To my daughter, on your first day of life.

Dear Caroline,

It’s February 12, 2018 and you are going to be born today.

This is absolutely mindblowing because (a) I was starting to think I was going to be pregnant forever, and (b) somebody is going to pull you out of my body, introduce us, and then let me take you home to love and raise you forever. Or until you are 18 and ready to be pushed out of the nest.

Pregnancy has been hard. One of my goals as your mother is to be honest and frank with you, so I will tell you that, truthfully, I have hated being pregnant. The only parts I’ve enjoyed are feeling you move (except when it seems like you are trying to forcibly climb out of the front of my stomach) and imagining who you will be and how life will be once you’re in it. Otherwise, pregnancy has been a nonstop list of grievances, limitations, and discomforts. It’s hard to cede your body to another being. I’ve struggled – and failed – to accept that pregnancy means big physical changes. My choices and mindset have undoubtably made this journey much harder and more uncomfortable. I refused to give up riding, refused to slow down when I felt crappy, refused to relish the joys (ice cream, naps, chips, pampering) other women take from pregnancy. I’ve made it a hair shirt.

But from this experience will come you, and I believe that will be worth it a million times over.

You will be an only child; this I have known for my whole life regardless of how many people have tried to tell me I’ll want or should want otherwise. I only want you. One. We are going to do great and wonderful things together, you, me, and your father. If you want playmates, go make friends. Or invent one. You will be my only baby.

For some reason, I always thought you’d be a boy, at least until I was actually pregnant and suddenly felt like you were a girl. You are. When the doctor told your father and me that we were having a girl, I was elated. It seemed too good to be true. I don’t even know why it mattered; I’d have loved you tremendously either way, but still wanted you to be a girl and here you are.

Please don’t love pink. Or love it only in an ironic sense. Girls loving pink is cliche.

(Your father will probably smother me with a pillow if I go off on one more rant about how annoying it is that all baby products are gendered by being pink or blue. But why the hell is the blue teething ring at Target labeled “For Boys”?!?! DOES HAVING A VAGINA MEAN I CAN’T GNAW ON SOMETHING BLUE??)

I found out about you on June 8, 2017. It came as a bit of a shock and took me a while to wrap my brain around this reality. Am, in fact, still trying to wrap my brain around this, to be honest. There are three plants on our windowsill that I’ve had since the end of October without killing them and this feels like a huge accomplishment, so realizing that I am going to be responsible for keeping a baby fed and watered is beyond daunting. I am terrified that you will wilt or your leaves will fall off and I won’t know how to fix it. Plants are hard; babies are unimaginable.

You’ve had an adventurous life since that June day. You’ve done two crits, won one jersey, and survived one crash. You’ve been to the hospital six times. You’ve been to the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, the UK, Virginia, Oregon, Colorado, and California. You’ve explored 500+ miles on foot and ridden a bike for 320+ hours, 200 hours of which were on a trainer because I crave insanity (and am sponsored by CycleOps). You’ve eaten nearly all of the things pregnant women aren’t supposed to have, because your mother loves food and hates rules. (Based on my diet, you are at least 75% composed of Fair Life milk with Ovaltine, Halo Top Birthday Cake ice cream, and oatmeal chocolate chip Quest Bars. My apologies; the stomach wants what the stomach wants.) You’ve gotten engaged and married once.

You should only do that one more time. Don’t let me lead by example there.

Despite struggling with the challenges and discomforts of pregnancy, I’ve tried to launch your life in the most interesting, adventurous, stubborn way possible. You were formed by a body that loves physical suffering and insisted on pushing right up to the limits of pregnancy every day. I believe (and fortunately medical evidence supports) that this will make you stronger and healthier. I’ve done everything I can to stay tough and make you tough, even when I wanted to cry and give up. I cried a lot, but did not quit.

Now that you’re coming into this world, the rest is up to you. Welcome to life! I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with yours. There are so many amazing, wonderful, terrifying adventures and experiences ahead. Your father and I want so many things for you. We keep wondering what you’ll be like, who you’ll be, what you’ll do with yourself.

It’s slightly unnerving that your first choice has been to remain stubbornly breech, despite every possible intervention. I see your father and me in you already, difficult one.

Regardless of who and how you decide to be and live your life, I’m excited to witness it and be the first place you call home. I’ll teach you everything I can and be the best tour guide to the planet possible. I don’t have all of the answers (or even many of them) but from life and my own experiences, these are a few things I hope you’ll always remember:

  1. Read everything. Make time to read books, blogs, the news, recipes, everything. It will make you smarter and more worldly, teach you about other people’s experiences and lives, and improve your vocabulary tremendously.
  2. You may think the whole world is staring at your flaws, mistakes, and misfortunes but people are mostly focused on their own flaws, mistakes, and misfortunes. In other words, they’re too busy caring about their own pimples to notice yours. Don’t worry about what people think.
  3. Any tattoo you think you want before you are 18 is almost certainly a bad idea.
  4. You will face a million choices in your lifetime; sometimes you will choose well and other times you will choose poorly. That’s okay. That’s living. Learn from your mistakes but always move forward.
  5. Be impulsive but smart, sharp-witted but kind, clever but self-deprecating, adventurous but organized. Balance is critical.
  6. Always keep a savings account (and actually put money in it).
  7. Sometimes life is going to kick your ass. The goal of living is not to always be happy; a truly full life comes with measures of both joy and sorrow. Accept that really living means surviving hard times and heartaches and trust that you will come through them. You will be amazed what you can survive.
  8. Be honest, speak frankly, and stay genuine. People will respect you for this. Most importantly, be honest with yourself. Understand and accept both your strengths and weaknesses. Admit when you are wrong or don’t know something.
  9. Learn how to pick a decent wine, decipher a restaurant menu, and order a respectable cocktail. Send thank you notes. Bring flowers or a bottle of wine when somebody hosts you. Ask more questions than you answer. Make eye contact and have a firm handshake. Stand up straight. Learn to say no.
  10. Be unforgettable.

Most of all, remember that your father and I will always love you more than anything. You are the greatest, wildest adventure either of us will ever undertake in this world. We will have your back and protect you and always help you bury the body. Know that as you take on the world, you will always have a safe place in my heart and home to come back to whenever you need.

I love you. Happy birth day!


One thought on “To my daughter, on your first day of life.

  1. Lindsay, this is an awesome first epistle! Somehow as a long time DF blog reader, I don’t think it is anywhere near the last … 😉

    Haven gotten two past the magic 18 threshold, the only pieces of advice I have to offer is:
    Good news: They start immobile and simple so you can get up to speed … scary but true;
    Bad news: 18 is the end of a stage, not the end of the race … the TdF seems easy in comparison.

    You are going to be GREAT!

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