Dear Maeve, You're 5: A Letter to My Daughter
I never thought I'd be tongue tied to write a letter to my own daughter, but here I am, alone in our room, burning the candles she and I just picked out. "Mama this one smells like cakes!"
"Well its your birthday eve, so a cake candle would be perfect for mama's room!"
We held hands tonight, walking through Target, on a mission to simply grab some milk, when I was hit. Hard.
My baby. You're walking next to me, holding my hand and telling me about your friends and how you want a cheese sandwich for dinner. And I'm stunned that we're here. That we've made it to this moment. That you're not in my belly. Or in my arms. You're beautiful, hilarious and smart and somehow, its been five years. FIVE years.
After checking out and heading outside, I grabbed both of your hands, crouching down to your level, looking into the eyes that I know so well. The eyes that stole me from the moment I saw them.
"What mama?" You laughed, twirling your dress, flitting out of my arms.
Holding her close, "Bubs. Did you know that five years ago I was working so hard to get you into this world? At this time, five years ago you were still in my belly and we didn't know who you were yet! We didn't know your eyes were blue.... or that you have a little freckle on your hip... or that you love being held tight. Isn't that crazy?"
"Yeah but I'm five years old now, so I don't ride in grocery carts, right?" Laughing, I wiped my misty eyes and assured you, yes, you're five and no longer a grocery cart rider. You were thankful for that and completely oblivious to the hold you have on me. The hold you've had on me from the beginning...
Maeve, when mama found out you were in my belly I was terrified. Dadda wasn't home and I sat in the shower and cried. I was so scared I couldn't be a good mama and I would mess this job up.
When Dadda got home, he gave me big hugs, telling me that it was going to be great. And was he ever, so, so right.
Someday, maybe you'll giggle reading back on this, that you caused me to spend a solid 15 weeks with my head in the toilet. But I'd do it again, and again and again without question.
When I heard your heartbeat for this first time, I was left alone in the room with a box of Kleenex, as I tend to be incredibly emotional during pregnancy. Putting my hands on the barely there bump where you resided, I made a promise to your little life; I would be the best mama to you. I would protect you. I would love you forever.
To be honest my girl, its difficult for me to reflect back on my pregnancy with you because I was ill. Not physically, but emotionally, mentally- and I'm not going to get into that right now... (But I promise, I will tell you about it, in much more detail someday) I loved having you inside me, but the fears and anxiety that gripped me unfortunately sucked much of the joy out of being pregnant.
I remember one day I went for a walk, kicking some garbage that had been littered onto the street, I suddenly was overwhelmed with the filth of this world. I made it back home and ended up sitting on the front porch, in a rocking chair, sobbing for your innocence and perfection. Knowing the second you were out of me, you were subject to the cruelty of this world. It was an anxiety that just about led me to insanity.
In fact, when I was 33 weeks pregnant I ended up in the emergency room with a panic attack so severe, they had to give me a shot of ativan (a not so great drug for a pregnant woman to take). As the doctor went over some of the side effects of the ativan I felt your movement cease, as if in sync with my relaxation, and I knew the drugs had been passed to you. I cried, feeling your feet slip and slide slowly across my belly, knowing I had failed to protect you and you weren't even in this world yet.
When it was time for you to come I was feeling less than confident to say the least. On October 10th, dadda drove us to the hospital. Everyone was so excited to meet you, me included; I wanted to see your features, hear your cry, look at those toes that had been poking me. I was conflicted though; you, making your entrance into this world meant me, taking my first steps into my own new (and very scary) world of motherhood. It meant me, holding onto all of the promises I had made and I was scared breathless.
Your labor was so hard. And there were times I wanted to quit. Especially when the epidural failed to work.
But as the rain pelted the windows, and the clock ticked I felt you transition and I knew it was time. At 3 AM on the dot, your tiny, warm body was placed on my chest. And my entire world as I knew it dropped from beneath me. As they took you over to the warmer, I felt my heart leave and go there, with you. And it never returned.
