Monday, November 11, 2013

Dear Lilah... You Are One Tomorrow.

Dear Lilah,

I just reread my blog post from a year ago... Baby's Eve.  I wrote that the night before you were born.  Here we are 365 days later... the night before your first birthday.

Oh my goodness... this year.  This year has been so wonderful because you were in it.  It is so hard for me to believe that exactly a year ago, I didn't even "know" you yet and I had this crazy love for you. And now I don't even know how to describe my love for you because you are you... I know you now and I am so in love with you.  And "crazy-love" just doesn't even begin to give this love justice.

I think I realized the deepness of this love in the wee hours of the morning when you were just six weeks old and I realized something wasn't right.  I would stay awake and listen to you breathe in the cradle next to my bedside... and the pattern seemed too inconsistent.  You would startle and stop and take deep breaths and then nothing.  My motherly instincts told me something was wrong.  I immediately ordered a sleep study and in those long nights during the weeks between this discovery and the results of the sleep study... I would do something I told myself I would never do... I held you close to my body in the bed next to me and I would sleep with you curled into my arms.  Too many times in the night I would shake you when you stopped breathing.  I would cry.  And I would pray to God to not let me fall asleep so I wouldn't miss a time when you stopped breathing.  It was so hard.  My nights were sleepless and they had to be.  I would rest but I was always listening to you breathe.  This was when I realized that I had to have you.  I couldn't not have you.  In my heart I felt like I was too close to losing you and that thought killed me.

Yes, you had obstructive sleep apnea and it was confirmed that up to twenty times a night you stopped breathing for over twenty seconds.  This was when we hooked you up to the Breath of Life Monitor every time you shut your eyes, so we would be alerted when you stopped breathing.  And even though I had more peace of mind that you were safe... when that alarm went off, it was a drop-everything-moment-and-get-to-you-in-3-seconds-to-shake-you-and-get-you-breathing-again.  That was hard too.  Because once that alarm went off, you had already stopped breathing for twenty seconds.  I hated knowing that... my heart stopped each time I waited for you to breathe again.  And there were some nights where we all slept and the alarm was silent.  And then there were some nights that I would lay my head on the pillow and the alarm would go off and that would be a repeated routine for hours.

I even made daddy buy a huge outlet that plugged into the car so we could plug that machine in and hook you up so when you fell asleep in the car, I knew you were breathing.  And when the alarm went off, I would pull over immediately and check you.  I think it was safe to say I was in crazy-mama-bear-mode during those months.

And then... miraculously... it stopped.  Praise God! You outgrew the sleep apnea.  We took those awkward electrodes off of you and we never looked back.  You my dear... you were a champ.  {And for anyone out there that has had little ones with life-threatening challenges... my heart goes out to you.}

I feel like I got to see how seriously precious life really is.  How it can be taken away from us within seconds.  And some mamas aren't as lucky as me... they don't get to see their babies grow up.  This thought really put things into perspective for me.  You survived.  You are here.  You are a miracle.  Everything after that seems so irrelevant in the big picture of life.  So you are different?  So you are little?  Do you know how many mamas would trade places with me just to get to see their baby grow up?  Let me remind you... you survived.  You are here.  You are a miracle.  God is in charge and God is so good!

The fact that I get to be your mama... the fact that I get to see your personality take shape... the fact that I get to see you accomplish new things... the fact that I watch a smile spread across your face hundreds of times and hear that little giggle of yours... everyday.  This is what matters to me.  Size will NEVER be more important than that.  You taught me that this year.

A year ago, I was so excited to meet you.  I described it like, "our family was starting a new chapter and only the future would tell what the pages would hold."  So true... I could see these blank pages as I thumbed through them in our book of life.  I had no idea what our story would be.  And now, to look back over a year and see the pages filled with {1. LOVE}-- an outpouring of love from family, friends, strangers... it has been such a powerful feeling to know how supported we really are.  And it has given me so much confidence in people.  Yes, people really are good!!  The love has been one of the best surprises from the last year and it just keeps on coming.  Our safety net went from a tiny little thing to this huge monstrosity that I would never mess with... yeah, it is safe to say that people got your back, baby.  You are good to go.  {2. FUN}-- I feel like we were given these secret set of keys that unlocked the door that said "Happiness."  Once you realize how lucky you are in life and that you have everything you need right in front of you and all you have to do is look around and let happiness envelop you... life becomes... well, fun.  And we took advantage of this over the past year and we did all the things that make us happy all the time.  We were adventurers and we loved life and life loved us right back.  {3. CHANGE}-- we changed as people, as parents, as children of God.  We started stretching our minds, appreciating the small things and learning along the way.  We started sharing our story, reaching out to others and spreading the love.  And this incredible thing happened... people started doing that back.  You, my sweet Lilah, have affected so many people... you may never know how you have directly changed people's lives, but I am told all the time... you have this gift of making people fall in love with you... you are so special.  You hold so much light in your eyes-- you really are mesmerizing... and one more thing... you are already changing the world.

And tomorrow you are one.  And with tears in my eyes (how can you be one!?! this can't be happening so soon!!) and daddy rolling his eyes at me because I am all sappy about it... you are really one.

Happy Birthday to you, my little birdie.  (And there go the tears again!! And I know I am being ridiculous but I guess I thought you being little would be my way of keeping you little longer and then you went and grew up anyway!  Aghh!!)

You are so precious to me.  You are such a gift from God and I am so proud to call you mine.  I hope you enjoy your "Oh Happy Day" party and I look forward to celebrating many, many more birthdays together.

XOXO and love you always,
your mama

Photos taken by Della Terra Photography


  1. 100,571…that's who I am…at least think that's what I see on the total page views through my tears. I, too, have been blessed this year. I met both Lilah and her mommy…for that I am grateful. Dianne

  2. Such a beautiful story. With much love to you all. Carol

  3. Happy 1st Birthday Sweet Lilah. Mama is right. You are changing the world. Opening hearts. Opening minds. Thank you for allowing those around the world to get to know you through your Mama's eyes. You are a beautiful little girl who shines so bright! Happy Birthday! xo

    1. Thank you for being one of our number 1 cheerleaders from the very beginning! XOXO

  4. Happy birthday to your sweet miracle <3

  5. oh my goodness, the photos! Such a beautiful girl and a beautiful family! Happy Birthday sweet baby!

  6. Beautiful Article. Happy Birthday Lilah.

  7. Beautiful! Her story and her sweet face. Be as sappy as you want. Be as vigilant as your mama instincts tell you. Be proud and be fierce. ❤️❤️

  8. I recently found your blog and love it! Your family is beautiful. I know that this is an older post, but i could totally relate to the apnea. My daughter stayed in the NICU for a month with apnea (it was due to being premature, she and her twin brother were born 6 weeks early). Oh how I hated it... every night that she had an episode was the worst. I cried every morning waiting to see how she did that night. It is not easy. I think that it not only made my daughter stronger, it made me stronger too. Thanks for sharing your story.