Baby girl turns 1 today! I can't quite believe that it's been a whole year since she entered our lives three weeks before we were expecting her and gave us the biggest surprise of all when the baby that we were convinced was going to be a he, turned out to be a she.
Her first birthday is a mixed bag of emotions for this mama. I'm so happy to celebrate this important milestone and see my little lady be the center of attention (sporting a special birthday tutu nonetheless - come on, you think I'd let that opportunity pass me by??) as we celebrate her 365th day on this earth. But it also marks the closing of a chapter for us - our last baby is no longer a baby (even though she'll always be considered THE baby) - and every one of you readers know how nostalgic and panicked I become when I see time slipping through my fingers.
In keeping with tradition, I penned Henley's first birthday letter, heart swelling and tears brimming as I reflect on the past year that's made my little bear the amazing kid she is today. So here goes...
You were and always will be the biggest and best surprise of our lives. You kept us on our toes from the first day I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with you, slightly panicked about the prospect of adding another to our boisterous brood while we were in the middle of literally building a new home for our family. You always had your own agenda, deciding three weeks before your estimated due date that that was the day you were going to join our family. And I truly believe that you came to be for a reason - had we not gotten pregnant with you when we did, had we waited until the next summer, when we had discussed would be the "right time" to MAYBE try for a third, I don't think we would have made the decision to have you. And for that, I am forever grateful. Baby girl, you have brought a calmness to our lives that I didn't realize we needed, filled a hole I didn't realize was there and truly, deeply make our family complete. I look at you in awe on the daily; your little perfect features, your shining light that radiates from your little body. And I thank my lucky stars that you are ours. You spent the first three weeks of your life sleeping. All day, every day in the rock n play, all night lying on my chest. It was the only place you would settle at night and I loved every minute. I think you needed that extra time being close to your mama and I was happy to oblige. You earned your nickname, 'Angel Baby' by being just that - the most angelic, easy going child. We carted you around to all of your brother's activities and half the time forgot you were even there. You spent a LOT of time in the carrier, happy to just quietly observe what was going on around you. Our house was madness, filled with loud noises and very physical boys who were either trying to kill each other or smother you. But boy, did your brothers love you. Hayes quickly assumed the responsible big brother role, happily holding you and feeding you, doing whatever he could to help out. For the first couple of months you were with us, Greyson didn't notice you all that much, but when he did, he loved to give you big hugs and tell you how cute you were. By the end of your first year, you and Greyson were quite the little buddies; he was very protective over you, but also quick to remind you "No baby no!" when you got into his stuff. And you couldn't get enough of your brothers. You'd longingly look at them in wonder and awe and thought Hayes was the funniest guy on the planet. You were such a happy baby, constantly kicking your legs when you'd get excited, enthusiastically waving any time you caught your reflection in the mirror. When you got really animated about something, you'd crinkle your little nose up and sneer, breathing loudly in and out. You were quiet for the most part, but when you wanted to be heard, you could be very loud. On the rare occasion you got upset, you got really upset. We could tell you were a little on the sensitive side and could see you contemplating whether you should cry or not when someone said no or told you to stop doing something. You weren't used to hearing that! You crawled with gusto, loudly slamming your hands and feet on the ground, dirty knees on all of your pants. At one year, you still hadn't really shown signs of walking, but you would pull yourself up with ease and were cruising a little bit. And we were perfectly fine delaying the whole walking thing for as long as possible! You were slow to take to solids, but once you figured out how to eat (and once we took the time to actually feed you every day!), you embraced eating and liked mostly everything we gave you. At one year, you had one word: 'Baba', for bottle. You experimented with other sounds (mostly dad and bob) but didn't seem to assign them any meaning. You were a snuggler, always loving to be held. My favorite part of the day with you was the morning, when I'd go into your room to get you and you'd greet me with a big smile, then put your head on my shoulder for a few moments before the morning madness started. You were a great sleeper and a late riser, often waking up a full hour after your brothers. You knew how to clap, wave, put your arms up in the air when we said "Henley is this big!" and even learned how to whip nay nay after your nanny, Colisha taught you the song. You loved having your belly and feet kissed and could not get enough of the stinky feet game. You didn't really have any favorite toys, but were interested in everything your brothers played with, cars and balls in particular. More than anything, you seemed to love just a good ole pair of socks; you'd crawl around the house with one in each hand, happy as can be. You weren't a huge fan of having your diaper changed and the only song that seemed to calm you was "The Ants Go Marching." You became pretty attached to a little white lamb stuffed animal we called Lila and would suck on it's feet for comfort before you went to bed. It smelled terrible, no matter how much we washed it but you basically couldn't sleep without it. You, on the other hand, smelled so delicious and had the softest skin I'd ever felt. You had the cutest two little bottom teeth and no signs of anymore coming. Oh and you loved to dance. You'd bounce your bottom up and down on the floor and really get into the music, which was the cutest thing ever. We honestly couldn't get enough of you and tried to soak in every single moment, sneaking in as many kisses as we could while we still could and being a little more patient and willing to stop life for a minute to pick you up or snuggle on the couch with you while you had your bottle because you were the baby. You were simply the best and although you turning one made me sad for the baby days that had passed, it also made me excited for what was to come, the relationship I looked forward to having with you, my daughter, as you went through life. You're a lucky girl Hens, to be born into a family that has so much love for you. Between your Dad and me and your brothers, I hope you always feel protected and cared for and know that you are so special to this family for so many reasons but most importantly because you made us complete.