A Little Love Letter

In honor of my niece, Carina Violet’s first birthday, I wanted to share this sweet letter my brother wrote her a few days after she was born.

Get the tissues.

May 18, 2013

Sweet Carina, My Beloved, Darling, Sweetheart,

I love you. I love you so much. You are 5 days old today! You have been growing and eating and sleeping so well! I have treasured every second with you and am writing this more for myself, so I will remember all of these precious moments with you when I’m old and can’t remember very good :), but I hope this reminds you, too, when you’re older, just how much I love you. Because of that, it’s not meant to be concise, and my words may ramble because my thoughts about you are innumerable and overflowing.

I can’t wait to tell you many times over your life the story of how hard your mommy worked to get you out! She labored all night starting at Midnight on Monday and was humming the song “Lord, I Need You” with every contraction.

Lord, I need You, oh I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

She woke me up at 3:30AM and we got ready to go to the hospital. Mommy labored all day with you as you made your way down. You took your time and the doctors didn’t give any medications to speed it up, we just waited patiently. She started pushing around 10:30PM and we couldn’t wait to meet you! We sorta thought this part might go fast since we had waited for you to move so far on your own…but it didn’t. By 1:00AM, you were still pretty far up and the doctors started talking about the possibility of a C-section because mommies often get tired after pushing so hard so long. They said if we didn’t see significant progress by 1:30AM, we may have to get you out some other way. I could tell they were leaning that way and I was worried for you and mommy.

I texted nana and papa, and the whole family started praying for you and mommy. Mommy was determined to see you soon, so she started pushing 4 times with every contraction, and every time the doctors asked if she was okay, she said, “Yes, I can keep going.” I knew that no one wanted to see their baby more than she did, and she would keep pushing long and hard, as long as it took.  And she did! I’m gonna take a little credit, because the doctor was going to step away and let her push on her own with me and the nurse and recheck her again at 1:30, but I told them that she did a lot better with them helping her focus how to push and helping your head move down. Without that, we might as well just move to the C-section and save you and mommy the stress. So they stayed, and that’s when we started to see the top of your head and got really excited that you were finally coming!

I can’t tell you enough how sweet your mommy was; she pushed sooo hard every time and would smile so sweet and pretty after each contraction, even after 3 ½ hours. All the nurses and doctors were impressed with her and amazed by her determination, and often said how pretty she was after so much hard work. I was her helper too :), and kept reminding her that you were coming and couldn’t wait to see her and that she was going to hold you really soon. I could tell the doctors started getting excited and motivated by how hard mommy was working, and started believing you were gonna actually come out on your own without surgery. God heard the prayers of your family and mommy and daddy, and you finally came!

You grew perfectly in mommy’s tummy and came out at 2:04AM on Tuesday May 14th, 2013, at 8lbs 8oz, 21 inches long, and your head was 38cm, which the doctors said is off the charts; the computer didn’t know what to do so it put 100th percentile! They said that means you will be really smart (like mommy). You worked so hard to come into this world and you were so strong; your heart was strong and always came back up after long contractions. Your head squeezed really tight past mommy’s pelvic bone, so tight that you had a scrape on the back of your head where you pushed past her pubic bone in the front. The scab is already getting better.

After you came out, mommy held you close and you were prettier than we ever could have thought! You came out with a cute upper lip, kinda big like mommy and daddy (which we expected), and your bottom lip was sucked in under your upper gums. You even opened your eyes and we saw your deep dark blue crystal clear eyes looking back at us. You, our little buddy, who was ALWAYS moving in mommy’s tummy and kicking and having hiccups, were finally in her arms, and we fell in love. Everything was perfect about you. All the family came in and said hi and mommy and I decided we wanted to call you Carina Violet.

We wanted your name to have meaning for us and for you as you grow. We decided early on, after we found out you were a girl, that your middle name would be Violet, after your great, GREAT grandmother. She is the sweetest lady, and when people see her with her pretty white hair, they say she is just like an angel because she is so gentle, always smiling, and loving those around her. At Christmas time, she likes it when her grandchildren (mommy) and great grandchildren sing songs and carols for her. Mommy did it when she was a little girl, and maybe someday, you will too :).

When mommy and I were driving to my home in Clovis, CA for Christmas, we were brainstorming names: Charlotte, Carissa, Clarissa…and the name Carina popped into my head. We don’t know anyone with that name, but liked the sound of it—like a princess ballerina, or something pretty like that. I told mommy to look up what it meant and she said it means “Beloved”, and in Italian, “Che carina!” means, “How darling!” We loved it, and it was so sweet and meaningful for us, that it quickly went to the top of the list. It was that same week that we found out you were a girl when we opened a pretty little pink flower outfit on Christmas. I was surprised! I thought you were going to be a boy. But, my heart was so happy knowing that I was going to have a beautiful daughter to love and who would love her daddy. I was also really happy for mommy because I knew how special it was going to be to have a sweet little girl to be buddies with. Ever since then, as much as I tried to imagine other names for you, in my heart, you were Carina—my Darling, my Beloved. Right after you were born, I asked mommy what she thought we should name you, and she made it clear that she wanted to wasn’t quite ready to decide :). So, I waited a few more minutes and when she was ready we both agreed that you were our beloved Carina. It was fun to say it out loud and announce your name to the whole family after you were born. It was perfect for you!

