A year ago, I woke up and I just knew it would be the day I finally met you. Your due date wasn’t for three more weeks, but that morning you were calm when you were normally very active. Something told me you were resting up to cause a ruckus, and boy did you.
You came out screaming. SCREAMING. And you screamed and screamed until we finally officially met.
When you came, you were so tiny! The nurses warned me that since you were slightly preterm, they would take you to the NICU if you weighed six pounds or less. You weighed six pounds half an ounce. I should have known then the personality you were going to have.
For the first six weeks of your life, you did the typical baby things: sleep, eat, poop. As soon as you passed the six week mark, you became A Person. Baby objects like tummy time, mirrored toys, and rattles were the playthings of infants. You had little time for such nuisances. You wanted to stand, and roll, and smile and laugh.
You are a master manipulator. You get everything you want from everyone. Except me – I’ve realized that my role in life is to be the bad guy. I am OK with that, because I know how you think. See, you look like your daddy, but you are all me on the inside. I’m going to get a lot of enjoyment (and gray hair) staying one step ahead of you.
You are spunky and determined, and so crazy smart it’s almost scary. You have words and can answer questions and follow commands. You are a climber, and a very very good one at that. You’ve figured out how to stand on toys, scale fences, and stretch onto your tippy toes to reach things. You’re taking steps with more regularity, and I know the gated community won’t contain you for much longer. Then I’m really in trouble.
It’s a pretty heavy thing to tell you, but you saved me. After your sister died, I didn’t know what to do anymore. I was a mommy, and then I wasn’t. But after I became pregnant with you, my life had purpose again. I became singularly focused on making sure you arrived healthy and on time.
When you were very small, I would hold you tightly to my chest and cry over the things I wanted for you that you’d never have. I felt so guilty that you weren’t going to have your big sister to play, tease, and fight with. I don’t want you to ever feel like you have to compete with her, because you don’t. I so wish that you could compete with her, over toys and attention and school and boys. But that is not the card we drew in life. It’s so very unfair, and I’m so very sorry.
I tell you every day, but always know that I love you. I can’t say how much, because love doesn’t have an amount. It can’t be measured. It just IS. I love you, and I love your sister, and there is no more or less to it.
Annabel, before you arrived, I was just inhaling and exhaling. Now I breathe you in, I savor every moment that you let me hold you before you squirm away. I love watching you think and move and grow, and when you call me mama my body tingles with happiness.
The day you were born was the day I started living again. Happy birthday to you, and to me. I am so honored to be your mommy.
beautiful beautiful, happy birthday to you both
Happy, Sweet, Amazing 1st Birthday Ms. Annabel Violet!! You are an amazing little girl loved by so many. You have a lot in life to be fulfilled by whatever you want it to be.Keep being and growing and loving. You have those things coming back to you in spades.
And happy 1 year to you too, Heather. Annie is sooooooo lucky to have you as her mom.
XOXO from GA,
emily bilbrey says:
beautiful, beautiful, BEAUTIFUL words for a beautiful little lady. what an amazing and lovely post. xoxoxo!
(Wish I looked that good during my c-sections, lol – I always look so white and pasty!)
Happy Birthday, Miss Annabel!
Happy Birthday Annabel!
Happy, Happy Birthday Annabel! I hope you have a wonderful birthday.
Happy tears. Your family is beautiful.
happy birthday, Annabel. o, the places you’re gonna go. it’s gonna be a big year. it all goes so fast. so pace yourself, baby girl.
Happy Birthday Annabel. Hope you have a special day filled with more love than can be imagined & surrounded by friends & family who idolise you.
Beautiful post Heather, I hope your day is filled with as much love & happiness as Annie’s.
Beautiful words for a beautiful little girl..
Happy Birthday Annie!
Kate @ UpsideBackwards says:
Happy Birthday, Spohrs!
What a beautiful letter, I know Annie will treasure your words when she is old enough to read and understand them – which sounds like it could be any day now
Happy birthday sweet Annabel!
Have a wonderful day
So lovely. Happy birthday, Annabel!
Of course this made me cry. Beautiful, beautiful letter to Annabel. But I wouldn’t expect anything less from you. Happy 1st Birthday to Annabel, you and Mike!
I love that second to last photo of you looking at the camera. There’s no doubt there: “That’s a proud momma.” Love the last photo too, of course. ;o)
Sweet Annabel, we all love you!
Kisses from Ray, in NY.
Beautiful! Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday, Annie!
Beautiful words – Happy birthday Annie and to you Heather in that rebirth sort of way!
