Baby P, the image above is your first “close up” from an early ultrasound. Someday we’ll tell you about what it felt like to “see” you for the first time.
Dear Baby P,
Mom is going to have a laugh when she reads this and discovers that I am at a loss for words… since I’m generally the one who talks too much!
She and I talk to you all the time and sometimes — especially in the morning when we say goodbye before the workday — I put my lips to her belly and I tell you I love you.
I’ve finally sat down to write you the letter I’ve been meaning to write you. But today I don’t know what to say.
I thought I’d have some nuggets of wisdom to share or some insights about becoming a parent. But I don’t.
When folks find out that you’re pregnant, they always ask the same three questions: is it a boy or a girl? do you have a name? are you excited? Sometimes I think they ask you those questions because they want to say something but, like me, they don’t know what to say.
There are plenty of people who offer advice about being a parent and much of it is sound and some of it has been useful. But most of it is their way of sharing the experience with you. As one Italian friend of our wrote, having a child is the most normal thing in life and it is also the most extraordinary.
But then there are the grandparents. They don’t offer advice. But nearly all of them say the same thing: having a child will change your life in ways that you can’t imagine.
Baby P, that’s a photo of your beautiful mom! And it’s also a photo of you. Some folks say she’s the most beautiful mother-to-be they’ve ever seen. I have to say that I agree! She’s been such a good mother to you and I love her so much.
Becoming a parent sure does change your life: your rhythms and daily routines change; your lifestyle changes; your body changes. Every time mom and I go to the doctor for your checkup, we marvel at the miracle of life. Even with all the science of the twenty first century, the great brains of the world still can’t figure out how it all works. (And it’s probably better that way.)
But it also changes how you see the world: from the milk that I buy for mom at the store to the way a line from the poet Virgil scans; from the car seats that I installed last week to the financial challenges that we and our friends in Europe are facing every day; from your baby clothes neatly folded in your nursery to the sadness in a best friend’s voice when he talks about missing his child. Everything looks, tastes, smells, feels, and appears differently to me. But it’s not because everything is different. It’s because I’m different.
Baby P, that’s my silver milk cup from when I was born. Your grandmother, Mamma Judy, had your name engraved on the other side of the cup.
Baby P, there’s so much I want to tell you. About the world and its great cities, about music and poetry, about philosophy and art…
But today, the words just won’t come.
And so I think I’ll just put my lips to mom’s belly and tell you I love you…
Thanksgiving Day, 2011