Thursday, October 20, 2005

Happy Birthday, Darling Girl! (Million Picture Warning)

You are 3 years old today, Isabella Faith. Your first name means "Gift to God", and your middle name represents our dedication to you and to God. You are a miracle that began eons ago in God's plan, and in our short human perspective, 5 years ago in New Orleans. When we found out you were really coming, your mommy and daddy were so happy. We laughed and cried with happiness, alternately, seemingly all through the pregnancy. You were a delight from conception, and your delivery into this world was quiet, simple, quick, and joyful. After 18 hours of labor, you arrived in a mere 7 minutes, with two pushes from Mommy, when the time came.

This was the push that brought you into the world, and as you can see, your Mommy and Daddy are both already smiling. We were SO excited to meet you! Your entire family was thrilled beyond belief, and we were all so happy that everybody cried!

And finally, after the years of doubt as to whether you were even possible, and the months of waiting, waiting, you were. I don't think I can put the enormity of that feeling into words.

Look at you--you had the eerie capability to look everyone dead in the eyes from minute one, even though infants aren't supposed to be able to see very far. You gazed straight back at each person who looked at you. The dazed and dopey expression on Mommy's face here is a combination of shock, exhaustion, and just plain awe. Once I'd had a little time to recover, all I felt was joy, love, and wonder. You are the most amazing thing that's ever happened to me.

Our hearts were bursting with love for you then, and that feeling has only grown exponentially in the last three years, and continues to do so every day.

Our love for each other was made tangible in you, and that love has also grown and strengthened over the years. (And look at you starting straight at the camera!)

You were the spit and image of your daddy from that first minute, and as soon as he got a look at your face, he cried with joy, and said that you were the first person he'd ever met who really looked like him and was part of him biologically, and the fact that it was so obvious that you were of his own blood just overwhelmed him.

There are a dozen pictures of family members holding and marvelling at you on the day of your birth, but the one I want to share today is of you in the loving arms of your Granddaddy. He is gone now, for about a year, and I can't even express to you the overwhelming love he felt for you, but the look on his face whenever he saw you pretty much was always the same. That man was absolutely delighted by you, as long as he lived. I can carry that on in his behalf, and I can provide the memories of him for you forever. He loved you like CRAZY, and you were pretty tickled by him, too, for the first couple years of your life. I love this picture--Zane was a big man. I'm pretty sure he could have palmed your whole little body the way he palmed a basketball, but he handled you like you were made of porcelain.

You and Daddy and I have had a lot of fun over the last three years, and Daddy and I have never lost our sense of wonder at the very existence of you. You've seen a lot of the country, and have done a lot of fun things.

This is how you slept...nursed yourself to sleep and slept in the crook of my arm or in your co-sleeper attached to the bed. I loved the arrangement, and so did you. And Daddy never minded staring at you while you slept, and stroking your beautiful little head, either. You nursed for two and a half years, and to this date you have never had any kind of serious illness or infection. You are, however, afflicted with allergies, and your parents both apologize for that, because you came by them honestly, and you live in Arkansas.

OK, so sometimes Mommy and Daddy had fun with you. I'm not saying we're proud of our behavior, but before you came along we also used to put peanut butter on the roofs of the dogs' mouths and cackle like hyenas while they licked and licked and licked. By the time you're old enough to read this, you will NOT be surprised.

This picture was staged to make it look like you actually used, and possibly slept in, the gorgeous heirloom crib and custom bedding that your grandmothers so graciously provided. Thankfully, it converts to a toddler bed, which you are using now.

OK, here's the deal about this. You were about five and a half months old when you first stood on your own power. This picture was taken when you were not quite 6 months old. Imagine our excitement at your obvious advanced physical prowess, and how we prepared for the surely-imminent walking. Then we waited. And waited. And would you like to know when you walked on your own? SEVEN MONTHS LATER! This was one of our first clues that you'd be doing things on your own terms and at your own pace in life.

Ummm...yes. Mommy actually had you photographed at the Poodle Club of America National Specialty show, by the show photographer, posed as if you'd just won your class. In a poodle dress and bloomers. If you're scarred by this when you see these pictures later, I'm sorry. However, think what a cool print ad this could make if you turn out to be a top Junior Handler or a professional poodle handler! (I promise I didn't give birth to you just in hopes of having an in-house groomer and handler. I promise. We are, however, waiting for you to get big enough to carry a bucket of horse feed.)

This picture, one of my all-time favorites, was taken by your Aunt Andrea on your first birthday. I love your expression...this is so "you".

You spent countless hours tucked into this pouch. You loved it, I loved it, and Daddy even has one of his own (in a MANLY neutral color), we liked it so much. You were "worn" in the pouch for close to two years comfortably. It is a GREAT thing, the pouch.

We did not routinely wash you in the sink. This was some sort of emergency cleaning situation(we've had our share with you), which you got a huge kick out of.

