My only child. That you will be for just a short time more. This will be the last letter to you as my “only”…Perhaps you will still, at the time of your sibling’s arrival, be my only daughter. Either way, please know my sweet, sweet child that you will always remain my very first baby. Your tiny body, the first I would nourish and grow within my own vessel. Your cheek, the first womb-fresh skin I ever brushed my fingers against. Your whimpers, the original pull at my primal heart strings. My blood, your blood. My womb, your home. My milk, your milk. Our heartbeats, syncopated.
When our new baby is here soon, it will be hard for you to understand when Mama cannot tend to your needs in the very same exact way that I do today. Will you trust me when I say that, in those moments, I promise that I love you and care for you and adore you more than I ever did before? Will you know how I long to have the stamina and strength to scoop you right up into my arms on a whim, even though those arms may be full and tired and occupied? Will you see how I want nothing more than for you to always know that you are held just as safely in the expanses of my heart? How can I prove to you that I, too, will no doubt be crying inside when I see you crying also? How I want my voice to soothe every fear and worry for you, instantly and effortlessly. How I want for you only rainbows, and miles of bluegrass valleys, and the soft whisper-whisper of fresh fallen snow under your feet. You deserve all of that. Mama wants to give it all to you and watch as you wrinkle your nose up in happiness as I serve it all on a chocolate covered platter. Will you know we can always travel there together in our limitless minds, connected via the shimmering silver cord of our special relationship?
During these last weeks and days that your baby brother or sister is growing within my belly, my thoughts have continued to turn to you. I do not want to lose you, lose that connection and bond we have that we’ve worked so very hard to nurture and sustain. I know I won’t; I know this logically, I know this from the wisdom and experience of others. But my heart begins to crumble when I think of you not being the only thing I wake up to in the morning; the only one I lay down gently at night. How will I ever be enough for two children? How will you know my intentions to radiate “same love” and “same compassion” to each of you? I can only hope you trust me, because my tears well as big and as sloppy as my mushy little heart when I think about these things. And then, I too feel scared and childlike, needing to cradle and cuddle within my Mama’s protective arms. I want to release my tears into the channels she’s carved for me within her own heart. I want to float there until I am strong and brave enough to come back into this body, into this life, into this reality.
Sinking into your deep brown eyes as I do something as mundane as change your diaper can leave me with my insides turned around. Have I etched a tiny path from your temple to your plump, soft cheeks from stroking them too much while you lay still with me? I am sorry that sometimes I stop mid-sentence during your favorite book and close my eyes to kiss the top of your head ten times. Kaia, do you know that even when I’m lounging on the floor exhausted and unable to muster the energy to make you a yummy meal, even when I’m hibernating in our home like a bear in winter, I am desperate in my desire to smother you with the best of all of me? Also, I hope you don’t mind that I cannot surrender enough to put you down when I really should take a rest and have you walk beside me. You are my baby, my baby, my baby. When I couldn’t sleep last night, I got up at 4:30 and checked my email. The house was so silent and still. It seemed strange without your energy bouncing around inside, without the sound of your chatter and songs. And while I envisioned you sleeping soundly, drifting in and out of ancient dreams, I missed you terribly in that moment. I am not used to such bittersweet longing.
You perhaps do not foresee the incredible shift that is planning to occur soon. Or maybe you do. Maybe it’s why you whine more often to be pulled onto my lap as I write or return an email. Maybe it’s why you pat the ground outside – wherever we are – and request sweetly, but persistently, “Mama, sit down?” Maybe it’s why you’ve been wanting to actually lay with us every now and then, your downy hair spread across our pillows; your feet warm beneath the blankets touching my belly. Maybe it’s why you kindly relent and splash in the tub with me for however long I stay, needing so very badly to soak my body. Whatever the reason, I cherish these occurrences. I tell myself they will continue to occur when baby arrives, trying to reinforce my beliefs and remind myself not to overlook them. How I hope I don’t fail you.
You will be two years young next month. These moons have passed before my eyes at a rate unfathomable to me, as if I am not meant to fully capture them. You are a student of this world, still so new and untrained.. Yet, you are a teacher, guiding me into the depths of a new existence; reminding me to surrender when I’m restless and to get off my ass when I’m wallowing in self-pity or self-doubt.
As I do each month, I could detail your new learnings. I could tell you how you are now speaking in actual sentences, forming hilarious statements. I could go on about how you like to jump and climb and how you suddenly became very, unexplainably afraid of the sound of sirens (“Ohhh nooo, siren! Owwie, wha’ happened? Ohhh nooo!”). I could also talk about how you’ve become even more insistent on having your binky (i.e. addicted) and how you utterly crave and recognize routine (“Daddy at work in Jeep?” “Eat breakfast, O’s and milk?”, “Outside hot, shoes on?”, “G’morning/G’nite birdies, cactus, sky, sun, doggy, kitty, books, toys, trees, etc”). I could elaborate on your burgeoning imagination and the way you will sit for a nice long time acting out a scene with your toys. And I could sweetly describe your Eskimo kisses on my nose.
But instead, I want to tell you these other things that break apart my being and also glue it back together even stronger. I want to ramble on and on about how I just don’t know how I’m going to cope with your continuous growth, your loss of babyhood, your independence, your new responsibility as a big sister. I repeat “I trust myself, I trust my intuition, I trust the journey of the passage of time”. This feeling of cyclical and shared motherhood holds no eloquence in its words, no flowery descriptions; it is simply, savagely raw. It is completely vulnerable. My shields are down, my very soul exposed.
I am spiraling into a foreign existence, sometimes enjoying the ride and other times burying my eyes in my hands in an effort to make it all stop. Because, dammit, I want to always be that person to whom you tap the ground, asking to sit beside you without the need for any extra words or conversation.
Kaia, you have been my steadiness. You have been my consistence. You have been my book of knowledge, newly cracked open and read together, word by word. And I guess, what I really, really want to say is that when I hear you proclaim “Okay, we’re home!” I am nodding because yes, yes, yes, indeed when I hold you close I understand exactly what that means. I know we have arrived. We are home.
I love you. I love you on this night and even on the night I will draw you close to me, breathe you in, and say “Congratulations. You are a big sister, my sweet girl”.