My darling Sadie Ann,
It has taken me quite a bit longer to write this letter than what I initially thought. I guess really sitting down and wrapping my mind around the reality that you are one year old is a lot more difficult than I even imagined. It seems surreal because time, in this past year, has lost it's meaning and become the biggest blur of my life.
In the days and weeks following your birth, there was no certainty of a celebratory birthday in your future - that was our reality a year ago. And yet, here we are. Celebrating and thanking the Ultimate Physician for everything you've overcome. Your strength. Your willingness to fight and preserver. In your short, one year life, you've faced more than some face in a lifetime. You've proven that 23 weekers should be given the chance to be called "viable" (mommy, hates that word!). And through this past year, you've already been an inspiration to so many. You've introduced faith to some, restored faith for others, brought people to their knees for the first time, and provided motivation for others.
A year ago I couldn't touch you. Your chance at surviving was small. If you did survive, it was likely that you would have significant health issues beyond the NICU. We were told that you'd face pulmonary difficulty throughout your life. We were told the extra steroids you required for your lungs could possibly cause brain damage and developmental deficits. We were told you could likely never walk due to a growing brain hemorrhage. We were told your prematurity and need for oxygen would most likely result in some degree of blindness. But, we were also told every baby is different.
You crushed the NICU. The first two months were challenging and terrifying, but once you were finally off of your breathing machine (it was a long 59 days) you took off! Two months after that we carried you out of those doors and welcomed you home. You left that NICU without any need for medication or supplemental oxygen, your brain bleeds resolved, and a few months later you were cleared by the retina specialist and pediatric ophthalmologist with perfect vision. Seeing who you are a year later, it's hard to believe where you started out.
So many people you've never met - that mommy and daddy never met - have prayed for you. Have been on their knees crying out for your health. You are easily the most prayed for human that I know. And even greater than that, the God of this Universe, took the time to listen to all of our cries and answer them. You are a beautiful example of the power of prayer. Your story will always include a world-wide group of prayer warriors.
Despite all the trails and hardships you've faced, you are happy. The constant smile on your face reminds me daily of how far you've come. Your laugh brings me to tears because of all it represents - strong lungs, typical brain function, social skills, and, of course, a baby that is happy. Your personality shines bright every day. Your idiosyncrasies melt my heart. I adore the sounds you make, how serious you become when you're "talking", I love how you aimlessly rub my hand or chest when you are drinking your bottle as you fall asleep, my heart explodes hearing the sweet sounds you make right before you fall asleep, I love starting every single day receiving a smile from you as I walk into your room to get you out of your bed, I love how you root into my chest when you're tired, I love the excitement on your face when I give you two play cups to bang together, I love how you absolutely lose control in complete happiness when I start singing You Are My Sunshine - but the truth is you are.
I've never experienced this type of joy and happiness simply by loving another human being. My love for you is indescribable. It's only a feeling that I have the complete pleasure of feeling every day and for the rest of my life.
You are my sunshine, my joy, and my love.
Mommy loves you more than you will ever know. Happy first birthday, baby girl!