Today, you are two. Yesterday you were not quite two, and tomorrow you will be just a smidge more than two. You’ve been through quite a bit in the 731 days you’ve been alive—not many ladies your age can speak candidly of nurses and BiPAP machines and tubes that feed directly to the intestine. No, you strive to be different, to be challenged, to be… well, quite simply, to be amazing.
I still can’t believe that you’re already two. I mean, I know that all parents lament the passing of time; they question how they ended up in a time warp that finds the days flipping off the calendar faster than you, my dear, can polish off a pint of raspberries. I know it’s a natural part of parenting to blink and miss it and find that your wee one is not so wee any longer. But you, Nyana, you started so small, and your progress was so slow at first, I just can’t believe that those days are long behind us and the future ahead is wireless and healthy. You probably don’t remember your tiny, fragile beginning. But I sure do.
I remember faking a smile for your Dad to take one last picture of my pregnant belly, just hours before my fever set in and the doctors were forced to induce. I remember how relieved I was to hear your tiny cry in the delivery room, and thinking, OK, well, she’s breathing, that’s a good start. How scared I was to love you for fear of losing you; how unbearable it was to wait five days to hold you—your Dad had to wait a full two weeks!—and then once I did finally get to hold you, how you and I spent hours upon hours upon hours snuggling skin-to-skin in a rocking chair as you struggled to breathe. I may not remember every detail of every moment from when you were tiny, but I remember the emotions of it all.
And then, like we’d all hoped, we brought you home. We brought you home with machines to help you eat and breathe, but we got to bring you home. We went about our lives, looking for normal in all the abnormality of it all, and we worked towards losing all your tackle. We hit some setbacks and we continued on our two steps forward, one step back path, yet slowly but surely, one by one you shed your machines, until here we are on your second birthday with nothing but a G-tube to remind us of our travels.
And the little girl we have standing here with us at the end of the journey is more amazing than I ever dreamed you could be. You are playful and curious and anxious to learn anything. You love baths and you love to say “cheers” and you love to pet the kitties and help unload the dishwasher. At two years old you know the alphabet and shapes and colours, and you can count not to ten but to 15. You’re turning into a little girl before my very eyes—your personality and your sense of humour and your idiosyncrasies and mannerisms are showing more prominently with each passing day—and where I once used to wish that time would hurry up to get us to the “wireless baby” we dreamt of for so long, now I wish the clock would just slow right down so I could enjoy every moment of the little girl I know and love. I want to savour every breath of every moment, because I know that tomorrow you’ll be a smidge bigger and a smidge smarter and today will be just another memory.
I know I can’t stop tomorrow from coming too quickly. I know that in the blink of an eye you’ll be going to school, going to summer camp, going to college. I know you won’t need me forever, that one day you’ll decide that you can—and will—do it on your own. But until that day comes, I promise I’ll always be here for you. To guide you, to protect you, and to love you unconditionally. To let you be you, whoever you grow up to be. From the day you were born I have been constantly amazed by you—by the things you’ve been forced to overcome and by the things you’ve forced me to accept and adapt to—and I promise to nurture every piece of everything that makes you so unbelievably amazing to me.
Our journey hasn’t been easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I am so proud of you, and so appreciative of the lessons you’ve taught me. You make me want to be—no, you simply make me—a better person, and I can’t wait to see who you grow into. Just take your time doing it.
Happy birthday, Babygirl. Mama loves you.