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Spoken words.

Dear baby girls,

Some days, you both just make my heart melt.

Hailey Rose, the more vocal you become, the more I just eat up what you have to say. I just love your little inflections and the adorable way you sing the Bumble Bee song. (“It stung me!”)

Here are just a few of the things you’re saying these days.

  • “Other car, other car, other car.” If you see more than one of something, you point each one out and emphatically say “other” in front of it. You can count to two, and notice when there is two of something, but anything beyond that becomes “other” one.
  • Your name. I just love how you say, “Hailey” — you can’t quite say your H’s yet but you’re so sweet when you point to yourself and say your name with your toothy grin.
  • “Nanna, Nanna, Nanna!” Oh, how you love your sister. And you’re always wanting to see her and wondering what she’s doing. Seeing the two of you play together just makes my heart happy.
  • Animal names and noises. There’s something about hearing a toddler say animal noises that just gets me, and you are no exception. Especially since you are very expressive and emphatic, so your loud “BAAAA” and “MOOOO” noises are pretty much my favorite.
  • “I did it! Yay!” Any time you accomplish something, whether stacking blocks or completing a puzzle, you get so excited and exclaim, “I did it!” in this high-pitched squeak. So. Cute. Then you’ll sometimes say, “Yay!” and clap for yourself. 🙂

Hannah Kate, the older you get, the more I see your empathetic heart, which is filled with so much love and kindness for the people around you.

Here are just a few of the things you’ve said lately.

  • “I love your heart. I love how much you love me.” – to Mommy
  • “I love you so much. If you were a kid I would take care of you so well.” – to Daddy
  • “I’m sad that no one wanted to help the train get over the mountain.” – to Mommy, when reading The Little Engine that Could
  • “If you were sad, I would sing to you and make you feel better.” – to Mommy, after I said I loved my old bear from when I was a little girl, and I was sad the music didn’t work anymore in the bear because I used to listen to it when I was sad
  • “You’re the best Mommy in the whoooole world.” – usually said to Mommy at bedtime, preceding or following lots of kisses and hugs
  • Oh, and I can’t forget the blessing at dinner. This is the cutest. It usually involves a large list of “Thank yous” for everyone and everything, ranging from thanking God for our family, for food, for his love, for the whole world, and for making humans. My favorite is when you thank God for “the kids” which are you and Hailey. 🙂

The spoken words from the two of you just fill my Momma heart. Don’t stop speaking, asking lots of questions and sharing your love with your daddy and me.

With love,
Momma

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Almost 18 months.

Dear Hailey Rose,

You are full of so much life and personality these days, and I just can’t get enough. The older you get, the more zest for life you seem to have. Your exuberance brings so much joy to our family.

As you near the 18 month mark, I can’t help but reflect on just how much you’ve changed. As the months fly by, I see you not only becoming your own person, but with each day I also seem to see more of myself in you.

Hailey Rose, you mischievously grin when you know you’re pushing boundaries and testing my limits. You never cease to stop trying to go after what you want. As trying as this can be, your persistence that you get from me is a trait that will carry you a long way someday.

You don’t take no for an answer. Even though your favorite word seems to be “No!” these days, you get upset when Momma and Daddy tell you no because you want to go your own course and are determined to go after it. You get that determination from me.

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You insisted on sitting like a big girl today.

Hailey Rose, I am in love with your tiny curls starting to grow in your short, thick hair. I can tell already you are going to be a blonde girl with lots of wavy hair like your momma.

You babble endlessly. You are speaking so much more these days, and I can’t believe how much you know, from images in books like animals and food to body parts and more. You love to repeat things we say, which is absolutely adorable. Phrases like “uh-oh” and “ta-da” and words like “color” and “please” and “thank you” are just too cute for words. My favorite is your little “grrr” noise you make for just about every animal. You love to chatter, and I am pretty certain you get that from your momma. 🙂

You look up to your big sister. You just love spending time with “Nana” and miss her and are looking for her as soon as she leaves the room. It reminds me of my own childhood and playing with your Auntie Katie. You want to do everything Hannah does (and of course play with all of the same toys). As trying as the moments can be at times, it melts my heart to see the love you have for each other.

