My darling littlest girl,
Today is your very first ever birthday. Happy Birthday! May there be many many more of them to come.
This time last year (well this time and few hours) your Daddy and I sat in the hospital looking at your tiny pink face, still slightly squashed from delivery, utterly exhilarated and totally capivated by you. When they eventually kicked your Daddy out at midnight he didn’t really want to go, and I sent him pictures all through your first night. The next day, as your big sister went off for a Christmas treat with Grandma and Grandad, he and I sat side by side on that hospital bed passing you from arm to arm, watching you sleep, and smiling into your bright eyes, in shards of frosty sunshine and the occasional blast of fresh air from a sliver of open window.
I know I keep saying it, but I really can’t believe a whole year has gone past so fast, and yet in the same breath I cannot imagine our lives without you. You are such a happy, sunny little soul, so content in life, and you bring comfort and joy to all our lives. Your giggles are completely infectious, and it’s your sister’s greatest pleasure to set you off into peals of laughter, although I’ll still claim that your biggest and best smiles are saved for me.
You love to be cuddled, to be tucked up in our arms, and smothered in kisses (with the one possible exception of your sister trying to hold your hair), and we’re only too happy to oblige. Now that you’re on the move you scuttle across the floor to find us if you think we’ve gone a bit too far out of reach, and I think one of your current favourite games is to sit on the floor and then climb over my legs from one side to the other and back again, before coming in for a sweet kiss, and the sort of snuggly cuddle where you tuck your head under my chin, such your thumb and look out at the world from the safety of my arms.
Your absolute favourite pastime at the moment is climbing the stairs. I think you’ve got an internal radar trained on the lounge door; as soon as it’s left open even a crack you’re off at a supersonic crawl, and usually half way up the first flight by the time we’re got to “Where’s …”
I let you climb to the top following closely behind as often as I can on the basis that the more you practice the less likely you are to fall on the day when you escape without my noticing, and also because you think it is the most fun ever, and you get to the top with such a proud smile of achievement and a yelp of joy it would take a harder Mama than I to deny you.
When we do persuade you to stay on one level, you want to be in the midst of things: following and copying Kitty and rather destroying her Duplo towers in the process; cooking up a beanbag stew in the play kitchen while Kitty fries a mushroom and a slice of watermelon; or perched in the kitchen in your high chair pulling plastic plates out of the drying rack or dipping a spare washing up sponge in and out of the sink. If it involves stirring, stacking or some form of sorting, you love it; and the trail of clean but wet laundry removed from the basket does at least give me a clue about where you’ve wandered to (it’s usually the stairs).
As far as your words go, you’ve got “Mama”, “Dada”, “hi!” and “Dat!” (anything you want and can point at) and I’m going to enjoy watching you learning to speak over the next year.
You’re another foodie baby; at the moment you’ll try just about anything, and long may that last. Although, if you keep polishing off food the way you set too my spinach and butternut squash gratin at lunch on Tuesday I’m going to have to think about ordering you your own portions, and not simply sharing mine!
Now that you have very almost just got at least one top tooth, and a solid couple of bottom teeth and are putting them to good use at every opportunity maybe that’s not such a bad idea.
Right now as I write you’re asleep upstairs in your cot, but there’s every chance that you’ll wake up in the early morning and come through to our room to snuggle up with us and have a little pre-breakfast milk. You’ve taken to having a little post-milk wriggle and then going back to sleep with your head on my tummy which I love; and there’s no deadline or timetable on your birthday so you can sleep as long as you like.
And then my little lovelie there’s a birthday banner on the wall with your name on it, and a big pile of things wrapped in balloon paper in the lounge which I think you’re going to rather enjoy.
Your first birthday is a very special day, and I think you’re going to have a blast. Don’t mind Mama if she has a little touch of the shiny damp eyes; I was the same when your sister had her birthday. Well sort of. Part of it is that I just can’t bury my head in the sand anymore; you’re growing up, and you are (and will be) wonderful; I just miss that teeny tiny newborn sometimes. And the second is a little bittersweet sadness that the more you grow and change into the amazing young woman that you will be someday, the more you move away from that tiny newborn baby that your Grannie would have instantly recognised towards a little girl full of her very own personality; and I’m a little sad for both of you that you never got to meet.
In the last year you’ve turned from a tiny pink bundle of new baby, into a kind and loving baby girl, and I can’t wait to see what the next year brings for you.
I love you to the moon and back, to the stars and back, to the end of the universe, and then just a little bit further.