It's shortly after midnight on October 31st. And I'm awake. I've promised that I won't spend this day reliving the fear of the same day last year. And I won't spend it reliving the pain. Instead, I will spend it celebrating the joy of my little girl and the great gift of grace. And so I will ramble along a bit with you as I greet this day.
We call her Sarah Annie. It was Karoline who first giggled the name and no one says it quite so adorably as she does. But we all say it. If not the whole thing, more often than not she is called "Annie." It just suits her.
I remember when I first saw her without the tubes and wires. She was all dressed in tiny preemie clothes in the NICU and she looked to me to be even more vulnerable than she did when every breath was measured. Sweet, tiny baby, she was all mine to hold and before long, to take home. Her homecoming was a surprise. Mary Beth and I carried her ever so gently to the car and I think we both held our breath, all the way home, while counting every single breath Sarah Annie took.
She was so little she fit neatly into a doll basket. The doll looked big beside her.
Not any more.
I know she's likely my last baby and yet, I don't for a moment want to stop time with her. Let's be very clear: I'm sad to think that there will be no babies in this house, but those are thoughts for another day. I'm not sad at all that Sarah Annie is growing and changing. I've delighted in every new gurgle and coo, every single milestone. She's darling and with every day, she becomes even more dear. Babies grow and change so much the first year; it's a privilege and a blessing to begin to get a glimpse of the person they are. I'm happy to be looking forward to getting to know my Sarah Annie even better in the coming year.
My favorite milestone (so far) was the day she really, really smiled. She took her time figuring out the whole smile thing (kind of like the eating thing, and the breathing thing, and the keeping oneself warm thing), and there were concerns that she wasn't really seeing us or that she couldn't respond. Every day, a dozen times a day or more, I'd pray that she would smile. Just let me know she's there and she's happy. Please reassure me that all is well. And then one day, that happy grin bubbled up from her sweet heart and she blessed us immensely with her smile. There were dimples! Oh those dimples! For a moment, I thought of the little bandaids that held the tubes across her cheeks in the NICU. Did dimples magically grow beneath them? Probably not, but we never discount the possibility of fairy dust around here and those dimples are the stuff of fairy tales.
A graduate of Kangaroo Care, Sarah Annie loves to snuggle. She tucks her head under my chin and melts in my heart. She likes to sleep that way. Actually, that's pretty much the only way she likes to sleep. Someday, I'm going to miss that. Right now, I'm just plain happy to have her there, even if I am perpetually tired. It's nice to easily make the world peaceful for our little love.
She doesn't crawl yet, though she does scoot a bit ever so slowly on her bottom. If we put her down and wait for her to crawl, she protests. Loudly and with authority. No one here can stand to hear her fuss. And so, she gets scooped up and entertained and spoiled just a little. She likes to pull herself to standing and I know it won't be long before she lets go and then propels herself into the great big world. Sarah Annie will smile at the world. I know she will. All those smile prayers are still answered every day. Smile, Sarah Annie. The whole world smiles with you.
Happy, happy birthday, baby mine.