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Coloring at the big table just like Hannah.

You love to read. This is my favorite thing to do with you these days. You love to sit with me on the couch with a giant stack of books. Sometimes I will read to you, and sometimes you will name the pictures and sometimes you will point and want me to tell you what I see. I have loved to read for as long as I can remember, and I hope you continue to love reading just like your momma and big sister.

You don’t have the greatest moves, but you sure love to dance. Your signature move is spinning in a circle with your hands straight out at your sides like an airplane. It is hilariously adorable. I’m pretty sure my dance moves aren’t nearly as entertaining to watch.

You love to do just about anything. You always seem to be up for whatever your big sister does, and you want to be a part of what she is doing. You seem to have no fear when it comes to playing and trying new things. You get your sense of adventure from your momma, but I wouldn’t quite call myself fearless, either.

Though it may seem like you are my mini, Hailey Rose, you’ve definitely got your daddy’s playfulness. Roughhousing is near the top of your list of favorite things to do, and your daddy offers plenty of it. Seeing the two of you play and laugh together just fills my heart with so much joy.

I am so filled with love for you my sweet girl; what a whirlwind this past (nearly) 18 months has been. I look forward to the summer, spending lots of time outside and making lots of fun memories together as a family. It’s going to be a blast with you, my little firecracker. 🙂

With love,

Momma

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Our breastfeeding journey.

Dear baby girl,

If someone would have asked me nine months ago (a month in as a new momma) what I thought about breastfeeding, I would have told that person it was incredibly rewarding, but that I didn’t know how much longer I would last.

You hear about all the amazing benefits of breastfeeding, but no one tells you about and nothing fully prepares you for the challenging parts of the experience. From getting you to latch on both sides to dealing with clogged ducts and oversupply issues, the first few months were pretty rough. The hardest part was seeing how my oversupply was affecting you, as you would gag and spit up every time you ate.

I felt like the worst mom and that I couldn’t fix it.

Thanks to some good advice from leaders in our local La Leche Leage group, I was able to figure out the steps to correct my issues. By the time you were three months old, we were finally starting to figure things out, and pretty soon, the hardest days were behind us.

Once we got into a groove, I really started to enjoy our time together. You would snuggle up into me and settle in for a good 30 minutes. I began to look forward to our time just the two of us, just enjoying the peace and quiet of the moment, a time for both of us to rest and just be still together.

Around month five, you began to discover that there was more to your world than just that which was near to you. There was more out there to explore, and you wanted to discover it. This made nursing a little more challenging, as you would get distracted easily. This got especially hard at bedtime, when all you would want to do is play instead of eat and settle down for bed.

It was frustrating, but I am so thankful that I didn’t give up.

It took a couple months, but we got through the hardest part of distracted, short nursing sessions. It took a lot of patience on my part, as well as realizing this was all new to you and that I am your comfort and guide through this entire journey.

At month ten, we are farther than I ever thought we would be when we started. You still get distracted, but we’ve figured out how to make it work for us. And now, my favorite part of the day is bedtime. Most nights lately you have been falling asleep while nursing. While some may say this isn’t a great habit to get into, I am okay with it. I know it will be hard to break you of, but I’m okay with that, too. I know that this time we share is limited, and I want to enjoy it while we can.

One of my favorite things is watching you slowly fall asleep, your long eyelashes kissing the tops of your cheeks. I love it when you take your hand and run it through your hair, or you lay it softly on my chest. Sometimes you grab onto my finger or you cover your face with your hand. A week ago you did something you haven’t done since you were a small baby and you let out several small coos and sighs as you fell asleep. My heart pretty much melted onto the floor. Then you began to snore softly. It was pretty much the cutest thing ever.

I love being able to watch you in those peaceful, quiet moments, when everything else in the world melts away. We sit in the dark, quiet nursery, your nightlight casting a soft glow in the room so I can see the features of your face. Your mouth purses open, as though you are softly kissing the air. You sigh your soft breaths as you slowly drift off to sleep, and I whisper to you just how much I love you.

