WARNING! WARNING! This is very long and would, no doubt, be quite tiresome for someone to read (unless they happen to be related to our birthday boy.)
Happy birthday, dear Nicknack!
At this time one year ago, we were holding you in our arms for the first time, marvelling at how amazing, miraculous, and surprisingly cute you were!
For some reason, I had an irrational concern that you might be a very unattractive baby. The night before your second trimester ultrasound I had a horrible nightmare that I could see on the sonogram that you looked very much like one of your Dad's relatives, who shall remain nameless. You already had teeth that stuck straight out, even in the womb! I had a lot of very vivid dreams, while carrying you. Including very upsetting nightmares in which your Dad decided to divorce me or left me for another woman. Once I even reached over and whacked him, when I awoke from a particularly irksome dream. But, you know your Dad. He was a pretty good sport about it.
Those dreams were as unrealistic as my nightmares about what you would look like. The second thing that Dr. Harvey said, as she greeted you on your birth day was "What a cutie!" The nurse agreed, "He IS cute!" I thought, "Let me see!" And it was true. I was so relieved! You were just beautiful, right from the start.
But the very first thing Dr. Harvey said was, "It's a..." She was trying to prompt your Dad. We thought it would be fun for him to announce your gender. We had waited all those months to find out what kind of baby we would be getting. I thought you were a boy from the start, just for the record. But, of course, I couldn't be sure. Dr. Harvey had to twice say, "It's a..." before your Dad emerged from the state of shock and said, "Oh! It's a.... boy!" with a laugh in his voice.
There were a few moments of silence, on your part. Your Dad and I both vividly remember you taking your first breath and looking from side to side. Like, "Where AM I!?" Then you did a lot of very hearty screaming. That little newborn cry, "Waah! Waah!" It was music to our ears.
The first thing I said to you was, "Who are YOU?!" I know that probably sounds odd. I was just so shocked to see you. Of course, I knew you would be arriving. I'd seen your ultrasounds, felt your movements, and pushed SOMEONE for several hours. But, somehow, I was still surprised that it was you. I kept saying, "I can't believe it! Can you even believe this?"
I didn't expect you to look so much like a Hoxworth. I sort of felt like, "Oh, it's YOU! Of course, why didn't I expect that it would be you!?" It's hard to believe now that I couldn't imagine exactly who you would be, before you were born. It just couldn't have been anyone else. The other thing I said, which, unfortunately, is on tape, was, "I never want any baby other than you!" Of course, I would love to have other children, and I hope they don't take that comment personally. I was just so completely content with you. Your Dad, Gramsy, and I were all immediately and forever smitten.
You were so pink and lively. Your Apgars were 9/9, but you had a touch of fever, which I'd developed during labor. But you seemed fine and very healthy. Because you were a week overdue, your nails were quite long and the skin on your little shrively hands and feet was a bit peely. You had those newborn blue gray eyes and about the average amount of hair. The color was as indescribable then as it is now. Sort of brownish blondish reddish. Just like mine, by the way. You were 8.04 pounds. Did I ever mention that I predicted that you would be a week late and would weight eight pounds? Strange, huh?
You were an angel straight from heaven. A very mellow newborn. Here are a few things about your newborn months that are especially special to me:
1. Your breath. It was heaven sent. And the weird thing was that neither your Dad nor Grandma could detect it! It was kind of a perfumey chemical scent and if I could have figured out how to bottle it, I would have.
2. Your monster sounds. We always had eating issues and in the middle of the night your Dad would try to restrain your arms while you tried SO hard to suck on them, so that you could focus your attention, ahem, elsewhere, and nurse. You made the funniest little wild baby animal sounds. We called you the Masher and Monster/Monner because you would just smoosh your face anywhere and try to nurse. Everywhere except the proper place, of course! :)
3. Your boob radar. Okay, this is hard to describe. But if I was holding you and you were hungry you did this hilarious thing that involved you slooowly moving your face across my line of vision, milimeters from my face, looking right through me, on the hunt for something to latch on to. It was the cutest. Your eyes were still a little "blank" then, like a baby kitten.
4. Your frog bod. The way you slept on our chests. How you only would consent to sleep soundly on your tummy or swaddle in your Papasan bouncer. How your Dad had a knack for swaddling. The way you and I napped, check to cheek or nose to nose. Those first few months when you sometimes slept in the crook of my arm. Rocking you.
