Taylor, sorry this is a little late. I will try to do better. I had an idea a few months ago to write you letters as often as I can so that you will be able to read them when you grow up. I hope that you find them entertaining, that they help you remember your childhood, and that you will cherish them when you are older. I chose to blog them for you because one, you know or will know that writing just isn’t my style, and two, they will always be available to you wherever you are.
This first year with you has been amazing! People often say, “You never thought you could love someone so much did you?” Honestly, I really had no idea how deep and wide my love for you would be! I know now that my life would have never been complete without you. I’m so thankful that God allowed Jess and I to be your parents. He has blessed us with such a beautiful, intelligent, happy, healthy little girl. We enjoy watching you grow up and learn new things, and year one was full of them. First smiles, first words, first teeth, first giggles, first tears, first steps, first boo boos, first day at church, first sleepless nights, first day at daycare (multiplied by 3, more on that later), first snow days, first family vacation, and first birthday. It still amazes us how fast you learn and pick up new things. It seems like every day you came home from daycare, you were doing or saying something new.
You were born on Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 3:14pm at Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville, NC. Your mom and I went to the hospital the night before so they could induce her. I didn’t sleep well that night. I was just so nervous and excited to meet you! Don’t worry, your mom had lots of good medicine, so she rested pretty well. Grandma Shelia, Mrs. Rose, and Grandma and Papa came early that morning to await your arrival. Your delivery was quite an exciting time. Mama had to push for almost 4 hours and she became extremely tired. The Doctors decided to pull you out with a ventouse (Look it up. It’s basically a baby vacuum that helps with delivery). It left a big bruise on top of your head for about a week, but don’t worry, you were still beautiful! I tweeted during the whole delivery (@deckerbaby) so that all of our family, friends, and coworkers could keep up with what was going on. When your head popped out, your eyes were open and you looked right at me. There are no words to describe that moment. I hope you get to experience it one day for yourself (you know, after you turn 30! lol). You were 18 1/2 inches long and weighed 6 lb, 14.1 oz. We had the best delivery nurse ever, Ms. Donna Keith! I think she was just as happy and excited as we were to meet you. I remember feeling the presence of God when you arrived. I was overcome with joy, fear, excitement, hesitation, and love. It was the happiest day of our lives!
We came home from the hospital on Saturday, November 10, 2012. It was a sunny, warm day. We were thrilled and scared to death all at the same time. I didn’t sleep well in the hospital chair and it is really hard to rest there, so we were very glad to be coming home. We had to bring the car seat into the hospital and get the straps adjusted so the nurses could make sure we had you in there correctly. You looked so small in that thing. I had no idea how quickly you would grow. This was the first time I had ever driven with a baby in my car. I wasn’t as scared as I thought I would be, but definitely more careful. Mr. Franklin brought us food from Garris Chapel UMC for lunch. There was some sort of event going on that day that we couldn’t make it to. I still remember looking at you for hours at a time when we first brought you home. I was so amazed at how beautiful you were and how much I was in love with you already. I was so ready for you to grow up a little bit so we could start playing together.
Newborns don’t do very much. It’s a pretty strict schedule of eat, poop, sleep. Your mom and I took turns staying in the living room or bedroom with you for the first few weeks. At night, I would rock with you, sing you songs, or make silly faces to entertain you. I think you really enjoyed my singing, or at least you pretended like you did so you wouldn’t hurt my feelings. You would lay your head on my chest and listen. Your mom was a champ at breastfeeding. That’s something I’m pretty sure I would never have the patience to do, but both of you were so good at it. At age one, you still don’t have any issues eating. I think most parents wish their kids would eat as well as you do. When you were very young, you had a hard time keeping your milk down, but we quickly got used to dealing with overflow after feedings.
The first few months of your life were right in the middle of flu season, so we stayed home quite a bit. We were also very careful to make sure people weren’t sick before they visited. We didn’t want you to pick up any nasty germs. We didn’t even take you to church until you were almost 3 months old! I took 3 weeks off from work at the school system to stay home with you and mom after we came home from the hospital. I’m so thankful that I was able to take that time to bond with both of you and help mom adjust. We had no idea that being your parents would be so much fun and so fulfilling.
You started smiling at us when you were only a month old. You have the most contagious smile in the world. Mommy sent me this picture through Facebook on December 12, 2012. Look at that fuzzy head and perfect smile! You have no idea how hard it was to go to work every day and leave you at home with mom. I missed you so much!
In your first year, you went to 3 different daycares, but you were dearly loved and cared for a great deal at all of them. At 4 months old, you started staying with Mrs. Rebeccah, Thomas, and Leigha every day. Leigha was only a couple of months younger than you and they had recently moved to a new house just down the road from where we lived.
