Hi my sweet girl,
It’s been a whole month, 31 days, since you were first placed in my arms, screaming like your world was ending. In a way, I guess it was. Everything that you knew, all the warm, cozy, whooshing sound of my womb, was instantly replaced with cold, naked, bright, and foreign. You were born in a whirlwind, one moment I was resting in the hospital bed and 5 minutes later, you were in my arms. You’ve been taking us for a roller coaster ride ever since.
I’d be lying if I said this past month has been easy. In some ways, I was more prepared for this stage than I ever was with Henry (because there’s nothing that can prepare you for that first time newborn experience), but in other ways, I realize I had blocked a lot of my memories of the first weeks with him because they were just so hard. So while I rest assured that I know it gets easier this time (I truly thought at one point with your brother that the rest of my life would be like that; I felt hopeless), I am also making it through one day at a time thinking, “Wait, you’re only 4 weeks old? How can we speed this up?” I know we will make it, but, girl, the making it is really hard sometimes.
I hear others saying they just want to slow time down and bottle up this newborn-ness and I’m over here like, “No thanks. Let’s move along, please.” And I’ve realized that it’s okay for me to feel that way. I felt so much guilt with Henry about the newborn stage and truly thought I wasn’t cut out to be a mother because of it. But then he got bigger and it got better and better and better and I realized that it’s okay for me to have a stage of my children’s lives that I’m not good at. I know I’m not good at having a newborn, but I also know that I am good at having a 4 month old. So I keep pushing on, doing the very best I can with you (rocking, bouncing, feeding, shushing, singing, burping, #allthenewbornthings) because I know my thriving days are coming. They are just up ahead.
One of the biggest struggles that I didn’t know how to prepare for is the balancing of two kids. Your brother is 3, very independent by your standards, but also very much needing me still for daily life. And you are 1 month so absolutely dependent for everything. Being so needed is both an honor and a weighted load. Some days I want to just crawl into bed and hide under the covers and hope that no one will find me. And then other days, I’m up and ready to tackle whatever hits us. I am constantly looking around at other parents with 2+ kids and saying, “Look at them. They’re doing it. If they can do it, we can too.” Because that comparison is my only encouragement on the hardest days. Seeing others thriving (or, at the very least, surviving) makes me feel like I can too.
Now, all of this talk is so heavy. I wish I could just talk about unicorns and rainbows and cuddles. But I feel the responsibility to be honest and so this is my honesty.
Amidst all of the difficulties of taking care of a baby, you must know, my darling, that you’re so loved. My struggles as a mother during this stage of your life are no reflection of you. I realized with Henry that I’m not that great during the first few months, but I hit my stride later on and then there’s no stopping me. And while I am so desperately looking forward to hitting that stride with you too, I am in the meantime, loving you with all that I have.
You are perfect. You are a miracle. And the fact that you are ours astonishes me. How did I get so lucky to not only get one child, but two? Not just Henry, but you too?
In this first month, we’ve started establishing a routine. You eat every 2.5-3 hours during the day and, at night, you will go as long as 4.5 hours between eating. It seems like you’re sort of all in or all out as far as good nights go. Either you’ll eat and go right back to sleep at every feeding or you’ll eat and then struggle for an hour to fall back asleep. There’s no mediocre with you. And while I don’t try to compare you with your brother, I’m just here to tell you, he was a 12-hour sleeper by 12 weeks so, you know, if you’d like to be competitive about it, I’m on board.
You are a good eater now that I gave up breastfeeding and instead pump and give you bottles. The first few weeks we struggled with a lot of things. Sometimes you’d eat like a champion and then sometimes you’d fight the entire time. It was exhausting and draining in a way I can’t even describe, made even more so with another child to also take care of. Somehow you gained a lot of weight though and you were already a pound over your birth weight by 2 weeks. You are now 8 pounds, 7 ounces!
Your cheeks are getting chunkier (oh, the sweetest little cheeks to kiss!) and you’re slowly starting to fill out those twiggy little legs and arms. I hope you get little rolls soon. You’re still in newborn clothes, but I know in the next month, you’ll be advancing to a new wardrobe.
Just like you have good and bad nights, you also have good and bad days. The good days are so wonderful. They are the breath of fresh air that I need. The bad days are no fun, but I am constantly reminding myself that you are so new to this world and it’s totally normal for you to be overwhelmed so I’m trying to give myself the same grace that I give you. We will conquer this vast world together, my child.
You’re growing and changing and I’m checking off the dates on the calendar just as quickly as they come, but I’m also trying to lock away some of the little memories that I love, like the way you stretch your arms overhead and arch your back when I unwrap your swaddle. Your little eyes squeeze shut and you scrunch your forehead into little wrinkles and squeak as you reach. I love how you tuck your knees up into your chest and snuggle your head under my chin when you’re falling asleep. I love how peaceful you are when you’re sleeping. I’m convinced that sleeping babies are God’s way of saying, “You’ve got this.”
My darling girl, I am so grateful I get to be your mama. I am excitedly looking forward to all of our adventures together, especially knowing ours will be so different than the ones I have with your brother. Knowing I have gotten two unique gifts makes me want to cry with gratitude. I longed for you my whole life. And now to have you…it’s the most overwhelming challenge and wonderful adventure that I’ll ever face.
I love you, baby girl. I love you more than you’ll ever know.
Taking pictures is not for the faint of heart; there was a lot of this going on the whole time, with Henry also insisting on taking his own photos.