"We're going home!"
Attached to these often sleepily spoken words is a photo of a tiny baby, draped with nana's handmade pink blanket and enveloped by a 5-star safety rated infant carrier. Dad assures she's snug and secure and then reassures one final time before nervously clenching the wheel (suddenly becoming apprehensive of his ability to drive) and leads his new family home.
Where you last left as an expectant mom, waking each day, restless, wondering if today was her birth day.
Where you thoroughly prepared for "it" and later, her, with a color-splashed nursery, furnished with newborn necessities and adorned with delicate details, like her name, announced on the wall in turquoise: KATE. Those letters waited forever to belong to a new, flushed face. Your anticipated first glance of her is when she's heaved onto your chest, tears falling from your matching green eyes, and you realized love at first sight? Is real.
Home, where the journal of The Warrens, party of three, began.
The first night in your own bed is deeply rooted into your memory. Staring down at your brand new bundle, too anxiously happy to rest yet too exhausted and nervous to let the opportunity to sleep slip by. Each coo, cry, and kick jolts you awake, concerned, wondering if you even know what to do.
By day 8, your red brimmed eyes and drained body are surprising you at the capabilities they can achieve under broken segments of sleep.
At 2 weeks, you've cried your way up every hardship, exasperated and weepy, as well as coasted down every tender moment with infatuated eyes and tear-filled smiles.
September 17th comes during a 2:00am feeding, and suddenly, you notice her long feet fall off your lap, her cheeks have filled with plump, and she's already 3 months old.
At the same time you and Daddy whooped with wonder at her first gummy smile you willed her to slow down. To stop growing.
The days you felt like a failure? Those are the days you'll fail to forget.
Your paycheck may come in the form of snotty noses and ceaseless diaper changes, but you'll wholeheartedly agree the routine effort of raising your child is more gratifying than a yearly 3% raise. (Plus, corporate benefit packages don't include toddler-sized arms hugged tightly around your neck.)
So many elements of your life are altered as she grows. A year ago, leaving the house was a feat you celebrated, especially when you managed to accomplish one errand, which you carefully calculated to occur between her morning milk and her afternoon nap. (High five, Mom!) Today, you still celebrate leaving the house, but now, snacks are your lifesaver as you coast the aisles of Target, successfully juggling her puffs container and your well-deserved, hard-earned coffee. The second you're granted a window of opportunity, albeit short and harried, you make a break for it, but first, double and triple checking that Daddy's OK with daughter duty. Minutes after arriving at the local coffee shop, giddy with girlfriends at your well-planned escape, you slowly fade out, antsy to get back home to Kate.
You have been banded together since well before her birth. She's your companion, your playmate; you, her protector, her nurturer. Always. From today, at one year old, until roles are reversed and she's caring for you.
You know those rare, quiet times when you find yourself reminiscing back to her infant days? Each milestone she meets, each new recognizable word she babbles and each birthday she celebrates is when you realize, this age is THE BEST!
Heather, Will, happy birthday to your one year old!