5. The first time you smiled at me. You smiled at your Dad first and wouldn't stop smiling at him for a week. But no smiles for me. One evening, after your bath, I put you on your hooded duckie towel on our bed and started to get you ready for bed. As I began to sing first few notes of "Teddy Bear Picnic," you beamed at me. A big gummy, toothless grin that melted my heart. Especially since that was our special song when I was carrying you. I sang that to you every day. I guess you recognized it.
6. Your other favorite songs, which were "Old MacDonald Had a Farm," "What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor," and "I Wish I Were an Oscar Meyer Weiner." It was pretty embarassing trying to get you to smile for your three month photos, singing those last two. But they worked.
7. The way your Dad and I would just sit around admiring you for hours. We sometimes discussed which part of you looked the most delicious. It was a toss up between your tummy, thighs, or cheeks. If a baby can be kissed too much, you are doomed.
8. Being proud to take you anywhere. And feeling a little huffy that there wasn't a mad stampede at the store so that everyone could come admire your awesomeness. HELLO! World's most darling baby, here, folks!
You have changed so much since those early days, of course. Your every achievement has been pretty thrilling. I never thought a tooth could be adorable until I saw your first tooth peeking through your gum. You know have five full teeth (three on bottom, two on top), one half bottom tooth and two half top teeth.
You have been pretty much average, timeline-wise, for your milestones. You rolled onto your tummy early, but rolled onto your back a bit late. You started crawling and pulling yourself up in your crib within days of each other. You were the last baby in the church nursery to start crawling (the others are girls and at least six weeks older than you) but you are MUCH faster than the rest.
You were a very quiet and easy going baby until you started crawling, at seven months. Then, all of a sudden, we started to realize how independent and strong willed you really were. At your nine month check up, your Pediatrician commented on what a "handful" you were. I look at him quizzically. "What on earth makes you think that?" He pointed out how you grabbed everything in sight and the tantrums you threw when poked and prodded. I laughed it off and later your Dad and Grandma and I decided he was bonkers. He even wrote, "Very active. Good luck." on the send home chart. Whatever.
A few weeks later (as I removed you for the fourth time from the off limit behind-the-recliner-corner, comforted you after another diaper-change induced tantrum, peeled you off the bookcase you were attempting to climb, and chased you as you squeezed through the gap between the baby gate and sofa), I realized you really were...spirited! For better or worse, you seem to have a temperament simliar to my own. My tantrums were legendary. I was the "girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead." However, your mother is a bit more strong willed than mine was. So we'll see how that works for you. :) But, between the two of us, I like your spirit.
Your latest accomplishments are clapping on cue (when we say "Yaaay!"), pulling up your blanket or hiding your eyes to play peek-a-boo, and climbing the bookcase, baby gates, and slide. You are an accomplished cruiser and have outgrown (for now, at least), the tendency to bonk your head on any and every thing. In fact, you hardly ever fall anymore. Today you stood for about a minute.
Your favorite toy is your new piano, given to you by your doting Grandma Helen. But what you love the best, are books. You read dozens a day. You babble along as you flip the pages, pointing your chubby little finger at various images. You are mesmerized by our birds and the stray kitties we feed. Today you cracked up as you watched "Alley" chasing a bug. Your laugh is the world's greatest sound. You used to have a one syllable laugh "Huh!" Now it's more of a sqealed "Hah Hah!"
But enough about you. Just kidding.
It has been an amazing year for our little family. We still can't believe that God has blessed us so abundantly. We would have been happy with any old baby, but we got YOU. Two people couldn't be luckier. You are a delight. We are both so proud to call you our child and so thankful that God chose us as your parents.
I want to tell you how incredibly fortunate you are. You have an amazing earthly Dad. The kind of Dad I always wanted, and accidentally married. I had a hunch that someone who was such a kind husband would make a marvelous father. And was I right. He thinks you hung the moon. He is the most doting and encouraging and interested Dad a baby could ever ask for. Your Dad had an amazing father of his own. Very nurturing and involved. And HIS Dad raised him, when his mother left them, at a young age. So you come from a long line of special and loving Dads. As for your mom, she's a hopeless mess. But she adores you.
On this, your first birthday, I have a lot of hopes and dreams for you. But none amount to much, without the desire of my heart, which is that you know God. That you are blessed by loving him. That is the most important thing in the world to me. I will do everything I can to share Him with you, but I know that only He can stir your heart to accept his grace. Please don't ever forget that you are his.
And your Dad has this message for you, "Stay sweet!" He says that to you all the time. You are pretty sweet. He is going to write you a letter of his own, although, don't worry, it won't be this long!
Bless you, Nicholas Lane.