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My new baby girl.

Dear baby girl,

Today, I write not to my big baby girl, but to the baby girl yet to join our family. The one who is squirming and kicking around inside my belly, as though you are eagerly anticipating your arrival into this world.

Baby girl, I feel like I owe you an apology. I’m sure it’s completely normal, but I feel like I have been so busy and exhausted this pregnancy, it’s been hard for me to just rest and completely focus on you. Your life inside of me. You becoming ready to enter this world and our family.

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I couldn’t be more thrilled for Hannah to have a baby sister. I just know she is going to love you as much as your Daddy and I will. She will care for you and want to help you just as much as she wants to help Mommy and Daddy. I can’t wait to see how the two of you are together.

I feel like my days are currently consumed with work and mom life, and it’s been such a whirlwind that I’ve hardly been able to just enjoy being pregnant. Feeling your very excited kicks flutter around within me. You are much more active than I remember your sister being. I have a feeling you are going to have even more energy than your sister and will keep us on our toes!

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The second half of my pregnancy (which is actually more than half over, I’m 23 weeks already!), I hope to slow down more. Notice you. Feel you. Talk and sing to you. Actually start planning for your arrival-I should probably figure out your big sister’s room and get a few special things just for you for the nursery. And of course finally come to an agreement with your daddy on a name. We’ve got a little time on that one.

It feels like this pregnancy has flown by, and I know it’s just going to keep getting faster the closer I get to my due date. With each week, my belly grows bigger and your movements become more regular. I seem to be growing at a much faster pace than last time!

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Everything seems to be going more quickly. I am hardly counting the weeks, in fact, I have forgotten at one point already how far along I am. I guess that’s a sign this isn’t my first time. ūüôā¬†But that’s OK. Instead of counting down the weeks,¬†I am embracing them. With a thankful heart filled with joy and anticipation for your arrival. I couldn’t be more blessed to have another beautiful girl.

With love,

Momma

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Mom life with a 15 month old

Dear baby girl,

I don’t know when it happened, but I feel like I blinked one day and stared¬†at you, realizing you are no longer a baby, but rather a walking, talking toddler.

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And I couldn’t be more in love.

While a small part of me misses¬†the snuggly¬†newborn stage, this age is so much fun. You’re no longer just a baby for me to hold and care for, you are becoming your own person for me to interact with, and your personality is starting to shine.

You are such a happy baby Рer, toddler. Unless you are sick or teething, your general disposition is always full of smiles and laughs, and you love giving hugs. I recently taught you how to blow kisses, so now you enjoy blowing kisses at momma and daddy, or even during mealtime, which makes for a fun cleanup.

One of your favorite games at the moment is peek-a-boo, and you will hide behind the curtains in the living room, pop out and yell “Boo!” before running into my arms, smothering me with kisses. It is pretty much my favorite thing ever.

You seem to be absorbing and learning a lot these days. You can speak quite a few words beyond your adorable baby babble, from momma and dada to shoes and boots to go, hi and bye. You’ve finally got the waving thing down, too. Sometimes you’ll wave towards yourself. ūüôā

The other night we were playing and discovered you knew way more than we realized. Your daddy and I would ask you where certain toys were, and you easily would grab your different animals and toys, bringing them to mommy and daddy. You’re also starting to learn different body parts, pointing out your nose, belly, ears and hair.

It is so much fun to see you discover all these new things about yourself and the world around you, and I couldn’t be more proud. I know that every child learns things at a different pace, so even though you seem to be catching on to these things quickly, I’m sure that means something we’ll really want you to learn quickly –¬†like potty training – is going to be a battle. Ha.

It’s been a crazy past couple of months, as I recently had surgery on my foot and couldn’t walk for about four weeks. Your daddy did a good job taking care of us, even though we spent about six weeks taking turns being sick. At least one of us was sick¬†between Christmas and now! I¬†am thankful we are all on the mend and close to the end of cold and flu season. Even though I am still wearing a boot on my foot to get around, things are getting back to “normal” around here – as much as they can be with a toddler!

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Although¬†it’s not nearly as quiet around here as when you were a baby, I wouldn’t trade this stage¬†for anything. Every age has its challenges, from sleep deprivation to teething to mealtime madness, but every age also has its rewards. Watching¬†you learn and discover the world, seeing¬†your adorable little personality shine and experiencing your love as my daughter are what brings me joy each day. It is a blessing to be able to love you and be your momma.

