Yesterday my darling baby girl turned one year. She is our youngest of four and possibly the most unique of all of my children. Lauren has blonde hair and blue eyes despite her parents both having dark hair and hazel/brown eyes. She walked at 9 months, a full 3 months before any of her siblings, she favors her left hand, she also talked later then the rest, and loves to entertain herself (something I’ve WISHED my other kids would have done.) Lauren is definitely her own person and I thought it would be fun today to share some of my favorite photos of her from this past year and tell her story.

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From the beginning this baby was different. With all of my other children I was induced due to medical complications (Tyler was huge! Audrey was breach, and Alex was overdue). Lauren decided to come on her own on a Sunday night at 4am. It was funny that after four pregnancies I finally got to feel what it was like to truly go into labor. Her delivery was short, just five hours and peaceful. Our hospital room was actually rather quiet and serene, it had almost a spa like quality or reverence as she was born. (Yes, the epidural helped but the hospital was also pretty quiet.)

Just a few short hours later my parents brought her siblings to the hospital. Alex was instantly in love with his baby sister and to this day can’t get enough of her. He has a big heart and a lot of love to give, so she is often smothered in kisses. Audrey had been DYING for a sister for 6 years and now proudly shares a room with her and loves to teach her “girlie” things. Tyler is a great protective older brother and knows better than anyone how to make her smile.

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Knowing that this was our last child, it was very important to me to get really great baby portraits. So when she was only three days old, I moved all of the furniture out of our living room and set up a mini-studio to photograph my baby. This continued daily for the next two weeks. My photo shoots became more and more elaborate until finally I did a Photoshop composite to make it look like she was asleep in the woods even though it was February.

ij-0017 copyij-0023-2 copyij-0011 copyBy three months this little lady was working on getting mobile by rolling everywhere. It was about this same time that Audrey asked if she could get some photos of just her and Lauren, so we played on my bed and created some portraits of my dynamic duo. I love these photos and I am sure they will be special to my girls for years to come.lauren-0002-2 copylauren-0019-2 copylauren-0068 copy

Not to long after that, Lauren was crawling. By 5 months this little speed demon was up on hands and knees and rocketing around the house. Alex, who had seen the photos of his sisters together wanted the same opportunity and I was happy to oblige. He was only willing to sit for one of two photos so it was a good thing I got this right from the start.

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By the time the end of August came around and my three older children were getting ready to head to school, Lauren had mastered sitting unaided, pulling herself up to standing and was evening attempting to cruise around the furniture. The writing was on the wall; not 6 weeks later she took her first steps. By 10 months she was climbing stairs, eating everything in sight, and reminding me daily that I’m not as young as I used to be.

Overall this past year has been filled with so many learning opportunities. I have had to work through some bad habits and form new ones in order to balance the added complexity of another child. I have had to learn to be more patient with my older children and myself. Most of all I have learned that prayers are answers in the right time and in the right way. I have wanted another child since Alex was almost two, but health problems and other factors have kept that from happening. I almost gave up hope that we’ve have another child. Yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that our family just wasn’t complete. Now I know we were simply waiting for this special little girl. While she is nearly the opposite of all of us (I have seriously wondered if she was switched at birth once or twice) she is the perfect complement to our family. She was the missing piece in my heart. Having her has been one of my greatest gifts from God.

Now just for fun, here are some pics of Lauren chowing down on her birthday cupcake.

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