To My Nursling On Your First Birthday

Smunchie, 5 weeks old,
photograph by Jack Potts

Dear Smunchie,

My darling, sweet girl, I love you.  My chest tightens when I think of you as though I’m going to burst apart so great is the love I have for you.  It is overwhelming and surprising for I have that same sensation when I think of each of your four big sisters and yet there was more than enough room for you in my heart and our home.  You have filled that space well.  In our house you are a rock star, we flock to you in hopes of a smile bestowed upon us, striving to extract one of your ever-ready giggles like a tiny nugget of gold to be cherished as a prized possession.

Smunchie, 12.28.09

Today we celebrate you and quietly I will also be celebrating me, us.  Your birth was beautiful, hard but beautiful.  A challenging labor on both of us with a difficult presentation (your poor face!) we had to work hard to birth you and you were bruised from the effort.  It has been a year since I sang through contractions, a year since I pushed you out of my body on my bed, a year since I first saw your face, touched your cheek, kissed your head, breathed your scent, gave you my breast.  So much has happened in this first year and yet I feel as though I merely blinked and here we are.  Together and with your daddy and sisters we have encountered moments of ecstatic joy, wonder, discovery, fear, uncertainty, frustration, tenderness, energy, curiosity, and love.  It has been a good year and I feel honored to not only have shared it with you but to be the one you turned to for comfort, nourishment, and sustenance along the way.  And to be the one to make you laugh the most.

On her way out, Smunchie’s head, my hands, 12.28.09
photograph by Linda Dybala

Not only do we celebrate the first year of your life outside the womb and all the many milestones that entails but I celebrate us making it to the first year of breastfeeding.  We were not without our hurdles.  Jaundice, heart troubles, lost weight, no weight gain, terrible latch, bloody nipples, sleepy baby, doctor visits, chest x-rays, EKGs, monitors, and pumping, I wondered if we would make it.  I didn’t expect these challenges, I considered myself an old pro at breastfeeding but as it turned out I hired a Lactation Consultant for the first time for me personally with you, my 5th baby.  With the help of your daddy, our midwives, our pediatrician and some friends we made it though and finally my nipples healed, your latch improved and you got back to your birth weight and kept growing, you heart and body getting stronger every day.  We did that, you and I, we made it.  Not every mother gets this, it doesn’t always work out, I’m one of the lucky ones.

You amazed me the first time you really went in search of the breast, before we knew something was amiss you already knew what you needed.  Surprisingly strong and determined you went after my breast with gusto and a perfect latch.  Though difficulties developed shortly after that I saw a glimpse into your personality during that feeding and admired you greatly even then.  It is this personality along with the prayers and help of others that got you through when the going got rough.

Smunchie’s first breastfeeding photo

In spite of a rocky start we settled in to a special breastfeeding relationship after about the 12 week mark.  A relationship I treasured just a bit more because of it’s tenuous start.  There were times, bare chest to bare chest when I would feel your tiny heart beat against me while you suckled and I would breath just a little bit easier for that moment knowing we were doing the very best we could for you and it was working.  Days turned into weeks and you began smiling back at me as you stared up into my eyes while you were feeding.  Then came your little hand reaching for my face and if it wasn’t already established, I was hooked.

I’m still hooked and will be forever.  These breastfeeding days are short in the grand scheme of your life but they are precious to me.  This time where I am your world, your favorite person, your comfort and your favorite nutrition will move along quickly.  I do my best to hold on to them but I know that all I can really do is enjoy them while they last.  Because just as you will grow up developing more of that amazing personality you have so these breastfeeding days will grow into bigger and better things for you someday.

But not any time soon, we’ve got a while yet.

Your name is fitting to you already, Cosette Marguerite Constance.  You are the constant flower of the victorious people; strong yet delicate, beautiful yet steadfast, victorious yet blooming.  To me you’re also Smunchie, my cuddly small one ready to munch, my smunchkin.  I love you with a love bigger than I can begin to understand.  Happy Birthday my little nursling.

Much love,

Mommy (AKA Boobies)

Smunchie 12.21.10.


