It's hard to believe that 365 days ago, I didn't even know her yet.
I'd seen a picture of her ultrasound.
I had placed my hands on her birthmom's belly. I had hugged her birthdad.
I had started setting up her nursery. I had tried in vain to keep my hopes in check, just in case the adoption didn't work out. And on October 2, 2010 I'd heard the news that she had made her entrance into this world and that she was healthy. But nothing more.
A year ago today, I didn't know that she had brilliant blue eyes and a tiny button nose. I didn't know what her name would be. I didn't know I would love her instantly and completely—or that I would barely be able to remember my life without her in it. I didn't know that being her mother would make me feel so whole, and that the open wound in my heart, which grew ever larger through 6 years of infertility, would close and scar over.
A year ago today, I had 48 more hours to wait before I'd set eyes on her, hold her in my arms, and spend my first sleepless night huddled around her bassinette. I didn't know how quickly she'd fit right into our lives as though she'd always been there. I didn't know how quickly she'd have her tough-guy daddy wrapped around her little finger.
A year ago today, I was purchasing last-minute essentials, washing load after load of baby laundry (thus discovering the heavenly scent of Dreft), and putting together baby swings and car seats. Meanwhile, Keira Jane—although that wasn't her name yet—was spending two precious days in the hospital with her birthmom, watching The Little Mermaid over and over.
A year ago today, she was perfect, tiny, and new. And I hadn't met her yet.
Fast foward to today. Her first birthday. She greeted her grandmas and grandpas, aunts, uncles, and cousins with utter joy. I didn't know a 1-year-old could grasp or understand that today was a special day—but she seemed to sense it. She melted everyone's heart all over again.
Today, we celebrated and displayed 12 months of belly-sticker photos, which showed at a glance just how quickly my little one has grown and changed.
I didn't know until today exactly how worthwhile it would be to stick to that pesky photos-every-month schedule. Or that this simple photo garland would make me so happy, sad, and nostalgic all at once.
We watched her cuddle and nuzzle that cupcake, hugging it like a baby doll, taking delicate little bites, all the while saying, "Mmm-mmm!" It's true that it's more fun to watch her eat a cupcake than to actually eat a cupcake myself—something I never thought I'd say. :)
Today, Keira wore the same lavender bracelent she wore 363 days ago, when we brought her home from the hospital—a gift from her birthmom. Then, it was fastened at the smallest link. Today, it was at the largest. (You can also see it in the last hospital photo above.)
Today, it was abundantly clear to me that the best present of all was the birthday girl herself. Little Keira Jane—my life's greatest gift.