I am embracing this time that we have together, and I am thankful that I am able to share it with you. Know that no matter where your journey leads you as a mother someday, there is no right or wrong decision, but whatever you feel is best to do for your children. I hope you know that my heart is filled with nothing but love as I care for and nurture you.

With love,

Momma

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Mom life: Lessons learned

Dear baby girl,

It only took me nine months to get here, but I am becoming a confident momma.

I’m sure I’ll still have plenty of doubts for years to come, but I am finally to the point where I feel like I know a bit about what I’m doing, and even if I don’t, I’m realizing that’s okay, too.

I’ve learned that it’s okay if you occasionally miss a nap or stay up way past your bedtime. It’s not ideal, but it’s not the end of the world, either. Sometimes when you miss a nap it’s because we’re already out and about or traveling and you’re out of your routine. If you fight a nap, sometimes I take advantage of extra time together with a trip out shopping or to the park. I discovered that you’ll sleep eventually. And when you do, it’s really darn cute.

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I’ve also learned that it’s okay to trust my instincts. Dare I say it’s okay to do what I want. I may not do everything that is recommended by the experts, but that’s okay, too. That doesn’t mean I’m not looking out for your safety and health first and foremost.

I’ve learned to embrace each moment as your momma, even when it’s tough. You’re still waking up at night to nurse, which is only once before you are up for the day. Even though I like my sleep, I know that someday I will look back on this time and miss our middle of the night snuggle sessions when all is quiet and it feels like we’re the only two people in the world. I know that each age and stage of your life will come with its share of challenges, but they will also come with incredible gifts and memories to last a lifetime.

I’ve learned it’s okay to nurse you to sleep. I don’t do it all the time, but most nights I still do. Is it not a great habit? Sure. Will it be hard to break you of it? Probably. But do I love the time we have together, and do I know that you enjoy it, too? Absolutely. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

On the flip side, I have learned that it’s okay to let you cry it out. I don’t nurse you before naps, and you gave up the pacifier at 4 months old, so naps are a time where we have to let you cry. Sometimes it’s only for a minute or two, other times it takes a while. Sometimes you don’t cry and talk to yourself before dozing off. (Which is seriously cute.) Does it still hurt me to hear you cry? With every fiber of my being. But do I know that you are okay, healthy, safe and secure? Yes. I know that you are tired and just don’t want to sleep. You don’t want to miss out on the fun of discovering the world around you, practicing your skills and meeting new milestones.

I have learned that motherhood is both the hardest job and the greatest gift. Being a momma is the hardest job I have ever had. It demands 24/7 attention and requires me to make stressful decisions. I have my moments where it plagues me with guilt that I might be doing something wrong or that I am not doing the best job that I could. It’s easy to get caught up in what we feel like we need or ought to be. I wonder if I am doing enough, being present enough, loving enough.

But then I realize I am more than enough in your eyes. I have learned that there is no “perfect mom” camp to be in. Sometimes it feels that way, but I have to remind myself there is reason there’s the saying that “Momma knows best.” Being able to love and provide for you is the most wonderful, rewarding experience, and it fills my heart with so much joy.

The biggest thing I have learned, that I will always hold close to my heart, is that being a mother requires sacrifice and selflessness. It is in this giving of myself for you that I have received the greatest gift of all: your love for me.

With love,
Momma

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Motherhood.

Dear baby girl,

Every night before I go to bed, I check to make sure you are okay. I peek inside your bedroom door and watch you sleep in the soft glow of the night light, waiting to see you shift in your crib, listening closely for the softness of your breath in between the ticks of the bathroom clock.

I sometimes creep into your room quietly for that certainty, placing my hand lightly on your back (you love to sleep on your belly even though I place you on your back every night), waiting to feel the rise and fall of your breath. Sometimes you’ll let out a high-pitched sigh as you exhale, your sweet tune lingering in the air.

There is a peace that fills me as I watch you sleep, and for a moment my worries vanish, because all that exists in that moment is my love for you.

