November 1, 2017
My Dear Aria,
You just turned 12 weeks old and my FMLA maternity leave and job protection have officially ended. I am now supposed to be both physically healed and sufficiently bonded with you to leave you with a stranger for 10 to 12 hours a day. And that sounds absolutely horrible.
Thankfully I have added on vacation days in hopes that in three weeks I will feel differently. But I probably won’t. Because being with you every single day since you were born has been the most amazing experience of my life.
So before I forget the 85 incredible days we’ve shared together or squander the 20 days we have left, I want to tell you some of my favorite memories so some day you can read how doing next to nothing with you every day, was my everything.
By far my favorite thing is bringing you in bed each morning and nursing you, dozing in and out of sleep together and snuggling after. We are both still sleepy and don’t talk much, happy to just cuddle and nuzzle under the covers. I smell your sweet little breath, run my fingers through your already long hair, and kiss you all over. You open your little mouth to kiss me back and I know some day soon you’ll learn how to peck me back more appropriately, but I will always love your kisses this way best.
The first 11 weeks after you were born, the weather was unseasonably warm and sunny and we enjoyed every minute of it together. Tummy time in the back yard, long walks with brother Gunther, Tuesday mornings at the farmer’s market, lunch alfresco with Mommy’s friends, and picking tomatoes from the garden. Before we made you start napping in your crib like a big girl, you would nap next to me on the deck and I would tap away at my laptop, never feeling more content to just have you near.
We make it a rule to get out of the house every day at least once. Sometimes just to walk the dog, but we also meet new friends at places like Wiggleworms at Old Town School of Folk Music. Your favorite song is “Clean-O” and I sing it to you every time I give you a bath. I don’t give you a bath every day which is probably a Mommy fail, but I think you always smell like perfection!
We also go to Mom & baby yoga on Thursdays. The first few classes you cried almost the whole time, not happy unless you were in my arms. We mastered Warrior One, Two and Tree Pose all while holding you. Even though you are more content on your blanket alone now, you still like it best when I hold you in Shavasana on my chest. And I do too.
We drove to Michigan three times, once all by ourselves when you were just 7 weeks old. You make your Grandma the happiest she’s been since in years! Even when you were at your most fussy stage, you were an absolute angel when we stayed over night at her retirement home. The three of us went to Art Prize together when it was a heat wave in West Michigan and you slept in the carrier while I pushed Grandma in the wheelchair. I had never sweat so much in my life and I loved every minute of it!
Grandma also came to visit you for a weekend, her first night not in a hospital bed or the nursing home since February. We learned to make her chicken soup, went to her favorite German Brauhaus on Friday night, and gave her a sneak peek of your Halloween costume too.
We also welcomed your Nola from New Orleans who babysat so Mommy was able to go on her first outing without you. Nola loves you so very much and you are so lucky to have two Moms and two Grandmas to spoil you!
Some of our favorite things to do together at home are singing and dancing. I turn on a ridiculous Spotify kids station and traipse through the house with you on my hip, belting out Disney songs. You also love to read and yesterday we made it all the way through “The Giving Tree” without a meltdown! I also spend countless hours making silly faces to get you to giggle so we can send Mama Ju cute photos and videos at work. She misses you every hour more than you know.
You still don’t like tummy time even though I force you to do a little every day. You get nowhere near the pediatrician-recommended hour a day, but I’ve decided I’m prepared to deal with that guilt if you never learn to crawl.
You are mesmerized by the TV so we don’t turn it on much. Our one guilty pleasure is Ellen at 3 o’ clock. Sometimes you are sleeping but if not, we plop down on the couch and watch together. Ellen is right, it’s important to “have a little fun today” and you help me have more fun than I could imagine every day.
I love seeing you break into a giant, gummy smile when I get you up from your naps. No matter how long I’ve been letting you cry it out, you never hold it against me.
We are so fortunate that when I go back to work, your Mama Ju will get to spend 4 more weeks at home with you. I know going back to work is best for all of us. So I can have purpose outside this domestic wonderland I never knew I could love so much, and so you can look up to two Moms who know the value of working women in leadership positions. But I’m not going lie, it’s going to hurt like hell.
When you grow up I hope you know you can be anything you dream up! A scientist, an artist or even the 4th female President. Whatever you do I hope you are fearless, loving and full of adventure. And some day, I hope you have children of your own because I want you to experience this amazing gift you have given me, called Motherhood.