Tuesday, March 3, 2009

one year.

Written on the evening of Feb. 22, 2009.

Dear Abigail,

Tomorrow is your first birthday. 

Your birthday may be Feb. 23, but it's the entirety of the 22nd I spent in labor. This is the day and night we spent trying to bring you into the world, before you were finally born, an hour and four minutes into the new day. 

A year ago yesterday, I was 38 weeks pregnant, still two weeks from my due date but technically full term. Our new glider rocker had just been delivered, and your dad announced, �Okay, NOW the baby can come.� He brought home Chinese food for dinner that night. The little scrap of paper in my fortune cookie promised All your hard work is about to pay off. When I read those words, of course I had to laugh and joke, �I guess that means I�m going into labor soon.� 

Around one in the morning, I woke with my first tiny labor pain.

Exactly a day later, a few minutes after one on the morning of February 23 - I held you for the first time. 

Your birth was hard on both of us. But while you slept peacefully, I just couldn�t. All I wanted to do was look at you, so tiny and real and finally in my arms, in your cute little hat with the pink ribbon.

You are the first real, true blood relation I have ever had. I remember thinking how strange that was when I was pregnant with you - my whole entire biological family was self-contained within my own body. You kept me company in a way no one else ever had before, and because of you, I knew that I would never be alone again. I felt as if a torn thread that had been left hanging inside of me was finally, finally picked up and tied to something else, the first stitch in a new tapestry.

Just as I expected, you changed my heart forever; you moved in, you knocked down walls, added extra rooms, made yourself so at home I don�t remember the place without you. I may be the one raising you, but you have raised me up every single day of your life. Sometimes it�s hard for me to recall exactly how I felt the first time I held you - those moments are often hazy, impossible to recapture. But I�m flooded with feelings of wonder and joy every time you laugh, and so my days are filled with hints and small reminders of that first meeting, the first moment we shared a year ago tonight.

Looking at you now, it�s almost impossible to connect you with the tiny being who did jumping jacks on my bladder, who was born so small and helpless, who relied on us for everything in those exhausting early days. Now, a year later, you can walk, and sign, and chatter, and feed yourself, and dance, and say a few words, and climb the stairs, and chase the kitty, and sometimes catch her. You may not be my tiny baby anymore, but my love for you feels new every day. Your smile is right there waiting, all the time, and every time I see it, it still tugs at my heartstrings, makes me smile back. 

For years I tried to picture myself as a mother, to imagine what it would be like, in a laughable attempt to prepare myself, I suppose. But nothing I ever envisioned came close to the strange, difficult, beautiful adventure of this first year with you. You have taught me so much. You taught me how to be a mother, your mother, and I will always be grateful to you for that. 

I love you so much. I thank God for you every day, and I wish for you a blessed and happy life, a life as beautiful as you are. 

love always,

Nikki, who is working on believing that she actually has a toddler now, also gets her sap on at A Small Song.

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