Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reflection: A Letter to My Daughter

Dear Juliette,

I wanted to tell you how much I love you. But just saying that doesn't exactly cover everything I want to cover. So let me just ramble here, as your dad often will, and you will see what's going on inside my head.

I didn't know what to expect that night your mother and I very calmly ("Your water broke? Oh my GOD whatdowedowhatdowedowhatdowedo???") made our way to the hospital. We weren't sure if you were going to be you or someone else. You see, sure modern technology could have allowed us to know if you were going to be a Juliette or a boy (we have a boy name picked out, but I am refraining from using it in case of future need). We also didn't know if you'd be coming that day or the next, though time was running out for that day.

When you finally arrived the next morning, and the doctor said "It's a girl," and I finally said your name for the first time, it was an amazing feeling. There you were, a person! Of course, I cried. You did, too, for the record, though not as much as the doctors and nurses expected you to. I think you were just more amazed at this new wide world you had entered into than anything else, and so crying was not on the top of your agenda.

What followed is now mostly a haze; your mom and I were very tired after having been up most of the night waiting for you, and now that you were here, we marveled at you; your tiny hands, your long feet, your lean legs. There you were, in our arms, after months of anticipation. And while it was great to finally meet you, I hope you understand that through a lot of the previous nine months, we were nervous about your arrival. It took time for the excitement to outweigh the nerves and, I'll be honest little girl, once you arrived the nerves actually increased. We were responsible for you now! Us, your mom and dad! Neither of us had ever been a mom or a dad before, except to cats! And cats, as I'm sure even now you are aware, are not the same as baby girls.

We had some good role models for being parents, though. Because Granny and Poppy are my mom and dad. Grandma and Grandpa are your mother's mom and dad! So we both figured, well, they did it, so there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to.

And at first, it was easy enough. The nurses changed your diapers and they let us get plenty of sleep. We had a steady stream of visitors and life was good. But, get this...they don't let you stay at the hospital indefinitely, they actually made us go home after two days!

I'll admit, when we got home, I was a little overwhelmed. We were responsible now for every aspect of your care and well-being. You coughed and spit up a bit. We had to put you on a bed that gave off a sickly blue-light glow all night (which, coupled with anxiety and your totally normal but for us strangely abnormal nighttime noises kept us up almost all night) and we had to take you to the doctor so they could check your blood to make sure your jaundice was getting better. It was, which meant that after two days we could turn off the blue light and let you sleep on the actual mattress of your bassinet.

I remember the first diaper change I spearheaded. That was a moment of panic for me; you kept fidgeting and I had trouble keeping your feet out of the dirty diaper. Then, once I finally got you clean and a new diaper in position, you kept fidgeting and I couldn't get it on you at all. I had to call in back-up. And then, of course, two minutes later, it had to be done all over again. This was the new normal for us. But after one day, I didn't have to call for back-up anymore, except for on very rare occasions (which we won't go into now).

Then came the first day I had to go back to work and leave you behind. That might have been the longest day of your life for me; I missed my girls a lot. And while I was at work missing you (and using any free time I had to stare at pictures of you), you and your mother were continuing to bond. She got to see all your little changes, and that was hard for me to cope with. But, if I wanted to keep you in this house, I knew it had to be done. And when I got home, there you were, still adorable and waiting for me.

Life has gotten easier since that first week; diapers are changed with much more efficiency, your pictures are getting stared at by me and anyone who I happen to show them to (which is, as far as I can tell, everybody I meet practically), and you continue to grow. I look back at some of the pictures of you when you were just a brand new baby, and then I look at you now and I think, "Where did my little girl go?" But then you smile at me, and you laugh, and you hold your head up and I think, "She's still my little girl, and now she's turning into a person." And I know you will be a wonderful person.

You're my little girl and I love you so much. From the moment you came into my life, I knew you'd be amazing. I love that I get to read to you every night, that when I come home from work I get to hold you and sing to you, that we spend Saturday mornings cuddled up as a family, and that every day you grow and change (even though that last part also makes me sad). Keep changing, but don't ever stop being yourself.



  1. elliot, you are the best, cutest, most eloquent dad ever! aren't you glad that while you're gone little Juliette is bonding with that crazycool lady that is your wife?
    also, i'm super glad you have this blog so that i may watch from the sidelines.

  2. Elliot, why are you making me cry in the graduate student lounge at Columbia?? I wish that all dads loved their children this much!

  3. Awww... gushing! Keep that one to file away for the high school graduation party or future wedding folder!