We were sure that our Elena Catherine was going to be born Henry William that day (we didn't find out the sex). Instead, we were surprised to hear "it's a girl!", as our sweet little girl entered this world weighing 8lbs 2oz. She was such a good baby. She was a sleeper, an eater and as yummy as a newborn can be. Life was good.
We learned more in the first year of her life than any parent should. It was supposed to be a year of watching her grow, achieve, with all kinds of firsts and dates to record in the baby book. Instead, it was a year of pain, tears, darkness, the realization of the fragility of life. Her first year was the hardest of my life. In all honestly, it's hard for me to actually remember the first year of her life. It's just dark.
But, I remember her first birthday. I'm certain we invited close to 80 people into our house that hot July day. I wanted everyone who loved and supported us through it to be there, to celebrate a day that should not have been. I cried my way through that day. Happy tears. We had made it.
And every birthday since has continued to be a celebration. We celebrate something that we know was nearly lost. Her birthday has incredible meaning and has now become a reminder of what we were given. It's a time to reflect upon the beautiful memories we have made in another year of life. It's a day to look at our beautiful girl, be proud of the amazing things she has achieved and give thanks to God for giving us the gift of her life, her smile and all we have learned along the way.
For our most precious girl, who cries every time someone sings the happy birthday song, you have enriched our lives more than we could ever know. You are brave. You are resilient. You are loved. You are a blessing. You are joy. You are perfect.