100 Days - A Letter to Zoe (a photo for each day)

My Darling Zoe, 
I have officially known you for 100 days, though I felt you move inside me for many more. You came into the world much easier than I had ever anticipated. As long as I live I will never forget hearing your first cries as they lifted you out of me. I felt like getting up and going to you because you must have been terrified. But you didn't know who I was either. I remember covering your face with kisses when we met before you were whisked away momentarily to be checked. Of course, little one, as you know, my excitement was quickly put on hold when you were sent to another hospital over night because your breathing wasn't good. You gave us the fright of our lives. When Daddy brought you back to me the following day, I knew I wasn't going to let you go again for a long time.

That whole first week was a whirlwind of emotions but the strongest I felt was love. Daddy and I have always been a family but now we had become three people. I couldn't take my eyes off of you and still can't. Getting up every 2 hours was far easier than I had imagined. Nature kicked in and I wanted to nurse and fatten you up as quickly as possible. Feeding you was difficult in the beginning. I couldn't keep you awake long enough to get enough nutrients into you. And as I watched your weight plummet I got so anxious that I may not be able to nurse you myself. However, you fell asleep drinking the bottle too so it wasn't just the comfort of the breast. Naturally, I was offered different advice by so many people but my gut instinct knew together you and I could do this. And we did!! Now we feed wherever and whenever we want. There have been one or two times when I have left a little sob out of me when you have woken twenty minutes after a feed at 3.00am looking for another but other than that it has been perfect. This feeding time is the most precious to me. I have watched you turn from a stocky little newborn into a skinny mite who was critical, back up to the chubby, cuddlesome girl I know now. And I did that. I fed you all those calories. I encouraged you latch on up to 15 times some days. I am responsible for those fat knees, cellulite-covered tummy, creased wrists and let's not forget those chubby cheeks. I am honoured to have gotten the opportunity to do that for you and with you. 
Before you were born, I pictured it being odd having another person in our home but it wasn't at all. It felt completely natural. Something I hadn't thought about was how you felt about me. In the beginning I was a stranger to you. Everything was strange to you. You must have been petrified. One day your warm, dark home was opened up, a strong light hit your eyes and large hands lifted you out.  You had no idea what was happening. I thought about that and how terrifying it must be to have these two big faces looking at you all of the time. You had never seen faces before. You had never felt hunger before. You had never passed fluids or touched skin. It was my job to make you feel safe and secure and that was at the forefront of my mind. 
People said things like "Put the baby down" or "it's good for baby to cry" but no, I disagreed. I needed to gain your trust, earn your love, understand what you were looking for. I picked you up as soon as you cried, I let you nurse until you slept and little Zoe I held you for hours on end as you slept in my arms or on my chest. Days were spent on the sofa just getting to know each other. Of course I had pictured us out walking every day. But I can tell you it's not the walks in the park I'll remember; it's the times feeling your heartbeat against mine, kissing your silky soft hair, rubbing your delicate skin, playing with your tiny hands, examining every part of the tiny human Daddy and I produced. I'd say out of the last 100 days you have spent a total of 97 being held or cuddled by me day and night. I believe now that you feel safe with me. You sense the love I have for you and you must know I will always be there when you need me. 
 You sleep with me in the bed although at the beginning you didn't. Slowly but surely you have made your way in. My body aches from sleeping in the same position all night but now I couldn't imagine sleeping without you - well, not yet anyway. You were so tiny at the beginning I was scared of crushing you but now little one, it's you who hurts me in the bed. You have become so active and spend your waking minutes kicking me in the stomach. It's worth it now though because when I open my eyes, I am greeted by the most beautiful gummy smile. Oh Zoe, it's incredible. I hope one day you experience what I am going through now. This is the best time in my life and it's going by too quickly.
You have taught me so much about myself. I never knew I could love anyone this much or in this way. Of course I knew I loved you from the moment I knew you existed but I didn't realise how consuming and overwhelming a love it is. Sometimes I feel like I am going to burst because of it. It feels like pressure building inside my heart and that is a bizarre feeling. Daddy and I spend hours talking about how much we love you. You have helped me to appreciate the things I previously took for granted such as peeing alone, getting up and out of the house within an hour, lie-ins, eating with both hands and hot food. But you have also shown me there is no point in sweating the small stuff, as they say. Most of the housework can wait. These few short months are so fleeting that it's okay to let standards slip. Admittedly I do still find it hard not to have a clean and tidy house but I am coming round to the idea. You are far more interesting to spend my time with. I know when you are all grown up I will have too much time on my hands and long for these days. As long as I have a clean toilet, washed plates, laundered clothes and empty bins everything else can wait. Yes I have the dustiest windows, the messiest wardrobe, condiment-stained cupboards, grubby mirrors and (quite often) crumb-covered floors but those things will be there as long as I want - whereas you'll be an adult in no time at all. Well, 18 years, but it will feel like no time. 
