Yes, your father was there. And I have no doubt he has very special, specific memories that belong only to him...things we both were there for yet experienced in very different ways. But, as most mothers will most likely contend, there is something about being the one who literally gives you life...something so unbelievable and out of this world that we feel that moment, and the months, days, hours and minutes leading up to your birth with a greater intensity.
Your birth by medical standards was nothing extraordinary. Yet, twelve years have passed and I remember the details of that night with blurred clarity sharpened immensely by the feelings and emotions surrounding each detail. Fear...pain...disbelief...excitement...anticipation...
Okay. Let's be honest...I was terrified in the most incredible way. To this day I can't see a can of chicken and rice soup without being moved back to a hospital room where I sat alone for a few moments and came face to face with the realization that I was about to not only meet you, but that I was going to become a mother and I knew there was no turning back. I had dreamed of you, had pictured your little face. I felt certain I would know you once I met you, yet had no idea there would be a "grace period" where we would have to work to get to know one another. Much of the night passed with little excitement. You went easy on me overall. The surprise was how quickly you came. The doctors were certain you would take much longer, but in what would become your usual fashion, you came in your own time, in your own way making an entrance only someone so tiny could manage. Amid my exhaustion, they laid you on my chest and I saw you for the first time. Honestly, I remember little of this moment, but I know it happened and ultimately I know my arms were the first to hold you. The exhaustion was overwhelming, but I will never forget the first time they handed you to me all wrapped up with that little hat on your tiny head...I knew you...in that very moment I knew you...you were the face from my dreams, the baby I had longed to meet, the tiny person who had been kicking and stretching inside of me all those months...and I was in love.
At 4:55am, on a cold and icy morning...you made me a mother. For the past 11years I have woken up at that very time and I expect tonight to be no different. In a matter of seconds I was forever changed. You were, and still are, fierce and determined. You dream big and love hard. You never wanted to be far from me and I am thankful that remains to this day. You make me laugh in ways no other can. I am proud of the girl you are and the young lady you are becoming. Your interests are many and varied and I can't wait to see what you accomplish next.
We've shared many more moments that no one else treasures as I do...most of which I keep tucked deep in my heart to pull out when I need reminded of my place here in this world. You inspire me to be better. You humble me and you encourage me. I love that in many ways we continue to learn and grow together. As I fall asleep tonight I'm certain my visions will be of that cold January night when I fought hard through each contraction knowing that with each one I was closer to meeting you. And as you turn 12 in the early morning hours, I pray you will know the love that surrounds you. You, my girl, are my greatest accomplishment...being your mommy is my greatest adventure...and watching you become whoever you are meant to be brings me the greatest joy.