Dear Annabel,

A year ago, I woke up and I just knew it would be the day I finally met you. Your due date wasn’t for three more weeks, but that morning you were calm when you were normally very active. Something told me you were resting up to cause a ruckus, and boy did you.

You came out screaming. SCREAMING. And you screamed and screamed until we finally officially met.

First glance

me and my daughter

When you came, you were so tiny! The nurses warned me that since you were slightly preterm, they would take you to the NICU if you weighed six pounds or less. You weighed six pounds half an ounce. I should have known then the personality you were going to have.

For the first six weeks of your life, you did the typical baby things: sleep, eat, poop. As soon as you passed the six week mark, you became A Person. Baby objects like tummy time, mirrored toys, and rattles were the playthings of infants. You had little time for such nuisances. You wanted to stand, and roll, and smile and laugh.

You are a master manipulator. You get everything you want from everyone. Except me – I’ve realized that my role in life is to be the bad guy. I am OK with that, because I know how you think. See, you look like your daddy, but you are all me on the inside. I’m going to get a lot of enjoyment (and gray hair) staying one step ahead of you.

You are spunky and determined, and so crazy smart it’s almost scary. You have words and can answer questions and follow commands. You are a climber, and a very very good one at that. You’ve figured out how to stand on toys, scale fences, and stretch onto your tippy toes to reach things. You’re taking steps with more regularity, and I know the gated community won’t contain you for much longer. Then I’m really in trouble.

It’s a pretty heavy thing to tell you, but you saved me. After your sister died, I didn’t know what to do anymore. I was a mommy, and then I wasn’t. But after I became pregnant with you, my life had purpose again. I became singularly focused on making sure you arrived healthy and on time.

When you were very small, I would hold you tightly to my chest and cry over the things I wanted for you that you’d never have. I felt so guilty that you weren’t going to have your big sister to play, tease, and fight with. I don’t want you to ever feel like you have to compete with her, because you don’t. I so wish that you could compete with her, over toys and attention and school and boys. But that is not the card we drew in life. It’s so very unfair, and I’m so very sorry.

I tell you every day, but always know that I love you. I can’t say how much, because love doesn’t have an amount. It can’t be measured. It just IS. I love you, and I love your sister, and there is no more or less to it.

Annabel, before you arrived, I was just inhaling and exhaling. Now I breathe you in, I savor every moment that you let me hold you before you squirm away. I love watching you think and move and grow, and when you call me mama my body tingles with happiness.

The day you were born was the day I started living again. Happy birthday to you, and to me. I am so honored to be your mommy.


annie and mommy in front of golden gate bridge