The Real Housewives of New Jersey star, 47, celebrated her eldest daughter’s 19th birthday with a heartfelt Instagram message on Wednesday.
“Nothing has given me greater pleasure than being your mom. I am so lucky to have you as my daughter you inspire me, teach me and ground me every single day!” she wrote. “You have been such a joy as a child always making me proud, loved & WOW’d!! You are the greatest big sister and I appreciate everything you do for our family.”
“I’m so proud of you Gia as you take on this crazy world!” she concluded. “I love you! Happy Birthday my first baby! My forever babygirl!”
Joe, 49, also dedicated a touching social media post to Gia, reflecting on the time he spent away from his daughter while he served out his 41-month prison sentence for mail, wire and bankruptcy fraud — and then in ICE custody and Italy.
“These past years as your dad have been the hardest to watch you grow into your own person,” he wrote. “Honestly the longest years I have ever experienced to be away from all your success! I have made tons of mistakes so far. Though my birthday gift to you, I will shower you with love my firstborn, our special bond has never stopped and I thank you.”
He continued: “I am always trying to be the best dad I can be because you, my little girl, you are the best daughter I could ever ask for. For this, I will always spoil you for all the years to come. Happy birthday, you will always be daddy’s little girl. Forever grateful.”
According to her Instagram, Gia is celebrating with a trip to Montreal, Canada. This is her first birthday since Joe was released from prison in March 2019 and transferred to the custody of ICE at the Clinton County Correctional Center in Pennsylvania. Joe remained there until he moved to Italy in October, where he awaits the final ruling in his deportation appeal.
After Joe arrived in Italy, Teresa and the girls went to visit him for an emotional reunion.
Back in September, a source close to the Giudice family told PEOPLE that while Joe’s case has been hard on his family, Gia has helped keep everyone together.
“Gia has been a rock for her family during these tough times,” the insider said. “She’s very mature for her age and her sisters really look up to her.”
Gia is currently enrolled at Rutgers University.
“With the whole Joe situation, she stays strong for them, while still fighting for her dad,” the source added. “Even now that she’s away for college, the girls are all still very close. She’s set a great example for them. She’s the real star.”
The Real Housewives of New Jersey airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo.