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My sweet daughter,

Here is what they don't tell you—

When they place this tiny newborn creature gasping for breath in your outstretched arms—which have been perfectly designed to hold their bones—everything changes.

And not in all the ways you originally thought.

There will be days of exhaustion and desperation. There will days that will leave you gasping for air and for the life you once knew.

There will be a day you may have to go back to work because you didn't have any other choice. That will be the day that eats you up and spits you out. Between the separation and the fear of not knowing if you can go through your day without your baby by your side, it’s just so much.

I left you reluctantly, and only after tears had been shed.

There will be the struggles of breastfeeding. You will lose track of how many times you sit in that chair in their room, silently rocking, with tears streaming down your cheeks, quietly begging someone to somehow tell you what you are doing wrong.

There will be the endless hours you pump in your office because you have promised you won't let your child down. Because you won't give up. Because you can do this. You will second-guess everything you eat and drink for the second time around, as if the first time weren't stressful enough.

There will be the day you drop your child off at school, and there will be the ache in your chest that pulses with every heartbeat for the minutes you feel are slipping away as they grow up and change right in front of your eyes.

There will be the kneeling down in front of them and trying to quiet their fears. You will tell them to be brave and good, and it will probably be that you are talking more to yourself than them.

There will be the daily struggle you face: Who am I letting down today? Is it my family? Is it my child? Is it myself?

There will be days where you are filled with the fear that no matter what you do, it won't ever be enough. Will I be able to handle this? The gravity of this task? Will I ever be enough? This is what you will spend your whole life asking, and you will learn to accept there may never be an answer to these questions.

But you keep trying.

You will cling to the simple joys that now fill your days—things that prove to you it is all worth it. These will be the things that make everything else fade away.

The look on your face when you see me. This.

The way you lay your head on my shoulder and cuddle up and whisper, "I can't get close enough… You are my sunshine… You make me happy... I love you so much." This.

Your chatterbox ways.

Your effervescent joy.

Your laugh.

Your boundless energy.

Your tenderness and gentle heart.

Your assertiveness.

Your brilliance—both in mind and spirit.

This.

So this is what I’ll tell you, so you will never forget, because it’s the most important thing of all: You are my purpose and my world.

You are worth everything. Don't EVER believe anything else, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

All my love, always,

Mom

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