This year has flown by, and I just want time to stop so I can cuddle what little bit of “baby” is left a little longer. I am writing you this letter to tell you what I’ve learned and felt this last year, and what I hope for your future.
I really struggled with my emotions and anxiety after you were born. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right, nursing wasn’t magically working the way I thought it would, and I couldn’t stop crying. I had no idea someone so little could be so terrifying. It’s hard for me to even look at photos from your first few weeks at home, because my face is puffy and tear-stained in every single one of them. The guilt I feel is palpable. I know the combination of sleep deprivation, hormone changes, and healing from the birth were (mostly) out of my control, but I still can’t shake that feeling of guilt. I hope I didn’t somehow make you feel like you weren’t loved or wanted. I hope I cuddled you enough. I hope that you see how much I love you, and that I would wear that pain I had again every day for the rest of my life if it meant you would be happy for the rest of yours. It took time and I needed some outside help, but the clouds eventually parted. From those rough first few months, I learned that it’s okay to ask for help. I can already see your stubborn side coming through, and, like me, it may be hard for you to ask for and accept help. It’s okay to not control everything in your life. We all need help sometimes and it takes a strong person to ask for it.
I remember the first time you smiled at me. I was changing your diaper and you looked me right in the eyes and grinned. I remember the first time you rolled over, sat up unassisted, pulled yourself to standing, tumbled down a couple of stairs, cut your forehead on the activity table, bit me while nursing, and cried over your first tooth. I remember all of the goofy faces you made, the bubbles blown, the squeals of delight, the poor cat’s tail pulls, the poops in the bathtub, and the laughter that makes my heart swell. I’ve learned that joy can be found even in the seemingly worst situations. I hope that you embrace even the toughest of times, as there is always something to be learned. It’s grit that gets you through your challenging moments.
I’ll never forget my favorite time of the day with you: right before bed, when we nurse in the rocking chair with all lights off but the nightlight while soft music gently plays. I stroke your hair while you nuzzle close and your little hands pat my own skin. Sometimes I lean in and just inhale that sweet baby smell. I don’t think I have ever felt so connected to something in my whole life. I know these days are numbered, but I will cherish them always. I’ve learned to treasure the moments I have with those I love. Life changes and grows, and routines change. Soak up as much of those moments as you can before they’re gone. There will always be another text message, TV show, or email. You, my baby, will never be 1-year-old again.
I have so many hopes for your future, and look forward to what the next years will bring. Above all, my greatest hope is that you will find happiness. I also hope you are kind, honest, humble, inquisitive, loving, and generous. What will you be like, Ben? What will you look like? What will your favorite color be? Who will your best friend be? Will I always be your best girl? Even though time passes by so quickly, you will forever be my baby. The days may sometimes be long, but the years are short. Don’t grow up too fast. I love you, Benjamin.