Dear Cora

Dear Cora,

You are six months old today, and I’m astonished at how quickly the months have flown. At this rate, I guess we’ll be celebrating your first birthday in about a week. Sometimes I wish I could slow it down, but then I’m enjoying each and every day with you, and so I can’t really say that I want to go back in time.

At 6 months old, you are:

  • Rolling all OVER the place. And getting into everything.
  • Thoroughly enjoying your walker. And getting into everything. One of your favorite things to do is push LeLe’s water bowl around the room with your walker, making a massive mess and getting a huge kick out of the noise it makes scraping the floor.
  • Pushing yourself up into a human arch. Hands on the ground, toes on the ground, the rest of you a rainbow over the floor. (I admire your strength. I think you are much stronger/more flexible than me. I know this because in a recent pilates class, one of the positions was something you do all the time, and I could barely even begin to do it.)
  • Learning new noises, facial expressions, and sounds every day. Some of them are scary – like a few weeks ago when you sounded like you were gasping for air while nursing. And some of them are funny – like when you blow raspberries. But mostly they are just loud – shrieking, hollering, yelling, bellowing. and accompanied by the most amusing facial expressions.
  • Loving food. You like pomegranate popsicles, strawberries, mango, banana, avocado, whipped cream, ice cream, snow cones, sweet potato, mashed potatoes, and just about anything else we let you try. (Which is just about anything we eat.) You still mostly breastfeed – you aren’t even eating solids every day yet – but you are enjoying the experience of expanding your taste buds. The one thing that seems to make you grimace especially bad is rice cereal. But that’s ok. It’s so bland it’d make me grimace, too.
  • Enjoying the swimming pool, and the bathtub too. But you make such a bit mess with the bathtub, kicking up a storm, that I sometimes let you go an extra day between baths.

The many faces of Cora trying strawberries for the first time.  And though it looks like she might have been crying in one of the shots, she really wasn’t.  Just really, really grimacing.  (She likes them now.)

Your Dad and I were talking yesterday about how amazingly fast you have changed. From a little baby who just a few short months ago mostly just ate and slept, you now have such a personality… laughing at the dog, playing peek-a-boo, smiling at anyone who looks your way, and calling out when you aren’t getting the attention you know you deserve. Your world is coming alive, and it is beautiful to see. We were on an airplane recently, and when the steward came over the speaker to instruct everyone to prepare for takeoff, you craned your head upward, searching the ceiling for the source of the voice. It’s like I could almost see the connections forming in your little mind… voices have faces, where is this voice’s face?!

You’re always getting told you are beautiful, and you are! Of course I think so, too. But when a stranger on the street comments on your beauty, I always try to reply, “Thank you. And she’s such a sweet baby, too.” Dear child, I want you to grow up remembering from the earliest days that I don’t value you for your beauty, but for your heart.

We’ve chosen a pediatrician. She’s a woman. The church we’ve been attending has a female pastor on staff. I told your dad that this is how I want you to grow up, surrounded by women doing things that sometimes aren’t seen as the “norm” in our culture. I want you to know that you can do/be whatever you want, and I want you to see examples of women fulfilling their myriad callings from the earliest of ages. Your gender is a strength, sweet child. In a world that often undervalues women and globally subjects them to many injustices, I want you to be proud of your femininity and grow into a strong yet gentle woman with a compassionate and gracious heart. I pray you will confidently move in the world with mercy, peace, and a quiet dignity that comes from knowing who you are and to whom you belong.

For your six month birthday, you slept nearly all night! From 10pm to 5am, waking only to eat and then sleeping until 9! I think it was one of the longest stretches of sleep you’ve ever had. I guess for your half-birthday, you were giving me a gift. There are so many little details I want to remember from this time. Like the groaning noise you make as you try to fall asleep. Or the way you act when your Dad tosses you in the air; you get this little look of fear on your face before you start laughing at the top of each toss – like you don’t know what to think yet. Last night I was holding you as you slept, and I tried to memorize the way your body would get a little bit heavier with each passing moment as you fell a bit more deeply asleep and relaxed a bit more. Someday I know I will want to remember the way that felt.