We were a little bit sad when the doctors came and said you had a fever and they wanted to take you to the NICU to get an IV, draw some labs, and get your first dose of antibiotics L. This was all just to make sure you didn’t have a serious infection in your blood. Though I was sad to take you from mommy, I was happy when they said I could go with you, because I loved you so much already and wanted to watch over you.

When they put the IV in your arm, you didn’t even cry once! You were so brave and strong and dada was right there with you telling you it would be okay. I was sadder than you were as I thought about your perfect, brand new, little veins getting poked twice when the first IV didn’t work L. You and I stayed there for 1 hour while you got the antibiotics, and I held you the whole time. The nurses said I could give you my finger to suck on, so I scrubbed it really good and made sure it was clean for my perfect, brand-new, little sweetheart.

I talked to you the whole time, leaning close to you, speaking softly and gently saying, “I love you sweetheart, my darling Carina, my beloved. You are so sweet and brave. You grew so good in there and were strong. That was hard work getting born, and you and mommy did really good. I love you. It’s okay. Dada is here with you and loves you so much. I’m sorry you can’t be with mommy right now; we will go see her soon. She loves you so much and can’t wait to hold you. ” You were sucking on my finger turned upside down so I wouldn’t scratch the top of your mouth, and you were sucking really hard! I was a little sad because I knew you probably really wanted mommy right then and not my finger. Every time I tried to take it out, you got upset, so I put it back in and you liked it. You sucked so much, my finger turned into a prune and got all white. I knew I would always remember that and tell you about it when you were older. I was praying for you too, and the verse Jeremiah 29:11 came to my mind, and I spoke it softly to you, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” You were so sweet and calm the whole time, and I fell more and more in love with you with every passing second. Finally, we got to go back to mommy and you got to be her cozy buddy again.

You did great in the hospital and didn’t have any more fevers or infections. You started to learn how to eat and do all of the things you’re supposed to, and mommy and I learned what to do too. The day after you were born, I was supposed to find out if I matched to a Hand Surgery fellowship, where we would all go for a year, so I could be a hand surgeon. When I checked online and saw that I didn’t match, we were shocked and disappointed, because there was no good reason why I shouldn’t have matched. It also left a lot of questions as to what we were going to do after residency. We were so tired already and flustered by this shocking disappointment. But guess what? As much as I felt uncertain about the future and disappointed in not matching, you made everything okay :) . I was so happy that you were alive and you and mommy were happy and healthy, that nothing else really mattered.

The day we left the hospital, I made lots of trips to the car with lots of pink and polka dot bags, and I drove to the front of the hospital to pick you and mommy up. As I took video of you and mommy, I thought about you watching it someday seeing how happy we were to have you. Also, mommy was really pretty :). I got you strapped in to your brand new car seat and turned on the car. Playing on the radio was mommy’s song for you!

Lord, I need You, oh I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Yes where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Lord, I need You, oh I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay

Mommy was so happy and thankful to God for you, she started to cry. He was faithful and made you perfect and gave her strength to bring you into this world! Then daddy was emotional too, and we were both perfectly happy :). We were so in love with you. Daddy was video-taping, so mommy got embarrassed and said, “Let’s take her home!” Then we both said, “I love you,” and took you home.

The past 5 days have been busy and tiring and so full of joy as we learn how to take care of you. Writing this all down has taken all day; I started at 10:00AM, and it’s now 10:20PM, because I have been helping mommy take care of you, changing diapers, feeding, burping, rocking to sleep, over and over again. You, me, and mommy took a nap together on the couch, and you slept on your tummy on my chest. We were cozy and I loved it! I have probably changed your diaper 10 times today, including 2 in a row when you peed on my hand while I was putting a new clean one on! Mommy thought it was funny that I felt something wet on my hand and put it to my nose without even thinking, to see if it was pee…and it was :).

You are my sweetie sweet—that’s what I call you sometimes :). “It’s okay my sweetie sweet,” “come here my sweetie sweet.” I love you so much!

I am VERY (over)protective of you. After mommy feeds you, I want to be the one to burp you to make sure you get it out good. I won’t even let anyone else change your diapers because I want to make sure you are so clean and it gets done fast so you don’t get a rash or get too mad. That’s crazy. I must love you a lot, because I don’t even care about when you go potty, I just want to make you happy and take care of you. When people are holding you, I have to take a deep breath and hold my tongue, even if I think they aren’t holding you as cozy as I think they should.

I love everything you do. From the moment I saw you, I haven’t wanted to stop looking at you. I think your nose and hair is like mommy’s, and your mouth looks like mine did when I was a baby—big upper lip with the bottom sucked in. It’s my favorite when you suck your bottom lip under your top gums.

