My dearest, darling girl. It's been quite a year.
With every passing week for the past twelve months it seems, I have exclaimed at how quickly time is slipping away and how much you are changing. It's been bittersweet watching you turn from an adorable and helpless little baby into an equally adorable, bubbly, sociable, smart and courageous little girl. I've been in a constant state of internal conflict as I've mourned each passing phase in your development whilst simultaneously looking at you in awe as you show me yet another skill you've mastered and proclaiming that "this current stage is my favourite yet!".
I can't begin to describe how much joy you have brought to my life little one. Some people have always known that they want to be a parent one day, and I was definitely one of them. As a little girl not much bigger than you are now, I carried dolls around with me wherever I went - I would pretend to feed them and put them to bed, and told my friends that they came alive at night (was this precognition of the fact that you would also come alive at night I wonder?!). I day-dreamed about what you'd be like and look like many, many years before you arrived in our lives but I could never have imagined that you would be quite so wonderful as you are.
While you've been learning new things every day, you have also been teaching me so very much too. You taught me that attachment parenting and everything that comes with it is hard but the only option for me - breast feeding you on demand throughout the day or night actually came naturally despite the sleep deprivation and forgetfulness that ensued. You taught me that life achievements are so much more than doing well at work and reaching new milestones with my blog; there is now something much deeper and more rewarding that lifts my spirits every day. You taught me a brand new way of loving, that is eternal, limitless and unconditional.
It's strange to think that one year ago today, I wasn't really sure whether either of us would make it to see this day. I was losing a lot of blood and I have never seen a doctor look at me with such worry etched in their face. In surgery, hearing you cry out as they lifted you from me was just about the sweetest sound that I had ever heard. That gentle mew was enough to solidify our lifetime bond; I didn't need to see you to know that I already loved you more than anything or anyone I've loved before.
I thanked God over and over that night as I held your little pink body against me in that hospital bed.
It wasn't until that first night of your life that it really started to dawn on me what an enormous responsibility it was to bring a baby into the world. I started to worry about whether I could live up to everything I needed to be to keep you happy, safe and protected at all times. But slowly but surely, with the wisdom I have gained during your first year of life, I have come to realise that it's not my job to wrap you in cotton wool and keep all danger from your door. It's simply my job to help you to understand a few things that will lead to you making better judgements that will make your life easier.
To understand that family is the bedrock of your life; that even though we may drive you insane at times, your daddy and I would do absolutely anything for you. In turn, we will try not to embarrass you too much with our frumpy dancing at parties and to keep our terrible parent puns to a minimum.
To understand that as much as I wish you wouldn't, at certain points in your life you will be subjected to evil and you will experience sadness, but please hold onto the fact that on the whole the world is kind and good. Remember that in every patch of darkness, light can still be found.
To understand that your worth as a person isn't measured in how many kilos you weigh, how many people follow you on social media or how much money you earn. To understand that your worth as a woman is not measured in how many men dote on you, how many strangers ogle at your beauty or how many other women wish that they were you. Your worth is measured in how kind you are, how much you care about the world around you and how much happiness you bring to others.
To understand that this is the most important thing in life; that happiness is the only thing that you should prioritise above all else. If anything is threatening your happiness, challenge it. If anything is obstructing your happiness, break free from it. Life is short and it is not meant to be spent in the shadows.
To understand that you can do anything you want to if you put your mind to it. You're intelligent, you're strong, you're a go-getter. Don't believe the nay-sayers, take the plunge, follow your sunshine.
I followed mine, and it led me to you.
I love you so much my little girl.
Happy first birthday.
Happy 1st Birthday! I can’t believe we are here already. My little baby is soon to become a little lady! I remember the day you were born like it was yesterday. With mummy recovering from the operation, the nurse brought you out to see me in the corridor outside.
As she wheeled you over in your hospital cot, time seemed to stand still.
At last, our eyes met. Now some people don’t believe in love at first sight but for me it’s now happened twice. First with your mummy and then with you. You were beautiful. You were tiny! And you were perfect.
I remember looking down at you, my heart bursting, and telling you how happy I was to meet you and how much I loved you.
In that precise moment, I can tell you that my whole perspective on life completely changed. I suddenly saw the world with new eyes. You were finally here. Our family was complete.
Looking after you, playing with you and loving you has given my life a new sense of purpose. Coming home to your laughs and giggles can turn the worst day into the best one. I love our little chats over breakfast and our bath time splashes in the evening. I love our hugs before work and our kisses at bedtime.
They say that family is one of nature’s masterpieces. On the day of your first birthday, I want you to know how much I love you and how I will always be here for you. I am so proud to be your daddy. Just try not to grow up too quickly!