You turned three months old yesterday. I can’t believe it. This is flying by, my love, and before I know it, you will be getting ready for high school graduation. When I wrote these monthly letters to your brother for the first year of his life, I had all these big things I wanted to tell him (and you) about Living Life. I still have some of those things I want to tell you… but we have a lifetime to talk about body image and courage and love and faith and joy. Today I just want to tell you some of the amazing moments with you in these first few months, because I don’t ever want to forget them.
At your 20 week ultrasound, you almost didn’t let us know you were a girl. But I knew you were — did I tell you that? For Mother’s Day last year, your daddy and brother gave me a gift certificate for a massage. I went to get that massage (it was awesome); at the end, the massage therapist left the room and I got to lie there, peaceful, before leaving the room. I remember how the room felt… how relaxed I was… how serene the room was… when I realized that you were there. Me, the non-mystic. I kid you not. At that moment, I was sure that I was not the only soul in the room, and I was sure that it was you, my baby girl. (I bought a pregnancy test on the way home. Sure enough, you were there.)
We spent weeks, and weeks, and weeks, being told that you were bigger than my dates indicated you should be. At 32 weeks, the ultrasound tech and the obstetrician jointly forecasted that you would be at least 10 pounds at birth. It sounded absurd… but you were 10 pounds exactly, at 3 days before your due date.
When I was admitted on February 15th to be induced for labor, you kicked the hell out of that fetal heartrate monitor. You were so loud that sometimes the monitor had to be adjusted to quiet you down.
When I still hadn’t gone into labor after two days on pitocin, your daddy and I made the difficult decision to deliver you via cesaerean section. Honey, I was so scared. I’d read the research on potential complications with C-sections, both for you and for me. It’s not what I wanted for either of us. But I also believed that in delivering you that way, I would be taking on more of the risk instead of you. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I would risk every surgery complication there was if it meant not risking some of what could have happened to you if we’d forced a natural delivery.
As scared as I was, one of the best memories I have is when you were delivered. I was lying there, with my arms stretched out and this curtain between you and me. The physician’s assistant, who was assisting in the surgery, said, “Is that incision big enough?” (I thought, What the hell?! Big enough?!) The obstretician said it was, then a couple seconds later, she said, “Look at those cheeks!” Oh honey, less than a heartbeat later, you cried so loud that the entire ward must have heard you. You were so loud I could barely hear anything else. I couldn’t move most of my body, but I started crying when I heard you. You were here. You were healthy. You weren’t just breathing, you were thriving. I will never forget how good it felt to hear you cry.
I got to hold you for the first time in the recovery room about an hour later, after I’d been stitched up. I was sleepy; there was so many drugs in my system at that point. Your daddy came around the corner (did I tell you that he stayed with you, from the very moment you left my belly?) with you in his arms. You settled into my arms then, so beautiful, and you latched on like you’d never done anything but nurse. We fit like we’d always belonged together.
You had jaundice in the hospital, which isn’t uncommon in large babies. But it meant that you spent most of your time in the nursery in a light blanket, in the hopes that you would recover enough that you could be discharged with me after my requisite three nights. I never looked forward to feedings more than I did during those days, because I got to snuggle you tight. I missed you so much when you were in the nursery.
When you came home, your brother adored you from the beginning. I’ve never had to protect you from jealousy. If I’ve ever had to protect you, it’s been from his enthusiasm and desire to give you ALL THE TOYS HE HAS. I love how you two are together. I hope you love your brother as much as I do.
The very first time your great-nana held you, you were two weeks old. She traveled across the country to hold you, sweetness. You looked up at her like you’d known her forever, and I knew more than ever that you were meant to bear her name.
I woke you in the middle of the night to feed at 2 a.m. during those first weeks. You were a sleeper. I was afraid that there was something wrong, but your pediatrician just laughed. You were so healthy. I stopped waking you after that one-month check-up.
You slept in our room for the first three months. I loved it. You made these hysterical snoring noises that made Daddy and I laugh at night.
You are an all-or-nothing sort of girl. When you get mad, you don’t cry sadly — you SCREAM. You scream so loud that we have to shout to be heard over you. But you also smile and wave and kick all day long when you are happy. Adolescence should be interesting.
