Per Ardua, Ad Astrid

My favorite nick name for you right now is Dolly.

Your father wasn't especially keen on the name right away. "She isn't a doll!" he protested. But I promise that's not how I think of you. Already you assert your own independent, wonderful personality.

I love to call you Dolly because it was your great-grandmother's nickname for me. It was also the last thing she ever said to me.

Maybe when you're older I'll tell you how hard the year before you were born was for our family. Your foster sister left, we put our first family pet to sleep, destroyed the odd friendship or two along the way. And I lost both my Tutu and my Grammie.

I can't wait until you are old enough to tell you about the amazing women that came before you. Tutu was Hawaiian, worked at Pearl Harbor as a teenager, and got a degree in piano performance. She loved music, the same way your father loves music. She was always singing, always playing something, and always, always smiling. Her picture sits on our piano now. Your father put it there, one pianist's tribute to another.

Grammie was the survivor. She grew up an Iowa farm girl during the depression. She survived a tornado, breast cancer (twice), colon cancer, skin cancer, and a broken back. She survived everything but the Alzheimer's that ended her life just shy of her 91st birthday. Her picture sits on my desk, reminding me that I can make it through anything, just like she did.

Just before you were born I lost both these amazing women. But then I got you.

My Dolly. My Astrid.

I can already see parts of Grammie and Tutu in you. You love to talk, and have so many opinions, just like Grammie. And you love music just like Tutu, especially when Baba plays piano. And you are so strong! At just three months old you are bound and determined to sit up. I think you want to get big fast, to keep up with that crazy big brother of yours.

I hope when you page through our blog someday you don't feel slighted. I did write far more about him than I have thus far about you. It isn't that I was any less excited for your arrival. But with him, I had ten months at home to love and enjoy him. With you I had just over two months of maternity leave, and I wanted to spend every possible minute loving you. Who wants to blog when you have a baby to snuggle? That's why its only after a month back at work that I've managed to find the time to sit down and write. Even now you're laying right beside me, talking to me.

But before I leave to take you for a walk, to snuggle you, and talk to you some more, I just want you to know how special, how loved you are. Your brother may have created the family you were born into, but you, my dolly, completed it. You have an amazing life ahead of you, and like the women who came before you, you can do anything.


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