreams and play and learning too. Tomorrow will not be your birthday, but it will be an opportunity to love and appreciate all that we are and all that we have. Tomorrow will be another day to enjoy life. Tomorrow we will continue to be thankful for the rich blessings of family and friends, doctors and nurses, and for the joyful life ahead of us together.
But today, today you turn one year old.