Dear Tessa: Happy 6th Birthday

Dear Tessa,

Today is your sixth birthday! I asked you yesterday how come you are getting so big and you just shrugged and told me “because.” Fair enough.

You asked for a birthday party with some of your friends from school this year. If we would have let you, you would have invited everyone in your class. But since mom was flying solo for the party, we had to condense it down to a manageable amount of friends.

Four friends and your little sister gathered at our house to celebrate for an afternoon of activities like a scavenger hunt, cupcake decorating session, lunch, and some outdoor play.

I know days like this can sometimes be overwhelming and, thankfully, your sweet friends understand that for you as well.

Every year I say that I cannot believe you are however many years old. And I really cannot believe it. Time is a bandit, mugging me of your youth. However we are always thankful to be celebrating another trip around the sun; and anxious to see what you will do with the year ahead.

After we got home from dropping your friends off, I laid you down for a rest. Smiling from ear to ear, “I really like my birthday party mom. It was fun.” 

From baby girl to big girl, we have loved watching you grow sweet Tessa Bug.

Happiest of birthdays my dear.

Love, Mom.

Blank Spaces and Birth Stories

Baby books.  I stink at them.  Some people love them and some people even don’t have them.  I fall somewhere in the middle.  I love the nostalgia of them and I do have them; but I have failed to document each tooth that came in and on what date, and I did not always write down milestones as they happened.  I have the family information wrote down, the first pictures (most just loosely placed inside), footprints (at least one of the girl’s), what a package of diapers currently cost, and what they came home from the hospital in and first haircut locks that may or may not be in the incorrect child’s book. I went to work on the girls’ baby books the other day, and realized that I have recorded most of the girls’ milestones on this blog because it is the only place I can keep things organized without little hands scrambling it all up.

I think baby books are important for our kids too–a piece of their own history they can look back on and an awesome way to know themselves better.  But there is one space at the beginning of Tessa’s baby book that remains blank, and every time I open her book I see it. There are three lines given for me to share her birth story. Three whole lines.  Ever since I started filling in her baby book, I have intentionally left that spot wordless to avoid feeling a bit of pain; always telling myself that some day I would fill it in–just not that day.

To be honest, I am not entirely sure how to write it for her.  And sometimes when I see it sit empty, I have to catch my breath because I so badly want to fill the space. Tessa’s birth was a mix of typical and non-typical experiences, but I can’t possibly sum it all up in three little lines.  I know because I tried.  Maybe that is all most people need–just a few short lines to describe the splendor of welcoming a child into the world.  But what about those of us who need more space.  What about the births that did not go as planned?  The surprises, the heartaches, the fears and the unexpected; where love and loss simmer silently together in the melting pot of birth stories. Because there are many of us out there who need a whole page, not just a few lines so that we can share with our children how they entered this world.  Or remind ourselves of the time when we became parents.

Tessa’s birth was the most defining moment in my life.  I went to the hospital in the middle of the night to deliver my first child.  My daughter was on her way, and I was blissfully unprepared for traumatic delivery and the diagnosis that would all happen within that twelve hours; forever changing me from that point forward.  And looking back, I prefer it that way.  I would not change a thing.

I know there are more of me out there; who had a birth that did not go quite as we planned.  Those who struggle to write out their stories when they can’t rewrite history; to relive those moments and to feel it all over again.  Sometimes it doesn’t feel fair and that is because sometimes it just isn’t.  It stays with you forever.  You will encounter people who will not fully understand how you choose to get through it, and that is okay.  It is your experience and it deserves to explanation to anyone.  We grow from our own experiences and navigate multiple levels of joy and grief in many different ways.  But as for me, I am one of the lucky ones.  After two non-typical birth experiences–one quite serious–I brought both of my girls home.

Now please understand that I am not on some quest, shaking my fists and calling out baby book printers across the globe to increase the lines given for birth stories.  Seriously.  I just want other parents to know that each birth story is beautiful and meaningful; and reliving each of mine is an awesome trip down memory lane.  So I relive them by writing them out and reading them; remembering the moments in my life where time literally stood still.

If you want to write out your story but you were only allowed a few lines in that baby book, then I have two words you can start with:   See attached.  

That is how I am starting Tessa’s.

meeting