Mrs. Rebeccah and Thomas really loved having two little baby girls to look after. I would drop you off in the morning on the way to work and pick you up when I got off. Sometimes, mom would get off before I did and pick you up. Everyday, we had to take 3 or 4 bottles for you to drink and a change of clothes in case you had an accident. After a couple of months and a lot of praying, Mrs. Rebeccah decided that it was just too much to try to keep up with Thomas and two newborn babies. Honestly, I don’t know how she even lasted that long. There’s no way I could handle 3 little children every day all by myself! So, you started going to Falling Creek Daycare on Kelly Road. You were the youngest in your class for a few months, but you did very well. We really enjoyed Mrs. Nancy and all of your teachers – Mrs. Victoria, Mrs. Amy, and Mrs. Mary. You and your classmates played so well together – Conner, Kayden, Macy, Shamari, and Ivan. After 30 years of taking care of children, Falling Creek Daycare closed on October 18, 2013.
You started daycare at ABC 123 on October 21, 2013. We were worried about you adjusting to a new environment, but you amazed us at how well you did. You had such a great personality and we could already tell that you loved people, even at your young age. Conner and Macy moved from Falling Creek Daycare to ABC 123 with you, but they went to different rooms. We are still hoping that you will be reunited with them in a few months.
At ABC 123, they started calling you “little mama” because you helped take care of the other babies. You would pat them on the back when they were crying and return their bottles and pacifiers when they dropped them. Every morning when we arrived, you would act like you were starving even though you just had a bottle. Your teachers always thought that was funny. When I would pick you up every day, you would point to your coat, give your teachers hugs, and tell everyone “bye bye” as we walked down the hall. It always made me smile, no matter what kind of day it had been!
You were baptized on Sunday, June 2, 2013 by Pastor Jerry Mitchell at Garris Chapel United Methodist Church in La Grange. We had been going there for about a year, even traveling 45 minutes from Greenville before we moved back to Kinston, and we were very excited on this special day. Mr. Jason Cox, our worship leader, sang “Find Your Wings” by Mark Harris for you, and your whole family was there to support you. Mom and Dad also joined the church that day. This was one of the best days of our lives.
In September, we went on our first family vacation together to the mountains of North Carolina. Grandma, Papa, and Uncle Cameron came with us. I was worried about making the 4 hour trip with you, but you did really well. We stopped halfway at the Alamance County Rest Stop on Interstate 40 on the way there and on the way back to stretch and eat lunch. You fell and hit the coffee table in the living room a few days before we went on vacation, so you had a nice bruise under your right eye the whole week. We stayed in a beautiful cabin in Valle Crucis, just outside of Boone, NC. We had a really good time hiking to waterfalls, shopping, and hanging out as a family. During our trip, we visited The Orchard at Altapass where we picked apples for the first time. You really enjoyed picking and eating apples. You even made their Facebook page because they thought you were so cute eating your first NC Mountain Apple, a York Imperial. According to the orchard, York Imperials were the main variety of apple used in Gerber baby food at one point.
For your first Halloween, you were a strawberry, which was also your favorite food for many months. We had to hide them from you while you ate your other food, or you would just skip everything else and fill up on strawberries. Your second favorite food was Papa’s Chicken Pastry, which I’m sure you will love when you are older too! On Halloween night, we went to Bethel Christian Academy with the fire department to hand out candy to kids from all over the community at the “Trunk or Treat”.
Mom and I were really excited that you started loving books at such a very young age. I’m pretty sure you got that from mom since I’m not an avid reader. Each night before you went to bed, you would get a book or two for us to read to you. Some of your favorite books this year were Pat The Bunny, Good Morning, Good Night, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
You enjoyed reading, playing with blocks, sitting in your bouncer, riding the horsey on mama’s lap, drinking bottles (like a champ), taking baths, sleeping, taking your socks off (and slobbering on them), turning lights on and off, watching big bird and ballet on the Kindle with mama, playing peek-a-boo, pushing the dining chairs all around the kitchen, singing with dada on the way to and from daycare in the truck, exploring the kitchen cabinets, play time with other children, walking with mama around the neighborhood, and eating (a lot). Some of your first words this year were “ca” (cat), “dada” (dad), “mama,” “papa” (grandaddy), “bah” (ball), “ba” (bath), “bye bye,” and “uh oh”. You took your first steps about a week before your first birthday.
You turned one on November 8, 2013. We had your birthday party at North Lenoir Fire Rescue Station 1 on Saturday, November 2, 2013. There were a lot of people there to celebrate with you and everyone had a great time.
We are already so proud of the sweet little girl you have become. You bring joy and meaning to our lives that we never knew before you. We pray daily that you will continue to be healthy and happy, and that we will be good parents. Your mom and I love you more than anything else in this world, but we hope that you always remember that God loves you even more!