comments 17

An open letter to my newborn daughter

Dear M,

You will read this when you are much, much older and able to understand. I just thought it all needed to be said in the meantime.

I am home alone, waiting until tomorrow morning when I can go see you and your other Mom, Jen, in the hospital. You are both to stay there until Sunday, when Jen’s incision has healed enough for her to come home. It’s been a rough couple of days for all three of us and I am so tired. At the same time, I have never been happier.

You were born 24 hours ago after a hellacious induced labor and eventual c-section. Jen and I were holding hands in fearful anticipation; suddenly, you drew your first breath and let loose a gorgeous angry cry from behind a thicket of medical attendants. Although Jen was in a cloud of painkillers on the operating table, she immediately started crying tears of joy. I had been crying already, so I just sobbed harder. So happy.

The fact that I’d ended up here was a miracle: I had long ago given up the idea of ever becoming a mother.

When I was in my twenties, I imagined myself having a few kids once I’d become world-famous and rich. I never managed to actually date (except for that one crazy lady) and besides, I dreamt the decade away. In my thirties, bad choices, bad relationships, and a stout case of self-absorption all contributed to one incredibly lonely little lifelette. I thought I had it made, free from all those silly dreams; meeting Jen revealed the error in my thinking. I was so wrapped up in my tiny world that it actually took me a couple of months to realize we were going out on dates. I’ll spare you all the gory details, but suffice it to say I had never been head over heels in love before I met your Mom.

Jen and I have been anticipating your arrival in our own ways: she has been cleaning every inch of the apartment and freezing homemade food. I have been waking up several times during the night to snack on said food for months–hence the 12 pounds I gained in honor of Jen’s pregnancy. I have to admit I’ve been a little scared. I never spent much time around babies, what if I break you? And will my life and career be forever altered like everyone, and I do mean everyone, has been telling me? Oh God, what the hell was I thinking??

After your cry in the operating room, an attendant hurriedly congratulated me and handed you over. Your eyes were open, although obscured somewhat by the ointment that had been applied for some reason I should have read about during the last 9 months. You craned your little head towards me when I spoke and you looked me right in the eye. My heart, my heart had no idea what hit it, actually. I’d say it melted, but that would just not really give you due credit: it vaporized and reformed, it evolved after a short trip to another time/space continuum, it got bigger, better, stronger. In one bright and seamless moment, my love for you became the most exceptional thing about me…

You? You blinked twice and looked towards Jen’s cooing, demonstrating your precocious curiosity and charm.

Although I am two subway stops away from both of you on this starless December evening, I can feel myself stepping up to the task, hand-in-hand with Jen. All my fears dribble away like so much rain water and I am left resolved and firm with this lovely, shining new purpose. Around us are the other thousands of new parents in Brooklyn: we are all joining in a silent paean of welcome and awe: whatever it takes, little one. Whatever it takes to get you started safely on your path, we will do.

I love you,

Filed under: Writing


I am Libby Clarke, an artist, designer and educator living in Brooklyn, New York. I operate under the name Monstress, which actually started out as my zine label in 1997. Since then, it has grown to encompass all my efforts.


  1. Iris Reyes says

    You’re going to be a great mom Libby. That moment when your daughter looks into you eyes, you melt and want to give her all that she deserves and more. I’m jealous.

  2. Tracey says

    That was beautiful I think every child should receive a letter like this because the first couple of days after the baby’s arrival our hearts are feeling things they have never felt before and to capture such feelings and let our children know how instantly we fell in love with them is so important. Your words were beautiful and madeline is so lucky to have you as her mom. Congratulations

  3. Genevieve Neice says

    Your writing, as always, is wondrous. You and Jen will be terrific parents. Madelene will benefit from the incredible gifts both of you have to give. Parenting does come with a book, but you will see that it is re-written for each baby. You and Jen are strong and will grow with Madelene. Enjoy this time before she becomes mobile, you will learn just how unbreakable she is once she begins walking. Take all the unsolicited advice you will receive with a grain of salt, it is really our way of including you in this new club of Parents…
    Much love to you all, and Merry Christmas!

  4. Elizabeth Dobrzykowski Grainger says

    Absolutely Beautiful! Congratulations..you will be a wonderful mother.

  5. Nadine P says

    Speechless! Touched by the love you have for your daughter.


  6. Anna Staton says

    Dear Libby,

    Welcome to parenthood…it will be the best thing that ever happened to you…it still is for me…I love the wonderful feelings you expressed and believe me those feelings may hide from time to time but they resurface when you hear your child sing…when she doesn’t know you are listening..or laugh at one of your jokes…or even when they clean their rooms and do a really good job….or like this week when my oldest got accepted to college with an academic scholarship….so keep your journals of this adventure sometimes you may need reminding how much this angel means to you…congratulations and much love to you, Anna

  7. These words are beautiful! And they really capture your awe and love. There is nothing like being a mom!

  8. Paulie says

    OMG….. Libby….I doubt I have ever read anything so honest, beautiful, and warm in my life. Madelene is one lucky child to have you and Jen as her moms!!!!

  9. Blessings….. the miracle is your baby is that absolute love you both radiate. It is as intellegent, kind, creative and good-humored as the wealth of expressions you both share with us all. Enjoy the Ride. Best Wishes Jey, Ed and JJ xoxo

  10. Iris Bildstein says

    Libby- Mazel Tov on becoming a mom and bringing a precious little one into the world. Your letter is just lovely and brought tears to my eyes. May the three of you live a happy and blessed life- today, tomorrow and always-

  11. Congratulations! Thank you for sharing this touching message. You’ve always been an inspiration. What a lucky baby!

  12. Nadine Taylor says

    I too remember when both my boys were born. It is still the most amazing experience of my life! The moment they took their first breath is irreplaceable, the overwhelming feeling of the life we have made a commitment to. It is the scariest and happiest moment all rolled up together I have ever experienced, and you now I have been around plenty of children.
    I think because of these tremendous feelings we get to have makes us the parent we will be.
    I know you Libby will be a fine and just parent! You still have enough child in you to laugh and enjoy all the moments of your daughters life. You have the patience and knowledge of an adult to make the important decisions you two will need to make. I wish you three the best that life can offer!!
    I sit here remembering my experience with tears streaming down my face and welcome the two of you to a different chapter in your book of life. Yes, this is a life altering event. Your lives will forever be changed, but this my dear friend is a good thing. Embrace it with the love and courage you have inside you, you are a parent now and forever!!!

    All my love-

  13. Lynn T. says

    Such a lovely tribute, Libby. Madelene is a lucky girl–blessed to have two loving mothers.

  14. meredith beau says

    I am so happy for you and Jen. I know you will be a great mom and Madelene is very lucky to have a parent who loves her as much as you. That was beautiful, thank you for sharing.

  15. Mary Mosbrook says

    Libby, why you make me cry?
    Seriously: I am so happy for you, Jen and the lil’un. How freaking cool is that?

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