You are one… how did this happen?!

Dear Millie,

A little over a year ago, you came into my life and have forever changed me—I will and can never be the same person I was before I had you. I’ve started your one-year-old letter in my head for months, and sometimes it keeps me from falling asleep at night as I plan what I want to say to you. (You’ll learn this about me: I’m an overthinker and sometimes it keeps me awake for hours at night thinking, re-thinking, over-thinking, and thinking once more.) Usually in the darkness of our bedroom, I lay awake and think that I want this letter to be so sentimental, and touching, and cover so much so that you understand the depths of my love for you. I lie awake, in the dark, with your dada fast asleep next to me and I turn to my side and check your monitor. It has 5 levels and I really don’t need to have it on a level 5 to hear you, but I put it there anyway because I don’t want to miss you needing me in the night. I wake up for you at a pin drop; sometimes it’s just you shuffling your little body around to get cozy. Even when you’re asleep, I am constantly thinking of you. It’s funny, because I can’t imagine my life without you.

The night you were born was a confusing mess for me. The unplanned C-section threw me for a loop, and I didn’t get to be with you the first hours of your life, which I beat myself up over for weeks. I kept being so surprised you were here and my life felt so different having you. Of course it was different, everyone told me it would be different, but no one could put it into words in a way that would let me know how I would feel when you entered my life.

I am endlessly amazed by how much you change. Everyone told me don’t blink, they grow up so fast. But no one was able to make me feel just how true this would be. The first few months went slow; there just isn’t a lot that an infant gives back and that stage is hard. I have kept a terrible log of every new stage and new accomplishment (I hope one day these letters suffice, because don’t look for all your cute photos with the sticker with your age on them, I missed a thiird of them and the others are so late they don’t even make sense chronologically) but what I’ve done a great job at is living in the moment with you. I don’t have a picture or video of all of your firsts because when I’m present with you, I’m not on my phone, I’m with you. You are so much fun to spend time with, and while some days I wish I had more time for myself, there is nothing I’d rather be doing more than spending time with you.

You’re strong and stubborn, both content on doing everything on your own while only doing precisely what it is that you want to do. (Honestly, you’re my twin in this way.) I know it will serve you well in life, but I foresee us butting heads often. I want you to come back to this letter and realize that when that happens, it’s because I want to do what’s best for you and help you be a kind, loving person. Know that while you may find me to be overbearing and strict, I want to protect you from all that’s terrible in this world while grappling with also wanting you to experience things on your own. I do it now, just in a much different way. You and I spend most evenings together and we go to the park on a walk or down the street to play with friends. I do my best to allow you to discover things for yourself, whether it be climbing up the slide, sliding down the slide, or playing with friends. The other night a little boy saw you trying to climb up the park’s rock wall and he told you that you were too small to do it. Though you can’t speak and you didn’t even know what he said, you continued to climb up that wall, with me behind you helping. I thought to myself that you’ll face a lot of this in life, people telling you what you can and can’t do, and I promise to do my best to guide you but not keep you from being you. This is your life you’re living, not mine, and I promise to do my best to remember that.

We’ve had so many health scares with you over this past year, and they continue. You have faced situations harder than most adults I know (myself included) and have taught me how thankful I am for being healthy. As adults, we take a lot for granted. It’s easy to always want more and to forget what it is we have. Almost every doctor we go to with you, we are surrounded by kids and families who are going through really trying medical issues. Not only does that put everything in perspective for me, but it’s watching you and the other kids that reminds me to live in the moment. One thing about kids, not just you, is that they are present-focused. When you’re hungry, you cry for food; when you’re happy, you show that right at that moment. I’ve watched you and other kids facing really tough problems who do so with such strength. I’m a worrier, Millie. Before you, I worried about the past and the future and since having you, I worry about your past and future. I promise to learn from you and live in the moment with you as much as I can. You help remind me of it daily by just doing what you do. When you are thrilled, you sit there and clap so hard for yourself and are delighted to see others clap along with you. I’ll do my best to keep you clapping freely when you’re happy and when you’re sad, I’ll comfort you and let you be sad in that moment.

We had the best 1st birthday party for you, which was Moana-themed because it is your favorite movie ever! Moana has been a movie that we started off watching clips of to distract you at doctor appointments, and now it is a movie that you are enthralled by. You can’t get enough of Moana: it’s what we watch when you are at the doctor waiting for a procedure, and it’s what we put on when you’re eating. (On a side note, that’s a really long story—I never imagined I’d have you watch TV while you ate, but you didn’t take to eating, and the eating clinic we go to suggested we let you watch TV, and guess what…it helps!) Your party was completely over-the-top, and I planned it for months. I know everyone says the 1st birthday party is for the parents, and they are right, in a way, but it was also for you. You squealed with delight when you saw the cutout Moana figures I had ordered, you were obsessed with the petting zoo, you DANCED for the dance show, and you hated your cake. All in all, it was a party that you may not remember, but I assure you that during it, you loved it. And I wanted there to be something that was for you, your friends, and our family and friends to celebrate after the most emotional year, filled with highs, worries, fears, and everything in between.

Millie, no letter could ever properly explain what you’ve done to me and for me. You are my child, and I love you in the deepest and fiercest way possible. One day, you may have a child, and when you do, you’ll look back at these letters, and they will have a whole new meaning. Until that day, you might think I’m over-the-top, need to get a life of my own, and talk just a little too much, but guess what, kid? This is what you’ll get forever—you are mine and I will always be yours, there for you and trying to lead (without leading) and giving you all the love and support and embarrassment any mom does for her child. I love you to the moon and back, and with tears in my eyes, your overly emotional mom wishes you a happy 1st birthday—you are the best thing that’s ever happened to me. (Apologies to everyone else in my life, especially your dada, but it’s true.)

Love,

Mama

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