“It will change your life,” they said.
And I believed them… kind of. But just like anything else in life, until you experience something, you can’t fully know something to be true.
I can remember some of my friends telling me that parenthood is one of the most challenging things they’ve had to do. In my sweetly naive time of no-kids-and-blissfully-married-with-all-the-time-and-sleep-in-the-world, I thought… “Surely, it’s not that hard.”
But now, only 7 weeks in, I can wholeheartedly agree. Not because I magically know what the future will bring, but because I know that from here forward, this huge responsibility with the name of Otto is ours. Our actions will shape him– our love, our shortcomings, our parenting. And with the seasons of his life that change (we are currently in the “survival mode” season of no sleep, lots of nursing, lots of not accomplishing anything other than the essentials, and a side of heart-exploding smiles every once in awhile to ease the sleep deprivation)– the challenges will ebb and flow, too… right along with the fireworks of pure joy!
Even though I may have underestimated this whole parenting thing, there is no match for the love of your child. It’s just automatic, and the pleasure of getting to see him change and grow each day is amazing.
I wanted to share with you a letter I wrote to Otto about who I know him to be now… in his first couple months of life. I know it will change so much over the next months and years, and if I don’t capture these thoughts now, I know it’s so easy to forget the realities of the current moment. And these realities are just so sweet.
I’ll never forget the first moment I saw you. You had a mop of dark, curly hair and a bright red complexion. The doctors and nurses were amazed at the amount of hair you had. You were placed on my chest within moments of entering the world, and it felt so natural to have you there.
I wanted so badly to get a look at your face, but you were nuzzled into my skin. I tried lifting your head up, and you said NO! You didn’t like me doing that, and at just under a minute old, you knew exactly how to tell me.
Ever since, you have always let me know if you don’t like something. You have a temper that rages like the sea and can escalate in intensity within 2 seconds flat.
BUT. You also have joy as big as the sky and sun. Your face lights up with your smiles and your mouth opens wide, and even though it’s too soon for your to be giggling, it’s almost as if you are.
You came out of the womb very alert. Your eyes were wide open and you followed voices right away. Within an hour of your birth, I was holding you in my arms and you stared up at me for a long time as I talked. I am sure you had been wondering who was carrying you around for 9 months, and you finally got to meet her! I distinctly remember a moment in the hospital when you were laying in bed between Dad and I. I would talk to you and you would look at me. Then Dad would say something, and you would look over at him. Your immediate awareness and ability to connect with faces made you seem older than your days.
I love and know all of your faces…. the way you raise one eyebrow at me as if to be ornery. The way you stick out your bottom lip and mournfully wail when you need to be pitied. The way your face is blissfully pleasant and pleased when you are content. The furrowed brow when you are concentrating, and even the fiery bright red complexion and screaming when you are mad. But my favorite is the way it explodes into a mountain of happiness when you smile.
In just 7 weeks, you have taught me so much. You have taught your Dad and I that nothing is guaranteed, and that life does not always go as planned (in reference to the way you came into this world and how it affected both of your parents medically!) You have taught me that time is fleeting and precious, and that snuggling you is more important than a load of laundry.
You have taught me that it IS possible to survive on 0-5 hours of interrupted sleep every single night for weeks on end, and that I will not die from utter exhaustion… but also that those sweet, dark moments in the night are such bonding times and opportunities for prayer. You have taught me that the human body is so amazing… how it can grow a beautiful baby in 9 months time from a little ball of cells, and then produce the perfect balance of milk to keep this baby healthy and thriving… it is nothing short of a miracle that reflects the handiwork of Our Creator.
You have taught me what it feel likes to experience frustration and love all at the same time, and how to cry tears of overwhelming emotion right along with you. And most importantly, you have taught me how to be a Mother, and you have given me that gift. You will always hold a special place in my heart because of this, Otto.
I have so much more to learn about you, and I can’t wait to see how your personality blossoms over time. You have already blessed your father and I so much, and we are privileged to love you. We thank God every day for the gift you are to our lives. And I can’t help but think… if you have already impacted us this much in 7 weeks, how much fuller will our hearts be and minds know in 7 months… and 7 years? We love you, baby boy… “Buddy…” and as dad likes to call you, “Budford.” You are our sweet boy and always will be!