Beautiful Anna. (I THINK thats what your name translates to). You are such a wonderful girl. You are magic and full of love and have more people that love you than you even know. Because you ARE.
Happy birthday Annie!
Mommy Boots says:
Happy Birthday to your beautiful Annabel!!! This post made me tear up, as so many of yours do. Absolutely beautiful!
Oh what a beautiful post. Beautiful pictures. Beautiful people.
Happy, happy day sweet Annie. Heather, I tell Max all the time he saved me. It’s just the Truth – aint nothing wrong with telling our babies the Truth.
Tears of joy for you. Happy birthday to you both.
That made me cry. So many kinds of beautiful. Happy Birthday to all of you!
Karen Chatters says:
That’s so beautiful! Happy birthday to you all!
Happy birthday, Spohrs!
Sharing the joy of this day with you!
Happy Birthday Annie!
You tell that Mommy of yours to bring you out to see me so I can smoosh on you again. Though you probably won’t let me.
xoxo Spohrs, love you!
What a beautiful post, Heather, brought tears to my eyes, you can really feel the love you have for your beautiful girls. I love the precious photos. You are such a wonderful Mummy and your girls are just so lucky to have you as their Mum. Wishing your Amazing Annabel a very Happy First Birthday and of course thinking of your World Famous Maddie on this very special day too. Congratulations Heather and Mike, you are doing such a great job as parents and are an inspiration to us all every day.
Sending you all lots of love from afar
Happy Birthday, beautiful Annie!!
Happy Birthday Annie! Can’t wait to see all your adventures this year!
So beautiful, Heather!! Happy 1st Birthday Annabel!! XOXO
Happy birthday to sweet Annabel! And happy “birth” day to you as well!
Beautiful, simply beautiful.
Happy 1st Birthday Miss Annabel!! You are one heck of a little girl. Enjoy your day and give your mommy and daddy some extra snuggles today (they deserve it).
Kristin (MamaKK922) says:
Happy Birthday to you both!! I hope it is amazing for you both!! And so MANY more.
Happy Birthday , precious girl.
Happy First Birthday, Annabel!! And to your whole family too!
Happy Birthday sweet Annabel!! We have all loved watching you grow up this year, and bringing such smiles and happiness to your amazing mom and dad!
Erica S. says:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANNIE!!!!! Heather, I cannot believe this day is already here! Thank you for sharing your stories and pictures of her and everything else! Have a great day today and always!!
Such a sweet day…Happy, happy birthday to all of you.
I knew this post would be beautiful…
Happy FIRST birthday to sweet Annie.
Happy birthday….to both of you.
HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY ANNIE!
You are one special little lady.
Jennifer Choate says:
Happy Birthday Sweet Annabel from Arkansas….keep your Mama busy and on her toes….hope you have a wonderful birthday.
Happy, happy birthday adorable Annie! Heather, it is a beauttiful letter that you wrote to Annie. I wrote a comment on one of Mike’s posts that someone once told me that her son was a sunshine baby. She explained that after her daughter died the sun did not shine again till he was born. Annie is a sunshine baby.
Happy birthday to you and Mike too! Looking forward to reading about the big 1st birthday party. Take care.
Happy Birthday to Annie and to you too.
Jenni Williams says:
Happy Birthday Annie!
Happy 1st Birthday little Annabel! May you be the bringer of plenty of white hairs on you mother’s scalp! Just let her keep a few of the colored ones, too. Even if it’s just because the white ones will stand out more between the darker ones…
Aaaaand I’m heading for the Kleenex box again.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful Annabel with all of us and your honest feelings with the world. It is brave, and you and Mike are amazing.
robyn L says:
Annabel looks like her dad, but she looks like you, too. Happy birthday to your precious girl!
I do read your blog daily and love it but barely comment. I feel that today is a day that I must just say HAPPY BIRTHDAY little Annie!
Happy Birthday sweet little Annie.
I’m so glad that you came along to help your Mama and Daddy.
Heather, what a beautiful letter to your sweet, youngest daughter.
Happy Birthday Annie!! I’m so glad your mom and dad share you and Maddie with us all, and I’m looking forward to another funny year!
Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] says:
happy happy day!
I’ve learned so much about grace from your family.
I hope today is truly a celebration for you all.
Happy birthday to beautiful, wonderful Annabel the mighty!
Michelle Pixie says:
A very sweet and very happy birthday to the both of you! XXOO
Happy birthday, beautiful baby girl!
Happy Birthday Annabel and Happy Rebirth Heather!!
Much love to you on this beautiful day!!!
