I wasn't there when she took her first breaths of air, when the vibrations of her vocal chords sounded the alarm she was cold, hungry or tired.
I didn't see the nurses wipe her off, nor the fresh ink from a tiny footprint dry. I wasn't one of the many people in the room who bundled her up and held her close, smelling a new baby and celebrating the miracle of life.
I hadn't spent my Saturday laboring in the pain nor the impatience of her crowning moment.
No, just 15 minutes away, I was eating a salad for dinner made from the handful of vegetables my garden grew that year. Mike and his dad were at an outdoor concert, it was a beautiful fall night under the stars.
It was an ordinary evening for us, a childless couple who'd been married for five years. We were going about our normal routines, clueless of the events taking place across town that would change our lives forever four, short months later as our adoption story began.
Although I wasn't there to hold a brand new baby girl and plant soft kisses on her forehead, I'm here now.
I'm blowing up balloons and scattering confetti across tables, I'm icing treats and hanging birthday banners.
I'm lighting a new set of candles for her to blow out at her party and giving "mom looks" to ensure she's offering gratitude for each gift.
I'm looking her up and down to check if her pants are long enough and her shoes aren't too snug - she's growing like a weed and we're trying to keep up.
Taking note of each toy she unwraps, I'm making plans to get down on the carpet and play with her once they reach the toy room.
I'm scanning every room she's in to make sure she is safe.
She's absolutely stunning, and she doesn't realize it yet.
And in the midst of everything going on, I'm offering gratitude for her birth mom who trusted us to step in, who passed the torch of motherhood on to me.
I'm praising God for the ultimate adoption story and for designing our family in a special, supernatural way. I'm reminded that her life ultimately originated with Jesus, and that I've been called to teach and raise her to know that.
So even though I wasn't there at the very beginning, I'm here now.
What a blessed place to be.