Today we celebrated Anja's first birthday. Her birthday was actually two days ago, but we had the big party today. On her birthday, the sperm donor and I both took off from work and our little family went to the local zoo. Anja could not see some of the animals from her stroller because of the wall to prevent people from falling into the animal dens, but she did point at some very colorful birds, a large cat, and the elephants. Maybe she recognized the elephants from her baby animals book. But I think she enjoyed being pushed around someplace new on a pretty day with her silly parents gushing all over her and singing funny birthday songs.
I think she took a cute pill during the nap before her party today because she was all smiles when both grandmothers entered her room upon her wakening to change her diaper and get her dressed. She smiled and waved at everyone, played with her toys for everyone, and let her grandmothers help her walk. She didn't even freak out when everybody sang to her, then watched her cram large pieces of cake into her mouth. She even helped open her presents. The sperm donor and I were so thankful to have so many nice friends come by and were especially excited that all four grandparents got to come. I think Anja has decided that whatever this birthday thing is, it is definitely pretty cool.
I sat here in front of the computer on the night before Anja's birthday with plans to write her a letter, something she could read when she is older so she would know how she has changed my life. And I found myself speechless. I am in complete awe of my daughter. Being a mother for the past year has defied every expectation I had during pregnancy. I have never known so much joy and, at times, so much fear. I melt every time she smiles. It is impossible for me to have a bad day with the two people I love the most both saying "hi" to me first thing in the morning.
There is only one thing which can sum up the past year for me. When the sperm donor and I took our child birth classes, we were told that we could bring music to play in the delivery room. We had wanted to create a little playlist and even bought the equipment to project the sounds of the Ipod across the room. But as the date got closer and the possibility of the c-section became a reality, we just never got around to finding the right songs. But the radio was on in the operating room that day and even though my memories of that whole day are a little fuzzy I remember clearly the song that was playing when she was born. A little diddy by Foreigner that went something like this:
I want to know what love is
I want you to show me
And the two of you have shown me about love, about forgiveness, about patience, and about the power of family. Because, together, the three of us can do anything. And for that, I am eternally grateful and blessed.