Dear Bella Ella,
I have been waiting a year to write this post--happy 1st birthday, Ella Rose! Seems like yesterday you were in my belly whispering your secrets. And now you are a beautiful, healthy child. God, what a difference a year makes.
I always knew we would get to this point but there was I time I wasn't sure. When you were two-weeks old, you were diagnosed with a serious heart condition called a coarctation of the aorta. Since I have posted about it before (here and here), I want to spend my time talking about good things. But please allow me this digression, and confession.
The night we saw symptoms, coincidentally on my mother's birthday, I brushed it off. It wasn't strange that you were spitting up ounces of milk because that's what babies do. It also seemed normal when you were crying and restless before bed. But when you just stopped crying and went limp, and when your lips turned blue and your legs felt cold, your dad and I knew something was wrong. I'm so grateful my mother, your grandmama, was there. I was never more thankful that she had worked for 20 years as a nurse in the NICU than that night. (Thanks mom. Love you!) She urged us to take you into the emergency room. If she hadn't been there, I would have put you down for the night. I'll never forgive myself for not realizing how sick you were.
Everyone from the nurses and doctors at Beverly Hospital to the amazing medical staff at Children's Hospital Boston had a part in saving your life. (Another thing to be thankful for--living in a town with the Boston Red Sox and the best pediatric medical staff in the world.) The doctors were kind and didn't talk over our heads, and there were nurses dedicated to your round-the-clock care. You came home five days later and have been my sunshine ever since.
Sometimes when I bathe you I feel under your arm and along your back to your now-healed scar, and wonder how much you remember. Do you remember the poking and the prodding? How will such an experience shape the person you are becoming?
What I can say is that at one year, Ella, you are the most open, loving, funniest child I have ever known (which is quite a complement considering your brother is near perfect). Your laugh is a special event that stops adults in mid conversation. Soon, you'll be walking, then running away from me and toward your life. But I want you to stay my Pretty Little Ella Rose just a little while longer. I want to shower you with kisses every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Happy Birthday, Ella. I love love love you. I love you from the bottom of my heart. I love you a bushel and a peck. Thank God for you, Ella Rose. Thank God for you.
So now, it's Ella-palooza weekend. Let the celebration begin!