I used to think I knew what it would be like to have a baby. I thought I could imagine the nice way it would feel to hold my baby in my arms. I thought I understood the kind of love a mother feels for her child - the pride, the fear, the joy. I used to think I knew...back before June 29, 2011. But I didn't really have a clue.
This first year being your mama has been the most amazing of my life. You have shown me parts of myself I didn't know I had. You have proven to me that there is a strength inside me that I had never tapped into (that lesson was best illustrated about one hour and thirty-eight minutes into the pushing phase of our labor!), and have exposed depths of my ability to love and care for someone that I didn't truly know before. I can't find the right words to convey exactly how much I care for you, how important your happiness and comfort and health are to me. There just aren't words for that kind of feeling.
And this first year with you has been so many different things. It has been joyous and challenging, wonderful and frustrating, inspirational and just plain fun. Throughout it all, your daddy and I have just loved getting to know you. Loved watching you grow and change, watching you develop and turn into such a smart, sweet, charming, funny, beautiful little girl. You are our dream come true, and being your mother is so much more than I ever could have imagined it would be.
As I sit here, on your first birthday, with you fast asleep in your crib down the hall from me, I am both thrilled at all you have accomplished and sad that the time is going so fast. But I'm mostly thrilled. Thrilled and proud and amazed by how you have grown. And so very excited that your daddy and I get to spend years and years to come watching you become the person that you are meant to be. Helping you. Teaching you. Supporting you. But most of all, just plain loving you.
You will always, always be my baby girl, Annie Kate. And may you never for a second doubt how very much your father and I cherish you.
I love you, my sweet girl.