One Year Down, A Lifetime To Go

Dear Alice,

I started writing this the night before your first birthday, but I kept deleting everything. Nothing I seemed to type here seemed like the right thing–the right way that I wanted to tell you about this first year of yours.

It was perfect.

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Eddie’s first year was difficult, and looking back at what I wrote to him, I can see it between the lines. I didn’t come right out and say it, but that first year was hard and in lots of ways just sucked. It was the postpartum depression, not Eddie, of course, but man. That first First Year was tough.

Charlie’s first year was emotional. He taught me I could be a good mom, even with postpartum depression. He healed me in a lot of ways, which is what I told him in his first year letter. I remember being very sad when he turned one. The second First Year was better.

Your first year has been free of postpartum depression, and WOW, what a huge difference that makes. I not only enjoyed you, but I enjoyed being your mom.

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Alice, I was a whole mother for your first year. I was here. I was present.

I often wonder how long babies remember their baby-ness. Do you still remember being born? Do you remember being a part of me? Do you remember how our hospital stay was downright relaxing? While I missed your daddy being there in the evenings, there was something nice about us being alone after 7pm. We had our dinner and watched some TV together. We chatted–girl talk.

Each night around 9pm, the nurse would bring me my evening snack and some hot water so I could have some tea. I had you out of your little baby aquarium cart thing more than I ever did with the boys. I had you out and unwrapped on the bed, counting your little piggy toes and smootching your little hands.

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Once we came home, Daddy noticed immediately that I was different than I was with your brothers. I asked for help easier, but I was also eager to feed your and hold you and do “mom things”. In fact, I didn’t whine or complain about middle of the night feedings. I may even dare to admit that I liked them. You were a good little eater and sleeper–really you still are.

And what a cuddler! From Day One you were right at home in pretty much anyone’s arms! You have your favorites, of course. Daddy would say you are a Momma’s Girl through and through, but you perk right up when Daddy is around. You love Renae and Carolyn and of course your Church Oma, Nancy.

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Today was your one-year well child appointment. You remain our tiniest child being only in the 85th percentile (Charlie was always closer to 90th percentile and Eddie was almost always near the 100th) at twenty-two and a half pounds.

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Like Charlie, you are very content to play on your own. However unlike both of your brothers, you play with toys the way they are designed to be played with rather than just throw or pound them. Putting things in things is your current favorite, so the purses you got for your birthday were great gifts for you!

You’re not walking yet, but you are a cruising machine! You can zoom around the furniture and around me and Daddy–boy do you like to crawl all over us like we are playground equipment!

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Speaking of climbing on us, you love to touch us. You reach for us, you hug, you give kisses, and you clutch our shirts and pants in your little hands. Your brothers never did this. You sit on our laps in church and prefer to be touching us somehow at home.

You don’t have any “real” words yet, but you repeat “Da da da da” over and over when Daddy is around and “Ma ma ma ma” for me–again, the boys didn’t call me anything this early. You clearly know your “Da da” and “Ma ma”. When you see your brothers you repeat “Dee dee dee” which I think is because Eddie and Charlie both end in the “eee” sound.  Your laugh and squeals are breathy and adorable.

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Having a daughter is like nothing I ever thought it would be. If I am laying it all out here, I have to admit that I was hoping you would be another boy. I felt confident and comfortable with boy children. A daughter scared me. People told me I would love it. They said it was just “different”.

They were totally right; it’s different. And I have tried and tried to find the words to describe that difference, but I can’t. I will say it’s wonderful.

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Your giggle, your scrunchy nose, the way your suck on your tongue and lips when you see someone eating cake because you want some too…it’s all just so wonderful.

It’s hard to say how lovely having a little girl is without it sounding like it’s not equally awesome to have your brothers. As the cliche goes, it’s apples and oranges; they are both outstanding fruits. I was living with a bunch of apples. Wonderfully juicy, sweet glorious apples.

And then I was given my first orange, and I was hooked.

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Oh Alice, you have changed me. If Eddie made me a mom–and a fighter, and Charlie healed my broken parts, you changed me.

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You help me see that every single day has something happy about it. I smile every day because of you. I smile because of a million other reasons too, but you, baby girl. YOU. Your hugs and happiness it just…it’s YOU.

YOU, Alice.

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I admit I cried on your birthday. Not until after you were in bed. I really, really enjoyed your day. And more so, I enjoyed your first year. The tears were bittersweet. They were happiness mixed with just a touch of sadness that the baby days are over. But truly, they were mostly happy.

I am so happy you are ours.

I am so happy that you are on the verge of walking.

I am so happy to see you every morning and that you come home from daycare to me every day.

I am so happy that your brothers love you so.

I am so happy that you have eyes for your Daddy.

I am so happy you and I are “mother/daughter”.

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Alice, your first year has been one of the best years of my whole life. You have completed this family in more ways than just being the last baby. We are whole because of you.

Thank you, my dear daughter.

Thank you for being ours.

Thank you for being you.

I love you so, SO very much.

I can’t wait for the rest of your life.

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Love,
Ma Ma

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About Katie

Just a small town girl…wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. Church Oma says:

    This is a beautiful blog… Alice is one lucky little girl to be a part of your amazing family! She will be so so proud to read this blog from her very special Mommy <3. Thank you for letting me be a little part of her first year… I love her to the moon and back. Oma

  2. She is sooooo cute. What a beautiful family you have! Congratulations.