rambling reflections on the eve of Zoe's first birthday

I want tomorrow's post to be encouraging and happy and celebratory, because it is, after all, our baby girl's first birthday. We're celebrating it as much - if not more - than we did for our oldest two.

It's not the same, though. To be able to write the post I want for tomorrow, though, I need to get all the differences off my chest first.

When Jocelyn turned one, I thought of her due date one year before. She arrived promptly at 40 weeks, though she made me labor for 19 hours that day before I got to meet her. She burst into the scene, yelling at all of us and demanding attention. (In many ways, not much has changed, huh?) She had trouble gaining weight in the beginning, but we got the hang of nursing and she thrived after that. The learning curve was steep, but we cherished those early days with our newborn firstborn.

When Robbie turned one, I thought of our trip to the Marbles kids' museum on a Sunday afternoon a few weeks before his due date. As they closed and we headed toward the exit, contractions started. We walked around downtown with Jocelyn, wanting to let things progress a bit more before we headed to the hospital, but  contractions were coming faster and furiouser (nope, that's not a word. I don't care.) than they had with Jocelyn, so we drove home. As we waited for the Plan C friends to come watch our girl (given that Plan A was in Charlotte and Plan B was at a church program), my water broke. We made it to the hospital with just enough time for the epidural (oh, sweet modern medicine, I love you.), and he literally spiraled out with just one push. He ate and grew like a champ from day one, and his big sister doted on him.

Tomorrow Zoe turns one. A year ago, I was heading to my first post-op physical therapy appointment following my knee surgery. That day I found out that my knee was infected, and we started antibiotics. My blogging that month was sporadic, understandably so due to the surgery, but I posted on both blogs the day Zoe was born: on our family blog, sharing about the infection and including a picture of the chocolate chess pie my Bible study leader brought us with dinner, and on our special needs ministry blog, sharing a hodgepodge of links.

I had no idea that a baby girl who would be our daughter was being born on the other side of the planet. I didn't know that our youngest child was making an early entrance to the world at a teeny 2 pounds and 15 ounces and a petite 14 inches long. While I try to imagine her small frame, I cherish the details we have: that she breathed well on her own, that she maintained her body temperature without assistance, and that the only issue needing immediate attention at birth was jaundice. In other words, our Zoe has been a tiny fighter from the beginning, not letting pesky details - like a premature birth or a heart defect or a brain that wasn't completely formed - get in her way.

As we share these differences in birth stories with our children, we'll be able to tell precious Zoe that she was labored over twice: once by one mother in a birthing center in Taitung and once by her Mommy and Daddy through an altogether different labor of paperwork and court processes.

Oh, how we love our almost one-year-old girl! Zoe bug, we cannot wait to celebrate your first year of life tomorrow.