*Yeah, yeah, so she's actually 19 months now but here is the letter I wrote to Ana when she turned 18 months. It's the last of the "merge".*
My sweet Ana, this letter is a long time coming but it’s finally here. You should know that I always have the best of intentions to sit and document everything about you and for you, but I have to admit I don’t exactly have the “follow-through” I should. Nevertheless, here it is - a small recap of my life since you.
Let me start by telling you that, with everything I am, I believe that the beginning of my life came when your daddy asked me to be his wife. In that moment, I saw our life together - complete with you. I was 25 when we stood in church in front of everyone we love most and said our vows. We made the decision early on that we were going to wait a few years before starting a family. Daddy had just started a new job and I wanted to finish up school (something I’ll always regret not doing earlier but I did finish, which is what matters). We swore we were going to travel but our busy lives never left much time for that. Then, with one semester left before I graduated, we got the news of our lives - we were expecting you. Now, don't think that you were a surprise because you weren't. AT. ALL. We planned for you like we had never planned for anything before. And then it was official - you were on your way. I waited a couple of days after taking the pregnancy test at home to tell your dad. I wanted to be certain. I wanted to hear it from the doctor. So the day I did, I told your daddy. I put together a little movie of pictures from our life since we had gotten married and, at the end, there were the words he had been waiting to hear – “We’re pregnant!” I have to tell you, in the 11 years I had known him until then, I had NEVER seen him so happy. We were stepping into the next chapter of our lives and we couldn’t wait.
I’m glad to say that there isn’t much to report on the months that came next. You blessed me with a very uneventful pregnancy and, as you will see, is the best kind of pregnancy you can have. But what I do remember most is feeling you move around 18 weeks and, through the rest of time you spent in my belly, it was my very favorite thing.
Fast-forward to September ’05 - two and a half weeks before you were due. I went to the doctor for a routine checkup. The doctor then said the words I had been hoping to hear - “you’re going to have this baby any day now”. After eight and a half months and an almost 50 lb. (yikes!) weight gain, I was ready to meet you. I was done being pregnant and was completely convinced that I was ready for the next part – having you here with us. So I quit work and sat at home waiting for you to arrive. Boy was I naïve! Days came and went, no you. Then days turned into weeks, no you. Then your actual due date, September 23rd, came and guess what, no you. I went to see my trusty ol’ doctor and he scheduled the day you would have to arrive if you didn’t arrive on your own. For the next week I made your daddy walk more than he’s ever walked before, I ate A LOT of spicy food, and even foolishly thought it a good idea to start step aerobics, all hoping it would give you the little nudge you needed to finally come out and meet us. And, though there were a couple of close calls (or so I thought), you must have just been way too comfy inside my belly because you had no interest in getting out of there. And to this day I am convinced that’s what it was. I had made such a wonderful home for you that you just didn’t want to leave it J.
So then came the day, September 30th. Daddy and I headed to the hospital first thing in the morning and, after 9 hours of labor, the doctor said you were ready to come and say hello. So here we go. It took almost an hour, about a dozen trips to the bathroom (for your daddy), and countless pushes, and suddenly it was time – we were seconds away. The doctor let me know that I had one final push and you would be here. It was at that moment that Daddy and I looked at each other and I fell apart. I had never felt so much love for him than I did at that moment. It was as if I could actually feel our hearts grow to make room for you, the epitome of the love your daddy and I had shared for all these years.
And then you were here. And you were a girl! Against your daddy’s wishes I opted not to find out if you were a boy or a girl while you were in my belly. And, though I was more curious than you can imagine, to hear “it’s a girl!” after 9 long months was just the cherry on the sundae. I had often wondered how I would feel at that moment that my very own baby was placed on my belly for the first time. I wondered if I would be numb or if I would cry or if I would get so caught up in the moment that I would forget everything. Well, I absolutely cried. I cried the happiest tears I had ever cried before. But I didn’t forget a second. There you were, so chubby-faced and perfect. All I could say was “she’s so pretty” because you were. You were so beautiful and you were ours. We were a family and the world was now as it should be.
The last 18 months with you, my love, have been so much more than I could ever have imagined. I feel comfortable enough to say now that I was really worried about how I was going to handle mommyhood. I was terrified at the thought of not doing everything right and worried, almost obsessively, that I wasn’t going to measure up. The first few weeks at home with you were filled with doubt, worry, fear, and a whole lot of love. I was expecting an instant bond with you. After all, we had shared the same body for over 9 months. But the truth is, we had to get to know each other. I came to learn that this was ok and finally let myself give into it. And then it started to happen. Suddenly I began to feel it. I was completely, undeniably falling in love my daughter. Auntie Vicky once asked me when that moment came that it hit me but there was never a moment. It was more like a series of moments – a series of moments that melted my heart a little bit more each time. I can’t say whether it was each time I watched you drift to sleep and listened to your cute little noises or whether it was each time I felt you cuddle with me and was convinced it was completely on purpose because you knew I was your mom that did it for me. Whatever it was, it happened, and has continued to happen since then.
You have been the greatest blessing God could have given us and watching you grow and learn over the last year and a half has been our greatest gift. You are the baby that makes other people want a baby (everyone else’s words, not mine – though I agree). Your tough little personality is comfortably cushioned by your incredibly sweet nature. People tell Daddy and I all the time how lucky we are to have been blessed with such a good baby. But the truth is I refuse to give luck all the credit. I strongly believe that you are who you are because of your daddy and me and we are the parents we are because of you. I believe that you are who you are because God chose to bless us with you and you with us. We are the perfect match. You make me a better person and that makes me a better mom. You make me look at the world in a different light and have taught me more in 18 months than the 28 years before you had ever taught me. You’ve taught me to slow down and take deep breaths. You’ve taught me to hug like I mean it and say “I love you” unconditionally and without hesitation. Through you I have learned how to live and love more completely and openly. Because of you I’ve realized the reason I was born. I was born to be your mom. I was born to love you and teach you and protect you. It’s you, sweetpea. You are my heart. And I have thanked God each and every day of the last 18 months for filling my life with the gift of you.
And because I know you’ll always wonder what you were like at this age, I’ll tell you. This is who you are…
You are so funny! You make Daddy and I laugh so hard and a lot of times it’s completely on purpose. You are feisty like me and laid-back like Daddy. You laugh with everything you’ve got and have a smile that goes on forever. When you get so excited with anticipation you clench your little fists, open your eyes wide, and smile so hard you make us smile. You want so badly to have conversations but don’t ever get frustrated that you haven’t quite yet figured out how to use all the words. You love to test me but I know it’s only because you feel so comfortable in how much I love you. You have my little feet and your daddy’s beautiful eyes (the biggest compliment you get). You love to cuddle but love just as much to assert your independence. You have always been such a good eater and, like the good girl you are, always eat your veggies. You prefer to identify animals by the noises they make rather than their names and you love, love, love to point things out and let us know what they are. At just 18 months you have the biggest personality made up of a perfect mix of so many things. You’re sweet and you’re tough. You’re funny and oddly sincere. You’re smart and sassy without being a brat. And you know how to let off steam and still be completely and utterly irresistible. You, my beautiful girl, are unbelievably perfect.
Happy 18 months, my sweet girl.
We love you so much!!!