I believed that nothing showed the passage of time more acutely than a pregnancy. Then our daughter was born, and I learned the truth - NOTHING shows the passage of time more acutely than a baby's first year.
It's been said before, and it'll be said again, but I am in a constant state of disbelief that E is a year old, but also that she's ONLY a year old. I feel like she has been a part of us for as long as I can remember. And in many ways, she has.
In 2005, I met and fell madly in love with T.
In 2008, we set ourselves a five-year timeframe for having our first child. A few months later, we got married.
In 2009, we bought our home. Though we didn't know it at the time, this would be our last year as a childless couple (though our "accident" baby, a colt named Remi, was born this year!).
In 2010, we became a licensed foster home, and over the span of 2 years cared for three children.
In 2011, during our final foster care placement, we decided that having our own children couldn't possibly be as difficult and heartwrenching as having foster children. We started trying to get T pregnant that summer, and E was conceived in December, days before our foster children went home to their birthmother.
In 2012, our charming daughter was born. We had a year to spare before our pre-determined five year timeframe elapsed!
Before I even met T, I'd dreamed about having children. I'd known that I wanted kids since I was a kid, myself. I wondered who they would be, what they would look like, how many I would have. I envisioned all the things I would teach them, and wondered what they would teach me. I daydreamed about taking them on vacations and letting them wake me on Christmas morning.
I didn't always know that my first daughter wouldn't be born of my genes, or of my body. Once it was obvious this was to be the case, I allowed myself a period of acknowledging a sense of loss, of sadness that I wasn't going to experience pregnancy the way I'd originally wanted. I had baby fever for years prior to E's conception, so convincing my hormones to wait for my own pregnancy has been a difficult road at times. However, I wouldn't change anything, even if I could.
I loved every moment (okay, MOST moments) of T's pregnancy. I experienced it in a secondhand way, a way that I believe has made me more appreciative of my relationship and of our child. I felt privileged to be able to care for T and ease any amount of her anxiety or discomfort that I could. I felt intensely protective in a way I had never before - I still feel that way.
And now here we are, a year of E's presence on Earth! 365 rotations. 1 revolution around the sun. T's pregnancy already feels far away, and our baby is a bonafide kid.
In the last year, I've learned a little something about the depth of love - and how it doesn't have a measurable depth, after all. I've learned a lot about mothering, but also about being mothered. I've learned more about my own parents in the last year than ever - my biggest realization is that there was so much about them that I didn't already know. I wonder how much more they have to teach me. I wonder how much more I don't know.
And so, here's to you EJ:
You came into this world on your own terms, in your own time. You blew all our expectations out of the water from the first moment we set eyes on your tiny face.
You have taught us about love and patience. You've taught us about the magical value of seeing the world through eyes that are experiencing everything for the first time.
You are opinionated, kind, gentle, sweet, sensitive, and hilarious. You're so clever, it's amazing.
You love food! Especially risotto with peas. Actually, anything with peas. You enjoy enchiladas, steak, baked sweet potatoes, blackberries, bananas, blueberries, oranges and lemons, and (admittedly) chocolate ice cream. You're pretty game to try anything, but if you don't like it you don't hesitate to make that known.
You are a chatty little thing. Dancing is one of your very favorite activities - I hope it's not terribly embarrassing to you as you get older that neither of your moms can dance at all. You are a masterful crawler, and you enjoy pulling yourself up to stand and then letting go. Sometimes, you're a bit of a daredevil, and sometimes you have a flair for the dramatic.
Your once-tiny body used to curl into the crook of my arm, now your lanky limbs spill out of my arms as I carry your sleeping form to bed.
Being your Mama is an incredible honor and I fall in love with you all over again every day. Watching you grow and learn and change has been so much fun - and I look forward to all the future brings us.
This year has been the most amazing year I've ever lived.
Happy Birthday, wonderful child.
And I want to wish my amazing wife a happy birthing day, as well. One year ago exactly, she was in labor in our living room. I had woken my parents in the middle of the night and they'd driven the two hours to us - all of us thinking that the baby would be arriving soon. Little did we all know that we'd have quite the wait in front of us, and T would have a lot of hard work to get through before E could make her grand entrance at 7:37pm. You were a warrior; you were nothing short of phenomenal. I am thankful for you. Thankful for being able to watch your body do one of the most awesome things a body can do. Thankful to know this child, who is of your genes, and is of your body. Without you, there would be no E. I love you.