It was on this day last year that we were blessed with the birth of our precious Isabella or “Izzy” as we more commonly call her. Daya and I had been trying to have a child for two years already when our prayers were finally answered.

Right after delivery, doctors discovered a murmur in Izzy’s heartbeat that would eventually turn into an emergency heart operation at Seattle Children’s Hospital. I’ve already talked about all those fears in previous posts so no need to go into all that again. However, because we had to endure something as serious as that so soon after Izzy’s birth, it kind of set the tone for the rest of the year.

Like what happened to me when my 10 year old, Cassidy was born, Daya changed as a person. I can’t describe in words the love in her eyes every time she held Isabella. The sleepless nights, the crying to be fed, the diaper changes – none of that seemed to bother Daya as she tirelessly tended to Izzy’s every need. Instead of buying baby food from the store, she decided to buy fresh fruits and vegetables to make it on her own.

Watching Izzy develop over these past 365 days has been such a delight. Just days before her birthday she decided to show mom and dad that she can walk! It gives me goosebumps writing this simply because it’s all happening so darn fast. Isabella’s vocabulary is growing. So far she’s saying “dad”, “di-di” (which is Tagalog for milk), “ate” (another Tagalog word, this one meaning big sister) and a can mumble a few more words.

Her personality is beginning to show and let me tell you, she seems to be a very determined soul. She is persistent to the point that I am at times envious of her needle sharp focus on learning about the world around her. For example, when I had to run upstairs to grab something she wanted to go with me. Since I knew I was coming right back I didn’t bother taking her with me and I made my way upstairs. When I came back to the stairs, I noticed Izzy, with that pinpoint focus, climbing up the stairs. She’d never climbed the stairs before but there she was, already halfway up. Naturally I was scared but instead of picking her up and scolding her for climbing the stairs, I decided to show her how to safely climb down as well. That way, if anyone forgets to put up a baby gate at least Izzy will know how to safely come down.

Another note on her personality is that she wears her emotions on her sleeve. About 90% of the time, Izzy is a cheerful little thing but when she’s upset she is not afraid to let you know. It’s still cute though watching her fold her eyebrows down and tighten her lips when she doesn’t get her way at times. In contrast to her older sister, she doesn’t seem to be one bit shy. Sundays are the days where she gets to play with other babies around her age at church and she is quick to jump in make new friends.

Some of Isabella’s favorite activities include swimming, going on bike rides and her nightly bath time. She also loves being held by mom, dad and big sister.

Cassidy absolutely adores her little sister. She’s a big help too when it comes to changing diapers (only #1, daddy has to change the #2 messes), bathing and dressing her. I think those two will share a very special bond through the years to come.

Like I stated earlier, Isabella’s arrival and the complications that followed set the tone for the year and really, for life. Both Daya and I learned so much through this experience and are eternally grateful for the doctors at Seattle Children’s. Here are seven things we learned. Although some may be cliché, they still hold true.

  1. Nothing is promised in life. Not even life, so make the most of every moment.
  2. You are influenced by those around you. It may be time to cut ties.
  3. Be thankful for the people that lift you up and encourage you. Return the favor.
  4. Time is more precious than gold. Everyone needs to earn money but the trick is finding the balance between work and family because family is the real treasure.
  5. You don’t have as much time as you think you do. Procrastination is the cancer of good intentions. Don’t do it.
  6. Never make a promise you can’t keep. Nothing hurts a child like promising them you’ll do this or that and then failing to follow through.
  7. God will continue testing you. It’s not to discourage your spirits but to strengthen your faith.

There is so much more I could say but I think I’ll leave it here. In summary, our family is so grateful for Isabella’s presence in our lives. We look forward to many more birthdays in the time to come. For now, we will continue embracing each day with the fullness of our hearts. Happy First Birthday to our daughter, Isabella. We love you so much.

Isabella’s birth date.

Izzy’s first birthday