Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A First-Birthday Letter to My Daughter

Dear J,

a letter to my baby daughter first birthdayTomorrow, baby girl, you turn one year old!  Some mommies and daddies get emotional when their baby turns one, but I'm mostly just excited.  What a year it has been!

You were a gorgeous newborn - that mass of dark hair, beautiful little face, and those darling tiny ears.  And you've been such a healthy eater!  You breastfed immediately and often, and you quickly became a very healthy (and chubby!) baby, and still are.  I love it.  Your brothers adore you, and I know the feeling is mutual.  Your quick smile and precious giggle bring joy to all around you.

Even with this marvelous adventure of your first year, it has undoubtedly been one of the hardest of my life.  You changed things, J.  While I wish that I hadn't struggled with postpartum mental health as I did, I would not change the outcome of my changed mindset.

God used you to break some long held lies in my life:

1.  I will remain unforgiven unless I verbally ask God for forgiveness for specific sins.
2.  I can maintain my health while working and taking care of Daddy, you, and your brothers.
3.  I need something - namely, work - outside of our family to be healthy.
4.  Giving in to compulsions is okay if they don't interfere too much with my daily life.
5.  Intrusive thoughts are who I am.
6.  I know better than other moms.  Ugh, this is a bad one.  :(
7.  I can handle a preschooler, toddler, and newborn in a busy public place alone.
8.  Stress and being busy don't negatively affect my health in a major way.
9.  Having a straightened up house and organized basement is not that important.
10.I don't need to meal plan.

So, thank you, J.  Even through your infancy, God used you to change me spiritually, physically, and relationally.

Speaking of change, we have some coming up with your first birthday.  It's time to wean!  You're able to drink cow's milk now, and you won't be totally dependent on me (and solid food) for sustenance.  Now if I need a medication change (hopefully I won't), breastfeeding will no longer be something I have to consider.

We are also that much closer to being past the most vulnerable time for a mom who already struggles with mental health (18 months postpartum).  I'm believing that my biggest postpartum struggles are behind me!

Another change is that your chance of dying from SIDS is drastically decreased (or so I hear).  Most victims of SIDS die within the first year of life (like the five-month-old niece of my friend).  As you approached 5 months old, I became increasingly nervous.  It was very easy to obsess over your safety in your crib, and I compulsively checked the neck of your footie pajamas to make sure it wasn't too tight around your neck.  And for awhile I also ran my hand over the whole sheet in your crib before I laid you down for the night to make sure that your brothers hadn't dropped Legos in there that you might put in your mouth and choke on.  There is a balance between being vigilant and being obsessive.  I've struggled to figure out that balance...but I haven't slept on your floor to protect you yet (and, yes, I have thought about it).  :)

I love you more I can express.  You are a complete joy and a gift from God to me, Daddy, and your brothers.  How fun to be able to watch you grow over this next year!