I’m lucky that I get to hold and burp you after you eat. You get really sleepy and floppy like a wet noodle and slouch over my hand as I hold it under your chin; your arms flop down at your side and you look so cute. I love it. Then you will open your eyes and look around without moving at all, like you only have enough strength to move your eyeballs. Your eyes are so pretty.

You used to get the hiccups many times a day in mommy’s tummy, and you still get them. I feel bad for you because they are really strong and shake your whole body and sound really painful, but you are also very cute when you get them. Every hiccup shakes your whole body, and you roll your eyes like you’re really annoyed, which I think you probably are.

When you get hungry, you shake your head back and forth frantically and make small snorting noises like a little piglet. Even after you’ve had a lot of milk from mommy, you try to suck on your hand and act like you’re still hungry. You are silly, and we like you.

And your smell! I love the sweet soft smell of your skin and your hair and the back of your neck. Now wherever I go, my hands smell like you, and I miss you, even if I’m sitting right next to you. I smelled your breath when before you had ever eaten a thing or had any milk, and I remember thinking it smelled like a new plastic beach ball, which sounds kind of weird, but it was clean and fresh.

You are not only cute, but pretty, and you are going to be beautiful when you grow up. If you’re lucky, you will look like mommy. I’m not the only one to say so, everyone says you are pretty.

I can’t even tell you all the things I love about you, because they never end. Your fingers, your little monkey feet and toes, your little squeaks, your little tiny half smiles, the way you always cross your left ankle over your right, all your little bones, everything.

I can’t wait to do fun things with you! I told mommy today, I want to take you to Disneyland and get a princess makeover with your cousins Avonlea and Bella, so you can get your hair pretty and makeup done and put on a princess dress. You will always be my little princess, no matter how you look or dress, but that sounded like fun to me. Also, mommy and I talk about taking you on fun trips where we can go snorkeling together when you’re older. I’m really good at finding little turtle buddies to swim with and see all the fishies. Mommy will teach you the hand signal for “turtle” under water; she’s good at it. We will find them and swim with them and you will love it. You will be daddy’s little swimming buddy and I will keep you safe. We will get a kayak and you can be the captain and tell me where to take you, and I will do it.

I want to go on special dates with you. We can get dressed up and go to dinner or do whatever you want. I bet you will like frozen yogurt like mommy does.

Now it’s 11:30PM, mommy went to sleep for a little bit, and you are being my buddy up in my office. That’s nice for me because I like looking at you and I can pretend I’m talking to you as I type. Last night I was awake late again and holding you as you slept. I was thinking about watching TV, but I didn’t even want to; I just wanted to be with you.

You have captured my heart, and I am in love with you, my darling Carina. My heart is full of emotion for you, and I get scared to think about any harm coming to you, because I love you and want to protect you. I know that if anything ever happened to you, I would not be okay, and that scared me. So, I prayed for you last night while I held you and you slept in my arms.

From the moment your mommy and I found out about you, we gave you back to God, which is sort of silly because you have always been His. He made you and you are his daughter. He is allowing your mommy and me to take care of you here, but you are His. So, I acknowledged that again last night and asked God to hold you in His hands. I prayed you will grow strong and healthy. I prayed His grace and mercy would cover your life, that you will come to know Jesus as your Savior and Lord of your life. As perfect as you seem to me, He has purchased your life with his life so you can know him and be with Him forever. I asked God to give you a deep love for Him, and that He would glorify Himself through you, that others would know Him because of you.

This world is full of evil, but I prayed God would protect you from it, that He would send special angels to guard you as you sleep and grow up and go wherever you go. I asked that He would spare you from sadness and suffering. It breaks my heart to even think about it, but I know He loves you more than I do and has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” You can trust Him. I prayed that you would experience the fullest joy. Not just once, but that you would have God’s joy in your heart, like mommy. That’s one thing I love the most about her, she is so positive and joyful. You have filled our hearts with joy overflowing, we love you so much.

Then, I thought that someday you might like a boy who also likes you, and I got a little bit mad at that boy. But then, I decided to pray for him, that God would make his heart pure and Christ-like and that he would seek God’s will in his life. I prayed for God’s protection on him as well, that He will love God more than you, and then you more than anything else in the world. It’s going to be really hard for me to deal with that when the time comes, and let you go someday. I’m not gonna think about that any more right now, because I get emotional when I think about it; just know that no man will love you as much as your daddy does, okay? You were my darling sweetheart first.

Mommy and I pray that we will show you God and help you to know Jesus. I pray for His wisdom. I’m asking him to help me love your mommy and you as He loves you both. You have been alive for 5 days, and I feel like I would give my life for you, so I guess that’s a start. I love you so much. I cannot even tell you how much.

I know I cannot be a perfect daddy, but I will do my best and trust God to help me love you as He does. If you read this someday, and I have hurt you in some way or not been all that I should have been, please forgive me. Right now, you know no insecurity, heartache, pain, betrayal, or sadness; and if I could, I would do everything in my power to keep it that way for the rest of your life. Sweet Carina, I will always be here for you, no matter what. No matter where you go or what you do, you will always be my firstborn little girl, my sweetie sweet, my darling beloved. I love you with all my heart, and always will.

 

Love,

Dada

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