So, I usually try to focus on the positive when writing Charlie's monthly birthday posts, but since I've been feeling particularly glum as of lately, I've decided to skip the regular post, and have opted instead to write Charlie a birthday letter...
My Sweetest Charlie,
On October 18th 2008 I found out I was pregnant with you. I sobbed uncontrollably when the pregnancy test I took read positive...for two reasons...one because I was in shock, and two because I couldn't help but worry if I had what it took to take care of you. My life as I knew it flashed before my eyes. I instantly worried if your daddy and I had enough money, enough patience, enough energy, and enough love to give you. I immediately pictured you as a teenager. I worried that I would pass on all of my neurotic behaviors and self esteem issues to you. Would my own personal issues hold you back from whatever it was you were meant to do with your life? Would I be able to give you the freedom to be yourself? Would I forget what it was like to be young and judge you and your choices? Would you grow up to despise me?
As the days went by, and reality set in, I became more and more excited to meet you, and more and more confident in my ability to mother you. I started counselling so that I could fully prepare for you, so that I could work through my own issues, so that I could avoid passing them on to you. You were a clean fresh slate, growing inside of me. A pure untainted human being. And I wanted to do my best to keep you that way.
I knew you were a girl from the moment I found out about you. I remember going for lunch, five weeks along, with your auntie Lori (my doula) and telling her you were a girl and discussing our baby names...you were initially going to be called Maalaea Isabella, because your daddy and I were married in Maui Hawaii and that was the part of the island we were married on, but we changed our minds when Obama became president of the USA because one of his daughters had a similar sounding name, and we wanted something a little more special for you. So, we decided on Charlie-Anne. Charlie was the name of one of the characters in a Nick Hornby book and movie called, 'High Fidelity'. Your daddy and I both love that book/movie (and your daddy loves the actress, Catherine Zeta Jones, who played Charlie). I wrote this quote down from the book when we decided to call you Charlie: "Even her name seemed to me dramatic and different and exotic, because up until then I had lived in a world where girls had girls names, and not very interesting ones at that." That's exactly the kind of name we wanted you to have, we thought! And the Anne part is your daddy's mom's middle name, who passed away when he was 20.
The bigger you grew, the bigger I grew...and the smaller mommy and daddy's apartment became. So, we decided it was time to buy a first/new home for the three of us. We didn't move far, just a few blocks really, but this way, daddy would have an almost sound proof studio to make his music in, and you would have your own room too. We painted it green so that you could decide for yourself whether or not you wanted to be a girly girl or the tomboy daddy was hoping for. Turns out you're both! You're a girly girl because I can't help but melt whenever we're out shopping and I see a pretty little dress or hair accessory I think you'd look 'so cute' in (and you always do!) and a tomboy because you love watching hockey and football and soccer with your daddy. Although, your room is pretty much a storage room now, you were in our room from day one, and you're there to stay!
I had almost finished school when we found out we were pregnant with you. I just had two courses left so I quickly finished them online before you came out to meet us. I had been working the front door at a nightclub three to four nights a week and continued to do so until I was 7 1/2 months pregnant with you. I was super frugal and paid off all of my debt and saved up a big chunk off money to take a little stress off your daddy when I took maternity leave. When we discussed the future we were unsure of whether or not I'd go back to work in my field and put you in daycare or if we'd just make one income work for us and I'd stay home with you. We really didn't know what to expect or the attachments we had in store for us.
I'd often dream of what you'd look like. I imagined a little dark haired blue eyed girl...just like me when I was little. For some reason I was hoping you'd be born with a ton of black hair. I kept a picture that I had ripped out of a magazine, of a little girl I thought you'd look like. I often played my own version of 'Mr Potato Head' and picked apart mine and your daddy's features, putting them together to create the baby that would be 'Charlie-Anne'. And then I met you...
My water had been broken for almost three days when our midwife came over and gave me a 'magic potion' consisting of peanut butter, lemon, and castor oil, hoping to move things along...if it didn't work, I was to be induced the next day because they were concerned about me getting an infection and passing it along to you, if my water remained broken without labor for too long. Anyway, it worked within four hours. I thought I was on my way to the hospital for a morphine shot to relieve the pain and then back home to bed, but you had decided you wanted out, and NOW!
You were born about 6 hours after my first contraction, and that's with the 2 hour break they gave me after the epidural I begged for! After the epidural and the break, the nurses started asking me to push...about an hour and a half later, you came out to meet us. I remember your daddy saying, "Ummm, yup hun, she's got a lot of hair!" And I was so excited saying, "Really?!" And then he said, "but it's not black!" I was confused...there was NO way you could be blond?? And then they passed you to me...a little redhead! OMG I thought! Red?! I was so confused...but what confused me even more was your size...you were so tiny!! I remember saying, "Weigh her." over and over again. I was expecting you to be a 10 pounder...daddy's a big guy, I had gained 47 pounds with the pregnancy, and I was almost ten pounds when I was born...you were 6 pounds 14 ounces. I was baffled. And instantly and madly in love with my teeny tiny redhead.
We took you home the next day. You didn't take to breastfeeding right away...we spent many sleepless nights pumping breast milk and feeding you slowly through a syringe while you sucked on daddy's pinky finger so that you'd get used to 'working' for your food. After two months, a couple of midwives, a lactation consultant and many tears (my own), it worked! You started latching properly and were a pro from then on. Other than the breastfeeding issues, you were the ideal baby...smiling from day one, sleeping well, no colic, no skin problems, no weight gain issues...just a little doll.
Your daddy and I fell in love with you instantly, within a week or so, we were like old pros...born to be your parents. We felt nothing but pure true love for you. I had none of the attachment or post partum issues my anxious mind had worried about while I was pregnant with you. You just felt so right, and so natural. My life had finally really begun, I'd think. You gave me so much meaning and purpose, and a new self confidence in my capabilities. I began to understand so many things, so much better, because of you. Your daddy and I brought you everywhere from day one....Whistler, Lake Tyax, the beach, the PNE...we were so proud of you and wanted to show you off..."isn't she the CUTEST?!" I'd brag. And no one could deny it. You were. And you ARE.
You were ahead of the game in terms of meeting all of your milestones. And then one day, at around 5-ish months, you weren't. You got sick. I guess you were always sick, it just hadn't shown it's face yet. But, I can say, that I always knew you were extra special. I didn't really know how, but I knew. I guess it was mother's intuition. And, as much as I like being right, I can't even express how much I wanted/wished/prayed I was wrong on this one. At 6 months you were diagnosed with SMA type 1. A condition that affects your muscles and is terminal. Your daddy and I were devastated when we found out. But, after moping around the house for a few days after the diagnosis, we couldn't help but notice just how beautiful and happy you were regardless of your new condition, and we thought to ourselves, "Look at her, she's so happy." and we decided to try out absolute best to enjoy our time with you while you're here. We don't want any regrets. We don't want to waste any of the time we have to love you while you're here with us. We have bad days, and some weeks are worse than others, but then we look at you, our beautiful little angel, and we remember what's really important.
You're 13 months today, and you're just as happy and smiley and giggly as ever. And I'm/we're more in love with you everyday Charlie. You were made special for us, and we love ALL that you are. You've changed us. I absolutely LOVE and adore being your mother. You're an amazing, inspiring little girl who's changed a lot of lives and will continue to do so. I love you honey bunny. Forever and ever and ever...
Kisses, hugs, and LOVE!