A Letter to My Niece, Addison Elizabeth, on Her Very First “Birthday”
To my niece, Addison Elizabeth, on her very first “birthday,” November 1, 2009.
I slept curled up with my phone last night, next to a brightly burning lamp, so if I had to wake up and go to the hospital in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t be too out of sorts. I might have even thought to sleep in my shoes and coat if it would have been comfortable enough. You come from a long line of impatient women, Addie, and I was so anxious to meet you that I very well may have left the house in socks and no pants, running down the street, if I had to.
You finally made your official debut this morning at 10:30am, and as we waited to hear the news, you can’t even imagine the excitement we all felt. We sat in the waiting room — your Nana and Papa, your Grandma and Grandpa Rocco, your aunt Rachel, and me. We tried to keep busy with knitting (me) and football (your Papa and Grandpa), but all we could think about was you. When your daddy walked out and told us you’d arrived, at 6lbs 13oz and 21 inches long, we could hardly believe it. Months of talking to you through the barrier of a belly, and now you were here among us, where we could hold you and kiss you and love you in person, face to face.
We walked into your room and when I saw your mama holding you close, my heart felt so big that I thought I might start floating. You were wrapped in a pink blanket dotted with birds (my personal favorite) and the first time I saw you face to face, you gave a big yawn and all I could think was how no little girl in the entire world had ever been so beautiful. You have your mama’s little turned up nose and your daddy’s deep blue eyes; I can’t imagine any baby who could be prettier. (Though watch out — your daddy’s already said no men are allowed near you until you’re 30.) Your hair already has a mind of its own and as you rolled over in my arms, your light brown hair squished up in the middle, like a mohawk of downy feathers. I can already tell you will be sassy, just like your mama, your grandmas, and your aunts. Be proud of that — there’s nothing wrong with being a strong woman with opinions and ideas. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
The first time I got to hold you, I was sure I’d drop you. Your head was so tiny and your body was lost in the cavernous folds of your blanket. I counted each one of your tiny fingernails and kissed your soft little forehead over and over again. Looking at you, this tiny, sleeping girl, I was humbled by the love that spilled over every part of me. I look at you and hardly know you at all, but I would do anything for you already.
Did you know you are named after me a little? We share a middle name, Elizabeth, and I tell you this because it is very special. Elizabeth means “consecrated to God; set aside for His special use.” You don’t know this yet, as I could count the hours on one hand that you’ve been here, but there is a Jesus who has loved you since you went from being one cell to two, and before that even. He has counted your fingernails long before I did and placed each soft strand of hair on your head. He knows you and loves you in ways that I can’t even put to words, and His plans for you are something special, I can tell. You are set aside for His special use, and I cannot wait to see all the amazing and unique ways He will use you throughout your life. You are lucky to have a family who can teach you all about this Jesus who loves you and who looks at you and sees His face.
You and your mama are getting rested now, and even as I sit here writing, I can still smell your soft, pink baby smell on my arms. I am formulating thousands of plans in my head for all the things we will do together. We will read books and make forts, we will bake cookies and eat the dough, we will wear our pajamas to movie theaters and throw tea parties for your teddy bears. We will play at the Children’s Museum and we will roll down hills at the park. I can’t wait to take you camping and go wading together in rivers that tickle our toes. The world is an amazing place, and I can’t wait to show it to you, miracle by miracle.
But for now, you are soft and pink and sleeping, and that is enough just to watch you.
Happy very first birthday, Addison.
I love you!