I knew it would come, but was still surprised when it arrived: your first birthday. My sweet girl, you stole our hearts the moment you arrived in this world. You have expanded our lives and our hearts more than I could ever have imagined. You've taught me that love is infinite and constantly unfolding and growing. You've shown me what a natural caretaker your brother is. You make your daddy weak in the knees. My Stella, my shining star.
And look how you have grown!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so proud of this girl. Twelve months ago, you and I were in a hospital room together, having survived our very first night. You were very hungry, and we were both trying to learn the best way to get you full.
And now. Now -- you are walking and talking your baby talk that is clear and authoritative despite its unique verbiage. You dined on grilled salmon and sipped (....or guzzled) ice water through a straw for your birthday dinner. You play the most adorable game of peekaboo, where you "hide" by covering your eyes. You love to pass things back and forth with Nico, especially when you fake him out and snatch the thing back at the last minute. You love to play with water, and I can hardly wait to bring you to the pool this summer. You are going to have SO much fun!!!!!!!!!!!
Life with you just keeps getting better and more fun. But to tell you the truth, I'm not looking forward too much because I'm so content just being here, in this moment, with you. I love the feeling of your little legs wrapped around my body when I pick you up. I love how you rest your head on my shoulder. I love the way you charge at me at full speed and literally throw yourself into a hug. I love listening to you experiment with your voice -- your soft coos, ear-piercing shreaks, and throaty shouts. Your soft, baby smell. Your dimpled knuckles and creased thighs.
My sweet girl. I love you so much. Happy first birthday, dear daughter. May your life always be full of happiness and love.
Always and always,