I absolutely cannot believe it has been ONE whole year since I heard you cry for the first time and held your tiny little self in my arms. I can only describe it as love at first sound. You see, your daddy and I were standing outside the hospital room where you were born, and I heard you let out a healthy, loud yell. My heart just about leapt out of my chest. I knew, absolutely knew 100 percent, that that was my baby crying. Your father had to calmly explain to a noisy nurse that no, we didn't know all the details yet, but the adoption agency had called us to come and could we please just enter the room. You were born at 1:01 p.m. on a beautiful Saturday morning. We arrived at the hospital less than 10 minutes later. You were still being examined and hadn't even yet been cleaned up. The nurse took us inside. All I could see was you. There were other people in the room, many people in fact, checking to make sure you were healthy, that the adoption agency and the birth family and adopting family were all okay. Everyone in that room loved you and we all had one goal: That you got to have a wonderful, carefree childhood, grow up and get a good education and live a wonderful life knowing you were taken care of in every way possible.
This is where the story gets a little funny. Because, as you know, I don't do "icky" things well. (I wore a surgical mask to change your poopy diapers for months! Your daddy remarked to me later that night, as we enjoyed a hot Papa John's pepperoni pizza, that he couldn't believe I'd given you your first bath without getting squeamish at all. I told him I hadn't even noticed. I was too busy soaking in your soft dark hair and your button nose and perfect lips (you even seemed to smile in our first family picture)! Two days later we proudly whisked you home and our life as a family of three began.
I don't think I put you down for three straight months. I had a hard time letting your daddy hold you when he got home from work. He got rather put out with me over this a few times. Your dogs, Pepe and Scout, sniffed all over you in your little car seat. They'd come smell you from time to time, but it seemed like they'd always known you were coming. Like they'd been waiting for a little pup all of their own. My camera went from having tons of dog pictures to absolutely none. Scout didn't make it into a photo again until we propped you up under the Christmas tree for a photo and thought it'd be cute to add him.
Over the next few weeks your grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins were so excited to meet you. Your cousins started calling you "Baby Caroline," and they just couldn't send you enough gifts! When we brought you home we had a Moses basket, pack 'n play, diapers, car seat and a few outfits from Sissy. That was all!
Daddy stayed home for two days with you and then went back to work on Wednesday morning. He had a hard time leaving the house that day. I sent him pictures at least every hour and in each one we were on the sofa or porch staring at each other. I remember thinking there is nothing else I want, or have to do, other than hold this baby. My baby. I'd read about adopting moms having issues "bonding" with their new babies, but we clicked immediately, my dear Caroline. You became my brown haired mini-me in every way. And as our book, "Guess How Much I Love You," says:
I can't imagine life before you came along.
You are the music to my dance and my song.
I was made for you and you were made for me.
The one I love forever more. Undeniably.
Siggi came that Wednesday afternoon. You and I sat on the porch and watched for her car all afternoon. The next day Sissy came to see you from Birmingham. Net and Uncle Oliver's grandmother went to Birmingham so that Sissy could come spoil you. She took one look at your nursery and said, "This just will not do!" She put together the most beautiful nursery in two days. She, Siggi and our friend, Jennie, assembled a bookshelf, crib and nightstand for you. Siggi and Sissy went all over Greenville to find you pictures for your wall, a rug, books and a glider. Uncle Jason and Aunt Sarah mailed us so many packages full of baby "must haves" that we actually got to know the mailman! We Facetimed like crazy all our friends and family!
From day one you were such a happy, content baby. You made it all seem so easy. You loved your formula right away and by 12 weeks you were sleeping 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. My friends got tired of hearing me say how great the "12 Hours of Sleep by 12 Weeks" book was for us. We started sleep training on a week when Daddy was working nights. I knew he would cave to the first little whimper!
First walk around our neighborhood on the day you came home from the hospital. I checked about 95 times that you could actually breath in that thing!
On your three month birthday we made our first trip to Mississippi. You rode over eight hours in the car and were a total dream - even with two big slobbery dogs breathing on you. We went to Senatobia and Jackson to show you off to all our friends and family. Everyone agreed you were the most beautiful baby. By this time you had just started sleeping through the night - 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. We also had a fun surprise to tell everyone. That you were going to be a BIG SISTER.
We had a fabulous time in Mississippi and all your cousins couldn't get enough of "Baby Caroline."
