Letter to Scarlett on Your First Birthday

Dear Scarlett,

Due to your status as our rainbow baby, you have mostly escaped “third child syndrome”. You received plenty of new clothes and toys, despite having an older sibling of each gender, and numerous photos record your first year.

But, in perusing blog entries recently, I discovered a big goof. I promised in the joint birthday letter I wrote to you and Lucy that I would write a separate birthday letter for you soon. I obviously forgot.

So, this letter for your first birthday better be awesome. Here goes.

This past year has been one of the best of my entire life. You are adorable, smart, and so sweet. I have never seen anything like the way you make friends. You zero in on someone everywhere we go and run through your routine (stare, smile, clap, throw back head and laugh) until they are eating out of your hand.

You are probably our most precocious child yet. You seem determined to distinguish yourself by doing everything earlier than your brother and sister did.

While they cut their first teeth at 5 months, you cut yours at 3 months.

They weaned from the breast at 6 and 7 months respectively; you weaned at 5 months.

You crawled at 6 months, whereas Max crawled at 7 months and Lucy never did. You pulled to standing not long after and seem poised to begin walking at any moment. You stand very steadily on your own now, at 11 months, but only for a few seconds. You cruise more than ever and I catch you occasionally standing there, one hand on the cabinet or chair, staring intently at the great space ahead of you. It takes great bravery to take that first step out with nothing to hold on to. I know you have it in you and will do it when you are ready, just as Max did.

Unlike many parents with subsequent children, we have eagerly awaited every milestone. We couldn’t wait for you to learn to crawl and cruise. It gives us so much joy to see you healthy and strong and greeting life with such glee. Every skill you learn that Lucy never did, gives us such hope for your future. It seems like visible proof, along with all of the normal Echos you have racked up, that you will live and flourish.

You don’t have any favorite shows or characters yet. You do seem to enjoy books and are already saying quite a few words. Unlike most children, you said “Mama” before “Dada” and “yeah” before “no”. Now you can say, “Mama”, “Dada”, “yeah”, “all done”, “Austin”, “no”, and “kitty cat”. You added “I-phoo” for IPhone today.

Three months after your birth, I experienced another bout of postpartum depression and anxiety. After feeling so much happiness those first three months, I just couldn’t go back to feeling terrible all the time. I couldn’t miss out on fully enjoying another baby or let you down the way I feel, in my darkest moments, that I let your brother and sister down. I immediately made an appointment with my doctor and went on Zoloft and a hefty Omega supplement.

Those remedies changed my life. I enjoy life and you in a way that I was mostly incapable of for years. I am eager to see you when you wake from your nap or in the morning. I play with you without the constant hum of other responsibilities in my brain. I snuggle and smile at you with all the happiness that fills my heart when I look in your eyes. I happily chase you around. (Until I finally get tired and give you some time in the Super Yard.) I love you so much. It feels like my heart might burst with it.

The PPD that resulted from your birth cleared away the fog, so I could fall headlong into my love for you. Your father noted recently that I just look so happy and full of love when I look at you. The smile takes over my face. I can feel the joy radiating from my smile to your matching one.  I finally feel the way I always thought I would feel as a mom.

The flipside (There always is one.) is that I feel considerable guilt for not taking advantage of Zoloft sooner. I wish I could hop into a time machine and be the same mother to Max and Lucy as infants and toddlers that I am to you. Thankfully, I am making up for lost time with Max. I harbor hope that my inner turmoil wasn’t apparent to him and Lucy. I know I was a good, responsible, loving mom. I know I showed them both love. I cling to that knowledge of myself when the inevitable doubt and guilt assail me, especially where Lucy is concerned. I will never have another chance with her. Luckily, the Zoloft helps with the doubt and guilt, too.

I am so thrilled to have a second year with you. I cannot wait to watch you grow, develop, and figure out new ways to delight and exhaust me. I am more grateful than words can express that I have a second chance to parent a toddler, not to mention another daughter.

Happy birthday, my darling, darling daughter.

Love, Mama

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