Happy birthday Annabel…my daughters and I have enjoyed watching Annabel videos, and we have enjoyed watching her grow up! We especially liked the Year of Annie one..the girls kept saying, “ah, look how she’s grown!”
Happy birthday from the Midwest!
Happy birthday to such a lucky girl!
Mary Ann says:
Beautiful Post! Happy 1st Birthday Annabel Violet! I can remember sitting by my computer one year ago, checking your Mom and Dad’s posts for updates and crying tears of happiness when I read about your arrival. I hope this day is perfect from from beginning to end for all of you. Sending my love and best wishes for a lifetime of happiness – no one deserves it more than you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY xoxo
Happy Birthday Annabel, enjoy your cake!!!
Lisa in Elijahland says:
(Tears) Happy Birthday Annabel!
Expat Mom says:
Happy Birthday, Annie! It sure doesn’t seem like a year since we saw those first pics of you . . . and how you’ve grown! Here’s to many more years of birthday letters and love.
What a beautiful, sweet post, Heather!
Happy Birthday, Annie! I remember reading about the day you were born and being so excited! I’ve told everyone I know about you and, all because of you, I have been thinking about maybe having a baby of my own (a thought that used to freak me out!!) Today, there is a special “birthday shout out” to you on my blog: http://lambaround.blogspot.com/2011/01/not-baaad-sundays-blog-hop.html
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEETIES!! HAPPY ANNIVERSAY TO YOU & MIKE TOO!!! ENJOY YOUR SPECIAL DAY WITH YOUR SPECIAL GIRLIE!!!
Jennifer Murray says:
Happy Birthday beautiful Annie!
Today is a celebration for the 3 of you. What a beautiful letter. Happy birthday to amazing Annabel!!! Thanks for sharing your 2 beautiful girls with all of us! I’m so glad Annie has brought sunshine to your gray days. Wishing you all much love, health and happiness for a lifetime!
Happy Birthday Annie!
Yay! Happy birthday, Annie! SO glad you’re here!
Happy birthday to you both!!!!
Marnie :) says:
Happy Birthday Annabel!! Wishing you all a wonderful, happy day.
Oh Annabel how delightful you are. Happy first birthday to you!
Happy Birthday, have a fabulous day!
Oh, man. I’m crying.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANNIE! We love you soooo much. xoxoxo You are a total rock star (like your mama!)
Happy Re-Birthday Heather and Mike…sure this day is all about your precious girl, but it is about you as well. You have survived something no parents ever should have to. You did it with grace and courage and gumption(sp)….you did your Maddie proud. Sure, it isn’t over this grieving ofnyour first beauty and it never will be. But you have found a way for that grief to co-exist with the joy of Annabel. Your are walking hand in hand with sorrow and happiness and that is such a powerful lesson for all of us and certainly for Annabel. I pray today is everything you dreamed it would be for Annie and more. I pray that in the next year it all gets easier. I especially pray that as you approach those dates that Annie survives and Maddie did not, the living more days than her big sister, that the darkness doesn’t overtake you, that the light that Annabel brings shines through it all and that every day has room for happy thoughts of both your girls. Happy Birthday Annable…you are one loved little girl!
So beautiful and so moving. It’s true, you kind of started life again.
Matt Logelin posted something similar once. He said the instant Liz died, he died, too. And then he said he almost felt he was born again, in to a new life without her. I’d guess that’s how you feel, too? There was a life before Maddie died and another one after. It doesn’t mean that old life isn’t part of you still. But it was different and this “new life” is different, and new.
Happy Birthday little Annie! I can’t believe it’s been a year and I can’t wait to hear about her party!
Melanie B says:
Happy Birthday little Annabel. This was a beautiful tribute to your daughter, wishing many more years of love and life!
That’s so cute….you think you’re going to stay one step ahead of her. Good luck mama. I have 2 and have been chasing them since they were born.
Happy Birthday Annabel! You’ve made your mommy and daddy so happy.
Happy birthday Annie!!!
Such a wonderful post!! Happy Birthday, precious baby!! Hope you all have an amazing day of celebration!!
Happy birthday Annie! I love reading about all your adventures.
Happy Birthday Annabel!!
Happy birthday Sweet Annie, and you also, Heather and Mike.
Jen @ lifelove'n'wine says:
Happy birthday, Annabel!
Angie M. says:
what a beautiful post, what beautiful family…loved by so many.
happy birthday sweet little girl. xoxo
Happy Birthday, Annie.
This made me teary-eyed
Happy Birthday Annabel!
What a beautiful post! Happy Birthday, Annie!! Have a great day celebrating!