Then it was time to head back home. We were so excited because on December 29th your adoption was finalized in the court system. You wore the beautiful dress from DeeDee and one of my old bonnets (I realized later I'd put the bonnet on backwards!). Jennie came to hold you while your daddy and I took turns being sworn in to take the stand and answering questions from the judge. I do believe all parents should have to do this! As all this was going on your friend Lillie was being born just a few miles away. We went to see her later that night!
Our first "playdate" with Lillie. Maggie let out a huge laugh when I told her I was 20+ weeks pregnant - she thought I'd just gotten fat sitting on the sofa and holding you for the last four months :-)
We began working on daytime sleep and soon you were sleeping at least an hour in the morning and two in the afternoon. I remember feeling at the four month mark that motherhood actually seemed easy. It seemed much easier to get together with friends, and I was so excited for you to meet baby Oliver. It was my first glimpse at what an amazing big sister you were going to be in just a few short months.
On Valentine's Day you were baptized at First Presbyterian Church by Dr. Richard Gibbons. I jokingly told him you went to him so easily because of his Scottish accent and all the Downton Abby we watched.
Sissy and Elizabeth Magee (all with your grandparents and Net) all came to town to celebrate with us. Sissy and I took you and EM downtown to look at all the political happenings involving the upcoming presidential election.
There were a lot of "firsts" in the spring of 2016: first snowstorm, first solo road trip with mama, first trip to the zoo, first time in the park swing, first teeth and first foods. It seemed like every day you were learning something new. You were also moving. At first it was just scooting backwards on your tummy. But soon you were pushing your arms up and moving forward. I could no longer expect you to be in the same place when I left the room and returned!
You learned to crawl the week Duncan came home from the hospital and were walking by 11 months. We called it your "crab crawl" because you left your right leg cocked up and only crawled on one knee. By 12 months you were walking more than crawling.
Pepe and Scout were, and remain, great entertainment.
You were about six months old at Easter and we had fun dying eggs and having friends from my Bible Study over for dinner after church. Daddy was working but we wanted on him to see what the Easter Bunny brought!
From the very beginning you loved to be outside. As a tiny baby if you were fussy, a walk down the driveway always calmed you down. It was no surprise to us then, when you had a blast on your first hike riding in a backpack. We celebrated Jennie's 30th birthday with a hike and picnic at Table Rock with Jennie and Craig.
Before we knew it, May had arrived and that meant you baby brother or sister was on the way soon. Daddy and I both thought it was a boy, but we had decided to be surprised. You loved Duncan from the moment you saw him. And watching you two become the best of friends has been one of the greatest joys in my life.
What turned out to be our last weekend as a family of three! On Friday night we went to TR and you tried fried pickles for the first time and loved them.
On Saturday we went to the downtown farmer's market and then the Duck Derby in Falls Park. After your nap you and I sat on the floor and played while watching the Kentucky Derby coverage.
And you liked my mock mink julep!
The summer of 2016 is a blur to me of feedings, naps and schedules. We went for lots of walks and went to the pool a handful of times. The coffee pot stayed on all day.
When you were nine months old I walked in one morning to find you standing up in your crib! You only had eyes for Duncan from the very beginning. At the grocery store you no longer faced me but stayed turned around to watch Duncan.
You turned 10 months old while we were at Edisto Island with Siggi, Granddaddy, Net, Uncle Oliver, Sissy and the girls. It took you a minute to get used to the sand and the ocean but by the second day you were a beach lover like your mama.
DeeDee and I spent our mid-20s walking multiple times a week dreaming of babies and quitting jobs we hated. So many tears and so much love is represented in this picture. When my phone rings during the day, you look at me and say "DeeDee?" That's how much we talk! Jane recently told her mom that, "when clothes are too small we pack them up and send them to Caroline." Our curly-haired girls are already such good friends! And "the boys" were in awe of you on this trip. I have a feeling ya'll are going to be big buddies at Ole Miss one day!
In Senatobia, Siggi threw a "Sip and See" for you and Duncan to meet extended family and friends. It was so fun and one of my all time favorite days. Towards the end of the afternoon, we got the call that Aunt Laura was in labor!!!
The first year flew by, my love, and I'm sure time will just go faster. Your daddy and I treasure each day with you. We can't see the amazing plans we know God has for you. You have already brought so much JOY into this world and people constantly remark on your happy disposition and smiling face!
Love you for forever, sweet Caroline!