You are one year old today.
On November 22, 2006, you were born by c-section. I remember lying on that operating table, your Daddy sitting right next to me. You came out screaming and I heard your shrill angry voice announcing your presence to the world. Someone said “it’s a girl” and I suddenly realized I had a daughter. A little girl. Your Daddy went to watch as they weighed, measured and checked you out. He told them what your name was - one we had picked out together. “Reagan” because it was a pretty. “Hope” because we had so much hope for you. All I could hear was you crying, and I like to think it was because you missed me. Just before they took you out of the room, the nurse stopped beside me and held you so I could see you for the first time. Your eyes were closed but I remember seeing your tiny face nestled snugly amongst the blankets. That’s when I fell asleep. A while later your Daddy came to see me in the recovery room. He told me how much you weighed and I was so surprised. I asked him over and over how much you weighed and he would repeat himself - 9 1/2 pounds. As soon as they had wheeled me back into our room, they brought in a little plastic baby crib and I could see a small person inside. My small person. They placed you in my arms and I got to hold my baby in my arms for the first time.
I was so tired, Reagan. I was so tired I didn’t cry and I didn’t say much to you. I simply stared at your face. The rest of that day your Daddy held you and rocked in the chair while I floated in and out of sleep.
The next day, Thanksgiving Day, I had a bad morning. There was a problem with my pain medication and I really wondered if I was going to make it. Would I even be able to live. Would I be able to walk. Would I be able to care for you at all. But after some new medicine and a long nap, I felt a lot better. The nurse brought you in and tucked you in my arm. And there you slept - so peacefully. So perfectly. So very comfortable. This time I was a little more awake and alert and I was able to really study you. I counted your fingers and your toes. I touched your nose and your tiny lips. I looked at your eyelashes. I smelled your sweet little head. And the words floated through my mind, but I couldn’t tell you I loved you - not without sobbing loudly and waking you up. So instead I said two little words to the God that had given you to me - thank you. I still cried, but I managed to not wake you. Everyone told me how incredibly beautiful and cute you were. And you were absolutely beautiful.
It was late that night when the nurse brought you in to see me. You were crying and she thought you just needed some time with your Mom. They took off all your clothes, except your diaper, and placed you right on my chest - skin to skin. And there we slept for hours. I held you close and stroked the soft skin of your back. We snuggled. You slept. I cried some more. There was something about that moment. It was just the two of us. It was wonderful.
I don’t recall all that much from those first several months. I remember you didn’t sleep at night very much. We had some long nights. At around 3 weeks you started crying and didn’t stop till you were about 4 months old. That may be an exaggeration, but really, you cried a lot. Every night we would feed you, hold you and rock you while you screamed until you fell asleep.
I felt just awful that you had colic. I felt like you needed something from me and I couldn’t give it to you. I felt like you were hurting and I couldn’t make you feel better. I felt like we would never sleep. And slowly those feelings started to go away. You started to sleep and stopped crying all the time. Each week was a little less. And each week I felt a little more like I could do this Mom-thing. You loved the swing. You did not love the bouncy seat. You loved to be swaddled. You loved your pacifier. You loved to listen to me sing. And slowly, we learned from each other.
We gave you the nickname of Pete Pete sort of by accident. It started when I called you Stinky Pete one day and your Daddy laughed. After that it was Silly Pete, Fussy Pete, Smiley Pete, or Stinky Pete. Eventually it just ended up being Pete Pete. Everytime we said it we giggled.
It wasn’t long before you were rolling over, sitting up, tipping over, then crawling. One day you crawled over to the couch, reached up to the cushion, and pulled your body up with one very loud grunt. And there you stood. You cruised from about 9 months on. You walked at 10 months. You walked really well at 10 1/2 months. You were running at 11 months.
You have made me laugh so many times. Your expressions. Your sneezes. Your yawns. Your giggles. Sometimes, even your angry crying. It hasn’t been all adorable all the time, but there were countless times when I was simply amazed by you.
As a one year old, you are strong and determined. You babble all the time. You are trying to sing, but it sounds more like howling. When you do something naughty and I come over to get you, you giggle and run away. You do not like to eat off the spoon because you want to feed yourself. You are as cute, and possibly cuter, than the day you were born. You will walk across the room just to give me a hug. You laugh at leaves blowing across the yard. We play a game of peekaboo everytime I get you out of the car and you think its hilarious. You are so loved and so treasured.
For many years we prayed for you. For many years our hearts ached to love you. For many years our arms longed to hold you and our eyes longed to see you. And when you entered our lives we were overwhelmed by the gift we had been given. As we said at your baptism, you belong to Jesus. I am just so very glad that He has allowed me to be part of your life.
It makes me a little sad to know you won’t remember this day. I know you won’t remember a single thing from this year of your life. But believe me when I tell you we have had so much fun and learned so much from each other. Someday, when you look back and read this, I hope you know how very much I loved you and how thankful I am that God sent you to me. I have loved you for so long, and you will never see a day without my love.
Happy birthday, my little girl! I love you so.