A Letter to Clementine (and recipe for her first Birthday Cake)
One year ago today you were born. That’s 11 excruciatingly long days after you were due. We were so anxious to meet you and I remember how disappointing it was to wake up every morning and realize I went through yet another night with no signs of labor. Eventually we learned that we had to go into the hospital and have labor induced. You weren’t ready to leave my body but I could no longer provide nourishment for you. This was not at all the setting I planned on giving birth in but I found comfort in knowing we would be safe.
Once we got to the hospital, the process continued to be drawn out. Several doses of medication and no signs of dilation. I went into “active labor” on a Friday evening and it wasn’t until Sunday morning at 8 am that your head appeared and it was time to push. We had a terrifying moment when your heart rate dropped very low. The doctor was called and I was told I needed to push as hard as I could. I dug deep, tapped into my inner strength and pushed you out with two big groans. At 8:18 you came into this world and I sobbed cries of relief that you were ok. We were told you were a girl and I couldn’t believe how beautiful you were. Clementine Rosemary you became.
From the very beginning, you wanted only to be held. You were a mere 6 pounds and liked to stay curled up in the tinniest ball. The nurses offered to take you for a few hours so I could rest but brought you back shortly after because you wanted your mama. “Miss Mouth,” they called you because you wouldn’t stop yelling. I remember being told to put you into the bassinet to sleep but you were having none of that. On my chest you stayed all night long. We brought you home and on my chest you remained. We stayed that way all throughout the night and during the day, except for when you were on your dad’s chest. For weeks, we tried to move you to a bassinet, a crib, and a swing but you would scream at the top of your lungs when we tried. Forget the car seat and stroller, you just wanted to be held. So, we walked. We walked and we walked and we walked for miles every day. With you on my chest, we could go anywhere and we did. There is a lot I have already forgotten about those early days and the memories will continue to fade as time passes but I will always remember how much we walked. You will miss these days, people told me and they were right. My heart still turns into a puddle when I feel your head resting on my chest.
Clementine, there are many times that I have described you as a “hard baby.” You didn’t want to be put down for the first few months, screamed bloody murder anytime we tried to put you in the car seat, you rarely napped, you slept horribly at night and you have never stopped moving. You’ve never liked being told “no” and are often fussy when we aren’t doing exactly what you want to do. Remember when we went to a mama baby yoga class and we both left crying because you didn’t want to just lay there on the mat while mama did yoga? At the time I was overwhelmed, exhausted and embarassed but looking back I realize that class was super lame. Thanks for getting us out of there.
I now realize that all of these “hard” apsects of your personality are actually what make you amazing. You are super active, aware and have strength and determination. From the very beginning your eyes have been wide open, taking in all of your surroundings. Clementine, you are incredibly smart and inquisitive. You are funny, opinionated and sure about who you are and what you want. You are kind, caring and empathetic. I know that these are strong personality traits for a one year old to carry and I couldn’t be more proud of who you already are in such a short time on earth.
Now that the early days are behind us, I am able to clearly and with sufficient rest reflect on the lessons that you have taught me. You showed me that I was moving through life at way too fast of a pace. I was used to doing a million things at a time, with a constant underlying tone of stress and anxiety. At first this life adjustment provoked a lot of anxiety for me, frequent tears and feelings of doubt in my capabilities as a mother, all of which culminated in a short series of terrifying panic attacks. There was a lot of crying in the beginning days and it wasn’t your fault. It was me, taking on too much, trying to do it all and becoming overly stressed as a result. I learned that I couldn’t do all of the jobs that I was trying to do and that I needed to focus on the most important one, which was you. I made changes in my professional life and have started to deal with my anxiety. I am learning how to handle stress more effectively. I am so grateful that you showed me I had work that needed to be done on myself.
You have taught me how to play and find joy in the very simplest things in life. You have taught me to live in the present and to take note of my surroundings. You are teaching me how to be patient, empathetic and always loving. You have showed me that you were not a hard baby, but that I have many issues that I need to work through so that I can learn how to be a better person and a better mother. I am so grateful for all of these lessons.
I cannot promise that every day I will be calm and anxiety free but I can promise that I will love you with my whole entire heart and every cell in my body. I know this for certain because every time you are upset, I feel it so deeply within myself that sometimes I can barely function and I swear to god I will make the biggest fool out of myself forever if it means that I can get that belly aching laughter out of you.
So, Clementine, just do your best at life and your dad and I will too. We will all make mistakes, but lets learn how to be better. Continue to be curious and we will be right by your side exploring. We will figure this all out together. I will forever be there to love and support you. I love you so much, my sweet baby girl.
Clementine’s First Birthday Cake
Makes: Two 8 inch round cakes ( I tripled this recipe to also get 24 cupcakes)
- 4 or 5 ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup natural no sugar added applesauce
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup oat flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Mash the bananas in a medium bowl.
- In a separate large bowl, mix the flours, baking soda, and cinnamon together.
- Add the mashed bananas, applesauce, butter, and vanilla to the flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated.
- Coat two 8 or 9″round pans with oil and line 6 muffin tins with cupcake liners
- Spread the batter into the bottom of the pans.
- Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness.
- Cool the cakes before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup (8 ounces) cream cheese
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) no sugar added apple juice concentrate
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Bring cream cheese to room temp
- Mix all ingredients together in a high powered blender until all lumps are gone.