With love,

Momma

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Mom life: One year in.

Dear baby girl,

Happy birthday to my favorite one-year-old!

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I had another mom recently ask if it was hard for me when you turned a year old, as she had a difficult time when her daughter did. I felt like it should have been a more emotional experience, but honestly, I was more excited than anything to celebrate your first birthday. We had a blast celebrating with family, and you loved hanging out with your cousins and devouring your cake.

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This year has been the most rewarding and challenging of my life, and I couldn’t be more grateful for where we are today. Someday you’ll better understand the journey we’ve been on this year, as I’ve gone from working mom to stay-at-home mom to work-from-home mom. I got to spend the first three months of your life at home on maternity leave, returned to work for a few months, and even though I was laid off from my job, I wouldn’t trade the nearly six months I got to spend at home with you for anything in the world.

As a work-from-home freelance momma I have the flexibility to be with you on a moment’s notice, like when you recently got sick with an ear infection (thanks, daycare). My favorite part of the day is picking you up from daycare and seeing you light up with excitement when you see me. You wrap your arms around my neck and give me a little squeeze, and your dimples show as you give me a toothy grin.

We have a little mirror that hangs on the back window of the car in front of the car seat so that I can watch you in the rearview mirror while I drive. One of my favorite things to do is crank up the tunes and watch as you bop your head and laugh with the music. It is pretty much the cutest thing ever. You love music, and just over a month ago you figured out how to dance along. You love getting your groove on with momma, and we frequently have dance parties when we get home, whether you’re dancing on your own or I hold you and we dance around the living room. I’m sure the neighbors love it. ūüôā

Another fun milestone you reached just days before your first birthday was taking your first steps! You were hanging out with me in the kitchen when you stood slowly, took a few steps and sat down again. It happened so fast I almost couldn’t believe it! Then a couple days later you did it again for Daddy. We haven’t see you do it since, but I’m sure you’ll be walking before we know it! You like cruising from one piece of furniture to the next, and you enjoy playing with your new toys you received for your birthday that help you walk. You also love reaching out to me and grabbing my hands, taking steps and walking towards me.

One of my favorite things about being your momma is seeing your joy and excitement as you reach new milestones and discover more about the world around you. I love experiencing each phase of your life with you. Perhaps that’s why I don’t feel overly emotional as you grow and get older. The best piece of advice I got from your Gammie is to enjoy every phase, each moment of your life. It’s easy to fondly look back at memories or excitedly look ahead at what’s to come, but there’s nothing like savoring the beauty of the present moment, celebrating each day and every milestone with you.

We’re one year in, and I couldn’t be more proud, more grateful, more blessed to be your momma. Here’s to celebrating every year together.

With love,
Momma

P.S. Just so you know, you will forever be my baby girl, no matter how old you are.

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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

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Milestones.

Dear baby girl,

We had quite an eventful weekend celebrating your first Easter!

Your grandma and Uncle Brian came to visit, which included lots of food, shopping and being spoiled silly by Grandma. We miss them already and look forward to seeing them again in a couple weeks for Brian’s graduation.

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In your Easter dress at church

It’s always fun having family visit. We don’t have any family in town, so it’s always a special time when we get to see each other. You get so excited, you don’t even sleep! Two weekends in a row, two grandmas and a baby that doesn’t want to nap make for one tired momma.

Throw minimal napping, multiple night wakings and teething into the mix and you would think you would be a pretty unpleasant baby. Surprisingly, you are one happy little girl with very minimal fussing.¬†You slept better last night after the weekend, and you took two long naps today to make up for it, too. Just like a college student. ūüôā

I can also tell there is a lot going on in that little brain of yours. You’re trying to sit up, get on your hands and knees, and of course, you are rolling over like it’s your job. And, we officially transitioned you out of the swaddle last week, which could be adding to the mix. So many changes in your world! You’re growing up so fast – I can’t believe you’re already 5 months old!

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5 months old!

It has been fun to see you hit so many milestones and discover new things. Some big milestones to note:

Smiling. You first smiled when you were about 6 weeks old. I’ll never forget the first time you really smiled at me because you were genuinely happy to be with me. Heart. Melted. Now, you smile all the time and it still melts my heart.

Rolling over. You rolled over from belly to back for the first time right when you turned 3 months old. You decided to wait a couple more weeks before doing it again. Then, not long after turning 4 months you finally figured out rolling from back to belly. You were determined to figure it out!

