Little man, what a year it's been. Happy first birthday. I don't know a single person who deserves a handful of icing more than you.
Today was a low-key birthday, as far as first birthdays can go. (We are saving the big bash for next month as we are going to give you and your brother a joint birthday party for as long as we can get away with it.) You started the day nice and early with your dad, with a bottle and some Olympics. You then spent the next few hours rolling around on the floor, practicing your new army crawling skills and evasive maneuvers trying alternately to escape and follow your big brother around the room. After an unsuccessful attempt at lunch, you took a nap and prepared for your big afternoon of cake smashing.
I hesitated on making you a cupcake since we are still struggling so much with solid foods. I even went so far as to make you "cake" out of watermelon and cut up fruit. I figured you could at least suck on it and get some enjoyment out of the process. However, when I woke up this morning and peeked at it in the refrigerator, it just didn't seem right. It just wouldn't be the same to hand you a hunk of watermelon with a candle in it. After the year we've had, we needed to really celebrate this momentous occasion. So I shelved the fruit, grabbed a cake mix, and whipped up a cupcake worthy of smashing.
Unlike your brother, you did not hesitate for a second to plunge your hand into the icing and get a taste. You managed to icing all over your face and clothes and chair, and yet, I'm pretty sure very little got into your mouth. So, it all worked out. I got cute pictures, you got to make a mess, and we didn't have worry about how you swallowed any of it. Win.
My sweet boy, you have been through so much this past year. I often write about how hard this year has been on us, on me. But you...my dear little boy, you've had to endure so much. I'm so very sorry about all of it. I wish I could have spared you all the sickness, all the surgeries, all the doctors, and that little lump in your tummy that makes sure your heart pumps the way it should. I wish I could say that I'll never let it happen again, that I will protect you from all harm, but like so much of this last year, I just have no control over any of it.
But through it all, you've shown us what it means to be resilient. You taught us how to smile just days after having your chest cracked open. You taught us how to laugh with a nasal cannula in your nose. How to sleep through nurses checking your vitals. How to want to roll and crawl and sit, even when your muscles don't cooperate and your scars get in the way. How to grow and be strong and overcome every obstacle that's placed in front of you.
You are our very own superhero.
You made us learn more than I ever thought was possible about pediatric cardiology. You are introducing us to the complex workings of things we take for granted...like swallowing and chewing and breathing. You've opened our eyes to this group of people who were mostly invisible to us before you came into our lives. I see people with Down Syndrome everywhere I go now. It's not like they weren't there a year ago, but now I have the eyes to see them. You've brought amazing people into our lives: from the families who've become friends in our DS community to the therapists who sit on our dog-hair-covered carpet each week.
You are changing us. You are making us better.
This morning, as 10:21 rolled around, you were sitting in my lap, belly laughing as I got your tickle spots. I thought back to that moment a year ago, when you were taken from that safe place in my body where your heart defect was on pause and we were totally clueless about what this year would bring. There are days when I wish I could take you back there, back to where I could keep you safe and whole. But as I watched you laugh today and felt you snuggle into my neck as the giggles subsided...I'm just so glad you are here, Sam.
Happy Birthday, baby.