To my husband, on our daughter’s first birthday –

As I am writing this, our daughter – our first child – is days from turning one. At this time last year, we were a family of two, who had lavish amounts of time to waste binging on Netflix and going out to eat without worrying about nap times. We spent these last days dreaming – and worrying – about what turned out to be the easy part: the birth of our daughter.

I’ve thanked you before, and I want to thank you again. Sure, I did all the heavy lifting, but you were a CHAMP during labor and delivery. You were the perfect amount of attentive without hovering. You were sympathetic without pretending that you were the one about to deliver a baby. You updated family and friends when I didn’t want to speak to anyone and were the perfect bouncer, giving them the once over before allowing anyone to pass into our room.

You went nearly 36 hours without sleep, and only DID sleep because your body forced you to. You welcomed our daughter into this world with strong, loving arms and delicately stroked her head as you confirmed her name with me.

And then we were three.

People warned us that it would be hard, but in our typical fashion, we looked down on them and assumed that we knew better than they did. We’d be fine, really.

And we WERE fine. We ARE fine. But, damn, what it took to get there.

Thank you for spending long hours sitting in the room with us as we tried to figure out that whole nursing thing. The support and the company were very much appreciated. Thank you for spending dark evenings in her bedroom with me, on WebMD and BabyCenter, as we frantically Googled every little thing she did, in order to confirm her health.

Thank you for bearing with me as I became a hormonal beast of a woman. A year later and I am just now starting to feel like myself. Thank you for seeing past the tears and the screams and remembering the girl you fell in love with; the woman you created this beautiful child with.

As we approach toddlerhood, thank you for being a safe place for our daughter. Thank you for allowing her to feel brave as she learns to navigate this world (hopefully without her mother’s coordination). She’s fearless, and that is because she knows you will not allow her to fall. She squeals when you throw her in the air and her eyes are bright as she learns how to manipulate those long legs of hers to get from Point A to Point B (then to Points CDEFGHIJ and Z.) One of the happiest parts of my day, every day, is watching her watch you walk in the door after work.

I never thought I’d be so happy to see how much another girl loves you, and to see that same adoration reflecting back at her in your eyes.

Our daughter is surrounded by love. But there is only one person in this world who understands EXACTLY how much I love her and there’s only one person in this world who can love her that same way, and that is you.

We love you.