It's about 2 AM on November 21, 2015 and I have all this restless energy and racing thoughts, so I figured I might as well begin your birthday letter now.
My sweet baby. One year ago right this minute you were sleeping gently in your cozy tight water bed inside my belly, my heartbeat and blood thudding all around you. You shifted with my movements and were maybe dimly aware of my shrill bleating voice. Was it comforting, back then? Haha. I was 8 days over my "guess" date and a little dismayed because people from my birth team were going out of town for Thanksgiving...but my water broke right when I woke up, and I was jolted into birthing you, suddenly and wildly. Even though labor was fierce, I was relieved it was happening and so excited that the long expectancy was finally over and I could begin my new life with you in our family. I promise, our greeting was as joyful as it possibly could have been. We sang to you, when you were born, I cried the most pure, clean love to you straight from the open core of my being. Chai and Sparrow gathered around me and marveled at you. Chai was so excited to have a brother. Jon was so relieved you were safe and healthy. Sparrow doula'd me while I was in labor and greeted you so calmly and sweetly. Her shift from being the youngest was mostly gentle. She accepted and loved you but also didn't give up her place. You were surrounded by love! My friends and sisters were there. They love me and Jon, they love Chai and Sparrow, they held a place for you even though we didn't know you yet. You were so beautiful to us. We loved your soft, wrinkly skin and your cheeping cries and the gentle weight of your new little body--just made!--in our arms. We sang, "If I had words to make a day for you, I'd sing you a morning golden and true."
I'm hurting tonight because I don't think I really had these words for you, not during this entire year. I didn't sing you a morning golden and true. I feel you came to us the most innocent soul, just expecting love, and I haven't been there for you the way I would have wanted to be. I've always disliked memes and obnoxious platitudes about ignored third children and I wanted to give you everything; all the energy, hope, love and focus that I had. I don't know what it's like to come second, third, fourth, etc. I'm an oldest child and my hardships are different. Sojourn, I am so sorry that you came to a burned out mother who tripped over a new pregnancy before she had straightened up fully from the last one--twice. It's not your fault, it's not your fault. You deserved the absolute best of me every second of your life. You deserved my joy and not my stress. You were just all so young, and even disregarding my selfishness, it was so hard to have enough of me to go around. I don't expect you to understand that, and even expressing it feels like placing my burdens on you. Your only task is to be a child, to just be loved and cared for. I'm grateful for so many who swooped in and loved you fiercely (Mary especially) and took time to tickle you and make you laugh when I was rushing to feed you so I could move on to the next thing on the crushing list of the bare minimum I can never seem to keep up with. You ARE dearly loved. I have so many friends, your aunts and uncles, who reach for you every time they see you, who have cradled you and rocked you to sleep. You really haven't wanted for affection (I tell myself desperately hoping it's true). I just wish I'd had hours and hours to just adore you and look into your eyes, memorize your tiny hands. It hurts to realize how much less I recorded about your days and doings than I did before. I'm so sorry. I realize I'm doing what I dislike so intensely, making it about me when it should just be about you, but I didn't feel I could speak to you today on your first birthday without acknowledging that I wish your first year had been so much more than it was. I hope we will have a long time to be close and closer. I want this second year to be different. I want to pour my energy into connecting with you and learning about you.
I wrote this a couple of weeks ago: "My little boy's hand. How exquisite he is. We heard him crying after American Beauty and the monitor must have become unplugged because he was weeping heartsick and whimpering as if he had given up. I ran to him and called, My darling, my darling! I am so sorry. These first lonelinesses, I am causing them. How it must comfort his dear heart to lay next to me. He doesn't know how young and inept I feel, I am the center of warmth and light. My sweet little boy. He talks to us already and has started bathing and playing with the big kids. So much in one year. I can't wait to know him better. "
Poj, you've changed so much since you were my Very Quiet Cricket, since you lay so softly by my side during those first few weeks when I was so sick. You've been resilient and adapted to being in our family. You don't like being left out, you're always hobbling after the other kids and barking at them to include you. When anyone goes outside and doesn't take you with them, you swiftly pull yourself up to the window and bang indignantly against it. You talked the earliest out of all my children. You say several words clearly, "Mama, Dad, up, go" but your body language and noises are just as clear. We never have to wonder what you are trying to express. It has always been obvious to us that you are very, very bright. You seem older than you are sometimes because of how well you communicate. You are an early riser! Which also makes you different from the others. I used to get them to go back to sleep by just nursing for hours and thus sleep in as late as I wanted. Not with you. Once you're awake, you quack, grunt, or screech at me to get me up, too, and you pat my face vigorously and pull my hair. You are so eager for the day to begin. You have so much work to do. You are very quick-moving and determined. You are never still. You are committed to exploring, and cover a lot of ground. When we go to the park or anywhere outside you usually ingest dirt and rocks at some point. You seem like you know what you're doing.
It has been wonderful to see your relationship with your brother and sister develop. They've always loved lugging you around and adoring you, but in the last 3 or 4 months you've been old enough to play with them and be where they are. My favorite thing ever is when they create a baby role for you in their pretend games. "...and Poj will be the baby." Chai loves you so much that he often smashes you or hugs you a little harder than you like or pats you very emphatically on the back. When I remind him to be gentle he says, outraged, "I was just doing billa-billa!" (his name for when he feels overwhelmed by affection). He loves to roll over on you; sometimes you like it and sometimes you scream. But you do love Chai, I can tell. And Sparrow, too. She is often our companion in bed in the early morning, and you have the sweetest interactions as you greet each other. You sigh and pat her and say "Ahhhh deb deb" and she grins and chuckles and says, "Oh, Poj. Oh, Pojourn." And you embrace her in your thrashing, head-butting way. You are a love. You are our little love. As Jon says, "He likes to be active ON you."
You are very funny. We enjoy you enjoying things. You love to lay down on a soft blanket on the floor and move your arms and legs, feeling the texture. One of my favorite things about you is the little sigh you give right when you fall asleep and let me go. Jon says, "He falls asleep quite sweetly once he finally gets there, once he stops thrashing."
What comes to mind when I try to think about my favorite moment with you (besides watching you play with the other kids, which is lovely because it happens almost daily) is a few weeks ago, Jon took C and S to lunch and you and I were home alone. I turned on "Somewhere Only We Know" and slow-danced with you. You just cuddled up to me while I swayed and I felt so full of love for you. I told you I was sorry that things were so intense and chaotic, and that I loved you deeply. You clung with glee to my neck, tightened your busy little arms. I leaned into you and I told you, “You are my darling, my darling.” I held you safe. I loved him. I need to take time to connect with my boy.