You have the craziest little shock of hair on the crown of your head. It is about the size of a half-dollar, and it curls. You look like the most adorable Dr. Seuss character in existence. I will be a wee bit sad when the rest of your hair comes in, because it is so darn cute as it is.
Honey pie, I love you so much. I am so glad you joined our family.
I know, I know: more pictures soon. Until then, don’t forget to check out Quark’s newborn pictures. She was 10 days old and utterly gorgeous!
Yesterday, Allosaurus and I were eating lunch together when a hymn came on Pandora radio. I can’t remember which one it was, but it mentioned grace. Allosaurus is a big fan of Amazing Grace, you know, so he was very excited. Here’s how the conversation went down.
Allosaurus: “Grace song!”
Mommy: “That’s right!”
Allosaurus: “Pencie like grace.”
Mommy: “Me too, buddy. Do you know what grace means?”
Allosaurus: [pause] “Um, yeah.”
Mommy: “It means to love and forgive. So when we say that God is full of grace, it means that God loves us and forgives us even when we do wrong things.”
Allosaurus: “Pencie loves them!”
Mommy: “Uh, loves who?”
Allosaurus: “JESUS! Pencie loves Jesus!”
Mommy: [stifles laughter] “Me too, honey.”
Allosaurus: “Pencie likes donuts! Yummy!”
We are finally getting into enough a rhythm that I can get the kids out of the house on my own semi-regularly. (Of course, it takes forever, but who cares?) Allosaurus needed desperately to burn some energy, so we went to the playground.
He ran around like crazy while I pushed Quark around in a stroller. I swear that every little kid on that playground was obsessed with getting a peek under Quark’s blanket. “Is that a BABY?! Is the baby SLEEPING?! I WANT TO SEE!”
Your daddy and I don’t actually call you this, but for a while, this was your brother’s shorthand for your name. He told everyone that you are his “Baby Chewy!”, which pretty much melts our hearts. He tries to snuggle you every possible chance. He really loves you, sleepy bug, and so do we.
You turned one month old on Saturday. The doctor’s office says you are 12 lbs, 2.6 oz, and 23 inches long. I can’t believe how fast you are growing! You are (quite literally) off the charts in your measurements. In addition to being wildly healthy, you are a power sleeper… once you actually fall asleep, that is. You have an amazing boo-boo lip when you are about to cry; I’ll try to catch it in a picture so you can see it one day when you are too old and wise for such expressions. Even more amazing is your judgemental face. I swear you have this one expression that looks like you are JUDGING ME — for what, I’m not quite sure yet. Probably for not getting you hooked up with the milk fast enough. I’ll work on that.
I’ve already told you about how you arrived in the world with a bit of drama. What I didn’t mention (but you can probably guess from the pictures) is that you, like your brother, left your mark on your mama in every way. Five weeks later, I have these marks on my hands from where the IVs were… a small round spot on my back from the spinal tap… a long red scar from the c-section… the most amazingly stretched-out belly, criss-crossed with stretch marks. This is one small price of your delivery. Some of these things will disappear, but some never will.
Having you as my daughter causes me to think a lot about what I want you to see and hear in our house about who you are as a woman. We’ll spend a lifetime talking about it, love, but the one thing I want to tell you today is this: Your body is a holy thing; be gentle with it. Society talks about our bodies as though they are pieces of meat, by which we are judged. We obsess over the shape, the weight, the athleticism, the clothes and jewelry we adorn them with… all of it. So often our bodies are talked about like an enemy, or at best, a tool to be used to get what we want. None of that is true.
Your body is a holy thing, created by God. It is fearfully and wonderfully made. Through it you will experience the world in all its great and terrible beauty. Be gentle with it. Don’t beat yourself up for not looking a certain way or not being able to do a certain thing. Give yourself grace. Your body is a lovely expression of who you are just as it is, not as you may want it to be. It will catalog your experiences in a way you can’t imagine now.
You will never know me before my pregnancies or those silver threads creeping into my hair. I am not sorry for that; all of these marks and changes tell the story of my life with you and Allosaurus and Daddy. I will not worship in the cult of youth and perfection, and I will never teach you to do that either. I want you to celebrate how you were created, perceived flaws and all, and I want you to see those scars and imperfections in others as a part of their stories too. Your beauty is intrinsic, little girl. I hope you never lose sight of that.