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Dear Sweet Baby

“Dear Sweet Baby” is a collection of letters I’ve written to my son, before and after his birth.

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13 Week Ultrasound

April 23, 2011

Dear Sweet Baby,

Today marks 17 weeks you’ve been growing inside me. I still can hardly believe it, despite the large, healthy swell of my tummy. Until today, you’ve seemed so fragile and vulnerable, but I’m finally starting to feel your palpability and strength. Despite the astonishing images of you resting inside me, I used to worry you were somehow not real or that you’d disappear into thin air one day. I’ve still yet to feel you move, but I know you’re in there, enjoying this peaceful time to grow into the beautiful person I know you will be.

It’s amazing to have a human life developing inside of me — there’s just no other way to put it. It’s the most simple and yet complex miracle there is. It’s not easy by any stretch — not physically, mentally, emotionally or financially — but miracles probably shouldn’t be.

You weren’t part of any plan, nor did you arrive at some premeditated moment in my life, but I can’t imagine a more perfect way for you to come into it. Not being the most structured person, I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten around to feeling “ready” for you. I can’t think of many things in my life I did feel ready for when they happened. But seeing now that every step along the way brought me closer to you — perfect, unique, extraordinary you — makes it all seem divinely right.

I’m sorry if I haven’t always been strong, and I know I haven’t been brave all the time either. It’s just that you seem so very precious. I don’t always know how I’m going to protect you, keep you safe and happy, instill in you a bold and free spirit. How can I teach you all the things I’ve yet to learn myself? I guess we’ll have to learn some things together. We’ll have to remember that we were once connected in the most sacred and finite way, and we’ll have to lean on each other as only family can. I promise to always be there for you, even if I don’t always know what to say or do.

Today is a stunning, sparkling day. I’m sitting outside so we can feel the sun and wind together, and be thankful for a few peaceful moments in this otherwise chaotic life. I hear an ice cream truck in the distance, and the sounds of children’s voices as they laugh and play. It’s incredible to think you’ll be like that one day, vibrant and joyful and complicated and free. If I close my eyes, I can picture you climbing a tree and running with the sun shining in your hair.

It will be an honor to meet you.

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Baby boy or baby girl?

See if you can spot my husband’s influence …

May 20, 2011

Dear Sweet Baby,

There you are! Fluttering around inside me like a little butterfly. Suddenly, you’re ever-present, moving and kicking all day long. It’s amazing to experience you like this, to feel you get restless when I’m hungry or push hard against the wall of my belly like you just can’t wait to come out and greet the world.

You’re officially now a boy or a girl, and I wonder which nearly all the time. It’s so hard to be patient, to withstand the temptation to just allow ourselves to be told, but I am so eager for that moment when your dad and I lay eyes on you for the very first time. Waiting to find out feels like the right thing to do, and it becomes more exciting every day.

If you are a little boy, I hope I can raise you to be kind and love with great abandon. I hope you grow up with a sense of curiosity about the world and the courage to explore all the beauty it holds. I hope your imagination takes you to places far and wide, and that, sometimes, you’ll let me come with you. I hope to teach you to listen with an open heart and look out for those less fortunate than you; to be compassionate to animals and free with your emotions; to respect women and treat people fairly no matter who they are. No matter what, I know you’ll have a strong and independent spirit that will be all your own.

And if you are a little girl — a daughter — I hope to share the unique wonder of being a woman and all that comes with it. I hope I can teach you to stand strong and confident in the midst of everything that will cause you self-doubt. I hope you’ll throw yourself into the world with a passion for learning and a twinkle of mischief in your eye, free to laugh without inhibition and hold your head high. I want to talk to you and braid your hair; I want to watch you run faster than all the boys in the neighborhood and grow up with the wind always in your hair. I want to tell you my secrets and listen to yours as I tuck you in for a long and dream-filled sleep.

Either way, I know your father and I will love you from the instant you come roaring into the world with the spark and vitality I feel in you every day. We’ll always remember the day you join our family and the quiet moment when we choose a name for you. We’ll watch in amazement as you grow bigger and stronger and more fully yourself with each passing day — happy and boundless and secure in our love.

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Autumn Wedding Day

On our perfect autumn wedding day in November 2008

August 23, 2011

Dear Sweet Baby,

After a long, hot summer, the weather has finally started to turn cool. It’s beginning to feel like autumn: the season of your birth.

Your father and I were married in this season, on a gorgeous fall day nearly three years ago. There’s something so peaceful about this time of year, so mature and deliberate. Spring, with its wild abundance and infinite possibility, has always been my favorite season. But autumn seems like such a perfect time for you to come into our lives. It’s certainly become a special time in my life, and becomes more so with every passing day as we draw closer to your arrival.

I’m fully in preparation mode now, doing all I can to feel ready. It never seems like enough. I know there’s nothing I can do completely prepare my heart for the day it grows huge with love for you. Nothing in the human body can expand that quickly without some pain involved — without aching at least a little bit. I already feel my heart swelling and being stripped raw at the same time, just by having you inside me.

People talk so much about crazy pregnancy emotions, but rarely about why expectant women get so soft and vulnerable to everything around them. Perhaps it’s a kind of practice run for how fully and helplessly we love these babies when they finally arrive.

This pregnancy — the process of creating you and growing you into something real — has not been brief or fleeting. It feels like I’ve been pregnant for ages and I still have more than a month to go. I can feel my body readying itself to bring you into the world; now it’s just my heart that needs to get itself into shape. I fear it will truly burst when I finally lay eyes on you.