As much as I’d like to tell you that every moment is pure bliss as a mother, that wouldn’t be true. Every day has its challenges, whether it’s fighting naps and bed time, dealing with inexplicable fussiness or the pain you’re experiencing from getting new teeth. Add in the stress of trying to make the right decisions for you, from your sleeping patterns to your eating habits and everything in between, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed.

Every day, at the end of the day, I have to remind myself that I am your momma, and I am making decisions that I feel are best for you. In your peaceful sleeping state, I am reminded and know that you are loved, cared for and thriving because of how your daddy and I are taking care of you.

Some nights I may have spent a couple hours trying to put you to bed, watching as you try to play and are distracted by everything around you, rather than going to sleep. Sometimes I may get up and leave you for a few moments, either letting you cry and settle yourself down or waiting and going back in if necessary. It never gets easier letting you cry, which is why I am not always consistent. I want nothing more than for you to be a happy baby, and I strive to make decisions I feel are best in the moment. It may take a few tries and some patience, but when you settle down, you and I share the most beautiful time together before you go to sleep. There is nothing more perfect than watching you and holding you in my arms.

If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about parenthood, it is that there is no one right way to parent a child. I look at you and your needs, trust my instincts and do what I feel is best to help you grow and thrive. Some decisions are more difficult to make than others. Some days I feel like I have reached my limit, not wanting to listen to you cry but not wanting to rescue you, feeling like I just need to breathe for a few moments.

As a parent, just when you think you’ve reached the end of yourself and you have nothing more to give, you are filled with an inexplicable strength, joy and unconditional love for your child, far greater than you ever imagined possible. This is my every day life. This is motherhood.

That is why every night, before I go to bed, I don’t just check to make sure you are still breathing. I also catch my breath and slowly exhale, letting out my worries. I inhale strength and let my spirit be restored and filled with peace as I watch you sleep. I can’t help but smile as I watch you, your perfect, pure innocence captured in your closed eyes, pursed lips and soft breaths.

My smile lingers as I go to bed, and I close my eyes thinking of you, looking forward to sharing tomorrow together.

With love,

Momma

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New mom nursing.

Dear baby girl,

One of my favorite times of the day is the quiet stillness of the night when I am alone with you, feeding you and putting you to sleep.

Whether it is at the end of the day or even in the wee hours of the morning, I find so much peace in the moments when you are wrapped perfectly in my arms. Even if I have a lot on my mind, or even if I am completely exhausted, I just look down at you and my heart smiles. With you I find rest and peace; the cares of the world float away for a few moments as my heart is filled with thankfulness for you.

Nursing is not something you can really prepare for when you are pregnant, and no one tells you how hard it is. It takes time, patience and the support and knowledge of others to get you through. My biggest support has been our local La Leche League group, as they have been able to answer my tough questions and provide support when I needed it.

It took a couple months to really figure things out, but I am so glad I stuck with it. Even currently, when things are difficult – whether you are teething or distracted by the world around you – I know it is just a phase and we’ll get through it. These harder times are far outweighed by the others we share, the moments when you and I are the only two people in the world.

The moments when all I hear are your soft breaths as you eat.

The moments when you reach up towards me, wanting to touch my neck and face, as though you are memorizing the details of your momma.

The moments when you pause, stop eating, slowly look up at me and smile. Though it can be frustrating (and painful), I can’t help but smile back at you.

The moments when your hands draw near to your face, your tiny fingers covering your eyes. I slowly study your wrist rolls, where your hand and arm meet together in a small roll and don’t quite form a wrist yet. It is literally the most adorable thing ever.

The moments when you close your eyes and I study your perfect little features: your long eyelashes resting against the tops of your cheeks, your tiny nose pressed against me, your chin slowly drawing up and down.

The moments when you hum softly as you eat, making your own music.

The moments when you fall asleep in my arms, your pursed lips still sucking the air after you’ve stopped eating. I watch you as you fall asleep, your beautiful face completely at rest; your small frame pressed against me. I could watch you and hold you like this forever.

There is something beautiful about these moments, and I will forever cherish them. I know that these days are numbered, and I am thankful to be able to share these moments with you.

I treasure what you and I share together and will carry these moments with me always.

With love,

Momma