Hold Him Close: A letter to myself for the first year of new life

Hold him close to your heart and gaze into those gorgeous eyes as long as you can. Look at his heavy eyelids, the way they fight to stay open. Watch as he frantically searches for the warmth and coziness he once had. Wrap him up tightly and sing softly. Your arms are now his safe haven, your voice is his comfort. In the middle of the night, when he wakes to feed, pray quietly over him. Tell God all your fears, release your uneasiness, and soak up the miracle that lays gently in your arms.

I know it’s exhausting and lonely. The long nights and early mornings complete with never-ending demands. I see the struggle worn behind your smile, but I see, too, the strength of a mother. Be patient with yourself. Your baby is new to the world, but you too are new to motherhood. Like anything, it takes practice. It takes grit. It takes determination. So take a deep breath.

His cries are draining as they echo around the clock without cease. Wrap him up close to you and go for a walk. Feel the sun and wind on your face. Watch the fascination as he experiences the fresh air. And embrace the peace as he inevitably falls asleep. When you get home, he’ll start screaming again so cuddle up on the couch and hold him close.

I know you’re not sure why he’s crying all the time. It hurts your heart to see him so upset, but you do know what he needs. Trust yourself. Nursing isn’t working out? That’s okay. You can throw in the towel. You can trade in the hours of struggle for extra minutes of peace. Don’t mind the opinions of others. Smile gently but do what you need to do. Make a bottle, sing him a song, and let him know that he is loved. Now, listen as the cries stop. You’re finally able to lay him down and have a moment to yourself.

One morning you’ll wake up and look at the clock and you’ll see that it is 7am. He slept through the night for the first time. Run in and greet your smiley baby. Give him kisses and hugs and hold him close. He is growing up with each passing day. Now, I bet those sleepless nights feel like a lifetime ago. The new routine suits you well. Your face is glowing with a full nights sleep and your baby is full of laughter and joy. Keep making him laugh.

Now he’s crawling and babbling. He’s preparing for his first steps and his first words. That tiny newborn has become this little boy right before your eyes. Watch how his face lights up when he sees you. Soak in every detail of his face. Those blue eyes, chubby cheeks, crooked first teeth, and contagious smile. Chase him around the house and read books to him. Give him baths and share your ice cream. Hold him close for as long as you can and let him fall asleep in your arms.

Feel the weight of his sleeping body. Don’t be in a rush to put him down and move on to your to-do list. Make sure you soak it all in. Watch the little breaths he is taking, and thank God for those breaths. Hold him close to your beating heart, and listen to his. This beautiful little life has been entrusted to you. Whisper gently, “you are my little love, my whole life. I thought God chose me to be your guide, but it turns out you’re mine.”

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  1. What a beautiful love story, I still remember those precious days!

  2. I love how you embrace and savor the moments even though there are demands and work that create challenges. Thank you for reminding us all, no matter our season in life, to pause and cherish! Grandma Sherry is correct when she calls this a “love story”.

  3. You make me smile and cry at the same time!!

  4. It’s like you’ve seen into my soul as tears stream. <3

  5. Tears filled my eyes asi read this. What beautiful words and thoughts and what a beautiful chronicle of your life as a mother through the first 12 months. Your honesty about some struggles and love for this gift from God is just amazing. Cooper is so lucky that God picked you to be his mom (and that Ryan picked you to be his wife.)
    Love you Madison!

    1. Thank you that means so much! Love you too 🙂

  6. You gave me chills. Remembering how I loved middle of the night feedings,

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