Good morning, Cora!  
(Taken right after she woke up on her 6 month birthday.)

Right now I am your favorite person in the whole world. You have started crying when I drop you off at nursery, and usually I can’t handle it for more than a few minutes. And even when your Dad comes home from work and wants to play with you, your eyes are searching the room to find me. Sometimes it is overwhelming – like when I need to do something else, but you need me. (In times like those, I just put you in the sling or the Moby Wrap and just go about my business.) But I know someday down the road, you are going to be more independent and not want to be with me all the time, so I just remind myself to treasure the gift of today – even if it sometimes feels like a burden.

Cora, I want you to know that I am doing my best to give you what you need. But so many days I doubt myself… voices from both sides tell me there’s a better way, whether the subject is you sleeping through the night or what to feed you. A few weeks ago, I was nearly immobilized by the voices… uncertain which way to go for fear of doing it wrong. But then I met a Zambian mother in the pool. She has a baby your age, and she laughed as she said, “You Americans! You try to make things so hard! She will sleep through the night when she is ready, and if you try to make it happen sooner, it will just be hard on both of you. She’s just a little baby, and you are her mama. You know her best. In Zambia, we hold the babies when they cry and we nurse them to sleep and we don’t try to make them grow up so quickly. It is a lot easier that way.” Her words jolted me awake and reminded me that there isn’t a right way that works for everyone. I can only do what works for us, and responding to your needs when you cry is what works for us now… so that is what I will do. And that is what I will try to continue to do as we continue down this path of becoming a mother/daughter… I’m just going to go one day at a time, with lots of prayers and lots of love.

All my heart,

4 thoughts on “Dear Cora

  1. Wow, Carrie! What a beautiful and heartfelt letter to Cora. It is filled with much wisdom, my friend. They DO grow so fast…SOOOOOO fast! Before you know it, you'll be in the passenger seat of your car, giving her driving instructions, while quietly praying for God's angels to go before you! {Just say'in!!}

    I'm so glad you are taking time to just relax and enjoy these moments of Cora's life. I remember my mom giving me a great piece of advise when Breanna was born. She said, just plan to spend the first year of her life doing a LOT of sitting and just being. I took that to heart, and so glad I did, because it made that first year of her life all that much more enjoyable, and I soaked in as many details as I could, just as you have. I wish I had journaled more though. There were no blogs back then. And I wasn't good about the paper journals. Sadly, because certainly some of those things have faded, which makes me all that much more grateful for the many photos and videos we took. It goes SO fast.

    The same with Khloe. I never dreamed that she would change so much in her first year home. I guess since she was two when we left NewDay, it wasn't as dramatic as a newborn… yet the changes are equally mesmerizing! I'm glad I have taken the time to appreciate them, too. The changes are of different nature, but I soak them in all the same.

    What a great encounter you had with that Zambian mother… she was filled with much wisdom, as well. There is no 'perfect' or 'right' way… just follow your heart and what you know, raising her up in the things of Christ, and she will grow up to be the strong and beautiful leader God created her to be! She already has a GREAT role-model as a mommy!!

    Happy 1/2 year Birthday, Sweet Cora!!



  2. Hi Carrie! (It's Amy: daughter of Mike and Suzy: Sister of Chloe and Emily…i could go on forever :P) I love your blog and i think it's so sweet that you write letters to Cora: She'll love reading them when she grows up :). The letter you wrote was so sweet :).
    Luv ya!

    (P.S. the water part reminds me of Chloe: She LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVESSSS the water :D.)


  3. I love the letter to your daughter. You both will treasure that in days to come. And yes, the days do fly!! I know a father who writes a letter every Christmas to his daughters. He has kept them and they get them when they turn 18 … wow … I wish I had done that (guess I still could and be a bit behind)–it's amazing to look back on thoughts, hopes and struggles.
    Such a blessing to have run into such a smart and sharing Zambian mom at the pool! Only God could have put her there I'd say. Hope things continue to unfold beautifully! Hugs, Valerie


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