Happy Birthday Ben!

A year ago today we got to meet our little boy. It’s been the most incredible year of my life and it is such a privilege to be able to be Ben’s mom and watch him grow up. Every day is more fun than the last. I can’t even imagine what we’re in store for during Ben’s second year.

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As a 12 month old, Ben is expressive, happy, wiggly, cuddly, giggly, curious and animated. He rarely sits still for long – Ben loves to be on the move, and boy is he fast! He is really close to being able to stand unsupported. He weighs 19 pounds 10 ounces and is juuuuust shy of the 10th percentile for weight.

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Here are some of my favorite photos that tell the story of Ben’s first year of life:

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{I’ll never forget the first time I saw this boy! Benjamin Ames Allen was born at 11:21 on Tuesday May 31st, 2016.}

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{Being born 7 weeks early meant that Ben had to spend his first 26 days in the NICU. When he was in the NICU he always had his arms up and we joked that he looked like he was lounging at the beach. Here he is shown with heart monitors, temperature sensors, a temporary IV and a feeding tube. He had an oxygen and breathing monitor on his foot too. His diaper was so big here!}

{Ben was so tiny I could stick him down my shirt for Kangaroo Care}

{Ben was so tiny I could stick him down my shirt for Kangaroo Care}

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{Proud dad from day one! Alex had to take the initiative to figure out Ben’s care right away since I was recovering from a c-section. He was so unbelievably supportive of both of us.}

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{After 26 days in the NICU Ben got to come home with our family. We couldn’t wait to start our lives together.}

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{Cuddle time!}

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{After Ben came home we were chomping at the bit to get out of the house. Looking back, I’m really impressed that we took Ben on a 3 hour road trip to Yakima just two weeks after he came home from the hospital!}

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{"Meeting" Madeline via FaceTime! She was due the day after Ben but was born on the 4th of July instead!}

{“Meeting” Madeline via FaceTime! She was due the day after Ben but was born on the 4th of July instead!}

Very early on Ben got to meet his grandparents and has seen them several times this year even though they all live in the Midwest. He met his Aunt Alina and then Uncle John shortly thereafter, too.

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{This is one of my favorite photos summarizing Ben’s first year. Our greatest challenge with Ben was feeding him. It’s what kept him in the hospital so long and it remained a challenge for his first 9 months of life. I love the beauty behind this photo, but also the story behind it.}

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{We created a beautiful nursery for Ben and spent hours upon hours feeding him in that chair.}

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{One of my favorite parts of parenthood has been going through it with my husband, who I am lucky to call my partner. Some days were easier than others but at the end of the day we were always a team. It’s inspiring and heartwarming watching Alex as a father. He’s truly a natural and Ben is so unbelievably lucky to have Alex as his dada.}

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{We took Ben swimming for the first time in Lake Chelan. Now, Ben kicks and splashes and screams with excitement every time we go for a swim!}

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{We spent every Wednesday evening for 12 weeks this fall getting to know these babies and their parents. I’m so fortunate for the connection we have to our community thanks to our parents group, PEPS.}

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{Being a preemie we expected Ben to develop at his “adjusted age” – so his actual age minus 7 weeks. So far, he’s developing right on target with his actual age. It was amazing watching him start to build strength from such an early point.}

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{Right around 12 weeks of age Ben started packing on the pounds and looking much less like a teeny preemie. This photo was taken the morning I went back to work. The transition was much harder than I expected but I’ll always love this photo of his cute bald head to remind me of those times.}

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{Every fall we take an annual trip to Leavenworth with our friends. This year we all brought babies along!}

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{Smiles all around for this happy baby!}

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{I spent the first year of Ben’s life pumping breast milk for him because he wasn’t able to breastfeed.}

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{Watching these two together warms my heart!}

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{Right around 5 months Ben started hitting some really fun milestones – he got to sit in the chair part of the stroller instead of the bassinet!}

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{Ben’s first plane ride was a trip to Illinois for Thanksgiving.}

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{He’s cute even when he cries! In reflecting back on the year we realized that he was fussier than we realized/more than normal in the beginning.}

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{One of my all-time favorite photos of Ben! I think it captures how sweet and lovable he is.}

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{We had so much fun getting out into the mountains last winter. I strapped Ben onto my back and we scooted along the trail on cross country skis.}

{This was the first morning that Ben and I had the same thing for breakfast. It was such a cool feeling getting to share a meal like that.}

{This was the first morning that Ben and I had the same thing for breakfast. It was such a cool feeling getting to share a meal like that.}

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{This kid is all smiles! He learned to sit up on his own around 7 months.}

{Ben learned to crawl at 9 months. Once he started moving he never stopped! He quickly figured out how to pull himself up onto furniture.}

{Ben learned to crawl at 9 months. Once he started moving he never stopped! He quickly figured out how to pull himself up onto furniture.}

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{Each week our nanny takes Ben to story time at the library. He loves hanging out with other babies and singing songs.}

{Each week our nanny takes Ben to story time at the library. He loves hanging out with other babies and singing songs.}

{Ben is checking out his cousin Nico! They got to meet for the first time in Arizona. The boys are about 7 months apart.}

{Ben is checking out his cousin Nico! They got to meet for the first time in Arizona. The boys are about 7 months apart.}

{Our family trip to Whistler!}

{Our family trip to Whistler was one for the memory books. We loved staying in the village and strolling around town with our little guy. Alex and I tried to get out skiing a few times but only managed one day and then cut our trip short after Ben came down with hand, foot and mouth disease.}

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{I braved a flight and a weekend on my own with Ben when we went to visit my family in Minnesota in April. Ben got to meet my girlfriends from high school and his great aunt Sarah.}

{This boy and his dog are inseparable! Ben loves feeding Jackson, petting him and giggling at him. Somehow, Jackson remains amused!}

{This boy and his dog are inseparable! Ben loves feeding Jackson, petting him and giggling at him. Somehow, Jackson remains amused!}

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{Ben was a little late to the game in getting his first teeth – these two popped through when he was about 10 months old. His top two teeth are emerging right now.}

{Meeting Madeline and having Ben meet Sarah was a real highlight this year!}

{Meeting Madeline and having Ben meet Sarah was a real highlight this year!}

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{Leavenworth is such a special place for Alex and me. We were so happy to celebrate Ben’s first birthday there with his grandparents.}

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{And now we have a one year-old! Thank you, Ben, for bringing us so much joy in this first year of your life. We are so proud of you and can’t wait to continue watching you grow up!}