You managed to do some damage, on your grand entrance into this world, but I couldn't take my eyes off of the glow coming from the corner of the room. As the doctors worked on me, I strained with the little energy I had to catch a glimpse of you. Everyone was proclaiming your beauty and perfection and I was sick with frustration, wanting to see it for myself.
Finally, finally after the doctor had fixed me, you were handed back over. And that was the first time I realized the new world I had just wandered into, would only be complete, would only be right, with you in it. I wracked my brain, trying to figure out how I had lived life prior to your existence.
My sweet Maeve. You have made me who I am today. You, my girl. Your beautiful presence, your perfection has led me here.
Oh have I messed up.
I suffered silently with depression and anxiety for far too long. But because of the amazing girl you are, I was suddenly slammed with this determined will to get better. And it was all you; for me, for you.
It has been a journey, that's for sure. You've accompanied mama to more doctors appointments than you'll ever know. But with each appointment completed, each day passed, each step taken, I was getting closer to here.
In the middle of the deepest part of my depression I wasn't sure if I could get off the floor, let alone be a mother to you. But you held on to me, never giving up, continuing to lock eyes with me, oblivious to the demons I was batteling, and most of all loving me. And your love, that is what I held onto.
And my Maeve, here were are today. I am well. I am happy. I am thriving. WE are thriving.
Children are supposed to learn from their parents, but you have taught me what living and loving truly is.
For the longest time I cursed God for doing this to me; giving me a perfect baby along with severe post partum depression and anxiety. What was the point of having a baby if I stayed in bed all day, refusing to leave the house?
But I know now. I know that dark, terrifying journey, facing my demons, and focusing on the beauty of life, was essential to heal my soul.
Watching you twirling on the beach, chasing the waves out to the sea and then back again, I can't help but think of your enormous presence, all in that tiny body of yours. God knew what He was doing, giving you to us. He knew I would walk through unfathomable dark days, and that you'd be at times, my only light here on earth. And on those darkest of days, it was true... as little as you were, you always glowed, giving me the peace, comfort and motivation to be the mom I wanted so desperately to be.
Tonight, we went on an impromptu carousel ride. At 8:00 PM, pulling into the parking lot, you asked "What are we doing here mom?"
"It's your birthday baby! Carousel ride!" And your face lit up, like I had just answered the most complexional of questions.
The lady running the carousel asked if I was going to watch or ride. I said, "Both." And I stood next to you, as you climbed on the brown horse with the pink flowers, "because pink is the best color besides purple." As the ride went spinning, I didn't take my eyes off your face. I hugged you, breathed you in. Let the tears stream, and watched the beauty and joy of who you are sparkle in your eyes. I wanted the ride to last forever. My arms were so tight around you, and the wind in our hair along with the music, made me feel like we were in our own world, flying. The stars aligned for me tonight, and I wanted to trap this moment of complete bliss, and keep it for my own selfishness. Then the ride stopped. It was time to hop off the horse and head home. The carousel lady thinks I am unstable, I'm sure of it. But that's okay. We stood there and took picture after picture, doing our secret butterfly kisses, nosey kisses and pruning faces, all the while, my mascara mixed tears making its tracks down my cheeks.
It was so beautiful. You are so beautiful. This life we have; me, you, dadda, Henry and Stella, its perfect. Of course we have some pretty rough days, and mama does indeed mess up... a lot. I say the wrong things. I snap at you out of frustration or give into your wants to avoid an argument.
But my girl, our life? It's flawless. And no matter how hard the day, my God, I have you and your brother and sister.
Happy birthday Maeve Annabelle McKenney. You were brought into this world with so much love. Thank you for showing me what unconditional love is. Thank you for being my light. Thank you for making me into the person I am today.
You deserve the world, my girl.
My sweet baby, you saved me.
Your presence, my love for you is so entwined in my spirit, and soul. It's indescribable at the moment... so I'll end with what we say every night:
"I love you deeper than the sea and higher than the sky, forever and ever and always."