Betty M says:
Happy Happy Birthday dear girl!!
Happy Birthday Annabel from New Zealand!!
Annie is so blessed to have you as her Mama and the letters that you and Mike have written her will be cherished for many many many years to come I am sure.
Have a lovely day celebrating your baby girl. :o)
Beautiful! Happy birthday to such a lucky little girl!
What a lovely letter. Happy Birthday to your sweet Annabel, and I’m so happy her first year brought you so much joy
I will pretend to be dismayed that you didn’t ask me for advice on what to write. (I thought that was our thing?!?) Since you (didn’t) asked…
I saved your behind from going in the pond one fateful night at Aunt Brit’s house. I will be calling this in someday.
Love Aunt Jen
Happy Happy Birthday sweet girl!
Happy Birthday Annabel!
beautiful Heather, just beautiful….Happy Birthday to both of you!
Annie, Heather and Mike…. I hope you all have a wonderful day today. It is so special. The year went by so fast. Looking forward to more stories, pictures and love for all of you! Happy Birthday Annie!!!!
Simply gorgeous. And I can relate to so much of this. I was reborn when my son was born alive as well. Having lived through his sister’s full term stillbirth 15 months earlier, I really felt he brought me back to life.
Such a lovely post from a wonderful mother. I hope you all enjoy this special day today.
Big birthday kisses, Annie. You are a total spunk.
Happy Birthday Amazing Annabel!
Ann Daniel says:
What a beautiful tribute!
Every time I think of Annie, I think of that top photo of you reaching out for her the first time. One of the coolest “birth” photos, I’ve ever seen! Don’t think I’ll ever forget it…
Aaawwww this is the sweetest birthday letter ever. Happy Birthday to Annie and you Heather!
happy birthday annie!
i hope it’s a great one!
feel very blessed happy birth-day to your parents as well!
Happy birthday, Annabel Violet! The profound joy you bring to your parents and the happiness you bring to your loyal internet friends is nothing short of absolutely amazing. That must be why your mommy and daddy picked that perfect blog name for you: “Amazing Annabel.” You are so loved, and your mom and dad are too!
I can’t even explain how happy I am for all of you on this special day. We’ve never met in person, but you and your family have a very special place in my heart. Happy birthday Annabel Violet Spohr!
Happy birthday Annabel! Beautiful post!
Ooohhh, my heart is pounding as I read this. What a sweet sweet letter to your baby girl.
Leslie K says:
Oh, how beautiful!
Happy, HAPPY Birthday, Annie!
Emily from PA says:
What a beautiful letter to sweet sweet Annie! Happy birthday to her (and to you as well). I have enjoyed reading all of your posts about Annie’s first year and can’t wait to see what she does next! Congratulations!
Happy Birthday Sweet Annie!
Happy Birthday Annabel! You are so lucky to have such an awesome mom! I love the photos! SO very precious!
Happy Birthday, Annabel from one of your many fans!!!
Love this. Can’t believe she’ s a year old already.
Staci Ainsworth says:
Happy birthday to all of you!
The letter was absolutely beautiful but those pictures. Oh, do they tell a story. I just hope that Annie can grow up with a full understanding of the depths of your love for her.
Happy Birthday Annabel! V was blowing kisses to you today.
I swear, you make me cry at least twice per week with your blog posts!
Happy, happy birthday, Annabel!
Well said. Beautiful
Cannot believe she is ONE already! Hope it was a wonderful day for you all.
Beautifully written for such a beautiful baby girl. Happy Birthday Annabel!!
BAWLING! Happy Birthday, Annie!!!
Happy 1st Birthday Annabel!!!! You are so precious! It has been an honor to watch you grow (via pictures and photos – thank you Mike & Heather for sharing!) this past year! You have truly brought light to your family’s eyes and to many others who read this blog!
Happy Birthday Annabel!
I remember when you told me you were pregnant and my heart soared. And then she came and she was so loved by all of us.
Happy Birthday Annie. You've brought smiles to so many people's faces and we love ya kid.
Love you too mom and dad.
Happy Birthday Annie.
Heather, my heart is smiling for you today.
Gosh! One! Happy birthday sweet Annabel!
And so much love to your mom and dad
This is one of the most beautiful birthday letters I have read. Happy Birthday Annie!
Love you always.
Happy Birthday to Annabel!
Kathryn in Berlin says:
That was so beautifully written!
Happy Birthday to the fantastic, amazing, wickedly cute Annabel Violet and happy happy congratulations to you & Mile too! :o)
Happy Birthday to you both It’s been a pleasure to share your journey.
