Happy Birthday, Monkey Face!

To my darlingest, dearest, most wonderful Maddie:

Today, in approximately four hours, give or take a few minutes and seconds, you will be one year old. Of course, you and I have been together for much longer than that. We got to rock out for a whole 40 weeks before anyone else knew you, and while I complained about being pregnant from the moment we saw those double pink lines, I’m so grateful that I got to have you all to myself for that short(ish) amount of time.

As your birthday has gotten closer, I find myself thinking about the day you were born, the most exciting and most terrifying day of our lives for your daddy and me. You see, you almost didn’t make it. By the time you read this, I’m sure you’ll have heard the story from several people, so I won’t make you read it again, but those five minutes between seeing you for the first time and hearing you cry for the first time were the worst five minutes of my life. We had only just met you, and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing you without even knowing you… And then you cried. And then everything was fine. And then the three of us were alone. And then your daddy and I cried.

You were so tiny and so perfect, with your huge eyes and insane black hair. Even now, I can’t imagine loving anyone or anything the way I love you. I feel like I didn’t know what love was until you were born, and sometimes it’s almost frightening. The feeling is so primal and animal and unlike anything else that it almost feels like too much, like I love you so much it shouldn’t be possible, as if you should be crushed and suffocated by the weight of my love.

It’s not just emotional either. I can’t get enough of you physically. I need to touch you, to kiss your little face, to hold your chunky, baby body and brush your crazy, baby hair. I even take a guilty pleasure in the times you get sick because it means you’ll let me snuggle you, let me nap with you, let me just hold you without doing anything else. (Don’t get me wrong. It also tears me up when you’re sick, and I can’t make you feel better. What good is a mommy who can’t make it better?)

Now you’re walking and talking, and it feels like each step you take is one step farther away from being my baby and one step closer to being my little girl. I know that as you get older, we’ll fight, and you’ll feel like I don’t understand you, that I don’t care about you, that I don’t love you. So, I want to say now, and always, there is never anything you can do that will make me love you less. It’s absolutely impossible for you to lose my love. It is unconditional, forever.

As you get to know me, there will probably be times you’ll be surprised that I wrote this. I’m not always very good at expressing myself verbally, which is why I’m writing this now, and I hope to write you a letter every August 19th. Even now, I feel like an incredible cheese-ball as I sit here, trying to show you how I feel, trying not to cry, all happy and sad and unbelievably proud at the same time. You are by far the best “Oops!” your daddy and I ever made, and we can’t imagine ours lives without you.

So Happy Birthday Madeline Olivia, my Money-Face, my Madster, my Maddie! Daddy and I love you so much!