Courtesy of Candace Ganger

Things I Want My Sunshine Baby To Remember

My daughter — my firstborn — was conceived at a time in my life when I wasn't fully prepared to be a mother, and was such a blessing in disguise. Through the dark clouds of my postpartum depression (PPD), she absolutely became the light that chased them away. After she was born, I endured multiple pregnancy losses before eventually giving birth to her little brother (my rainbow baby). So, through it all, there are more than a few things I want my sunshine baby to remember. Honestly, she deserves to hear them as often as possible.

I've only recently learned the difference between a rainbow baby and a sunshine baby. A rainbow baby is delivered after miscarriage or loss, while a sunshine baby is delivered before loss. Now that I know, I've been looking at my kids, and their roles in my life, a little differently. Of course their lives had meaning before, but with these definitions it's almost as if their birth placement serves two different purposes. Considering everything I've gone though from, 2006 to now, I believe it.

A fourth grader and protective older sister (when they're not arguing), my daughter is my polar opposite in so many ways. She's loud when I'm quiet, outgoing when I'm folded inside of myself, and carefree while I worry the days away. Through the pockets of our differences, though, there are some similarities, too. She's kind and compassionate and always worried no one will see all she is, just like me. She's creative and passionate about leaving her mark on the world, and of all the days I spend doting over my rainbow baby, I've realized I haven't been doing the same for her. With that, here are some things I want my sunshine baby to remember. After all, without her there'd be no light.

You Were The First

Before I embarked on this journey of motherhood, I was a "typical" young woman in my early 20s with ambition but little direction. I knew I wanted to have children at some point, but wasn't sure when. In fact, I wasn't sure about anything until I discovered I was pregnant. Suddenly my whole world, and everything in it, changed. My priorities shifted, my goals changed, and those ambitions that lacked drive found their way. My sunshine baby was the very first thing in my life that felt right.

I'd been through a divorce from my failed post-high school marriage, jobs that didn't stick, and yet, this baby reminded me of all the wonderful things ahead. She was my first true love, for sure.

I'm Sorry If I've Let You Down

Of all the times after my daughter was on this earth, I feel I've failed her through my PPD, miscarriages when I couldn't seem to get past the grief, and especially after my rainbow baby was born. I sometimes stand back to observe the way I am with her and, honestly, it's not always fair. I see myself obsessing over my rainbow baby, hovering and attaching to his every word or movement.

I also see her to the side, maybe wondering when it's her turn. If I could go back and change some things to fix this, I would. From now, until forever, I'll do my best to be more aware and hope that when I make another mistake, she will forgive me.

There's No One Else Like You

My daughter is so one-of-a-kind, so it breaks my heart to see her emulate some of her friends. From birth, she was strong-willed and independent (to the point of aggravation), and I know it will serve her well as she grows. She's the kind of girl who'll write an apology letter when she's done something wrong or craft me something out of her rubber band set just because. I may not tell her enough, but I'm so thankful for all she is and I hope she'll always remember how special she is to everyone around her.

Thank You For Your Patience With Me

I can't emphasize enough how patient my sunshine baby has always been with me. I took a long time to heal from the PPD, even longer to grieve my miscarriages, and it was a struggle to balance attention towards she and her brother. I know she feels slighted, and maybe even rejected. I remember being her age with a younger brother of my own.

I want her to know and remember that I'm actively aware of my downfalls, and I'm trying to be a better mom as best I can. I'm only able because of her forgiving nature and grace.

You've Always Been Enough

Even through infertility and my desire to give her a sibling, I want her to remember that she's always been enough for me. I didn't need another baby to complete me, I just wanted one to give her someone to grow up with. Someone she'd be able to turn to when I'm long gone. At her age now, she may not realize the part she's always played in my personal evolution. I didn't need any other to teach me how to be a mother. She did that.

I Admire You

There's much to admire about my girl. She's everything I wish I was. Confident, self-assured, and comfortable in her skin. It's really beautiful to watch her blossom from a girl to a young woman. While my son has his own set of strengths I appreciate, I've learned so much from his sister. She's taught me a lot about being a mother, and a human, where others have failed.

I'll Always Love You

The most important thing I want my sunshine baby to remember is that, despite my shortcomings and failures, I have never and will never stop loving her. For any reason.

Sunshine baby,

Thank you for making me the mother I am today. You've given me something no other baby has. You're responsible for all the firsts, setting my life in motion from that point forward. I love you. Always.