On April 25, 2008, my entire world changed. Until then, baby girl was inside. I was all belly, okay, mostly belly.
My due date was April 15th. When I was dilated to a one in March, I was excited. I was convinced I would have her before her due date. Looking back, I smile and want to pat myself on the head. Sweet, sweet, Savanna. If I could, I would go back in time and make myself take a childbirth education class. I would re-read “Active Birth” a few more times. For those of you who have read this entry, you know what I was in a rough place during my pregnancy. There’s many things I would have changed if I could go back in time, but the one thing I would never, ever change is this:
Oh, my sweet angel baby girl. My heart aches just looking at this picture. She was so tiny, so perfect. Her birth was not what I planned, but she was more. Darling Diva was born on April 25, at 5:22pm. I got to see her for less than a minute before she was whisked away by the hospital staff.
She is 100% healthy and has been. There was nothing wrong with her at birth. At the time, I was terrified and thought that something was very, very, very wrong with my baby. The hospital ran all sorts of test, without my consent, and bullied me. If I knew then what I know now, things would have been different. But, this post is a celebration on her, not of her birth. I’m choosing to focus on her today.
This little face melted my heart. We had a hard time bonding, due to a large amount of separation during the first few days of her life. The PPD I ended up suffering from made bonding harder. My personal life was in an upheaval, but she was one constant good thing in each and every day.
The first year of her life feels like a blur. I have many, many, many pictures to document it. Her first birthday party seemed surreal. Was that little toddler the same baby who weighed only 6 pounds and 4 ounces at birth? She grew up so quickly. She was sitting by 5 months, crawling by 6 months, and walking by 9 months. I wasn’t ready for any of it. I did not encourage any of it.
I wrote in her book often. When I was pregnant with her, I purchased a spiral bound notebook and began to compose letters to her. Some are long, some are short. As she got older, there are pages where she scribbled on the page. I traced her hands, her feet. There are entries that are marked with tears. Some were hard to write, others flowed easily. I worked hard to make sure that the entries stayed upbeat and skipped out on any of the turmoil that was happening concerning her sperm donor. Looking back, I wonder if that was best. Regardless, I don’t think she needs to know the details.
Without fear, I will be the first to admit I don’t always know what I’m doing. Being a mother is a learn-as-you-go, roll with the punches, fly by the seat of your pants job. It isn’t always glorious. Sometimes it really sucks. There are days you want to just quit. There isn’t an instruction manual. When it’s 3 am and your baby is crying, you’re exhausted, and you just want someone to tell you what to do. You want that lovely fairy to pop in the room, wave her magic wand, and poof! Suddenly the baby is sleeping sweetly, the house is clean, fridge stocked, laundry put away. You have a moment to pee by yourself. Hell, go wild. Take a shower! Wash your hair! Change out of those pajama pants you’ve worn for, three? four? days, put on a shirt that isn’t covered in bodily fluids that aren’t yours.
There are also the moments that are so sweet that bring tears to your eyes. Holding a sleeping baby and just counting her inhales and exhales. Pressing kisses onto soft baby hair and breathing in that intoxicating newborn smell. The moments when they hold on to your finger while falling asleep, the pout their lips form while they drift off into a deep slumber. When they start to talk and say “Mama”, then when they hold their arms out and say “I wanna ‘old joo.” (translation: I want to hold you)
Of course, with talking comes hurtful words. “You’re mean!” “I wish you weren’t my mom!” “I don’t like you!” Yeah, you hear that. It hurts. It feels like a tiny warrior is throwing darts at your chest. Then they drive them in further and twist, “I want Daddy/Mimi/Papa/Auntie.” Temper tantrums happen. You wish the floor would open up and swallow you during a scream fest in the middle of an aisle. Items will get thrown at you. Breakables get busted. Your couch suddenly has stains that you can’t get out regardless of how hard you scrub. You will step on a pointed toy in the middle of the night and bit your lip to keep from yelling out in pain. There will be that one toy that you loathe and your child loves.
