Sometimes this thought keeps me awake at night...
My beautiful daughter, you are my world. I'm sure you know that - the way you settle yourself on my lap to read a story and grasp my hand when we are somewhere new shows that you know I will keep you safe. But for a little while, I wasn't quite myself. You were always perfect, but everything else was too much and not enough all at the same time. I was in a bit of a bubble, constantly overwhelmed. Still, I loved you from the very beginning, I hope you knew.
When you were just a conversation, an agreement, a hope. When you seemed an impossibility and became all I thought about as I jealously noticed the beautiful bumps that seemed to surround me. I loved you then.
I loved you in the very first days when you were a secret I couldn't keep, the hours that seemed to last forever when I didn't dare to hope. And all through the growing and aching, when we both survived on a diet of ginger nuts and peppermint tea.
When it was just the two of us after visiting hours, you were six hours old and I realised I had absolutely no idea what to do. I spent the entire night rocking and pacing, trying to soothe you to sleep while you and all the other tiny newborns took turns waking up everyone else on the ward. I loved you then; I hope you knew.
Through the nights that followed when your Daddy and I took turns sleeping in a constant cycle of feeding and cuddling. As we watched you lose weight even though I tried my best to feed you. When I declared at 2am after too many nights sleeping in half hour stints between hours of feeding and expressing and tears that I couldn't feed you anymore. All through the blur of your first days in the world, I loved you; I hope you knew.
When we both spent too long crying in the dark of the night, you with the pain of teething, me with exhaustion, I loved you. I hope you knew.
There were days when everything felt like hard work, even though you were perfectly content and giggling. My low moments were nothing to do with you, just me. I worried about everything. Every. Little. Thing. But I hope you knew I still loved you.
At your one year check, the health visitor admired how brilliantly you were developing. The bond between us was obvious, she said. When she asked me how I was doing, for some reason (and whatever that reason was, I'm thankful), I choked on my words and told the truth. I was finding it harder than I should. I felt alone even though I wasn't. I was worried even though everything was going to plan. I was convinced I wasn't good enough for you. And you crawled over and cuddled in. I loved you then. I know you knew.
I wish I'd realised sooner that the way I felt wasn't just hormones. Sometimes I question whether you would have noticed a difference if I'd asked for help sooner. But I don't let my thoughts travel too far down that path because six months later, I feel like me again. This is what I want you to remember when you reminisce about your childhood: exploring, talking, singing, laughing, love. I don't think I'll ever be able to explain in words how much love, but I can show you, and you know. That's the thought that helps me get back to sleep.