Dear Brianna,

This morning we woke up and brought you to bed with us, like we normally do. We wished you happy birthday and you smiled so sweetly at us and said “T-isha”. One of your first words and it’s the cat’s name, because you adore her. And I keep finding myself thinking…my God. I can’t believe a year has passed since I had you, my little monkey. It sounds like such a cliche but it really does seem like yesterday. It just doesn’t seem possible that you’re now a walking, chattering one year old who can chase the cats at high speeds while cackling with glee. A toddler with a charming personality, stubborn streak as big as the Grand Canyon, and an infectious smile. A mini-me who imitates what I do and follows where I lead. I’ve been looking at pictures of your first days, and I can still remember how fragile you felt in my arms, the softness of your downy skin and that particular baby smell of diaper cream, breastmilk, and pure, sweet newborn.

I started labor on Thursday, October 21st. True to the tales, I’d spent the day “nesting”, running last minute errands and cursing the (I thought) Braxton-Hicks contractions. By that time, you were already 2 days overdue and I was convinced I’d be pregnant forever. I was ready to be done with pregnancy and get on with the rest of it already! That evening, I had a craving for pizza, which was weird because I don’t love pizza too much. I’m convinced now that you wanted one last taste of cheese because you knew you wouldn’t be able to have it later (darn dairy allergies).

I refused to believe I was in labor and wouldn’t get ready to leave for the hospital until almost midnight. The hospital was a 45 minute drive away and it made your daddy kind of nervous that I wouldn’t leave. We got to the hospital around 1am (had to stop for gas, ahahaha) and my contractions were continuous. I don’t think the nurse believed me when I said I couldn’t time them because they were on top of each other. Silly nurse. She believed me once she hooked me up to the machine that measured contractions. And she was shocked! They finally got me to a room and I ended up having to wait 5 hours for the epidural because of a mix-up in paperwork. I got it finally, around 7am. And my labor slowed down. So they started pitocin. And then the epidural wore off. And labor wasn’t going anywhere. Finally, sometime between 2 and 3 in the afternoon, they decided I should start pushing. Fun stuff.

I had a long labor, over 24 hours and it was highlighted by almost four hours of pushing, the use of forceps and a broken vacuum that slipped off your head, spraying blood literally everywhere and resulting in a brief moment of hysteria as I thought “Oh My God. She (the OB) sucked the top of my baby’s head off!” No really, true story 😉 Your mommy thought your head was half-gone, for just a few seconds. I blame it on the combination of exhaustion, drugs, and pain. Oh, and the sight of blood covering the doc and two nurses. Hey, anyone would have thought the same thing (okay, maybe not, but humor me).

There were times I thought that labor would never be over, you were too big and I was just a tad too small. You were stuck, facing the wrong direction. At the end, the doctor said it was either now or a c-section and I cried for the first time in the long day of labor. I had worked so hard, done everything they’d asked and then some and after all that, I was going to end up having a c-section. But, broken vacuum replaced by a working one, one last long push and we welcomed you to the world at 7:02pm on October 22nd. I didn’t get to hold you immediately as there had been meconium in the amniotic fluid and a Respiratory Therapist had to check you out right away. But after you were cleaned up and they handed you over…wow.

I looked down at your little face, with your wide eyes and pug nose, and had the surreal feeling of realizing this was the small imp that had pressed my xyphoid process out to a nearly 90 degree angle, hidden my feet from me for nearly 3 months and made it necessary for me to keep antacids at hand at all times. This was the miracle that I’d been waiting for and her name was Brianna Mary. How had I ever thought life was complete without you?

In the past year, we’ve gone through a lot of changes together. We struggled through those first days of breastfeeding and late nights of both of us crying together in the dark. We bonded in the quiet hours of dawn when just the two of us were awake, even the birds not up and singing. I counted your toes and stroked the down on your head while you kneaded my breasts and pressed your head against my heart. And we learned together about bottles (you hated them) and diapers (we liked Pampers) and the things that you loved (the cats, music, and being held- by anyone).

I learned I really could love your daddy more- for giving you to me. I listened to the silence of your sleep and raced to your side more than once- just to check. I found joy in each day and in learning to be a mommy. I watched in amazement as you changed, sometimes from hour to hour, it seemed. We played and we laughed and we snuggled.

And you grew.

From the beginning, you were an alert baby. Eyes wide open and ready to take in the world. Curious and nosy by nature, that desire to know and see everything has only grown with you. Each day brought a new facial expression, a new vocalization, and pure, sweet joy found in your face. You were smiling around 6 weeks (and no, it was not just gas), at 3 months you giggled out loud. During that same time period you rolled over for the first time. At 4 months you met your Grandpa for the first time and wrapped him around your finger. At 5 months you crawled and at 6 months you started moving from laying down to sitting up on your own. And you never stopped going. You were standing on your own by 7 months and “walking” on your knees shortly after. And at 9 1/2 months you took your first, independent steps. And now, you’re a walking, climbing, chattering curious monkey. My baby.

As I write this letter I want so desperately to tell you every moment of this last year, to help you realize how much I’ve loved each milestone, every giggle and flirtatious look and mischievous grin. There is no way I can ever share ever memory I’ve desperately imprinted in my mind. I would not trade any minute we’ve spent together, I have no regrets for the changes I made so I could be with you. I thank God every day that he sent you to us and I hope someday you can read this letter and know that no parents were ever so blessed and no baby was ever so loved.

I love you, baby girl. Happy 1st Birthday. I can’t wait for our next year of adventure.

Love,

Your Mommy

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