 The past 100 days have presented some challenges for me too. There were times when I felt like a complete failure. Looking at every other mother I felt useless in comparison. I didn't know how to comfort you other than offering you my breast. I wasn't sure how to handle you physically. I had no special moves up my sleeve and, my baby, I still don't. That said, there has been many times when I have held you close and sang Bell X1 songs and felt your tense, sobbing body relax against mine and fall into a deep sleep. It is then I feel like your comforter again. I have learned to tell others about my shortcomings because they usually end up being normal or just phases that all or most babies and mothers go through. I have been privileged to learn the secrets of the mother's club - everyone is just winging it and anything that helps you to survive just do it. Talking to others has helped me relax and stop putting pressure on myself and putting myself down. I have had 100 broken sleep nights, probably nursed over a thousand times, changed a few hundred nappies and kissed, bathed, cuddled, rocked, tickled and played with one beautiful, heartwarming little girl. I am a mother and a pretty good one at that. You have helped me get here. 
 I am aware of living in the moment and now more than ever. I catch myself saying "I can't wait until Zoe ..." and then stop myself. I enjoy every minute with you even when you are crying. Okay, so I didn't like when you got vaccinated - but I appreciated it in a way, just because it was with you. I have watched Auntie Aisling blossom into the most wonderful mother I have ever met and seen her babies grow up so quickly. Seeing that taught me, even before you were born, to take in every minute. Even now, you are in the swing fast asleep beside my chair. I keep finding myself looking at you and forgetting what I was writing. I have the urge to wake you up but I won't. You didn't sleep that much today. 
I have watched as your personality has started to show. You know what you like and what you don't like. Mainly you just want to be held facing out the way. You are a nosy little thing but I guess you have gotten that from both sides. You definitely don't perform. You almost save your smiles for moments when it's just the two of us. I know you do the same with Daddy too. Maybe you want to make each of us feel special. So you are thoughtful. You have a temper on you which I wasn't really expecting. I wonder if it will stay with you for life. Daddy and I have our moments but generally we aren't that hot headed. I guess I'm going to have to learn how to deal with it. For now, I get my breast out as quickly as I can and you latch on, while giving me dirty looks. But I love that too.
You are a pretty quiet baby. The last few days you have started to giggle which is fantastic. When you were teeny tiny you made the strangest zombie like noises that used to scare Daddy and me during the night. Now you definitely make more baby like sounds and you're very vocal first thing in the morning. You have just discovered your little voice and at the moment it's gentle and quiet. It will be interesting to see what the next 100 days has in store regarding that. Zoe. The morning is certainly your time to shine. You wake up smiling most mornings, unless you have some farts to let out. You are a bright eyed morning person and I'm happy to say you take after me in that way. 
You play happily by yourself but then I start to miss you so we play together. We listen to music, I sing songs, I dance with you in my arms and even dance for you. We do baby yoga, avoid tummy time and shake rattles and read books. I have watched you grow from the scrawny baby who couldn't keep her eyes open but startled herself awake, to the alert little one who grasps objects (accidentally), follows my voice and other sounds, reacts to my facial expressions and has started laughing.

Zoe, I don't think you will ever truly understand how privileged I feel to be part of your life and a big part at that. I adore you so much. I can't speak for your Daddy but I have seen his heart quadruple in size with love for you. I know he was nervous before you were born because he would have to adjust to a 'new' life. However the moment you arrived he fell hard for you. I never believed he could love some deeply either. I have savoured just watching him hold you, comfort you, entertain you and coo over you. When he is at work, he asks me to send photos of what you are doing at that time. I thought the newborn stage would be quite boring for him because you would be nursing and sleeping a lot. But he found you hilarious from the beginning. He even admitted to me that he wanted to spam everyone with pictures of you. In the past 100 days between us we have taken almost 6000 photos of you. We are obsessed. 

My little daughter, who I waited so long for - you have been worth the wait. Thank you for the last 100 days, for all of the happiness you have brought to our lives, for everything you have taught me about Daddy and me and most of all for letting me get to know you.

I love you to the moon and back.

With kisses, snuggles and raspberries, 
Mummy xx



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