Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Best Worst Year of My Life

Dear Sabrina,

Today, my love, you turn one.  Where the last 365 days have gone is a mystery to me.  The seconds started flying by the minute you were born.  From the minute I heard you cry, strapped to the surgical table in the OR, you had my heart.  There have been some bumps along our journey together, but never once did they make me doubt my love for you.  

Someday, you will hopefully become a mommy yourself.  And I will long since have forgotten the struggles and the hardships of those first 365 days of motherhood, so I am writing this to you so that you will not feel alone.  I will be there for you in every way I can, but time heals all wounds, and I will have moved on from these memories to those of you growing up, blossoming into a young woman and beyond.  But I need for you to know, to understand, to have a record of what I felt like being your mommy, and what you will likely feel being a mommy yourself.

You will feel the highest highs and the lowest lows in those first 365 days.  The most joyful moment I think I've ever felt was hearing your cry for the first time.  You were real, you were here, you were all ours.  Those first days, I felt like I was in a dream.  You were perfect.  But then the crash happened.  We went home.  You cried.  A lot.  You hurt me breastfeeding... badly.  And things started to unravel.  I cried, every single day, sometimes for hours at a time.  I felt like a failure, like you deserved a better mother.  Those were some of the hardest, darkest days of my life.  I hope, my love, that you never feel anything even close to what I felt.  But in the event that you do, know that mommy went through it with you, and while it was harder than I ever imagined, I made it, and so will you.

Being a mom is hard at any and every point in a child's life, but that first year is especially difficult.  You used to cry and cry, especially in the evening, and there was no way for daddy and I to know what you wanted.  We would take turns holding you, walking you around the house, praying that the hardwood floors wouldn't creak too much.  Praying that the dog wouldn't suddenly see a cat and bark her head off.  Praying that you would find some way to comfort yourself since we rarely seemed to be able to comfort you.  Some nights daddy and I would have to wake each other up for help because you just wouldn't settle down.  We prayed for some relief, for some kind of magic to calm you down.  Patience and time was all that seemed to work.  Sometimes you will be at your wit's end with your own little one, having no idea what to do.  In those moments, remember that mommy went through it too, and that sometimes taking a deep breath and having a good cry can help release tension.  Singing helps too.  

Remember to have fun in those first 365 days, especially those early ones.  I will always feel like I wished our early days together away, because I felt so utterly depressed, so tired, so alone in so many ways.  I look back on that with such regret in my heart.  You were and are such a gift to me, my sweet baby girl, and I wish I had enjoyed you more in your first days of life.  You spent 9 months growing inside of me, yet when you were born you were a stranger in so many ways.  If your little one's first days are difficult, don't beat yourself up sweetheart.  You didn't come with instructions either.  

Finally, my love, don't be too hard on yourself.  Being a first time mom is a HUGE adjustment, one that cannot be overestimated.  Change is hard, even good change.  Be kind to yourself and allow yourself time to adjust to being a mommy.  Someone else depends on you for EVERYTHING now.  It is a huge, scary, awesome responsibility.  Cut yourself some slack, ask for help, remember to do things for yourself too.  YOU matter too.

Sabrina, the joy that you have brought to our lives this past year is immeasurable.  Your smile, your giggle, your babbling, the way you walk through the room like a bull in a china shop...  You have a way of making everyone around you happy.  You have made me a better person.  You have challenged me to have patience, to let go of my perfectionist ways, and to just go with the flow and enjoy life as it comes.  My world, our world, is so much better because you are in it.  I will spend every moment of the rest of my life trying to give you everything, trying to teach you everything I can, trying to make you as happy as you've made me.  Never ever will you know how much I love you, until the day when you have your own little one.  Maybe then you can understand the deep, overpowering, dizzying love that I feel for you with every breath I take.  

To quote our favorite song, one that I've sung to you probably a hundred times in your short life, "I love you in the morning, and in the afternoon, I love you in the evening, underneath the moon..."

All my love, ALWAYS,