As usual, I am unprepared.
We were going to bake your cake, and we haven't shopped for the ingredients. We were going to have a party, but decided to wait until the end of May when it's warm and everyone can be at the beach. We have to get you on a plane next week, and we're still running errands. I was going to write to you regularly so that you knew how I felt during the first year of your life; but I was working and writing a zombie play, wedding toasts, and seven minute pieces you got to watch instead.
We knew that every plan, from the birth plan to the apartment setup, was gonna go out the window. We made those plans without being too attached to them, because we figured you'd probably come along and change them all. We embraced that uncertainty as part of the ride. So much so, that we tend to be happily surprised when things like cloth diapers, food prep, and pumping at work actually stuck around this long.
The birth plan was the first to go, because it didn't suit you. You wanted out way faster than all this early labor and rest nonsense would allow - so you skipped it. Let's put Mama on the yoga ball in some Depends until Kathy, our friend and doula, gets there instead. That's more like it. Way funnier.
By filling your amniotic fluid with meconium, you eliminated the possibility of water birth. You knew what you were doing - you wanted Mama to have the epidural she warded off for six and a half hours. In hindsight...um...thank you.
You threw your own plans out the window, though, sweet bird. You breathed that meconium in as you were about to trumpet your arrival with a joyful and powerful wail. So you couldn't breathe at all. I couldn't understand why I wasn't holding you and why I couldn't hear you. Then they wheeled you past me so I could touch your hand for a moment. Then you were gone.
You scared the bejeezus out of your parents. Won't be the last time.
I didn't get to hold you for two days after you were born. That wasn't the plan, either. While doctors and nurses took excellent care of you and made sure you could breathe, we stared at the empty bassinet in the recovery room, remaining positive. Remaining tired. When we finally saw you hooked up to a vent and monitored, we were terrified and hopeful all at once. And tired. Did I mention that? And another feeling - reflective. Your grandmother exited this world being monitored this way, surrounded by people trying to help her breathe. Same machines. Same setup. "Do you know what a blood gas is?" the nurses asked. Your father and I quickly said yes. We hoped this familiarity wasn't a negative sign. Turns out, it wasn't.
Holding you for the first time was one of the most incredible moments of my life. Every emotion flooded me at once and it was all I could do to not swallow you and put you back in my belly to keep you safe. Yeah, I know that's not how it works. I didn't say I DID it.
That moment was all the sweeter for the waiting. All the sweeter because it meant you would make it.
We took you home on May 5, 2012. Since then, you've surprised us over and over. You sleep like your mother - someone who adores sleep. You eat like both of your parents - like someone who adores food. You've grown 12 teeth - 12! - this year. You're making your own schedule. You laugh and smile and clap and splash and wave and walk and sing and dance...like you. Like Gilda. Like the Gilda Madeline Pasko you are and will become. Someone amazing, bright, and infectiously happy.
I will never be prepared for you. I don't ever want to be. I like your surprises most of the time. Most. Don't get any ideas.
I love you with all that I am. You and your father have made me the happiest and luckiest woman alive. He spends the days with you, and I am so grateful. Jealous, but grateful. I miss you both all day, and coming home each day is a party. Sometimes a loud party, but it's still one I want to be invited to over and over. I call you and your father my Everythings. Sounds dramatic, sure, but I'll be damned if it isn't true.
Happy birthday to my Little. My Munchkin. My Gilda Bird.
Thank you for you.