At this exact time, 4 years ago today, I was in a car headed to the hospital.
I didn’t have time to think about how much my life was about to change or how scared I was or how I was about to have the most monumental moment of my entire life. I was just trying to breathe. In and out. In and out. Just breathing.
What came next was a firestorm of pain that is really indescribable, fear, confusion, frustration, numbness and then there was you. Wrapped warm and picture perfect in a stiff, overwashed hospital blanket, your impossibly long, curled lashes blinking at me.
I wish I could go back and live that moment I held you for the first time again.
I was too in shock to properly take it all in. As shocked as the day I found out I was having you, I looked at you and truly couldn’t understand that you were real and that daddy and I had actually made you.
I have that feeling often still. When I watch your little brain working and hear the brilliance that comes out of your mouth daily I often just stand in shock, looking at you. Still, every day I catch my breath a little when I stop and really look in your eyes. They are rimmed in brown now, a new development over the past year and I can’t believe it. Your eyelashes are the same.
I look at you all the time and don’t even know how you got here. With your brother it seems very straightforward, I look at him and think yes, we planned for him, he came, he is pretty much what we were anticipating him to be. Not you.
You came out of nowhere and shocked us to our core. We weren’t expecting you, but we instantly knew you were meant to be and meant for us in a very spiritual way. There is a special relationship you and I share. I am the parent, but I feel very deeply and strongly that you are I are doing this together. Like maybe you’ve done this before and are here to help me out along the way. I don’t think that’s something many mothers say of their 3-year-olds, but I feel it deeply with you.
You were never ordinary, still to date the happiest and easiest to please baby I’ve ever seen. As soon as you started talking it was clear you weren’t average, you were in some whole other league. And every day you are like a new surprise waiting to unfold.
At 1:40 am you will turn 4 years old, sleeping soundly and peacefully as you always do in your rainbow bed in your bubblegum pink room, surrounded by stuffed animals and 4 separate blankets and four different pillows arranged just so. Every night, every nap, without fail “Mommy, did you make my bed?” Meaning, is everything just exactly in its place? It is. Every time. You are so much like me it scares me – stubborn and perfectionistic and anxious and eager to please those in charge. We’ll work on us together, sweet pea. Seeing myself in you makes me softer on myself, because I love you so much so how could I not love parts of us that are the same?
You are the tallest 3-year-old I know, built like daddy as a child with long thin limbs and not the slightest trace of baby fat anywhere on your little body. Your long blonde hair with the cowlick in the exact place your poor little head sustained trauma when you were born, bright blue/grey eyes, long dark lashes and porcelain skin are so beautiful. You are kind and gentle and when little kids cut in front of you in gymnastics I never see a trace of anger or resentment in your eyes. You love babies and flowers and dirt and puddles and snow and bugs and princesses and baking and music.
At home you are a spit-fire, persistent and tenacious in asking for what you want. You are vocal about your displeasure, you hate when things are out of the order you want them in, you love dress up and sparkly shoes and hate having your hair done. You are cautious and careful and take time to warm up to new people and activities. You love sweets, can never have enough, just like daddy.
This was your first full year of being a big sister, your first year of preschool and gymnastics. You’ve spent more time sick this past year than you have your entire life up to this point. You’ve had to deal with the trauma and stress of your brothers hospitalizations and surgery and waking up to us gone in the middle of the night and Gam Gam here instead. You’ve done such a good job adapting, even though that is a dang hard thing for you to do a lot of the time.
You are a challenge and joy daily, you are so, so easy most days and also really tough sometimes. I can’t explain to you the pride I feel watching the person you are and are growing up to be.
A few weeks ago we were driving past our old house, the one I was pregnant with you in, the one we brought you home from the hospital to, the one you learned to walk and talk in, the one you spent the first 2.5 years of your life in. I saw the little green tulip leaves poking out of the ground that daddy and I had planted the Fall after you were born. Seeing those leaves meant it was time for your birthday, they usually bloom within a few weeks. I sighed audibly and let out a little nostalgic moan as we drove by and said “Our tulips!” wistfully and sadly to myself. You were in the backseat and piped in “Mommy? You don’t have to be sad about leaving our tulips. We can always visit them and you know what else? You can plant some new tulips at our new house if you want to.” You read my mind in just a sigh and two words.
You are magic, Giavanna, in every sense of the word. I truly cannot wait to see how you will grow and change and stay the same over the next year.
Happy 4th birthday to my first and only sweet, perfect baby girl.