dear miss etta z,
i cannot believe you are four months old already. you fit in just perfectly with our little family.
i cannot imagine mornings without your full-body-face-squishing pandiculation as i un-velcro you from your swaddle. i cannot imagine greeting friends and strangers without your million watt smile and bright eyes. i cannot imagine breakfast time without the way your sister engages with you — making silly faces and voices to make you grin. i cannot imagine smaller laundry loads devoid of your drool-drenched clothes.
i cannot imagine outings without your little chubby body accompanying mine — on picnic blankets during soccer, in my lap while we sit in the river, around my waist while i wear you, or gazing back at me content while i push you in the stroller. i cannot imagine noon without getting you ready for nap time — swaddling you up just right, nursing you, and setting you down to fall asleep on your own. or bedtime, where the ritual is essentially the same except you also get some back rubs and thigh kneading and we roll your little burrito body around on the bed. this is followed by kissing you over and over again on the cheeks, which promptly gets you squealing and giggling. i do not want to imagine life without your sweet giggle.
not all mamas get this with their little ones. recently we learned of some heartbreak people we love have experienced when their babes were taken to heaven much too soon and unexpectedly. and so this month i held you even closer, inhaled your scent even deeper, and said prayers of thanks for all i’ve been given that i deserve no more than anyone else.
for you are wonderfully and awesomely made. and though you are my daughter you are not mine. you are child of our Lord’s, a daughter of the earth. and for however long you are entrusted to me –short or (i desperately pray) long– i will love you fiercely and humbly.
i love you. love, mama
sweet sweet harriet.
you are two months old. a fog has lifted and we’ve [fingers crossed] reached the end of the newborn-crazies tunnel.
your smile is the most beautiful thing. when you smile, your bright blue eyes get bigger [who knew that was even possible?!] and your mouth, wide and gummy, turns up just at the edges like little cartoon lines. you are incredibly happy and emit this gurgly giggle that just kills me every time. you coo and squawk and have a special little noise you seem to use just to say hello.
ramona and you spend a lot of time making each other smile — you in your bouncy chair and her bouncing you, tickling your neck, making smiley silly faces. she adores you.
you, right now, do a great job of going with the flow. you are along for the ride. and it’s been a fun one so far! you speak up if you need something but usually you are just really stinking content. patient. calm & collected. i have not ever met a baby who is just so cool as a cucumber. and we though we had it easy with your sister..
i love you, etta z. each day you become more familiar than the last. you fit right in from the beginning. and though so much of newborns is a mystery — who you are, what you like, what you need, who you are going to become — but we delight in figuring this all out.
your chubby cheeks, your bald head, your bright eyes, your gummy smile, the adorable quivering frown when you are sad or upset, your constantly stuffy nose, your rapidly growing finger nails, your delicious milk breath, your fervent suck. you are you. wholly you, known and loved before you were knit in my womb.
what an honor it is to be your mother.
i love you. love, mama.
miss etta z,
you are quiet. you are calm. you are patient.
you are wide awake, miss wide eyes. and then, just like that, you are fast asleep for long stretches. i’m not going to count my chicks before they hatch but this is a good start.
so far, everything is so good. you nurse like a champ. you love to be worn. you prefer to be swaddled. you go with the flow. you take a pacifier (which is odd for me since ramona didn’t until she weaned). people say you look like me! i love hearing this. i am most often holding you.
there will be more letters, baby girl. and longer ones. i promise. right now, we’re adjusting to the four of us. but let me tell you this: you were always meant to be here and to be a part of this family. we cannot even remember what it was like without you and it all just makes sense. welcome.
i love you.
dear etta z,
you will be three weeks old tomorrow. it’s insane to imagine our life before you and, yet, it has certainly been an adjustment period with you here. ramona is potty-trained, sleeps through the night and in her own big girl bed, and has enough vocabulary to have interesting and helpful conversations with her father and me. you’re not quite there yet.
i knew having a newborn would mean nights of waking up and nursing and rocking and shushing but i had conveniently forgotten what a toll that can take on relationships (snap at my husband much?) and productivity (what else is there to do besides sleep?!). each day this gets easier and easier but, overnight (literally) my whole routine and schedule and habits got turned upside down. and for some reason, stupidly, i was not expecting this. perhaps it’s bc we had done this before. so we assumed it would ALL be easier. well, SOME things are easier. but some things (like losing hours of sleep each night) are impossible to become easier. silly us.
but don’t take this the wrong way, my perfect, late winter baby. i’m just stating there were changes that i wasn’t prepared for. but we’ve got you now and, as cheesy and trite as it sounds, you’re worth every second of adjustment, you, our amazing little girl who completes our family. you’re a loud sleeper, but a hesitant cryer. you’re a snuggler and an observer and a champion nurser. you respond well to loving shushing and swaddles. you, like your sister, came out with her father’s chin and furrowed brow. but you, miss harriet, more closely resemble me overall.
and your papa is the perfect yin to my yang, especially when it comes to helping me fare well in these transition periods. he’s here with us in the mornings, which means he gets to snuggle you in bed while ramona and i get ready for the day (start the day with a shower?! so many other new mothers are going to hate me just for that!). he makes the bed bc he knows i need that to move forward with the day (your mama can be quite particular). he asks me how i’m doing and makes sure i take my vitamins. he changes your diapers and plays silly games with ramona. he is a great listener and mediator. you’ll learn so much from him.
once papa had to go back to work (we had him at home for nine whole days!) i worried about how i would get anything done. but we powerdrivers are surrounded by a powerful and generous community that has lovingly and selflessly brought us meals and scheduled play dates with your sister and passed on needed advice about clogged milk ducts and offered words of encouragement and delivered packages of love in the form of handmade baby quilts. we could not do it without the gracious help of our friends and family, who we know will continue to nurture and look out for our two little girls. they are why, harriet, any crazy adjustments to you joining our world, are completely doable, manageable, survivable.
we’re still getting to know each other, etta. and we’ll be developing our relationship for years to come. but i hope, that as you grow and learn and soak in what you see, it is so clear to you how absolutely loved you are and how we –your mama and papa for sure and many of our friends and family– will do anything for you. and i hope that you will take what you see about the value and importance of love, community, generosity, grace, respect, and insist you have it for yourself as much as you have control over who you choose to surround yourself with in your older years; i pray you find people who are supportive, encouraging, constructive during the many adjustment and transition periods you will go through.
we’ve got so much fun ahead of us as we slowly but surely exit this hazy, sleepless, fumbling stage. i can’t wait to introduce you to the world.
i love you, harriet zona.