Dear Zoe (On the Night Before You're One)

Sweet Zoe girl....how can we be at this moment, how can I be sitting down to write this today??  That precious, painful, beautiful night of bringing you into this world does not seems like a year ago.  I still remember every little detail of that life changing day.  It was actually at this exact time that I was checking in the hospital, unknowingly at 7cm, but in crazy pain waiting for somebody to come to the desk.  What an incredible night.  We have been through so much together since you came into this world.  It has not been easy by any means...but you my sweet girl are an amazing blessing to this family.  This past 12 months have seemingly flown by now that I'm in this moment...but in many ways it's been quite a long and hard year.  It's surreal that the joy of meeting you has been in the same year as the pain of losing our dear friend.  This will always be a time in your life that I will use to teach you about trusting the Lord and clinging to his strength. There have been intense and painful moments...but completely and overwhelmingly joy-filled ones as well.  You my sweet daughter, are my precious Zoe Joy.  I will never pretend like our first year together was always peaches and rainbows because one day when, prayerfully, you're a mommy who adores her babies, you will be more encouraged by the truth than anything I could say to pretend it away.

As I sit here and reflect on all the days that brought us here, I remember few of them without a million snuggles a day with you.  That is one thing I treasure about you...you love love.  From the moment you were born - literally - you wanted to be close to your mama.  You wanted to feel me, touch me, know I was right there.  And you are still that way.  It most certainly took me awhile to learn how to live without very long stretches of time of being able to use two hands. ;)  You have occupied my arms during your little life more than you have not, I'm almost certain.  And oh how you loathe sleep and recently I've made some desperate pleas to the Lord for help.  But I have always known the tough part of this training for you comes from how much you just really don't want to be alone in this life.  And baby girl, that is okay.  It is really important that you start sleeping a lot more soon ;), but I don't ever want you to believe the lie that needing others is a bad thing.  It's wonderful to know how precious and important relationships are.  God has given us such an amazing gift to have each other to love, and you have such a gift of pouring it out and being so open to receiving it.

The honest truth is that you have been amazing through so many changes and experiences you've had in your first year of life.  You learned to travel well and relax in the car, even though it took months.  You've always been so good at being my baby, and it seems weird that now your entering into toddler hood.  I am still amazed we survived through the moving and all the traveling and adjusting - it's crazy when I think back.  But we figured it out.  I hope you'll be gracious to forgive how the fatigue has affected my memory so much more fully this time around.  But even if I don't have each sweet detail perfectly documented, always know baby girl that I am present with you and your sister every day.  And even on the hard, exhausted, not so pretty days, there are always a million moments that I stand back and stare at you two in complete fascination.  I LOVE talking to you in my mama voice and just getting that big Zoe grin in return.  And the way you open those hands wide and reach out for me is the sweetest.  It's almost so amazing and surreal that I can't emotionally comprehend it a lot of the time.  I pray some day you will be blessed with little ones of your own and know just what I mean.

Some things we've grown to know and love about you....you are a mover and a shaker.  Just like in the womb.  That part does not surprise me at all.  You amaze me with how you move even while your nursing.  It's actually kind of hilarious.  And while you have always, always loved sitting on a lap and listening to books being read, most other times you are wiggly and busy.  You do love being worn in the carrier and you ADORE being in the stroller and walking.  It's the sweetest contentment.  You are curious and determined, you have sort of rushed through the stages and I just go with it, even though I certainly don't encourage it. ;) You hardly did any baby food at all, and are a champ at eating.  That's what's sweet about you...as much as you do not want to be alone or too far from somebody else, you are the most flexible little gal.  You really do go with the flow and honestly just want to have a good time.

Which leads me to what everyone has noticed first about you since the moment you were born...

you are CUTE.  So stinking cute.  A lot of times I write a little update blog post in my head and I always want to start with, "She's so cute I can't stand it."  Seriously baby girl, you smile with your whole face.  You lean your head back and giggle your little heart out.  You are the easiest person to photograph because you've always looked right at me and smiled.  You love when someone looks at you, notices you, loves on you....and you always reward with the biggest, toothiest, happiest smile.  You have a sweet, curious, playful little heart, and I'm so glad you are mine.

There is no way I could write about you without talking about your very best friend...your sister Selah. It brings me the greatest joy ever to see the way you two love each other.  It's amazing and fascinating and I am so beyond thankful that you have one another.  Every morning you are both so eager to see each other.  Selah still calls you "Yo-ee,"  but I can tell she's about to transition out of that.  For the first 6 months at least it was "Baby."  It's all been so cute I don't rush any of it away.  No one makes you smile like she does, and you want to participate in whatever she is doing.  She absolutely adores you Zoe, don't ever forget that.  Even now when you are really starting to let your own personality and preferences shine, and you two get in some little squabbles, I still see you are for each other and your friendship is deep.  I pray that is always true, even as the squabbles potentially get a little more intense throughout life.  You are best friends and God has blessed you deeply by giving you to one another.  Selah has always looked out for you and wanted what's best for you since the day you joined our family.  She is always telling mama what baby sister needs. :)

And now the night before your very first birthday.  It's crazy, truly.  Though I may be obviously really tired, I am even more thankful.  This role is special, this life is special, every single little minute we have together is so special.  Every day, every month, every year I hope I'm growing at this mothering privilege.  I'll never forget a moment I had with you at my 6 week dr.'s appointment after you were born.  I looked at you and knew deep in my heart you would not be interested in staying a baby for long.  I knew you'd always need me, but there has always been a sparkle in your eye to grow and live and move and explore.  I pray my heavenly Father keeps leading me to know how to love and lead you best.  It's a big role and I'm having a whole lot of fun, even when the days bring tears.  I love you Zoe Joy.  We all love you so very much.  Your daddy is so proud of you and so delighted by you.  We love how you crawl right up into our laps and hug us tight around the neck when we are sitting on the floor. Or how anytime we get you out of your crib you give us the biggest squeeze.  You even already love giving kisses and smacking your little lips together.  You amaze me sweet thing.  I'm excited to continue celebrating you tomorrow on your big day.  It's been fun to celebrate you already with our families.  God created you for a purpose precious girl, and I pray he pursues your heart more and more every day, and that you would be drawn into relationship with him and trust him with your whole heart.  Here's to year two with you Zoe Joy Marie...we are sure looking forward to it!  Happy almost birthday sweet one. :)