And you know what? It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and emotionally worn out. It’s also okay to feel exhilarated, on top of the world, and so in love with your child that your heart threatens to burst. Why? Because when you sit down to write your baby a letter, the words will pour out. The tears will come. And in an instant, the past five years will flash in front of you in mere seconds. When those seconds end, you’ll be grateful. Thankful. And, chances are, you will have completely fallen in love with your kid again.
Dearest precious girl,
I wish there were enough words in the world to tell you how special you are. There aren’t enough to begin to explain how you saved me, how much you’ve shown me. From your first cry to your first day of pre-k, you’ve been a whirlwind. You have always surpassed my expectations, dreams, and continue to bring more joy into my life than I ever known possible. There are so many aspects of your personality that humble me. I love your confidence, your spunk, your heart. You’ve never met a person who didn’t become your best friend. Your brother drives you crazy, but you still race off the school bus with arms wide open. I’m blessed to watch your thoughtfulness and kindness grow.
You have a tender heart and hate to see anyone upset. If someone is, you never hesitate to hug them and whisper “It’s okay, I’ve got you.” When we arrive at places, you race to give your family and friends hugs. Good-byes are filled with multiple hugs and kisses. If it’s someone’s birthday, you want to draw them a picture and draw something in their card. It’s only March and you’ve already started planning for your brother’s birthday party in August. When Christmas time rolls around, you want to make sure no one is forgotten.
Even though I don’t always understand it, you’ve got a great sense of humor. You definitely share it with Daddy. There are so many inside jokes that you two share. I love watching the videos that we have of conversations between you goofballs. I can always count on both of you for funny faces, fart jokes, and an impromptu wrestling match.
It warms my heart to see you interact with your baby brother. Despite the fact you tell me you wanted a girl baby and not a boy baby, you love him a lot. When you two are together, you are always looking for an opportunity to hug him or kiss him. You also don’t miss out on any chance to tell on him either. Today, you told me that he just doesn’t know any better ‘cuz he’s a baby. We sing silly song to him, call him our Chunky Monkey, and you race in every weekend morning to see him when he wakes up.
When I was pregnant with your brother, I was so worried about how I would be able to love both of you. It was silly to worry; my heart grew with your arrival and again with his. Watching the two of you interact fills me with love, laughter, and joy. From the first moment you met him, you have treated him with a gentleness that surprised me. I was worried I would have to rescue him from you. Instead, I have to remind you that I’m his mom. When he was tiny, you wanted to do everything for him, unless he was crying. Then you would frantically inform me that he needed milk. “Mommy! Baby needs milkies!” Or, when in public, you would loudly announce “HE NEEDS BOOB!”
It is such a delight to watch you grow into your role as big sister. I giggle when you yell for me because he won’t stop playing with your My Little Ponies or because he is taking your drink. After you get mad at him, you usually sigh and tell me “He just loves me soooooo much.” Yes, big sister, he sure does.
I can’t wait to watch you grow up more. I love hearing the things you come up with. You’ve told me that you want to grow up to be a chef, own a horse, and you’re going to be a super hero. Right now, your interests range from the Avengers to My Little Pony. You love Merida, Tiana, and Rapunzel. I can always count on you to help me cook or bake and you love telling me about the recipe (aka the ingredients). We can paint our nails and then go play in the mud. There’s not a fearful bone in your body, unless it involves shots. You’re my little daredevil; you want everything to be higher, faster, and louder.
When I try to condense everything you’ve taught me into one blog post, it is impossible. You taught me I can love someone so much that it hurts. I hurt when you hurt. I want to cry when I see you’re in pain. I found courage and strength I never knew I had when I looked into your eyes. Levels of exhaustion that I never knew existed have been conquered and depths of fear have been discovered and destroyed. For 41 weeks, I held you close to my heart. You grew inside me and I knew you in a way no one else ever can or ever will. For 16 months we shared milkie snuggle sessions, complete with your favorite blankie. For nearly 5 years, I have been blessed in calling you mine. My little girl, my daughter, my boo baby.
I love you so much, precious girl. My love has never wavered and never will.