Tomorrow, June 19, 2020 officially ends my maternity leave with you. As you will come to know, your start to life was a journey and your arrival on earth was at quite an eventful time. Between the Global Pandemic that changed the landscape of the outside world we navigated, to your Daddy’s second double lung transplant that changed our little internal world – this has been more unexpected than we could have ever guessed, yet for you and me – well this was normal because it was all we knew. This time, our meeting and coming to really know each other has only happened in this odd time, so in a lot of ways your start has already given you the greatest lesson I could imagine sharing as your mom: life can be beautiful even when unexpectedly very messy.
Likely your life will be marked with a lot of these things – you are a baby that was born during COVID19 and it did in fact impact the experience, so my writing on and on about it is not necessary. As you grow, you will learn from Daddy that this fight was the hardest he has ever managed and that your arrival provided unexplainable joy through it- but I look forward to you learning the from him. This evening as you snooze next to me awaiting a bath time and final bottle, I want to honor the end to our first journey together: me becoming your mom. The moment we learned you were a possibility, I became a mom – but it was this maternity leave that I learned how to be your mom.
Something you will come to know about me: I am crazy sentimental about endings and go bannanas for new beginnings. Just ask Dad, Sunday nights are an emotional hit for me as I worry about another week that has gone by that did not contain every small and large victory I had envisioned, and yet Monday morning I will be the first one blaring the fight songs that represent the power of a whole new week. So this little one, is not a strictly sad or happy letter – it is an acknowledgment that I am in shock and honor of how far we have come in 12 weeks. When I left for maternity leave my whole focus was on what you would look like and how it would feel to come back with a whole new identity: a mom. Now I am in awe of how much more I have learned in addition to how beautiful your blue eyes are or how much you look just like your Daddy. We have navigated the normal new things: feedings, sleeping schedules (thankfully you do like your sleep and that part was not too hard), and how to make you smile (hint: it doesn’t take that much and you do it ALL THE TIME 🙂 ) or feel comforted. But I also navigated a new love, the feeling of pride that you were ours, and how many things that mattered to me before I could let go.
Often when I was still pregnant and Daddy was getting sicker, I would get so frustrated at folks that would say “well Danny has a lot to fight for, now that he is having a little girl.” The thought that your teeny little person (even though they said you would be a big baby) would have the responsibility of making someone else choose life. Or when folks said I must be so happy to have you to focus on during this mess, because again it made this pressure before you had even taken your first breath to keep me happy. That was not at all what Daddy and I wanted for you. We made a point to say that we would never lay those expectations on you and that you, my love were only responsible for being a kid – having fun, feeling safe and being loved. But the truth is little girl, you came into this world with a power, with a strength that neither one of us knew you would posses. You can’t ask us to fight for you or you can’t request that we be stronger people who focus on blessings instead of bemoan the losses. But purely by you being in our arms – you have given us a new definition of love that just makes those things true. We want to fight for Daddy to have a full life with you, I have been challenged to be stronger, braver, smarter, kinder – because when I look at your sweet little smile I have to be better. This was never a responsibility or a pressure – this was a gift you gave us…. we became parents.
My heart does not feel hurt for this time being done. In fact, you will hopefully learn how much I love my career and that I will wish the same for you. Daddy and I look forward to you enjoying parts of our life that let you see us as people, not just mom and dad. But my heart is a little sad that you are already bigger, already so grown and our newborn days of sleepy haze and you as a little lump are already done. I will always feel that I should have soaked them up more…. but I am guessing that is the other lesson of motherhood my sweet Shannon – each stage will come and go. Leaving one phase and graduating to the next will always be bitter sweet….. but I vow for this one and the ones to come: I will always enjoy and celebrate the end and the blessing of being with you for another the new start. And thank you, thank you for just being you – our sweet smiley girl who nuzzles deep into me and has made my heart so full. You have already made us happy, proud and filled us with such love…. I can’t wait to see what else the future holds.
All my love,