By now I know what expect as far as the first year goes. So I wasn't too shocked when I woke to find that fourth baby of mine so big in his crib on the eve of his birthday yesterday morning. Smiling so hard at my weary eyed entrance. Those small familiar hands reaching desperately for me in my old tattered bathrobe like he does, every single day since learning to stand.

I held him close and bathed him in the sink after breakfast. I sat him in the sunny corner of the couch and videoed him there in the last hours of his 11th month. I folded his clothes in the afternoon as I watched him crawl naked around the backyard chasing hot wheels on bare knees. I fed him blueberries and made him pasta. I kissed his cheeks and combed his hair. I held him a little longer in the evening and laid him next to me in bed instead of down in his own like the all the other nights before, soaking in the tail end of those sweet infant hours.

I thought about my pregnancy - reflecting on so many late nights I stayed up watching movies till midnight with platters full of cucumbers, cheese and crackers by my side, waiting anxiously for him to make some kind of move that might warn us of his intended arrival. He was an active baby. He kept me up and tossed instantly through the night. And then dragged the end wait out for more than a week past his designated due date. Making up for it with the quick and easy delivery that happened first thing that Monday morning, surprising us with yet another beautiful baby boy to take home in that tiny pink knit beanie I keep them all in stuffed in a bin above my washing machine.

I watched the day slip away and mourned the weeks and months that seemed to go too fast.

And then we piled a few kids in the car and drove down the street to sing him a birthday song in the green grass even though he's got a little party for him planned a few weekends away.

He clung tight to a fist full of bright balloons his dad came bearing and shrieked with delight over the chunk of chocolate doughnut we gave him in place of the cupcakes we couldn't find and failed to make.

Then he came home to fall fast asleep, officially one year old.
And at the end of the night, just like three times before, I felt finally ok with it.

In short: Wishing a happiest birthday to our fourth born.
May all good things help pave your path. We love you dearly sweet Hayes Ray.