EIGHT

Dear bug,

Today you turned eight whole years old. My darling daughter, I cannot believe you are eight. For the last three birthdays I’ve become tearfully nostalgic; overcome with emotion for every memory of every past birthday and every seemingly fleeting present moment. The joy you fill every day with is peppered with wishing I could keep you small, hug you longer, lay in your bed and tell stories past your bedtime one more night with my baby. It’s been eight whole years of being your mother- filled with pride and pure delight watching you grow and share all of who you are with the world. And this weekend we celebrated eight whole years of loving you as big and as loud and as fiercely as possible.

I read my letters from the past 7 birthdays I’ve written to you again this morning before the sun woke up. I marveled at the similar stories each year each describing your fiercely confident, loving, kind, smart, sincere and hilarious personality. This year has been one literally for the record books and has kept you mostly home, socially distanced, thankfully safe while your school was virtual or masked and the world at large told us all to slow down and stay home. Because you are such an incredible kiddo, you have made the most of every moment. Playing Legos from sun up to sun down, scooting as fast as possible around the house, jumping in your jump castle, reading Dog Man books, biking with freedom and confidence and loving on us as often as you could. My day is peppered with Landon hugs and kisses mid-work calls and nothing has been sweeter than having you by my side.

Other than your loving family, the current loves of your life are Legos, surfing, Lenny, art, doing the running man dance, JoJo Siwa, swimming, rock climbing and your adorable friends. Your Lego building has grown to new heights… three or four stories to be exact. Instead of just building the sets, you now disassemble and build your own apartments, townhouses, parks, pools, waterfalls, rock climbing parks, schools and resorts. Your passion for what you love has been palpable since you were two. When you love something… you’re dedicate all of yourself to your passion 10000%. Currently I’m watching you play with Legos while wearing a Lego Movie shirt and watching Lego Girls… just to paint you a picture. It’s an amazing world to live in with you and what an amazing experience to relive what I loved as a child.

The best eight years of my life have happened since having you. You are always my light to be the best person I can be. You’ve taught me to be brave, to make the space and time for what matters, remember to take the time to say the things we’re grateful for, to always hold hands no matter how sweaty we are, to wear as much color as possible every day, to sing Hamilton as loudly as we possibly can with the windows down, to always read bedtime stories in funny voices, and that there is always time for a dance party and to do the running man. The world is so much brighter and more wonderful since that sunny day, eight whole years ago in New York City.

Thank you for teaching me what love is my girl.

xoxo,

Momma

Microtia \mī-ˈkrō-sh(ē-)ə\

Tonight I reintroduced the word #microtia to Landon. Since she was little, we’ve casually talked about Treacher Collins and Microtia, having one of a thousand conversations rather than one big one.

I remember hearing the word myself, a little over seven years ago. I tried to google it and couldn’t find it- having spelled it wrong. When I finally found it, I didn’t undertand what it would mean. Would she hear? How? Would she be okay? How? What do I need to do to help her? And how? Little did I know that NYC would be the ultimate gift with its free services courtesy of a wonderfully functional Early Intervention program and the introduction to the Clark School and Meredith Berger. I had no idea how rare this place and the EI program was until I moved to the south.

Having found our footing amongst some of the greatest teachers, Microtia slowly became just one part of our identity. This is the gift of awareness, of advocacy. Of parents and teachers and therapists sharing their gifts with her from birth. We received information, choices, and services, thus allowing Landon to grow up with everything she should.

Tonight, after describing Microtia again, I asked her… “what do you think about your ears, and what would you say to a girl younger than you who was lucky enough to have ears like yours?” She smiled and said “they’re cute, my ears are so tiny and cute. And I really like my bahas, they give me super hearing, like Super Girl.”

For all of the families who make the overwhelmingly marvelous discovery that their child has Microtia, I hope you hear these words as you navigate the myriad of doctors and therapy appointments. I hope you know what you should expect from government programs and fight for anything you’re missing. I hope you can see the gift that is our community of fierce fighters and super girls and boys. As you find pride in them, they will find it within themselves.

#microtiaatresiaawareness #microtia #nationalmicrotiaawarenessday #treachercollins #wonder #choosekind

My body, baby

Such a terrifying post for me, but here I am. 5 weeks postpartum. 5 weeks post two complicate surgeries. This body has held 2 babies and 6 pregnancies.

This body has nurtured life after so much loss. It has played lacrosse for 20+ years, lifted weights, contorted into crazy yoga poses, played flag football through New York, and tip toed at the barre. This body even did @barre3 15 hours before I gave birth.

This body has hugged the dearest of friends, wiped countless tiny, runny noses, seen sunrises over NYC, hiked mountains in Peru, and loved the hell out of my wild family.

This body has carried me through darker times, out of situational depression and to this place here- to the happiest of my days.

