To my daughter, on the last day of maternity leave

Dear youngest,

Its been beautiful with you. I wish I’d had the sense and experience to enjoy my previous maternity leaves as much as I have this one.

You are unique, fourth child of mine. With you, I recognized the beauty of this time, to experience it beyond pure survival.

I am stronger, I am better prepared. I have learned to live with less sleep, with less perfection. I know better what to prioritize and what to let go.

I am aware of the fleeting passage of time. I  cherish our snuggles. I break the parenting, rules, baby scheduling rules. I nurse on demand. I fall asleep feeding you.

I kiss you. So many kisses a day you receive on those sweet cheeks. I watch those dark eyes widen in wonder when I talk to you.

You weigh 7 pounds, 4 ounces tonight. You break into a sweet smile about once every 2 days. You gave your first one to me.

You hate to be swaddled, you prefer to cover your ears with your tiny fists.

Your hair is fuzzy and has a cowlick on top, giving you a funny faux-hawk look. It curls when its wet.

Your baby pictures look like your big sister’s. Your eyes and expressions look like Noah’s. Your mouth looks like Gideon’s. You have ears that stick out, just a little.

You love your mama. You hate to be cold. You eat like a bird, snacking here and there. You do have a lot of gas for such a teensy thing. You sleep most nights until 2-3 am, then up again at 5:30 or so.

You love to watch ceiling fans and the long sconces behind my bed.

You love your siblings, and they adore you, fighting for turns to hold you, begging for photos with you.

You are my dark beauty. The last of my babies, my smallest. My stinkiest. You still ball up when sleeping, pulling your tiny knees out of the legs of your sleepers.

Thank you for our sweet time together. Thank you for all the cuddles, all the wide-eyed wonder-filled looks. Thank you for all the kicky legs, flailing fists, burps, hiccups, leaky diapers and painful letdowns.

I will hold all these memories dear and precious in my heart, and praise God for them and for you. Thank you, sweet baby girl. Thank You, God, for this amazing gift.


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