Nor did we routinely let you drive Dad's Suburban, but this was a family vacation and a special occasion, so we thought, "What the heck, it's just until we get through Kansas."

This is the closest you got to skiing on our Colorado ski trip, but you loved it. This would turn out to be the last trip the whole family took together, and it is full of some sweet memories. Your granddaddy believed in traveling in style and really took care of all of us. And he didn't even ski!

First haircut.

This illustrates your spirit nearly perfectly, to me. I love this picture, also taken by Andrea.

So many poodle-themed outfits. So many.

Taken by camera-phone at your all-time favorite eatin' place, The Dixie Cafe. You love you some Dixie Cafe. And wearing ball caps like your Dad.

You are our snuggle-bunny.

You are our princess...

And our sunshine. We love you, Bella-beans.


  1. Belinda, I am so choked up by this post I hardly know what to say. There are tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. When the Lord gave you Bella He must have known what an amazing child she was. Every picture you have, right from birth, shows just how special she is. Even the one with the diaper on her head!

    And how is it possible that you are SO BEAUTIFUL after 18 hours of labor? You have earrings on and your hair is brushed and there is lipstick! Maybe it's a Southern Lady thing? Because I so do not look like that in any of my just-gave-birth pictures!

    Thanks for sharing such special moments with us. Happy Birthday to your little angel.

  2. I promise, it was a really easy labor. I didn't have any drugs until she got kinda "stuck", and they finally, after a couple hours of that and the baby starting to show some stress, insisted on administering an epidural to "relax things", and it sure worked! And yes, I'm vain enough (knowing how many pictures would be taken) that I freshened my lipstick and brushed my hair when they said "It's time." ;-) But honestly, I didn't even break a sweat. Probably due to the fact that they keep delivery rooms the approximate temperature of a meat locker, which is great!

    Thank you for your lovely comments. She sure feels like a miracle to us.

  3. Absolutely LOVE the pictures. LOVE them. My favorite one is of her in the ski outfit, with the absolutely adorable rosy cheeks and red nose.
    Oh, and just quit braggin' about how "easy your labor was," and not breaking a sweat. I might have to cause you some bodily harm.

  4. On this, Bella's third birthday, I'd like to remind everyone what her Grandaddy Zane said when Bella was born on October 20th, late in the day. Belinda told him she tried to hold on for a few more hours so that she could give Zane his first granddaughter on HIS birthday, October 21st. As he held Isabella and looked into her amazing little face, he said, "No, this little girl needed her own special birthday". He smiles from heaven at the little princess she's become.

  5. YOUR FAMILY LOVES YOU!! Heck, who *doesn't* love you? What's that like?

  6. it is a wonderful story and bella is a lovely little girl. but someone should feel sorry for her for the poodle outfits and the baby head bands.

    smooches to bella and you and alex.


  7. Nope, we loved the baby headbands. She was bald as could be, and those headbands kept people from calling her "him" and causing me to go postal. I will, however, apologize for the diaper on the head.

    And there are so many more poodle-themed outfits yet to come, that if I admit it's wrong at this point, I'll have no standing in the future.

  8. What a sweetie Bella is! I adore the poodle outfit and photo at PCA.

    Jan and I laugh at the similarities of her daughter, who is now in her early 30s, and mine, almost 22 yo...both only children, raised by poodles. They both took their first steps hanging onto a standard poodle!

    Courtney now owns two standard poodles of her own, and my daughter went over to the "dark side," with a rescued beagle and blue tick coonhound. What did I do wrong? (vbg)

    Give Bella a belated b'day hug from me.


  9. Teary eyes up here in Yankeeville. The photos are just gorgeous and I'm just astounded at you in makeup and earrings giving birth. No way would I ever share MY birthing photos with the internet. They ain't pretty.

    Happy Birthday Bella. Happy happy Birthday.

  10. Oooh, you know it, girl. For a large part of this afternoon, Delta wore a towel across her back and a scrunchy on her tail. ;-)

    Margalit--now you know she's FAR from being always asleep! And if you noticed, while they cleaned up the baby, THAT is when Mom put on the earrings and the real nightgown and brushed her hair mo' better! That second set of pictures was actually after a good long rest. I'm self-conscious enough about the way I look, and I knew a lot of people would see pictures (my sister was taking dozens, which is a good thing).

  11. Oh that was such a sweet post, I think you should print it out and keep it in Bella's scrapebook/memory book, it is something for her to read when she turns 16 or 18, ready to go out in the world, slip her this post in the birthday card and let her read it by herself, alone. So moving.
    Happy birthday to Bella - may she be blessed with long life and lots more years full of laughter and joy1

  12. I am crying all over the keyboard...

    Have a happy, wonderful bithday, Bella!

  13. What a delightful three years its been, Bella. We hope you had a Happy Birthday!!
    Michelle & Natalie