I bet you had an amazing day together yesterday. Belated birthday wishes to you, Annie! You are so very special. xo
Snarky Mommy says:
Happy 1st birthday, Annie! Hope your day was filled with friends, family, presents and cake. Lots and lots of cake!
Happy birthday to you, too, Heather and Mike. Such a sweet post.
Happy 1st Birthday to the gorgeous Annabel, hope that you had a wonderful day xxx
That was a beautiful letter Heather – it said it all so beautifully, wow!!
crying my eyes out. so very beautiful. she is a lucky girl to have such wonderful parents.
Happy Birthday Annabel!
Heather, I remember reading your post on a Saturday morning announcing Annabel’s birth and my eyes filled with tears. What a joy it is to be celebrating her first birthday.
happy birthday little annabel!
I’d also say, Sweet Heather.
Happiest of days to you all!
Beautiful! Happy Birthday Annabel! Hope it’s a great day for everyone!
Oh Heather, you were always a mommy, but I’m so, so glad you have Annabel. She’s is beautiful, and all your readers can tell that you both just soak up her very essence. We’re all so very glad for you…and pray for you and her that the Spohrs will continue to multiply, one way or another!
It has been wonderful to see you grow over the past year! I hope you had a very happy birthday, Annie!
I have enjoyed this past year more than I can say, Heather.
Thank you from the very bottom of my heart for allowing us all to witness your family grow and love and change and live. It has been an honor, a privilege, and most of all a joy.
Happy birthday Annabel!
happy birthday annie!
heather & mike- i’ve been following you and your family’s journey over the past few years and I so appreciate your humor, honesty and love for each other and your family. i am so glad that your baby girl came into your life this year.
please know that you have a BIG fan in nyc.
michele wallace says:
Happy Birthday Annabel! Can’t wait to see pics, however small world I have already seen a few from Matt Logelins Blog you looked like you had a good time! Hope it was a great day for you Heather.
(((hugs))) Michele Wallace
Happy birthday, sweet sweet sweetest Annabel! I feel so honored to have been able to watch you grow, from when we only knew you as Binky, to now, when you are your own person and full of so much fun and personality. Heather, thank you for sharing your journey with us. I can’t tell you how much it has meant to me.
Erin W says:
Now I’m a big ball of tears…Happy Birthday beautiful Annabel!!! And to you, too, Heather! May the next year be full of joy.
Ohhhh Happy Birthday Princess Annabel!! I have absolutely loved following your journey for the past couple of years! Wishing you many more years of happiness and togetherness! Much love to you all from cold, snowy Iowa!! mwah!!
Dawn @ What's Around the Next Bend? says:
This part… This part made me cry…
“I tell you every day, but always know that I love you. I can’t say how much, because love doesn’t have an amount. It can’t be measured. It just IS. I love you, and I love your sister, and there is no more or less to it.”
You have such a wonderful way with words, Heather!
Thank you again for sharing your life, your feelings, and your words with us! Annie is SO blessed to have you as her mommy!
What a beautiful letter! Happy birthday, Annabel. May you just grow more amazing and adorable every day!
What a lovely 1 year letter to your sweet baby girl. Aww! I can’t believe she is a year already. My little guy is 2 and I could totally see him and Annabel getting into some real playdate mischief together, from the sounds of things they have similar personalities! Perfect in every way
Happy (belated) Birthday to Annabel!
What a beautiful letter to your precious One Year Old Annabel! You and Mike are amazing, inspiring and wonderful parents.
Annabel – your smile, your eyes, your wavy hair – they make every heart soar! You are a precious, beautiful blessing to your parents and to all the lives you touch without even knowing it – just like your big sister Madeline.
Happy 1st Birthday Annabel!
That was absolutely beautiful.. Happy belated Birthday sweet Annabel!! My heart aches for your loss of Maddie and all that was supposed to be. May Annie have many many more birthday’s to come.
Absolutely beautiful words. They made me teary-eyed. Happy birthday to your precious Annabel. Little Maddie is smiling down from heaven. *sigh* So happy you have sunshine in your life again.
Happy Birthday to the cutest baby around!
Beautiful letter Heather, brought tears to my eyes.
Happy 1st birthday to the amazing Annabel. Hope you enjoyed your day!!!
Rumour Miller says:
Happiest of Days!
Some of my favourite photos are of “Birth” Days.
Happy Birthday, Annie (and Mama too).
Michelle W says:
Aye I am a mess now! ;). But seriously, your family is so beautiful and Annie will never doubt your love.