You are a warrior. As I think back on all that you have been through the first year of your life, I can’t help but be incredibly proud of you. You have endured more in your first year than most people ever have to endure in their entire lives; and you’ve done it all with a smile. From the moment you started smiling, you have never stopped. You have smiled through IV’s, blood draws, NG tubes, hospitalizations, medicines, wearing oxygen, hours of not being able to eat, and open heart surgery. The best word I can think to describe you is, “warrior.”
Don’t ever lose your amazing ability to forgive. I have seen you crying while nurses poke and prod you, and within seconds of them being done you smile at them. Your ability to forgive is something this world needs more of.
Don’t ever lose your fighting spirit. You fought before you were even born to prove the doctors who said you wouldn’t make it to full term wrong. You fought in the NICU and CICU at less than a month old. You fought through open heart surgery at just six months old, and became the shortest hospitalization for a ToF and AVSD repair Dr. Madsen had ever seen. Your perseverance is something this world needs more of.
Don’t ever lose your joy. I can’t think of a middle name that suits you more than, “Joy.” Your smile lights up the room. Hospital staff make special stops in your room to see you smile and wave. Everyone talks and waves to you in the grocery store. You love everyone equally. You have brought so much joy to so many lives in just one year. Your joy and love are something this world needs more of.
You have not only made this world a better place, but you have made me better. You have taught me to love more freely, to lean on the Lord, be optimistic, and smile through trials. You have taught me to not sweat the small things and to persevere through the big things. You have taught me that it’s okay to take things slowly, to enjoy every moment, and to celebrate the small victories.
I was so scared when I found out you had Down Syndrome because I thought I wouldn’t be enough for you, that I wouldn’t be able to take care of you and teach you. It turns out, you have been the one teaching me and helping me grow. You have so much to offer this world, baby girl, don’t ever let me or anyone else hold you back. Happy 1st Birthday, Hannah Joy! The first of many.