I can’t believe it’s already been a whole year since that wonderful day when I first beheld you face to face. For nine months I’d loved and cherished you with a longing. I’d lie in bed and try to imagine your face, your fingers, your feet, your voice. I imagined how it would feel to hold you in my arms.
And then, there you were. First, a voice, crying behind a curtain. I gasped to finally hear your voice. And then a little wriggling body. I cried tears of joy and your daddy did too when we first saw our beautiful little girl. I had to blink through the haze, straining to see you as the nurses cleaned you up. And then, they finally handed you to your daddy so he could hold you next to me. I wanted to hold you so much, but couldn’t because of the monitors.
Daddy was so torn when they took you to the nursery. he wanted to be with you and to be with me too. I told him to go with you because I couldn’t bear for you to be alone among strangers. It seemed so long, that wait in the recovery room until they brought you to me.
We were in the hospital with you for four days while I recovered from surgery. During that time we had so many visitors, your grandparents from Texas, Grandma B. from Maine, all your aunts and uncles and cousins, everyone wanted to meet you.
And everyone who came to see us noticed how alert you were, bright eyed and noticing. All the doctors and nurses commented on it. Your eyes seemed to be taking everything in. It didn’t seem like you ever slept!
I was so glad Grandma and Grandpa came up from Texas to help us in that first week after we brought you home from the hospital. You never wanted to sleep unless someone was holding you and they were always glad to cuddle their little Bella. Grandma even fell asleep with you on the couch! They say all babies ever do is sleep, but not you, Bella. There was too much to see for you to want to sleep for long. Daddy started wondering why we ever got a bassinet. But eventually you started to sleep more and more and now we miss those days of holding you while you slept.
This past year, watching you grow and change, has been the best year of my life. Every day brought something new and special and I got to know you a little more, to love you a little more. Though it hardly seems possible that my heart could get any more full of love for you. My heart must be getting bigger and bigger with each passing day to contain all that love.
I am so sorry I have not always been as good a mother as I want to be. I am sorry for all the times I’ve been impatient with you, frustrated with you, unable to give you everything you want and need. I am trying to grow into the kind of mommy that you deserve and I ask God to help me on my journey. I already know that he sent you to me because you will help me to become a better person, to become more like Him, growing in love and holiness day by day.
There is so much more I want to say, and yet the day is slipping away. There simply isn’t time for all the words I have for you today and every day.
I wanted to say something about names, all the names we call you. It started before you were born when you were our Baby Bella, our little mushroom growing in the dark. Then when we were in the hospital somehow you were suddenly my Bel-Bel, a small sweet name that just seemed to fit. In the past year you have been Bella-boo and Bella-buzza, and Bella Marie and Squawk-a-belle and Shriek-a-belle, and Stink-a-belle, Isa-my-bella and so many other endearments. I know there will be many more names as the years pass and sometimes you may resent some of them. But please know, they are all of them meant with love.
You won’t remember today, your first birthday; but believe me, it’s been a good one. You slept in late (a nice birthday gift for mommy and daddy.) and had an early morning video chat with Grandma before she went to work.
We had a special birthday lunch at Chili’s where you ate mac and cheese for the first time and loved it. You also ate broccoli and bell peppers from my plate and even snagged a tortilla chip when we weren’t looking. You had so much fun looking around at all the people, smiling at everyone, making so many new friends, as you do everywhere we go.
Sadly, it’s been rainy all day so we haven’t been able to do your favorite thing: go to the park. But you did spend some time staring out the window thinking about the doggies that live next door. You’re going to have pizza for dinner followed by a bath and prayers and a cuddle with your mom.
May you have many, many, many happy returns of the day. I love you, Isabella. God bless you today and always.