Monday, March 17, 2008

A Letter to My Daughter

Dear Daughter,

You will turn one this week, Thursday to be exact, the first day of Spring. As I sit here recovering from a weekend full of planning, cleaning and entertaining to celebrate your first year of life I cannot help but think back on what has been the most amazingly crazy and wonderful 20 or so months of my life- our lives.

I often tell people you were a very BIG surprise, and you were. But more than that, you are and were a miracle. All children are a miracle but you were an incredible one. You came along after being told we wouldn't be able to have more children. You came along after a staggering medical diagnosis. You came along after a radiation treatment that I was sure would either kill you or disfigure you. You survived in my body for months that were riddled with doubts and fears and depression and endless doctor appointments . You lived and grew and thrived through endless amounts of medications and medical tests. Until finally it became too much for you. Finally, they dropped me off my medication because it was slowly starting to strangle you. Then came the bed rest, the weeks and months of bed rest. Then, just after I thought you would be born on St. Patrick's Day, you were ushered into this world with lots of pitocin on the first day of Spring.

I will never forget the moment that I knew you would be coming. It was a Monday. I went in for another doctor's appointment and when my doctor walked in the door and told me that I looked like shit, I knew it was time. I knew my body couldn't sustain you any longer and I knew that you were ready to come out. You would be small. There was a possibility of problems. It would be scarier than your brother's birth. I left the doctor's office and called your grandmother. I called your father. I text messaged everyone who was awaiting word. We were going to the hospital and you were going to be here very soon. I was 35 weeks pregnant.

The next few hours were filled with waiting and anticipation. Endless amounts of paperwork. Endless amounts of monitors and IVs and medicines. Eventually we were moved into labor and delivery. The pitocin was started and I was determined to deliver without an epidural. That lasted until 2 in the morning. The pain and discomfort became too great. Your heart rate started to drop. It was time for some pain relief and comfort. The epidural helped me sleep. It helped you, too. Your heart rate, for the most part, stabilized. I awoke early the next morning, Tuesday March 20th. I was only 4 centimeters. You were not coming any time soon, or so we thought. We anxiously awaited your grandmother's arrival. I anxiously awaited another round of epidural. At 8am they checked me I was 5 cm and I received another epidural. At 8:20 I started pushing. At 8:25, 4 pushes later, you entered the world. Crying. Covered in vernix. Clearly unhappy to have been ripped from the comfort of my womb. Your apgars were great. You were a girl, after months of worrying that the ultrasound tech was wrong and we'd be bringing home a little boy to a hot pink room. You were breathing on your own. You were doing great.

The next few days were a blur. They were hard. You had no suck reflex so nursing never really worked. You developed jaundice early on and I could not imagine leaving the hospital without you, as we had done with your brother. You were immediately placed under the lights. You reddened up quite quickly but did very well. Your billi levels dropped, you ate and pooped like a champ. You started to develop your very own personality. And we took you home late Thursday evening. You got to know your grandparents and your brother. You experienced your first family meal. You slept- a lot. You found your niche in our family quite quickly and easily and we have not been the same since.

I was privileged enough to get to stay home with you and your brother during your first 5 months of life. I watched and worried as you slept endless hours of the day away. There were days that you would sleep for close to 22 hours. My concern lessened as you grew older and you ate more and began to move more and experience more. I watched as you were swallowed up by newborn clothes for weeks on end. I watched as we visited the pediatrician a number of times during that first month. I watched and listened as you would try and catch your breath at night, wondering if you were having trouble breathing. I watched as you very quickly learned to soothe yourself and put yourself back to sleep after your late night feeding. I watched as you and your brother came to know one another. I learned that being a mom to two very different children was going to be very hard but realized I wouldn't want it any other way.

You brought an immense amount of joy and wonderful chaos to our lives when you entered them first in August of 2006 and then again in March of 2007. Since you have been a part of our lives I have learned more, grown more and come to understand more about being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a woman. You have given me a new perspective on how things should be, as did your brother when he was born. You have taught me, as your brother did, how to live completely outside of my body and how to give my heart over to someone else. You have frustrated me and made me cry and made me laugh and even gave emotions that I cannot name. Your brother taught me how to be a mom initially. You have shown me how to be a better mom. A more committed mom. A more dedicated and understanding mom. You have shown me the importance of being a mom to a daughter and a son. You have also shown me that it is important for me to be who I am so that I can be the best possible parent to you and your brother.

Yesterday we celebrated your first year of life. We celebrated a successfully hard pregnancy. We celebrated a difficult first few months of your life and the growth we all experienced during that time. We celebrated you hitting milestone after milestone, sometimes a little later than other kids your age and sometimes a little earlier. We celebrated the love and joy you have brought us and that you continue to bring us. We also celebrated your first unassisted steps. They were brief but they were there. You stepped from grandma to me all on your own in your pretty little dress and I could not have been more excited or thrilled. We celebrated you yesterday and on Thursday we'll do it again.

Your birthday is the one time during the year when we recognize you alone but know that you and your brother are celebrated every single day of our lives. You were and are both miracles to us. You are miracles because you are pieces of us and your grandparents and aunts and uncles. You are miracles because you came from God at exactly the right moments in our lives and enriched them in such ways that you can never know no matter how much we may tell you. You are especially a miracle because you survived when many, including me, thought you wouldn't. You thrived when I was afraid you wouldn't. You are a miracle and I can only hope that as your mom I am able to show you that every single day.

Happy Birthday little girl, we are so thankfully lucky that you are with us each and every day!



OHmommy said...

Happy Birthday to your little miracle!!!

LunaNik said...

Oh Stella, that was beautiful.

Happy Birthday to your daughter. It's true you were lucky to have her, but she is also very lucky to have you.


The funeral post is not that first time that happened you know. I got into a little verbal sparring match with another reader on another post of yours. It was around the time you posted about your frustrations with your FIL regarding the car. Go back and check it out when you have a minute.

LaskiGal said...

"You have taught me, as your brother did, how to live completely outside of my body and how to give my heart over to someone else." Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

I posted something similar on Friday--but it is a story like this that puts my struggle in perspective.

Happy Birthday to your beautiful daughter . . . now I'm all mushy. Dang hormones . . .

Kelly said...

Oh honey, this is so beautiful. I could relate to so much of what you said. I, too, was told I would never carry Molly. I fought, she fought, and we made it. Your post brought all that fear and love rushing back. Happy Birtday to your little lady. And, hugs to you my darling friend!

Mom Of 3 said...

Happy birthday to your swwet miracle!

Huckdoll said...

Wow, Stella! That was just precious. Happy Birthday, little one :)

Momo Fali said...

Aw! Happy birthday to your sweetie!

Tara R. said...

Happy Birthday to your daughter and to you! Celebrate and enjoy each other. Beautiful tribute.

Mr Lady said...

You are aware that March 20th is the finest day to be born, like, EVER, right?

Has anyone done her chart? It's a pretty heady day astronomically speaking. I could do it for you.

Audre Lorde (Mr Lady's God, her favorite person ever in the history of people ever), wrote a poem for us March 20th babies. I thought you'd like to read it. I'm going to post it tomorrow, but I'll give you a heads up.

Happy birthday, baby girl.

Mr Lady said...

Well, THAT link didn't work so well.

Try this one.

amanda said...

this is so beautiful! I hope she had a fabulous birthday! :)

Alison said...

what a beautiful letter brought tears to my eyes!!! Happy birthday sweet one!!!

Cheffie-Mom said...

What a beautiful letter!! I can really relate to what you said. I am so fortunate to have found your blog. I just started blogging and I love it. I would love to hear from you. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. God Bless

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