Finding your voice. You also learned you could “talk” at 3 months old. Though it is mostly babbles, coos and grunts, it is pretty much the cutest thing ever. You also recently discovered how to screech at the top of your lungs. Not so cute.

Your toes. Just a couple weeks ago you realized you have feet, and now you can’t seem to let them go! You love to stick them straight in the air – whether you are in the carseat, on the changing table or even in the bath. It’s like you are trying to kick already, our little mini soccer player in the making.

Your hands. Like many of your milestones, you found your hands at 3 months old. You’ve really been going to town chewing on them for the past few weeks since you started teething!

Sleeping through the night. We’ve been pretty lucky that you’ve been a good sleeper from the beginning. For a long time I was waking to feed you to make sure you were gaining enough weight. You may have slept a longer stretch sooner, but the first time you went 10 hours was at 4 months old. The longest stretch you had previously gone was about 7 hours at 2 months old, which has been your average amount of sleep for the past couple months. You wake to eat and then go back to sleep for a couple more hours.

As I mentioned earlier, more recently you have been waking in the middle of the night multiple times, which has been a rough adjustment after being used to longer stretches of sleep! I think this has been because of so many changes in your world, from teething to¬†growth spurts¬†to hitting developmental milestones like rolling over. You’re becoming a big girl way too fast!

While I am sad to see how quickly you are growing, I am also incredibly proud of you and how much you have learned these past few months. It is fascinating to see your development grow and change each day. Seeing you discover yourself and the world just fills my heart with pride.

I cherish these moments and milestones in my heart, knowing just how quickly things will continue to change. As you journey from one milestone to the next, I will watch you, encourage you and be there for you along the way as your proud momma.

With love,

Momma

 

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Transitions.

Dear baby girl,

It’s a gorgeous spring day today, and I sit here watching you sleep, looking forward to you waking up so we can go for a walk this afternoon.

I may catch a nap later, as this momma is pretty tired. It’s been a rough few days as we have started transitioning you out of the swaddle. I can’t believe my little girl is rolling over from back to belly already! You’ll be five months old next weekend, and it hardly seems time has gone that quickly.

You started rolling over from belly to back first – you did that for the first time right when you turned three months old. You took a couple weeks off before you started doing it again. Then, just a couple weeks¬†after hitting the four month mark you finally made it from back to belly after weeks of trying. I couldn’t be more proud of you!

It’s a mix of emotions as you discover yourself and reach new milestones. There is so much excitement and joy as you finally accomplish what you’ve set out to do, while at the same time knowing we need to break you of the swaddle for your safety. Needless to say, it’s been a rough few nights. We are swaddling you with one arm out so that if you do roll you can hold yourself up. The hard part is that you startle yourself with your hand and want to suck on it, getting upset and keeping yourself awake.

Daddy and I have been taking turns taking care of you and calming you to sleep. It’s been a hard process, but I know we’ll make it through. Seeing your joy, watching you succeed, your life lighting up the world, makes it all worth it. I’m pretty sure God made you the cutest baby in the world so that the sleep deprivation seems to matter so much less.

I’ll admit, there’s a part of me that wants to complain and be frustrated. I may have my moments, but I have to remind myself that parenting is not about me. Being a momma requires sacrifice, a dying of the self, each and every day. Putting your needs first. Recognizing that even in my weakness I am still a good parent, my love for you giving you the encouragement and strength you need each day.

It’s a lot like God’s love for us, but His is even greater than my love for you. He knows what’s best for us and was willing to sacrifice it all for our safety and protection. And in my heart, I know what’s best for you, and all I want is for you to feel safe in this world and for you to trust me as your momma.

Parenthood¬†is a continual learning process: about myself, your daddy and you. And then there’s the baby gear market – so much to learn and research. I’ve discovered some things to possibly try though this swaddle transitioning process. For now, we’re using the Halo swaddle sleep sack¬†with one of your arms out, and your Auntie Katie is sending us a Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit to try. Then there’s the Zipadee Zip¬†and the convertible Woombie. Seriously, where do people come up with the names of this stuff?

We’ll find the right thing and figure it out, making this swaddle transition work for us and for you. We may be a little sleep deprived, but we’ve got a pretty beautiful, strong and wonderful baby¬†girl to show for it.

With love,

Momma