In three days you will be 1 1/2 years old. I remember Dad and I sitting in the ultrasound room, waiting to find out if you were a boy or a girl. I cried when she told us, and your Dad was so happy that Brogan was going to get a sister. You were 10 days past due… but we patiently waited. You passed Juju’s birthday, and Lulu’s birthday… and when it was time, you came into the world with a force! Your labor was three hours from start to finish. It was intense and awesome and you were BIG! You came in over 9lbs, and we were so thankful you were healthy and happy.
Lulu and Dexter stopped by the birthing inn on the way to school so they could meet you. Dexter was so sweet and delicate – with both you and I.
We were back home by 8:30am, and between rest and oodling over you, friends and family stopped by to check you out! Brogan and Grady were home after school to meet you and that day I will always remember with so much love, emotion and thankfulness.
And now, Vivian, here you are, a year and a half later, developing into a toddler. Those days of you being a baby seemed to fly by. Maybe it is because you are not my first child, and now I have your brother’s and sister to distract me. Maybe it’s because I’m older, and time literally does speed up when you age.
I am not the best mom at documenting your life story. I don’t have a scrapbook for you. I am not so clever to whip up a DIY project that showcases you at each month for the past year. But I love you with my whole heart. I take pictures of you daily. And videos. And I struggle to produce anything worthy with that. So I am writing this letter to you – so you will know a little bit of how much you rocked our world – even though you don’t have the mementos to prove it.
We talk daily. I should re-phrase. We talk non-stop to each other throughout the entire day. You LOVE to have conversation right now. I cannot understand a single thing you say, but sometimes, I think we are definitely on the same page. Below is a little sample of one of our conversations.
You will walk around the house talking to yourself. You will look me directly in the eye and speak to me as if we are having deep conversation over something of extreme importance. You love to climb up on the stool, that puts you just high enough that you can lean on the window ledge and talk about all that is happening outside. You especially love pointing to the dogs and cats. They have been intriguing to you since you were little. That is why you got a giant overstuffed dog from Santa on your first Christmas. Yes, you love to hug Teddy (named after the coolest golden retriever we know) every morning when you get up and then you laugh when you push him over onto the floor afterwards.
You weren’t really into books early on, you didn’t have much patience for them. But now, you will sit and read to yourself over and over and over. I will find you sitting on your floor in the middle of your room just looking through books. I like this about you. I like that you can play independently, but I also like that your attracted to books. I am such a fan of reading!! And I am only a moderate reader, but your father is a fast reader and dives into many subjects. Reading together and alone can be equally pleasing. There are so many fantastic books out there – I cannot wait for you to read and come into your own opinion. Your father, and your grandparents will love talking with you about books. I will have to say that your favorite book by far right now is your bible. It’s big and heavy for you… but you are determined to carry that book everywhere you go and you flip through the pages over and over and over again. I am going to have to mend the binding soon as it has been dropped so much. It is taking a beating!
Dear Vivian, you have a savory palette. I think this is awesome, as I think you get this from me. However, you may need to watch out for how much cheese you eat down the road. We curvy short girls need to keep that in check. But maybe you won’t be short – currently you have legs like your father – you are tall. You also have a Braaten head. Your head was measuring off the charts so we had to get a CAT scan to make sure there wasn’t any fluid building up in your brain…
That was a hard day. So many people have been exposed to such much trauma that I don’t hold a candle to any of their experiences. But I was shaking in my boots when I took you into the hospital that day. Juju was with us, trying to distract you and support me. I was doing my best to keep calm, keep breathing, but inside I was so nervous and wanted to cry. You needed a CAT scan, and they had to put you under, because you have to hold SO STILL that it is pretty impossible for babies to do on their own. I was doing pretty well until the nurse told me that watching your child go under anesthesia can be super hard. I teared up at that point and we kept trying to calm you. You were so tired and ready for a nap. We were in the hosiptal room and the nurse was putting the ointment to numb the areas where they would try to adminster the anesthesia. So they had your ankles, wrists, and the inside of your elbows all tapped up with the ointment under them. We were waiting on the anthesisologist and that was taking some time… so I was rocking you, and then you fell asleep. The nurse came in and said that the bed (for the scan) was ready but we needed the anesthesiologist to come in first. So, she decided to see if we could try the bed first while you slept and see if they could get a still scan. I carried you down to the room in my arms. I laid you in that intimidating machine and then had to lift and re-position your head so it was just right. Bless your heart – you stayed asleep! They ushered us out of the room. Juju and I stood right on the other side of that door and prayed and prayed that they would be able to get a still picture. Two minutes later they called us back in to retrieve you and it was a success! You never had to have the anesthesia. They had gotten what they needed. And, as you know today… while your reading this, your head was perfectly fine! No fluid – just a big ‘ol Braaten head that you are growing into beautifully.
You have a new interest in coloring. You’ve begun to scribble and are satisfied for good amounts of time just drawing. You love very small things… like the items you shouldn’t play with because they are a choking hazard… magnets and coins are a particular favorite. And what is even more curious, is that you don’t put them near your mouth. From a very young age, you have LOVED to dance. Not just dance, as in throwing your hands up in the air… but you have this sassy shoulder move that is wild and we do NOT know where it comes from. As we all know, and you will soon find out, I have zero rhythm. Your dad loves that you like to wrestle. You actually ask for it, and keep coming back for more!! You giggle and giggle as he pretends to toss you around and your such a sport about it.
You say Hhiiiiiii and even though you can’t respond, you understand so much more. I will tell you to go check out your outfit or headband in the mirror and you will walk all the way to the mirror by our bedroom and check yourself out. Things like that… I request you take your binky out after nap and you remove it from your mouth and put it in your crib. Your so cool
I will say that you have this terribly loud screech that’s super annoying. When you want to get your way, or someone (like Dexter) is too much in your personal space, you have the LOUDEST scream. Girl, we are all ready for that to end! Move on to communicating in healthier ways… please. My ears need a rest. You also have started doing this creepy number…
I think you started this when you were super tired one day. Somehow, you managed to figure out how to roll your eyes in the back of your head. And let’s be real… you look freaking possessed!! So Stop that too!! It always catches us off guard and the kids all crack up laughing. I have to tell them to stop giving you attention so you won’t figure out that they think it’s hilarious and want to keep it up.
You love to snuggle. This is a big win for me as I am the most affectionate person in our family. Your dad didn’t think you were going to be… but Oh Boy!!! When you started to show your true colors, that guy melted in a way I’ve never seen and he pretty much does the same thing each and every time you love on him. You hug everything. You squeeze your baby, your stuffed bear, eagle, and dog like it was the last time you were going to see them. And your face scrunches up with joy when you do. You openly will give hugs to your brother’s and sister and that makes them feel so loved V. Really.
Vivian, I am writing this letter to my daughter, to you, so you will know how much you light up our life. We are a blended family, and you complete our circle. You are a little bit of all of us and we are so thankful that God chose us to be your mom and dad and siblings. I think when your dad and I were talking about having you… I thought through the baby stage and I thought through the 5+ stage and sort of forgot about this toddler phase we are just starting to enter for the next 2 years. I realize now that we are about to get onto an incredibly fast rollercoaster and I better hang on tight!
Girl, you are a gift. I pray that I don’t screw you up and I pray that through all your trials and tribulations, your heart stays close to God. He is constant and unchanging and our world is broken. Always remember that you are precious and unique in your own design. You have purpose, you have opinion, you have heart and you have joy. I cannot wait to see the girl, woman, mother, wife, friend you will become as you grow. And while I can’t wait, don’t be in too much of a rush… I need to savor every day. I love you V.