Elizabeth, it is your birthday, your 17th. You know I know that because I texted you first thing this morning. Then you asked for your birthday post. Why was it not up? Err, at that point I hadn’t thought about it. You are the youngest child after all. Really, it was because I woke up to patchy, then no Internet.
I did think about you and your birthday ALL day though. (even while thinking about no Internet) I found a baby picture of you…without your siblings:
That was a bit tough to find. You were born in the digital age of cameras, but before everything uploaded automatically, securely (?) to a cloud.
The picture above is pretty much how I remember you as an infant, except the closed eyes. I probably took the picture because you were asleep. Novel! Your brown eyes were always WIDE open, watching everything. You were not even two months old in that picture, but you’d already stolen my heart. You did that during my pregnancy though.
You were the baby that I used teeny tiny letters to say I was going to join the Trying To Conceive board in testing. I knew I was pregnant already. But, no one else did. You were my tiny secret. Well, Ava might have known. She’d asked for a new little sister for her birthday after all.
But, there were so many only things about you from that first moment. Let me tell you about them:
- You were my only induced baby. All of you were post-dates, but only you got the pitocin to get your way started into the world. By the way, I made Jim Bars the night before the induction to give to the nurses. They loved them.
- I also fought a flame war while in labor. On Dial Up.
- But then, later that day, I got to announce your birth on dial up to thousands–ok, hundreds of people. Your nurse from the pediatricians office remembered me doing that. “You were the one with the laptop.” It was odd in those days. But, my friends, needed to know you had arrived.
- You were the only baby to sleep in a bassinet. It was a combo pack n play with a bassinet attachment
- But you didn’t really sleep there. So, you became the only one of my babies to share our bed from infancy. Sure, there were naps here and there with your siblings–but only you were the attachment parented bed sharing baby.
- You were the only baby with colic
- You were the only baby that had her life documented online from the very beginning
- You were the only baby who I put in the pack n play in the den in front of Barney and Teletubbies with a prayer that you would nap. You rarely did. Instead I held you while I worked, while we played with your siblings, while we went places. The stroller was for show or to push Ava and Rebecca. Rarely were you in it.
- You were the only one who I carried in a sling. And, you were carried EVERYWHERE in it. I have another picture of you, well, I know it is you, at Magic Kingdom, on Dumbo, in the sling, with Rebecca beside us.
- You loved to wrap the sling around you long after you stopped being carried in it.
- You coined the term Breastbed Chair. The glider rocker and My Breast Friend nursing pillow were often our home when you weren’t in the sling.
- Speaking of coins, my penny princess, you were the only child of mine to swallow one and spend a night in the hospital. I crawled in the crib like bed with you. Denise dozed in the recliner. They couldn’t fish it out, so they pushed it into your stomach. I presume you eventually eliminated it, but I never saw it.
- You made the same faces in early pictures that you do now.
Enough about babyhood. It makes things worse. Worse? Yes. Because this is your last birthday before you graduate high school. I know you’ve heard me whine: “I need more time” with the bigger kids. But, really, I need more time. I want to rock you. I want to cuddle you. I want to tell you all the things I think you need to know before you tackle college and the grown up world. Yes, part of me is “Yay, last winter in Chicago”–but the rest of me knows that once I have moved into our new home–empty nest will strike hard. Really hard.
You are the child who has kept me on my toes for the last 17 years. The “normal” one–but never the average one. You make me laugh. You make me sad. You make me angry. You make me melt in a mommy puddle. Sometimes you do all those things at the same time. Most of all, you’ve brought me joy.
This past year has been rough for you for a lot of reasons. Instead of bringing more evil–you melted into kindness. You love to drive. You hug. You are sweet. (Yes, you still have that evil side) And I know you get up to more things that would make me cringe than you think I know. But, you are you. I love watching you grow into a woman. I love your tenderness for children. I am so freaking proud of you for going after what you want, even if no one else agrees. Your going to the job fair and getting a summer job all on your own, increasing the hours once you started, and being responsible and good at your job speaks so well for your future. I may have told everyone I know how much that impressed me. I am proud of how you speak to injustice–whether in your family or in the world. I am proud that you are taking the time to SEE and act on those injustices outside your own life. You are the smart one.
You are growing up. Seventeen. But, you will be my baby forever. Not just my baby in the way your older siblings are my babies–but my baby baby. The third child, the sixth child, the one I wanted, the youngest, youngest child. The one that not only walks around with my heart outside my body, but swoops it up and drops it spiraling like you did when you were doing circus. And now I’ve written your birthday post…and it is probably not the one you wanted. But, I can’t condense seventeen years of the awe you have brought into our lives into a few paragraphs.
I love you baby girl. I love you so very much. That never changes.