Dear Louisa

Dear Louisa,

Wow, how you changed our lives.

Before you entered this world, your mom and I had a nice life together – very quiet and relaxing.  No responsibilities and the cats (Fitzgerald and Dianna, you might remember them depending on how much longer they live) were our babies and we thought we loved them like they were our children.

Oh boy, were we wrong. We didn’t know what it meant to love until you came along, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

Right now it’s January of 2016 and you will be 2 years old soon. I am starting this blog to attempt to document our life with you (and now with your sister, too). I’m going to have to do some catching up over a little while to try to recreate in my mind what the last two years have brought and how we have changed so that I can explain it all to you here.
What I want you to take from what I am writing here is that your Mom and I love you so very much. You made our life unrecognizable in the very best possible way. You made us parents and you brought so much meaning into our lives. It was a rough start in some ways for your Mom and me, and I’ll get into that, but what’s important is that we are better for having gone through it.

This is the very first picture I took of you.  There you are, clutching your Mom’s finger.  You’re probably scared, and we probably were too.  The truth is, I don’t remember too many of those details.  The time has faded the difficult parts and just let the great parts shine through.

You were born early in the morning on March 15, 2014.  Your Mom was induced on the morning of March 14, but you took your sweet time in coming (I was hoping you’d be born on the 14th so that you would be a pi baby because I’m a nerd, but you know that already) and held in there until around 6:45am on the 15th.  The labor was difficult, but your Mom was so strong.  She worked so hard to push you out, but she never once yelled or screamed, and after it was all done she just held you.  We were both just amazed at this new little life.

This is you still in the hospital. You’re done with your light therapy, thankfully, which means we can hold you whenever we want. You were bald and remained bald for your first year and more. We could see your heart beat through the soft spot in your head. It was wonderful.

Your first few months were difficult – not for you as much as for your Mom and me.  She struggled with some postpartum depression and I didn’t know how to help her.  I didn’t give her the support she wanted and needed, and even though I was trying to solve her problems, it didn’t help her like I had wanted.  We fought some during those months, too.  It wasn’t very much fun at times, but we did our best given the circumstances.

It’s amazing how small you were – even though you were a big baby by all measures.

You never breastfed.  You and your Mom tried, but you just didn’t take to it.  We don’t know exactly why, but I think it was a combination of factors.  Firstly, you were born jaundiced, which meant you had to spend much of your first day or two under a special light.  While you were under this light, you couldn’t be with your Mom and we had to give you bottles instead of letting you nurse.  You decided that you liked the bottles and never had the patience to learn to feed from your mom.  Of course it doesn’t matter now because you’re a big, strong girl, but it was hard at the time and your Mom felt like she had failed you somehow.

You’re staring up at your Noni after a very terrifying first bath.

You also threw up, like, all the time.  We realized early on that you had a sensitive system and we gave you special formula for it, but you still threw up.  It was crazy, but we got used to it for the most part.  The worst part was when you were older and eating real food, but I’m starting to get a little gross.

Here you are, less than two weeks old and already taking to your buh-po (passy).

My clear memories of you during your first year probably begin toward the end of that first summer.  You traveled with your Mom on a train to Michigan to visit Noni, Papa, Grandma and Grandpa and I flew in an airplane a little bit later to be with you.  This trip kind of marks the beginning of when things started to get really good, and up to now it hasn’t stopped getting better.

I don’t specifically remember this, but I’m so glad your Mom caught it on camera so I can feel the warm feelings I get when I look at you and me snuggling. You weren’t a big snuggler (and you were too strong for us to force you), so we had to cherish the few opportunities we had.

It’s strange and wonderful becoming a parent.  I feel like I have discovered parts of me that I didn’t know existed before becoming your dad.  We have a lot of fun together, you and I.

You are wonderful and amazing in so many ways, and you’re not even two years old yet.  I can’t wait to see what you turn into as you grow up.

I love you, Louisa Mae.