21 years ago I entered into an early labor. Life had recently become a challenge, and my marriage was on the rocks. A preemie baby choosing to come at midnight made me weak in the knees and my teeth chattered as I called my husband and then my parents to tell them that our plans had been changed without our consent.
Shivering, I waited as fluid dripped down my legs and my teeth rat-tatted together from fear of the unknown.
A quick rush to surgery for a C-section complete with moments of terror when I realized the anesthesiologist paid more attention to his Stephen King novel than his panicked patient who struggled to breathe and instead of calming down hyperventilated.
And then she was born. A baby girl, whisked to the warming lights and a medical team who called out foreign words and numbers. "She's having a little trouble. Say hello real quick, we need to get to work." Strapped down, I couldn't touch her - you. Your dusky skin confirmed my fears. And since I'd had a spinal I wouldn't be able to visit you for 12 hours. So I laid flat, helplessly waiting for news of you.
Several hours later, the nurse brought you in for a short visit. As I gazed into your eyes, I saw a wise little soul. You stared at me, and I could only imagine you as a 5-year-old in braids and little wire-rimmed eyeglasses. Of all the names we'd considered, Julianna Elizabeth, seemed to fit you best.
After the initial scare, the rocky beginning of being born into a family that was unraveling at the seams, we all began to grow and heal and knit together.
My smiling baby turned into a toddler who loved babies, into a little girl who played with snakes and bugs, into a teen with a mind of her own, into a young woman who began to listen to God and made Him her own, all overnight.
Can I offer you 21 reasons for why I love you? It's just the beginning.
21 - You wear your emotions on your sleeve...this is both crazy making and wonderful and never boring.
20 - You carry sunshine.
19 - You've never lost your childlike wonder.
18 - You have great taste in friends.
17 - Little old ladies, burly men, kids love you.
16 - Just about any situation is fun when you are around.
15 - You love Jesus.
14 - You are generous with what you have and who you are.
13 - Laughter is an art form in your hands.
12 - You are the Pied Piper of pets. : )
11 - You're heart is 20 times the size of the Grinch's after his grew.
10 - You collect beauty.
9 - You reflect beauty.
8 - You attract beauty.
7 - Even when you are crabby, you make me laugh.
6 - I have a million of memories of you that make me smile.
5 - Quirk becomes you.
4 - You have become one of my best friends.
3 - Your heart is a beautiful thing to behold.
2 - I know you've always thought I was kidding...but I seriously do want to be just like you when I grow up.
1 - You bring joy, zest, fun and Jesus into my life and the lives of everyone you touch.
Thank you...I love you...and I look forward to millions more memories with you.
Happy 21st Birthday!
Your Mom/Buddy/Secret Admirer.