  1. Simply Beautiful.

  2. dohiyi mama says

    Jessica you should print that and give it to her when she's old enough to understand. I bet you'd get some tears. And her real name is absolutely beautiful. πŸ™‚

  3. first let me wipe me tears….that was the sweetest love letter i have read. How precious, you should def print this and give it to her when she is old enough to understand.

  4. Oh, my. Beautiful. I wish I could write up something as eloquent for my boys' (fast approaching) first birthday! I got teary reading this. Happy birthday to Smunchie and happy birthing day to you!

  5. Hannah Joy... says

    Love it! Made me teary! Happy Birthday Smunchie!!

  6. Very beautiful letter! πŸ™‚ I cried as I sat here and nursed my little Aiden πŸ™‚ I agree, this should go in her baby book πŸ™‚ Congratulations on one year πŸ™‚

  7. I must be mad me! says

    how beautiful,brought a tear πŸ™‚ x

  8. A Daddy Blog says

    What a lovely tribute to your first year with the wee one. My wife wrote something similar in her blog on our baby's first birthday. As a daddy blogger I must get better about this sort of thing. Guess that's what makes us daddy bloggers different, though. Have a safe and Happy New Year!

  9. Genevieve Thul says

    This is beautiful. I just weaned my daughter at 4 1/2 in preparation for my next radiation seeding for my cancer. Hard, hard. You might enjoy my post – very similar to yours but on a weaning day instead of a birthday. πŸ™

  10. Wow. Simply perfect.

  11. Nicole Yunker says

    happy birthday beautiful girl! I knew you guys had gone through some hard times in the beginning but didn't know a whole lot about it. I am so glad you were able to work through it! Love you friend! you are such a great writer!

  12. Beautiful post! So sweet, and the more so because it was hard fought for and won. Happy birthdays to you both!

  13. Wow, is all I can say with tear streaked cheeks. Wow, is all I can say. This is exactly how I felt/feel about my 2 boys, now young men. How fortunate Smunchie is to have you as her Mommy!!!

  14. Wow – This is so so beautiful and heartwarming and touching, and I just love it!

  15. Frances Hill says

    I just read this while breastfeeding #6…she’ll be 1 this Saturday. I’m so glad things worked out for you. Her name is beautiful! She’s a fighter, so watch out! It’s great, but the teen years might be tough!

  16. So so so so poignant and well-said. Happy happy birthday to Smunchie. She is lucky to have a Mom like you.

  17. Melissa Bradley says

    This was written awhile ago but for some reason I came upon it today….of all day. Fate? Maybe! Today is my baby girl’s first birthday….my last baby. Every word you wrote explains all my feelings so perfectly. Some people like to judge and condemn me for extended breastfeeding, bay wearing, co-sleeping, Etc etc etc. But someday my babies wont want me there. Someday my little girl will reject my breast, my son will tell me he wants to sleep in his bed by himself and there will come a time when they both deny me kisses in public. I’m holding on to each and every day I get with my little ones. These “baby” days are just a blink in their existence. Someday I will wake up to grown children . So today as I celebrate my last child’s first birthday, my last birthday, I am melancholy over the idea that she’s growing up but excited with all the moments growing up will bring us.

  18. Jessica G says

    Your little smunchie was born exactly one year before my nursling Kaley! You wrote this beautiful letter the day my LO arrived!

  19. Kimberly says

    This is so beautiful, and made more than one tear drop from my eye as I eagerly await the arrival of my first baby girl.

  20. How beautiful! This reminds me that I need to get down on paper how I feel about DD – I’m always taking photos (as a photographer it is my nature) but I forget that I need to write down things too.

  21. Love this! It is so beautiful. Also, signing it boobies is perfect.

  22. Vicky Phillips says

    Simply beautiful! Emotions which your fellow leakies share with all our precious little nurslings πŸ™‚

  23. Happy 2nd birthday Smunchie!! I have a sort of unrelated question- Will you wean Smunchie since you are expecting #6, or do you plan to tandem nurse? If you will, is that new to you or have you tandem nursed before? Just curious! Answer if you like, or not. πŸ™‚