Friday, February 7, 2014

Dear Child E :: 1 year

Dear Child E,
You're ONE! For so long we've told people your age in months and people comment on your tiny size. Now that we're talking about your age in terms of years, it's an even crazier reaction we get. Maybe we should say "12 mos" instead of "a year" - maybe that would sound less amazing? You are small, I guess, but to us, you're you! You're walking and talking more and more. You love being held - most preferably by this momma. You're chatty-babbly -LOUD. You've said "momma" for a while but lately it's switched to "mommy". You also say: "uhoh" and you're starting to say your siblings names. You wave and dance and love music of any type. The first time you danced was when a group of people sang "happy birthday". You're also pretty snuggly. You've given hugs for a long time - and there's nothing better than your baby arms squeezing a neck!

When you came to us you were non-reactive, you didn't answer to your name, you were bald, and very sick, you were filthy wearing a diaper and a tank top in the chilly night air. You were also small -less than 15lbs at almost 9mos. These days you're a very different baby. You cry, you laugh, you smile, you yell, you babble - and at you're 1 year checkup you were almost 19lbs! I asked what your birth weight was - did they know? And learned you'd more than tripled your birth weight. I was thrilled. Thrilled! You've grown so so much. Your hair and nails are growing. Most of the time you're clean although you never know with 4 older siblings, and you eating more and more solids.

Every week I bring you with your sisters to visit your dad - and more recently your mom too. A month ago you started having an opinion about this. It goes something like this: crying and reaching for me. At first it surprised all of the grownups, but now it's the norm. It's heartbreaking. I can't imagine how discouraging and sad this is for your parents who are probably not feeling their best selves as it is. I don't know. I'm just guessing. But any way you look at it, I'm guessing it doesn't feel good. For you, you're being inexplicably placed in the arms of relative strangers which might be okay, if I wasn't leaving you with them - without me. And it's devastating for me. I'm putting you in the arms of someone I don't know and leaving you in a strange place for hours. But I also know that sometimes parents have to do hard things for their children - this is just one of them. So I smile, put you in a waiting parent's arms, wave, and I'm out the door. When we see each other again you wiggle and grin and squirm reaching your arms to me. Your mom is so great and mature about the whole thing. She's said things like: "do you like her or something? Good thing! That makes this easier." It's not easy. None of it. No matter what. But if your mom can find something that makes it a little easier, I'm all for it.

Sometimes I think you have it the easiest of your sisters. You came to us so young and so flat in your affect. You'd learned early on to "turn off" emotionally. Your sisters don't really understand what's going on but they do feel a loss more deeply and have more conscious memories of their past - even if they can't articulate those memories. But what about in the future when you're sad that you have no memories. Or what about in the future when you go through the reverse of what your sisters' have experienced - losing the security of the family life you're used to. This is why it's never easy. No one wins when you can't stay with the parents that birthed you. I keep telling myself that even if you miss 9mos, a year, etc of life with your original family - better to miss that and go back then to miss that and more when never returning. I want to shake your parents sometimes. "Just do X, Y, Z! Now GO!" I want to say. But I can't be the person that holds their hand any more than I am by holding yours. It's not my role. And it's not sustainable if it becomes my role because then it's something that I would need to commit to for life, and that's not fair on anyone either. And it's not as easy as doing x, y, z - your parents have their own scars, bruises, uncertainties that they face daily and are severe beyond my imagination. There's no easy fix and it's shortsighted at best and downright cruel at worst to assume that - that if they just did these three easy steps all would be right in your family's world. It's more complex than that. It's hard to be in this place where I can't solve it all. I think that would take time travel. I wish I could go back to your birth and catch you and bring you to a safe place to avoid all the hurt you've faced. But then I wish I could go back further and do the same for your sisters. But, can I go back further and befriend your parents in high school and be a positive influence. Or back further and catch them at birth ... but I'm not a super hero. I can't time travel. And even if I could, I've seen this played out in movies, it never ends well.

But we have the now with you and me and our family. A family that includes sisters, a brother, two sets of parents, many grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins ... all doing everything they can to protect you and keep you safe. Your sisters are always interested in getting you to smile at them, your brother loves to carry you around, your original parents are doing the best they can to get to appointments and classes and all of the other demands put on them to show that they are able to parent you safely, these parents are laughing at your antics and reveling in your accomplishments and snuggling you every chance we get, your grandparents are amazed at how fast you're growing and love that big smile, aunts, uncles, and cousins are all concerned for your welfare and doing all they can to support your parents. It's a lot of love surrounding you, Baby Girl. We wish you the best and from now until forever we're going to do our very best to be the best support for you, your sisters, and your parents that we can be. We can't change the past, but we can relish the present and put supports in place for the future.

We love your determination, your friendly smile, your enthusiastic hugs and we're so excited to be in the front row watching your personality emerge a little bit more every day.

Thank you for being you!
All my love forever no matter what,

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