For all of this I am endlessly proud. For all of this, I’ll stop worrying about pant sizes and numbers on the scale. For this body, I’ll nurture myself today and try to remover this on all days moving forward.

Baha Baby

As we walked home from school the other week, Landon paused and looked at the stroller.

“Momma, I wonder if she’ll need bahas… I hope so. I want to teach her about them and show her what to do. I mean… you’re her mommy and my mommy and I wear bahas so she probably will too.”

I swallowed hard, and tried to steady my breath. My mind racing around searching for the perfect answer. I breathed deeply and realized there isn’t room for perfect in these conversations. There is only love and truth and compassion. There is a momma who adores her daughter, and that’s all we need here.

“Well, baby. I don’t know if she will later, but at this point it doesn’t seem like she will need bahas. What’s awesome is you’ll still teach her all about them. You’ll teach her many, many important things like how to be kind, how to build legos, why the sky is blue, what super hero girls are your favorites, how to climb a tree, and how to love like a sister. Just as they don’t define you, they won’t be the only thing she sees when she looks at you. You’ll be this giant bright light to guide her, like you do for me,” I replied as I wiped the tears from my face. “I love you so much Landon.”

“I love you too mommy. But if she doesn’t….. what if I’m the only one who wears them in our family?”

“Even if you are, we all have things that are unique to us, and it’s our job to be exceptionally proud of each thing that makes us… us.” I went on to tell her what’s unique to me, her dad, Eric and Anna. She smiled as we walked and then started telling me about her rainbow bracelets and all the people she made bracelets for. Our teaching moment passing as quickly as it came.

I let the bigger and deeper conversation pass gently even though I wanted to sit her down immediately and make sure she felt my immense love. Knowing that all I want is for her to love herself as much as I do, but also knowing that these discussions will come and go quietly some days. Even though I love control… I need to let her guide me as to how much she wants to talk about anything. While these innocent questions are such important moments for me, they are also fleeting to a busy seven year old.

I asked her if she had any other questions, any other thoughts on the baby or bahas. She said no and starting skipping and twirling around the stroller. “I just love her SO much!!” she yelled.

Whenever we talk about hearing aids, TCS or something related, I always have a moment, an inch of panic that I’m not getting it right. That somehow I need to have practiced many times over to make sure she knows how wonderfully loved she is. What I need to remember is that in trusting myself, I’m trusting what I’ve learned these last seven years. I’m able to guide her by showing up to these conversations and letting HER talk. By letting patience guide us, looking her in the eyes and hugging her- showing her every way I can that she is love – that is always the path. She will teach Virginia and the world around her how amazing she is by being exactly herself. My job is just to remind her of that.

Xoxo

Eloise

BIRTH

Dearest Virginia,

Immediately you belonged to me. In meeting you, I knew you were home. My heart already swollen with years of longing to hold you.

I gazed up from my hospital bed and drank you in. I saw your pink face, fuzzy, blonde shoulders wrapped tightly in stripes, a hat too small hanging off delicate wisps of blonde hair on your head.

I tucked you under my neck, your body nestled on my chest. Your home. Tears coat my face as my eyes search for your daddy. We don’t need words- tear coated smiles convey the deepest love.

We unwrap your blanket and your warmth pours over my chest. You began searching and instantly nursed with ease. Your tiny little mouth that looks like mine already knows what to do… as if you’d always belonged there.

I hold onto you tightly, recognizing my hope and desperate pleas to have you, to know you, were answered in a tiny, seven-pound pink gift.

As you drink, I promise you that I’ll go slow.. that I won’t rush you. I vow to learn through the patience how to answer your cries. I won’t be perfect, I will be myself and raise you up to the light with your daddy’s hands. The two of us loved you into this world for years before we met you. We are home.

So stay here on my chest. Stay here in the crook of my neck. We’ve got you.

xxx,

momma

SEVEN

Dearest Landon,

This morning, seven years ago, I met you for the very first time. Bewildered by the incredible experience of bringing a baby into the world, they rolled you into my room, pink hat and all, and I got to hold your tiny body against mine. Seven magical years ago, you began your journey around the sun. You have been full of light, joy, humor, and kindness from that day. I marvel at how you love others, with fierce hugs, the sweetest nuzzling of your momma’s big belly, hilarious jokes, amazing new dance moves, and deep love of your adorable friends and devoted family.

You prefer to be outside, climbing anything, scooting or tearing the brakes on your bike. You are infinitely wise and amaze me with what you know at seven years young. It’s no wonder you have found a love of Supergirl as of late. See, you are Supergirl to me in every way. Standing up for your friends, rushing to help or care for your sister when she needs it, feeling for others in such a huge way, and always being so very brave… you are super and so full of love. I am so grateful to be your mother, so proud of you every day and I love you fiercely.

My darling bug, happiest birthday.

Love,

Momma