Nothing in my life compares to the surge of delight I felt when you were placed in my arms for the first time. I remember it with clearness I pray never fades. You were pink as a piglet, and slippery with a thick coat of vernix from your time under my ribs.
Wildest dreams pale in comparison to that ecstatic moment.
We gazed at one another. You squinted as dawn poured into our labor and delivery room.
Your birth was fast and easy. You barreled out into the world after less than an hour of active labor, and three massive pushes. I felt you slip out of me, peered up between my legs, and gasped in surprise at the wriggling pink baby lying at my feet.
“Oh,” I remember sighing. “She’s here!”
Your face was perfectly round, luminous as a pearl. My treasure.
The cord had been wound around your neck twice, but it was of no concern. After the doctor unravelled you, I reached out, clutching you to my bare chest as nurses covered us with warm blankets.
Since there had been no time for anesthesia of any kind, your birth was completely unmedicated and natural, and left me with a surge of oxytocin, adrenaline, and endorphins. All those hormones created a euphoria the likes of which I’d never felt. Summiting Mt. Everest could not have thrilled me more.
I was shocked to learn that after such an uncomplicated and nearly painless birth you tipped the scales at nine pounds seven ounces! “What a little pork chop!” your father declared.
I nursed you and then you were whisked away to be bathed and examined while I had a shower and something to eat. I knew you were with your daddy in his proud and watchful care, but I could not wait to have you back, to hold and cuddle you.
I never tire of telling your birth story, as I never tire of telling your brother’s birth story. In my mind, they are the two greatest tales, with epic happy endings that are really beginnings.
Since that early morning when you burst into my arms, we have travelled around the sun two times.
You have gained 21 pounds, and grown many inches. You have learned many things in your exploration of the world. You have distinct preferences which you do not hesitate to make known.
You have a laugh that could bewitch an ogre.
At two, you love Elmo and Winnie the Pooh, and ask for them by name. You “woof” ecstatically each and every time you see a dog. The elephants are your favorite animal at the zoo. You like to watch them get their bath, and your curiosity at the way they suck up water into their trunks from the zookeeper’s hose is worth every cent of our zoo membership.
Your favorite song is Baby Beluga, which I sing to you every night. We have an illustrated book of the song, which we read often. Today, we took you to an aquarium to see Beluga whales for the first time, and you danced before them, calling, “Beegah, beegah, beegah!”
You are an early bird. It is as though your early morning birth foretold these many mornings when you rise before the sun. Since, you still sleep in a little crib right next to me, you are the first sight, sound, and sensation I experience each morning as you stand in your crib, pat my face with your cool little hand, and call out, “Mama.”
When our day is done, I slip into my bed, next to yours, and fall asleep to the gentle rhythm of your breath.
Your physicality is relentless. You love to run and climb and jump on the playground, sometimes scaring me with your daring. You are tough and brave. I am so proud of your strength, but also of the tenderness you show towards your baby dolls and stuffed animals when you play on the living room floor.
When I was pregnant with you, the word that constantly came to mind was “delight.” Although I did not yet know you, your essence was delightful. And so you are a delightful little human.
The word that comes to mind when I think of being your mom is surrender. Being your mom has been an experience of true and blissful surrender. When I opened my arms to you that first morning, I opened my life in ways I never would have expected.
It would be disingenuous to say every day has been perfect, but I am so thankful for every moment you have allowed me to hold you, nurse you, sing to you, and play with you.
In some ways, your second birthday marks the end of a chapter.
Sweet, placid baby days are behind you. The days ahead will be filled with love and laughter, but also with challenges as you assert yourself in the world. These can be difficult and tiring times for both parent and child, but I do feel our first two years together have given us a remarkable start on this journey as mother and daughter.
I heard a lullaby that brought tears to my eyes because it made me think of you. Here are some of the lyrics: “You took your first breath, and you took mine away. . . Heaven and earth full of wonders to see, the greatest of all is right here with me. There was a dream I once wished on a star, but now you’re right here in my arms.”
Happy birthday little girl.