It’s been more than 10 years since your dad and I first met. We were so young — in years, but even more so in spirit. We took our time growing up: moving to new cities; changing jobs and careers; collecting experiences and friends along the way. It took a long time for us to get here, and a lot of people haven’t always understood why.

But we know.

We know it took every one of those years — every week, every month, every season — to bring us here today. We anticipate your arrival with hearts that have grown broader and stronger with every passing year. And still, we know you will turn us upside down and inside out. That our lives will never be the same again.

Ten years. Ten autumns. And now, the autumn of you. Of new feelings, new experiences — a whole new chapter for us. I wait for you with bated breath, knowing this is only the beginning of the rest of our lives.

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Cute Baby Boy

November 29, 2011

Dear Sweet Baby,

Today, you laughed. You looked into my eyes and tossed your head to the side, letting out the most joyful noise I’ve ever heard. Already, you’ve turned me into a slobbering pile of emotional mush — even more so than during my pregnancy. And then, you laughed. What a beautiful sound!

Every day you smile and smile, as if life is handing you a series of delightful moments, one right after the other. And every day you seem to grow a little more into yourself, becoming a little person. You are such an easy, happy baby.

I take pride in seeing you grow big and healthy, but find myself wanting desperately to slow it all down. You’ve left newborn diapers far behind and are quickly growing out of the impossibly small outfits I first dressed you in, when I hardly knew what to do with you. I want each moment to last twice as long, each night to stay with me for just a bit longer before it’s gone forever.

So many things about motherhood have caught me by surprise: how challenging (and time-consuming!) breastfeeding can be; how defined your personality is already, even at such a young age; how much poop can come out of you at one time (where did that all come from??); how different I feel.

But what surprises me most is how much more I value my life. It’s not that I didn’t care before, just that I suddenly feel so important now that another human being depends on me. It struck me one day when I was driving home from an errand. What would happen to you if something happened to me? I sat a little straighter in my seat, drove a little more carefully. Smiled a private smile as my stomach fluttered.

Being a mom makes me feel unique and irreplaceable.

My heart pounds with the rush of so many complex feelings — gratitude for your existence, amazement at your tiny features, even a strange and fleeting fear that you’ll somehow be taken from me. I am perpetually exhausted, frequently overwhelmed and often intimidated by the job of raising you to be a kind and responsible young man.

And yet.

My love for you astounds me.

Cute Baby

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Autumn Baby

Four days old on a perfect autumn day

 

September 10, 2012

Dear Sweet Autumn Child,

Once again, the air has begun to cool and the smell of autumn is in the breeze. As I feel the new season approaching, I can’t help but think — as I imagine I will for the rest of my life — of my sweet autumn baby boy.

One year ago, I sat outside with my hand resting on a swollen belly and I wrote a letter to you, my autumn child. I wrote about this season and what it means to our family — how it’s special to your dad and me for so many reasons. And now, here we are again in the season of your birth.

There was so much I didn’t know on that autumn day last year.

For starters, I didn’t know you’d be a boy — a rough and tumble kind of guy who gets up from a fall and takes off again, undaunted. I certainly didn’t expect your blonde hair or your big blue eyes. I didn’t know if you’d be colicky or easygoing; a good sleeper or a night terror. I didn’t know if I’d be a confident mom or easily rattled by a crying jag — and I didn’t always believe I could do the job I had ahead.

Before you, I thought of autumn as a season of endings — of leaves and flowers fading away and the wildlife preparing for winter. Now, I see autumn differently.

It is a season of beginnings, of arrivals, of impending change. It’s not a time for the weak.

Although I’ll remember it for the rest of my life, my memory of the day you arrived has grown soft around the edges. My pregnancy, which seemed interminable at the time, now seems like a movie I watched late at night; I remember the plot, but some of the details have become foggy.

I wish I knew how to grab hold of each beautiful day with you and make it stay just a little longer. You’ve become a whirlwind of activity, and I breathe a sigh of relief once you’ve finally gone down for the night. But there’s also a little twinge in my heart for another day gone by.

Last night, I listened to my father read you the book Love You Forever on the last evening of your grandparents’ visit. Each time he sung the little song from the book, you tilted your head up at your grandpa and smiled, and I took a little mental snapshot of the two of you. It was a poignant moment, one I’ll hold on to for a long time to come.

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always.
As long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.

No, you are not yet the man who rocks his ailing mother. Nor are you the unruly teenager or the sullen 9-year-old boy. But suddenly, you seem more like the mischievous 2-year-old than the tiny baby in the story.

It’s been nearly four years since the beautiful autumn day when your father and I were married, and nearly a year since the beautiful autumn day when you came into our lives. I recall our first walks when I bundled you tightly against the brisk fall air. I remember the chilly winter mornings when I’d pull a blanket over my knees and you’d nuzzle your warm body against my skin. I remember the spring afternoons when I carried you in your sling and shielded your eyes against the bright sunlight. And I remember our long summer together, swinging and playing and discovering the world.

It’s already been a wild ride, and I know we have so much more to come. Welcome to autumn, my son, the season of your birth.

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2 responses »

  1. I sent this on to Jan Waters and she thinks you are very funny. 🙂

    Reply
  2. You make me love Hudson too! mommy Jan

    Reply

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