Thursday, March 11, 2021

A Letter to Maren on her 1st Birthday

March 11, 2021. One whole love filled, challenge filled, happy, sad, life changing year. Your dad and I went into the hospital with nothing but bubbling, over-the-top anticipation when I went into labor, and left with the littlest, most vulnerable newborn to protect from a raging virus as store aisles were wiped clean, events were cancelled, and places closed like dominoes. Like a switch was flipped. Postpartum anxiety is already a tricky thing to handle, but with an added global pandemic and a doctor dad with no protective equipment in the beginning, it hardly felt like I could contain my worry in those initial months before we knew anything at all. Everything was eerie, like we were living in a movie. In the first page of your baby book I wrote, “300 people have died.” Here we are at 520,000+. It’s hard to summarize how heavy that worry has been to carry sometimes, with an added front row seat to some of the scariest cases seen every day by your dad.

 I spent 6 months of it on maternity leave, something I had planned (and was so thankful for) before ever hearing about what COVID was. The stars aligned for us in that way, and I soaked up every single minute of you while also juggling home school with two big brothers who were suddenly pulled out of life as they knew it. No more activities, no more school. Just the four of us at home, growing and learning together. And like everyone else, I didn’t realize my reserves of zeal and creativity would have to last as long as they did, so I spent them all in the beginning and slowly started to lose my optimism as the months went by. Thank goodness you were such a good, easy baby. You slept until 8am (in the beginning, that is) and nursed on the go, happy to be held and wherever we all were. We took so many walks together since it was just about the only thing for us to do. You lived at the lake with me, mostly in your carrier, happy to be close to mama and looking around outside. Now, the regular lake-walkers call you their “little star”. Every day, your dad would come home from work and strip and bag his clothes in the garage and run to the shower, holding his breath that it was another day where we would all stay healthy.

Me going back to work was one of the hardest transitions of being split completely down the middle, divided between a semi-mobile, attention-needing 6-month-old as my sidekick and a computer with hundreds of emails to return to. The boys started remote school with their teacher in our makeshift at-home classroom, and you were juggled between me and Mummo, and sometimes Nana and Papa too, nestled up with your family that you loved. Despite our cocoon, somehow, you’ve thrived. Standing, cruising, babbling, playing, saying mama or dada, or shouting “UP!” when you demand to be held. I’m so glad to have been there, cheering you on, for every single milestone. You’re so interested in your brothers and want whatever they have: light sabers, LEGOs, thermos bottles, and their food, and aren’t afraid to shout “TÄÄ!”, the Finnish word for THAT, and point to what it is you want as long as it takes to get it. 

You’re still nursing 3 times a day because there is no such thing as rushing anything with last babies. You eat pretty much everything you’re given, but rice porridge, mashed potatoes, and salmon are your favorites. You’re sleeping 7p-6a now (long gone are the 8am newborn mornings), and we’re working super hard to transition to one afternoon nap. You’re so bright eyed and full of life, attached to mama and displeased enough to scream when anyone else sits in my lap. Stranger danger has been taken to a whole new level since you’ve barely seen any people in your little life, but I promise that will change this year.

Your favorite thing is reading books, especially anything with lift the flaps, and you pick them up and hand them to me over and over again. You point, wave, clap, show us “How big is Maren?”, and give the best, wettest, open mouth kisses. You love Elmo even though you’ve never seen Sesame Street and puppets are your love language. You have two upper and three lower teeth, and when you throw your head back to laugh my heart could explode. Your hair is getting longer and longer, enough where I have to clip it to the side now, and I swear you transformed from baby to little girl as soon as I did. You’re standing unsupported, like a baby bird mustering the courage to take flight, and have just barely started taking a few unassisted, wobbly steps before diving into mama’s arms again.


For months I wished for a baby, and you came at just the perfect time. You brought light and the joy in the middle of worry and sadness.  The year hasn’t always been easy, but sometimes it’s been perfect, too. We’ve all grown and changed together in the 4 walls of this house. We’ve loved each other so hard. We’ve been so thankful for our family, for our health, for our home, and especially for you.

As sad as I am that you’re growing so fast, there are even better days ahead. We can see them and almost feel them, just in front of us. Cases are slowly declining; your (adult) family is all vaccinated. We can’t wait for the world to finally meet you. We made it to the other side, together. 


Happy first birthday, Maren Josefine, our beautiful baby girl. You are such a dream come true and we love you so incredibly much. 2020: what a year to have been born.

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