Your name quite literally means ‘bright soul nourisher’. You have no idea how much time we spent choosing your name and obsessing over its various meanings. Of course we hoped you would live up to your name but we didn’t realise quite how much you would do in the short 12 months of your life so far.
Before you were even conceived, you were prayed for by your big sister every single night. She longed for a baby sister to love and play with and she trusted that God was listening. Maybe she just wanted a baby sister like most girls do, or maybe her heart was aching a little from having a brother with whom she knew she would never be able to have a conversation. You were born into a freezing cold November day and we were snowed in almost instantly, giving us plenty of opportunities to snuggle up with you. Your love of cuddles began then. Twelve days after you were born, your brother was taken into hospital inconsolably screaming in pain with his temperature rising, resulting in a febrile convulsion. You lay there amongst the chaos, sleeping in your Moses basket blissfully unaware while the paramedics checked him over and took him away. You kept me company at home with your newborn cuddles, calming my nerves and keeping me focused on making sure you were alive and well while your daddy was in hospital with him.
But it’s as though the bombs just kept on dropping one after the other that year, each time our souls felt heavier, less hopeful and a little darker. Things kept on happening that were out of our control but you remained a constant throughout. You cuddled, smiled, giggled and kept us company. You had no choice as an exclusively breastfed baby but to join me on my daytime shifts in the children’s ward during the harrowing time your big brother was diagnosed with epilepsy. You lay there kicking and smiling on the pull down bed while he sat next to you in the hospital cot having drop seizure after drop seizure. You were oblivious to it all and had no idea that this wasn’t how most three month old babies spend their days. Once you perfected the art of crawling, you followed us around and adored us unconditionally, all of us, including your big brother who continuously grabbed, slapped and kicked you. Your big sister, who you utterly idolise, gained a best friend that year and also the biggest fan she’ll ever have. You and daddy seemed to develop a special code involving smiles and sniggers that you insist on doing only with him and I know for sure you’ve brought ray after ray of sunshine to some of his greyer days this year. Even though your night wakings drove me crazy, I count it an utter privilege to have kept you alive with my milk and I will always cherish those extra cuddles in the dark, just me and you. You have quite literally nourished our souls this year. You may never know the ins and outs of the first year of your life, the heartache, the hospital trips, the difficult conversations and the tears. Maybe one day I’ll sit you down and tell you all about it.
Either way you need to know this, you are an absolute gift from God. He knew we needed you and he knew how much brighter our year would be with you in it.
He also knew something I didn’t realise until I had the privilege of mothering you this year, baby Nell, and that’s just how much my poor, weary soul needed to be nourished by allowing myself once again to just sit back and enjoy watching a beautiful baby of mine meet their milestones. You see, I love your big brother crazy amounts but his first year was a year of questions and worries for me, which we now know was down to him being a bit different and having Angelman Syndrome. I never got to simply enjoy his first year and I didn’t realise until now but I have been reeling from it ever since. By just being you, coming into our crazy world of ups and downs, you have restored my hope and healed my heart.
Now, my beautiful, bright one year old, here’s where the real fun starts. You’re finding your feet, finding your words and making your own little way in the world. Thank you for being more than we could have ever hoped for or imagined and being the best little Nell Alma out there. Now go forth and nourish.