Happy 1st Birthday, Arwen!

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This month was my daughter’s first birthday.

The day Arwen was born was one of the scariest and most beautiful days of my life. I try to remind myself every day of every detail that happened. Looking back, I can see God’s hand on the whole situation.

I had to go in to be induced, and ended up going into labor on my own at 1:00 in the morning, while watching Zach and Cody (I’m not ashamed to admit it).

At first, I was opposed to the idea of an epidural, but because my fluid was so low that my daughter’s heart rate was dropping, I did as the nurses suggested and want through with an epidural. I’m so glad I agreed to it. I don’t even want to think about how differently it could have played out if I hadn’t! Within 20 minutes, her heart rate dropped further and it was determined that I needed to get a rush C-section.

Good thing Uncle Justin was there to contact everyone and let them know what was happening! Our plan to have her in the evening was cancelled. Instead, she would be here within minutes! I remember crying because I was so scared for this helpless little girl inside of me. I remember my nurse saying “I know, your plans just aren’t working out.” I was thinking (actually I am pretty sure I said) “I don’t care about that, I want her to be safe.”

One small blessing was that I wanted to have Mumford and Sons playing while I gave birth. While I was on the surgery table, one of their songs came on. That was just one of the little details I treasure. At 10:55am, Arwen was born.

I have to hold back tears thinking about this day, because this day was full of so much emotion (which I know every parent goes through). I remember looking at her, thinking, “I don’t know you, but I love you so much.” I wanted to comfort her when she was cold and crying, and I wanted to do everything to protect her. At the same time, I was full of fear, wondering, “How am I going to do this? What if I mess up? What if I don’t do well enough? What if I am just a terrible mom? What if I fail?” I am sorry to say that I was scared of becoming my mom, the mom I had from age 7 and up, the one who lost rights to me, not the one I have now.

I later realized, while watching my husband cuddle OUR little girl, as he whispered to her and bonded and loved on her, that I am not an “I.” I am a “we.” That alone is so different then what I had when I was born. My mom was 17, and although I was loved by my family, it was different. My daughter was being held by her dad, her Grandparents and Uncles were there, her adopted aunt Lorraine was there, her soon to be official Aunt Mia was there, both of her sets of God-Parents were there, her Grandma Karen and Grandma Boo. They were all there to be with us, to be alongside us, and I realized we will be okay.

We had about 30 people come visit the first day in the hospital. Although, at the time, it was a bit overwhelming, I am now seeing God’s hand on that day. It was a nod, assuring me that this is different than when I was born, and that history is not going to repeat itself. Arwen has 3 sets of Grandparents, adopted Grandparents and multiple adopted uncles and aunts. I think she might be a bit confused as to why her family is so big, but she won’t be confused about how loved she is!

Growing up I didn’t have a dad, and due to events that happened in my life I was scared of men. To be married is a miracle in itself! God blessed me with someone whom I can trust, and with that door being open I have a lot of wonderful men in my life. The best part is that Arwen has so many wonderful men (and women) to look up to, and I love the fact that almost all of these tough men that around her get all mushy.

Her uncles adore her and all of the guys in our group will get on the ground and play with her. One of my favorite memories, is seeing my daughter dance during worship practice, raising her hands and scooting herself (it’s called the Arie), and looking up and seeing 6 guys surrounding her doing the same thing. In that moment I was so thankful. They didn’t know it, they didn’t know what it meant, but to see so many people surrounding her and interacting with her, loving her just blessed my heart. This is one example through the year, but each week there are countless examples of how loved she is, and she doesn’t even know it yet.

It is so great to see that she will have her DAD, myself, and sooooo many other wonderful influences to help us raise her, to love her. I am blessed she has a dad that will show her how she should expect to be treated by men, and how she should be respected. She already has a different life then me.

Chris I am so thankful for you loving on OUR daughter, for caring for her even just in this year. I know your heart and your hope for her, and I know you will be nothing but a wonderful dad to her. Thank you for showing me how I should be treated by men, how I should be respected and that I deserve to be loved. Thank you for loving Arwen with your full self. Although I know at times she may not appreciate it as she gets older, I am glad it will be so normal for her to be so loved, that she will take it for granted, I don’t want her to go through the hurt and pain of not feeling loved, and then when she is loved realizing what she missed out on. Thank you, Chris, Thank you.

Thank you to each of you that have loved her, and committed to standing next to us, you will truly never know the depth of appreciation I have for that. Each time you laugh with her, hug her, ask about her, you are truly blessing me each time.

I am so excited to see Arwen grow, and to see who she becomes, and Chris and I are so thankful for each person who is in her life. This is just the first year, I can’t even wait to see what lies ahead.
For anyone who is a parent, who feels alone, feels like your past, lack of love or whatever you went through, just know if you can surround yourself with wonderful people, and your past doesn’t have to define your future or who you are as a parent. It can be hard to fight urges of past habits, but it is 100% possible to give your child a different life then you have. Please know you are loved, and there are avenues for help and encouragement when needed.

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Arwen, if you ever read this I want you to know how truly loved you are, and how you have changed your family for the good. You have helped us all grow into being better people and you have reminded us it’s ok to be an adult and be silly. When you feel sad or alone I want you to know first, how much God loves you, and you are never alone, and how God gave a word to Grandma Janet that you would be here, and you are. I want you to also look around and see all the people who are in your life that stand next to Mommy and Daddy and protect you, I can tell you multiple stories of people besides Mommy and Daddy saying how they will love and protect you. For me this means the world, I want you to not fear the world, but love it. I want you to know even though there is bad in the world, there is also greatness, I want you to live life to the fullest and be what you feel God has called you to be. I want you to be a little girl for as long as you can, and not grow up before your time, don’t take on the worries that Mommy and Daddy need to handle, you just be the silly, sweet little thing you are, play hard and have fun! If you want to do sports, do it, if you want to take dance class, do it, just most of all, PLEASE KNOW you truly are so loved by so many, and the biggest issue we have had this whole year is dealing with how much people are in love with you. Please receive the love, but don’t forget to give it back to others, love them through their brokenness, just love people, pray for them and care for them. I LOVE YOU.

~Mommy

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