My Dearest Luna,
Happy 4 month Birthday, my little Luna Bear! Today is the very last day of our maternity leave together, and the last day of parental leave I will ever have in my life. Our family is now complete with you and your big sister Aria, but it’s hard to fathom not having another newborn to hold close, another first smile to witness, another first (and last) sleepless night to endure, and another maternity leave to treasure.
I don’t have any regrets over the last 18 weeks. I didn’t squander a moment and tried my best to be present, intentional, patient and grateful. I was far from perfect, but I always tried to look into your eyes instead of my phone and leave the laundry for another day. Perhaps my only regret is not taking enough time to reflect because I lived in the moment and yes, knocked things off my Mom-of-two-to-do-list like a boss when you napped!
Just like your pregnancy, your maternity leave was decidedly different than your sister’s, but equally as perfect. Like chapters in a novel I hope to read over and over for years, my time with you was finite and full of epic highs and near cataclysmic lows— a tale I hope to relive and cherish, sharing snippets with you as you grow.
The first six weeks were blissful! Mama Juju and I were both home with you and your sister together and the summertime weather punctuated our days with exclamation points. You were a perfect baby with crazy, spiky hair who slept like a dream, nursed with ease and let us have sun-drenched lunches together with you in tow. I nursed you in breweries, wore you in the “nesting days” shirt like my second skin, and wrote for hours in the backyard with you by my side. All thoughts of not being capable of loving someone as much as your big sister vanished and my world revolved around you!
Around six weeks you woke up to the world and took me for a ride I will never forget. You began crying for hours on end, no matter how your Mama and I tried to soothe you. You were only content eating and sleeping on someone, and sometimes while in the snuggle shirt if we remained in constant motion, but that was it. The first of those weeks we were all together at Mommy’s family cottage in Michigan and good friends visited and held you while we built sandcastles and fed fish with your sister. You slept in the bed between us at night, dozed in our arms while we made s’mores, and only complained a little when your big sister forgot to support your little noodle neck!
But when we returned to Chicago after our two weeks in Michigan, Mama Juju went back to work and you went from crabby to full-blown colicky. You cried so hard you turned purple and I have never felt so helpless. All I wanted was to fix what was failing you, to understand what all your cries were desperately trying to say. Gas drops, probiotics, and going dairy free didn’t make a difference. You were overwhelmed by the world and just wanted to grip me close and cry. You were a Mommy’s girl from those early days and secretly, I hope you always will be— but those days were some of the darkest I’ve ever known.
When you were around 11 weeks old though, you miraculously stopped crying just like the pediatrician assured me you would. This began our next chapter where I felt like I had a normal baby who was content going for walks in her stroller, working out alongside me and other new Moms at the park, and even a few minutes of tummy time. Although you weren’t a fan of sleep training and cried for weeks rather than days when we tried to put you down “drowsy but awake”, we remained mostly consistent for the sake of a schedule and our long-term sanity. Listening to you scream as the clock slowly plodded toward the 10-minute mark when I could go soothe you was sheer torture, but now that you fall asleep (mostly) on your own, I know it was worth it and I hope I never have to hear you cry that hard again.
The last few weeks when the weather turned cold, we got good at staying in and staring into each other’s eyes for hours a day. There was the day I napped alongside you in bed and watched you bat your eyes as you searched for your thumb in your cute pink quilted bunny outfit. Training you to sleep in your own crib is by no means overrated, but watching you sleep on my chest or snuggled next to me in bed will forever be one of my favorite things.
Monday will be here before I know it, when I pack up my breast pump and all-too-real Mom guilt and head back to work. Your big sister Aria is going to take it hard and I hope the separation doesn’t hit your little brain quite as squarely. Because although my head and my heart will be aching for both of my girls, I feel content. Content knowing I want to show you how to be both an amazing Mom and a badass career woman. Content knowing I will struggle everyday with the juggle, but it will be amazingly worth it. Content knowing I will cherish our weekends filled lots of hop-along-yogi, baby shark and whatever else you are into. I love you to the mountains, the moon and back again my baby Luna and thank you for a maternity leave I will never forget!