Dear Baby Girl: A Love Letter

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L_Nicole

My beloved Baby Girl,

Our love story began long before you were born, and it is a story filled with highs and lows, sorrow and joy, and so much depth.

I have longed to be a mama for as long as I can remember. Four years into our marriage, your dad and I decided that we wanted to expand our family to include a little one, but we quickly learned this was not going to happen the way we thought it would. You see, my body decided it had its own agenda, speeding towards menopause before I had even reached that developmental milestone age-wise. That meant, sweetheart, that my body was not able to conceive or carry you. My heart ached at the thought of never meeting you, so for a while, the idea of being a mommy went silent.

During the years that followed the doctor’s announcement of Spontaneous Premature Ovarian Failure, I cried many tears at the thought that I would never get to meet you, hold you and love you. There were times when I coped with the grief. These times were usually periods when I threw myself enthusiastically into my studies or work in the church. These were good years, filled with so much learning and meeting the most amazing people, either through their writing, or in interactions at college, or at conferences and dialogues in South Africa or other countries in the world.

During these years, I also had the gift of time to enter, quite intentionally, into a journey of healing many areas of woundedness in my life. The gifts I received during these years include the growth of an incredible community of friends who have become family, deepening relationships with family, and a healthy, strong, love-filled marriage with your dad.

This journey also had its challenges. I wrestled hard with God, struggling to understand why God had not prevented much of my pain, emerging from this wrestling match with a richer, more nuanced understanding of, and love for, God.

I have learned to love all of me, even the shadow side, although I still sometimes experience seasons where I doubt my worth.

But I now know that these years were important, because it meant that when the time had come for us to meet, I would be a healthier person, a mommy who would love you in healthier ways than if we were to have met in those early years.

As these years unfolded, in the hidden places of my being, something was happening that my head was unaware of. A mysterious work was being lovingly wrought by the nurturing hands and mother-heart of God. It was the work of preparing me to conceive and carry you in my heart. In the secret places of my being, deep in my heart, you were being birthed.

Then the fullness of time finally dawned, and your dad and I were able to begin our process of adopting you. And what an adventure that journey was. We learned that we were the chosen ones. Your birth mother, the womb that carried and nurtured your body until you were ready to enter the world, realised that because of her life’s circumstances, she was unable to care for you. And so she, along with her momma, worked with social workers to choose the parents that they, and God, would want for you. And they chose us, my baby. It is not you who are lucky to have us. Oh no, we feel that we are the lucky ones, because we were chosen for you.

On a beautiful day in April last year, you came home, and made your dad and I a Daddy-Mommy-Baby family. As you crossed the threshold of our home, you brought with you the fulfilment of years of yearning to be your mommy.

You brought a love so hard, so huge that in those moments when you are snuggling on my chest, breathing slowly as you quietly sleep, I feel overwhelmed to the point of being breathless. I inhale your scent, treasuring each precious moment of your soft body leaning against mine.

I am not going to lie to you, sweetheart, by telling you that it was all sunshine and roses. These months, as your mommy, have, without a doubt, brought me indescribable joy, but they have also been challenging months as I transitioned from my old life to this new one of motherhood.

The transition brought a grief much deeper than I expected. I hadn’t realised how much of my identity, and sense of worth was intricately tied up in my work. Becoming your mom meant that for now I had to step away from almost everything, not because I wanted to, but because I was so tired as I learned, and lived, what it meant to love and nurture you.

But the beauty of life is that there are seasons, and the season of you being an infant is over. You are now a toddler, a very active, inquisitive, adventurous little girl who could not wait for your first birthday to start walking. The world is now your playground. There is now also more capacity for me to start engaging in work outside of being your mom.

You are so adorable. You have this gorgeous grin that you flash as often as possible. You scrunch up your nose and grin a toothy smile, proudly showing off your six teeth. It is so cute watching your explore your world, whether it is to unpack my entire handbag, or peer into a packet before enthusiastically pulling out its contents, or climbing the step ladder just because you can.

You give love to friends and family when your dad and I encourage you to do so, wrapping your chubby arms around them, snuggling your face into their necks and giving them soft kisses. It is so special watching how your loving them transforms their faces as they absorb the precious gift you are giving.

As much as I wish I could, I will not be able to protect you from some of the stupid things that people will say to you or about you. You will hear people say to your dad and I, “She is so lucky to have you,” or “Don’t you wish you had your ‘own’/’real’ children?” We will be so angry that people are so thoughtless and consciously or unconsciously inconsiderate and hurtful. Your dad and I want you to know that we are the lucky ones to have been chosen to parent you. We want you to know that you ARE our OWN child, because I carried you in my heart for months before you came home with us.

There is also the acknowledgement that there are other hearts involved in our love story. Your birth family has had to grieve the loss of you in their lives, and at some points in your life, now and later, you too will grieve that you do not know them yet, and you will have questions about why they are not your family. I know these questions do not mean that you don’t love your dad and I, so I want you to know that you can talk to us about these things. We love you very much and we want you to have the freedom to explore this tough subject with us.

Please know that I am more fully me because of you, my darling girl. There will be many more days when you will challenge me to the point of distraction, and there will be days filled with laughter and joy as we explore the world together. I will love you always, and I will thank God every day for making us a family.

Yours, always and forever, Baby Girl,

Mommy.

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