Happy Birthday, Simone.

5 years ago, I met Simone Nichole for the first time. I'd been carrying her for almost nine months and as you can see from the below picture, I was pretty much miserable. There's no 'pregnancy glow' here. This was sheer misery. I had gestational diabetes, threw up four to five times a day for the entire pregnancy, and had to keep going in for tests to monitor her heart beat.

So when I say I couldn't wait to meet her, I mean it. But it was more than just wanting the pregnancy to be done. When I was pregnant with my son Louis, we had two possible names chosen. Only two. "Louis" and "Simone". It's sort of like I knew somehow that I would have two kids...and who they would be. I knew their names, but beyond that, everything else would be a surprise.

We went in during a snow storm. Yes. In April. And today it's snowing too. Everything was covered with white. It was that heavy kind of snow. And then the next day (or was it two?) when they sent me home with little wee Simone, all the snow had melted. Sun was shining. Tulips and crocuses had sprouted. In a real and very cheesy way, I feel a like that about Simone in my life. I had Louis and that was great, but something was cold and frozen and missing. What was missing was my daughter. Bringing her home with me was like bringing home fresh flowers and sunshine. Yes, I realize it's corny, but that doesn't make it any less true.

Not to be all unicorns and rainbows...I wanted a daughter but was also terrified. A mother/daughter relationship is so complicated. And I felt that I'd given all my love to my son. How could I love another needy baby? How would I show Simone how to be a strong, loving, creative girl and eventually woman. If a daughter learns from her mother's examples, what kind of life would I set her up for?

Simone and I had to get to know each other. I think the idea that you instantly love your child is a fallacy. You do love them, but you have to fall in love with them through time and experiences. When she was born, I loved that she was with me and that she filled an empty space. Now, I love who she is. I don't know how much is by my example, or the combination of the the people in her life, or just who she is...but Simone at five is a wonderful human being.

She's strong, opinionated, empathetic. She's funny, curious, creative. She has no problem saying "Whoah. Look at this heart I just drew. I think I have a lot of talent." She'll wear a pretty dress and then run outside to get dirty. She takes incredible pictures. But even that doesn't explain who she is. Look into her deep blue eyes, and there's a deep spirit there. In fact, I think I learn more from watching her than she does from watching me.

Simone, my love, my sweet girl, you know I'm not religious necessarily, but if anything could make me believe that there is goodness and beauty in this world...it's you.

Happy 5th birthday.