Dear Tessa: First Letter

Dear Tessa,

As promised, I said I would write a letter to you once a month.  Much to my surprise, writing a letter to you is more difficult than I thought–especially this first one.  I don’t know if it’s because I am over-thinking this or if I have so much to tell you or if I just don’t know what to say.  Then I reminded myself–everything I want/need to say to you can be said over time.  So there is no need to scramble over lost files in my computer that hold my collection of thoughts that should be shared with you.  But this one is a little long, Tess, because there is so much that I need to tell you in this first letter.

I suppose you would like to know about your daddy and your mommy and your big brother.  Before you came into our lives, your dad and I had pretty crazy lives.  I met your daddy when I was 19, and I fell in love right away.  He was 23 and full of life.  People said we were meant to be together—a perfect pair.  Daddy had a new construction business and bought a bar shortly after we met.  He was a busy man.  I was going to college and was a care-free teenager; never expecting to end up where we are today.  Soon I met your big brother Casin.  Boy, did I love that adorable little 2 year-old.  He was as sweet as his dad and welcomed me into his life right away.  Sometimes, he would hide oreos from his dad in the tv stand cupboard and eat them when daddy wasn’t looking.  He would cuddle up on the couch and watch movies and fall fast asleep.  Almost three years after I met your dad, he asked me to marry him.  We were married on August 28, 2010 in Belmont, surrounded by all of our family and friends.  And girl, did we have a party!

I was the happiest I had ever been…that is of course, until I met you.

We knew we wanted to have babies right away so we didn’t waste any time starting a family.  Two months after we got married, we found out we were pregnant with you.  I felt so good when I was pregnant.  I didn’t have morning sickness, I lost weight, and I was full of energy.  I loved the way I looked.

We knew from the beginning that we wanted to find out what we were having.  Dad swore I would have a boy, but I knew from the moment I found out about you that you were a girl.  The moment we found out, dad looked at the screen, took a deep breath, sat down next to me and held my hand.  Casin was so excited.  He actually told his mom that if he didn’t get a baby sister, he was going to run away from home!

Daddy’s little girl you would be.  He was excited and scared.  I was thrilled!  I dreamed of piggy tails, pink dresses, and all things girl.  Now all we had to do was wait until you arrived.  I took good care of you while I was pregnant, and dad made sure that I protected his little peanut.  All we wanted was a healthy baby girl with all ten fingers and all ten toes.  Summer came and passed by quickly.  It would only be a matter of time before you joined us.

Monday, August 15, 2011, is the day that made me the woman I am today.  I knew my life would change when I had a baby.  I could have never known that it would change the way it did.  The night before, we went out to eat at our favorite supper club.  I had been having strong contractions all weekend and I was pretty sure I was in labor.  We got home and went for a big walk.  We walked up hill and down.  I walked lopsided on the curbs and the streets.  We walked all over our quiet little town.  We went to bed for an hour and then I woke your dad up at 11:50 p.m. and told him I was in labor.  We waited for forty minutes and my contractions grew stronger.  We called the hospital and they said we better come in.  Dad drove very fast because I was in pain.  They admitted me into the hospital and there we waited contraction after painful contraction for 12 ½ long hours.  All I could think about was getting you here safely.  Today was the day we would meet our daughter.  Nothing else seemed important to me.  I couldn’t wait to get you in my arms.  During those hours, I thought about what you would do with your life.  I wondered what color your eyes would be and how much hair you would have.  I wondered what your cry would sound like and what blanket I would use first when we got home.  I imagined you riding your bike on the driveway and using sidewalk chalk to create little masterpieces.  I wondered what sports you would play and what your best friend would be like.  I wondered about what you would go to college for and what kind of man you would marry.  I wondered if you would ever love me as much as I already loved you.  But I never wondered about what your life would be like with an extra chromosome.  Not once.

You finally arrived after a few scary moments.

You were kind to your mama and delivered quickly.

But they took you away.  I was waiting for the moment right after delivery when they would throw you up on my chest and I would meet you for the first time but it didn’t happen.  Your dad was taking pictures of you, but I waited.  Why weren’t you in my arms yet?  I heard your first cry and it melted my heart.  It was a soft cry and it didn’t last long.  Still, I waited.  Twenty or thirty minutes passed—which seemed like an eternity—and they finally brought you over to me.  You were wrapped up and quite content.  I couldn’t get my arms on you fast enough.  Your dad had held you first, but now it was my turn.  You had beautiful black hair and warm eyes.  Your skin was as soft and beautiful as a porcelain doll’s.  Your fingernails seemed perfectly manicured.  I cried and cried and kissed your sweet little face and held you so close to me.  I was finally a mommy.  My daughter had arrived and I was proud as ever.  Your dad wanted to name you Tessa throughout my entire pregnancy, but I had my reservations.  I needed to meet you.  When they asked what your name would be I looked at your dad and said she’s definitely a Tessa.  It fit you perfectly.  We studied your features and tried to figure out who you resembled most.  It was then that our doctor told us she believed you had Down Syndrome.  So many questions clouded my head and then all I heard was silence.  I was having an out of body experience as I watched your dad fall apart as he asked hundreds of questions.  He was angry.  He was defensive.  So was I.  We thought you were stunning and we were sure that she was wrong.  I felt hot tears stream down my cheeks and I held you even tighter.  I stared at you forever and I swore on my life that I would love you with all my heart and give you everything in the world and more.  I didn’t know what to think or do or feel.  I worked so hard to make the perfect womb for you while I was pregnant.  Some of the nurses didn’t see it.  But I knew…

Friends and family came and went.  Each and every person that held you said how perfect and beautiful you were.  They were right.  You were mine, all mine.  You were a daddy’s girl (like I earlier suspected you would be) right away.  You fit perfectly in his arms and bonded with him almost immediately.

When I found out we were having a daughter, I wasn’t thinking of chromosomes, genetic tests, echocardiograms, specialty appointments, and long roads ahead.  I wondered what life ahead of you would be like and how people would treat you.  I pictured our perfect little angel who would have endless beauty and possibilities.  Little did I know, you were everything I had always pictured and more.  I will never forget the pain and the fear that consumed me for weeks, but that pain will always be tucked far beneath all of the great memories I already have of you; because nothing else matters.

Seven months later and I cannot believe that I ever cried tears of despair over you.  You’re not just my daughter, you’re my cause and my drive.  You are exactly the little girl I was hoping for–you own far too much pink and have an attitude that says “I’m the boss,” or in other words you are your dad’s worst nightmare 😉  Tit for tat, we make a good team babe.

By the time you’ll be able to read this, you’ll know what it means to have Down Syndrome.  And if I know you at all, you’ll be owning it–as you should!

Just do me one favor…stop growing so fast, okay?!?

Love, Mom

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