Dear Sophie…

Our little girl, Sophie Leona Holguin

January 12, 2012

Dear Sophie,

I met you today, as a wand with warm goo brought you into my sight… and you were easily the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

Your little face with the tipped up nose and tiny lips. You, with your fisted hands and strong legs, and the brilliant fish scalelike quality to your perfectly formed spine.

You were conceived on a hot night at the tail end of summer in a loft in the middle of Chicago. The not knowing you were inside me for the first few weeks, as I cooked and coached and worked out, astounds me now. How could I not have known that you – you, this infinitesimal beauty, this concept, this once tiny poppy seed, would grow in just over 20 weeks into an actual human being?

We watched your heart on the monitor for a full hour… I could not turn away. Your four chamber heart, your jaunty legs, your blood flow, lit up in reds and blues like Christmas lights… both Alex and I watched every part of you as you were dissected and measured by the lab technician who wore a scarf around her head.

Now, I sit from my new home – the first home you will ever know, though you won’t remember it – and type a letter to you, on this frigid winter’s night. I hope you come to love winter as much as Alex and I do… I hope you run through the snow with abandon and let us warm your cheeks with our kisses and a big cup of hot cocoa. I hope you love this life as much as we do.

I hope you recognize how loved you are – already, even as you fidget and sleep and grow inside me. Even as you cannot comprehend what awaits you. Even when you do comprehend the world and it doesn’t always make sense to you. Let your sense of awareness guide you.

When we went to the doctor, the sky was pregnant with clouds. When we came out, the roll of your first photo session clutched tightly in my palm, it was snowing. It continued to snow all day – as I made phone calls and kissed your father goodbye and dropped him at work and walked around our house, ignoring deadlines and holding my stomach in my hands. I called your name out loud: Sophie. Sophie Leona Holguin.

My little girl.

The life that beats inside me.

Now, it’s late, and we can hear our upstairs neighbor, who is watching some movie with the volume of a ninety year old with two hearing aids. The tree directly in front of our window droops heavily with snow. I want to open the window and catch a snowflake on my tongue. The train tracks are muted by the white slush – there is a general buzz outside, and it feels like winter has finally arrived.

This will be a day we will always remember: the day we first met you, the day we fell in love with you on a monitor… how can this be going on inside me? How can you be so beautiful and I haven’t yet held you in my arms? How can you be ours?

I cannot wait to share our lives with you and to see what type of life you will have. I want to share words and poems and thoughts and music and give you the room to grow on your own.

I want to see you fly.

I don’t know much, but this much I do: I love you already, from the depths of my soul. There’s not much that’s unconditional in this world, but this is one of those unconditional things. My love to you. Alex’s love to you. Your grandparents’ love to you. It’s all ever after.

As if in assent, you make a movement inside of me. I feel the pressure of your little body pressing against mine. I smile. The heat kicks on. Neruda yawns. All is just as it should be.

I cannot wait to bring you home, Sophie.

I cannot wait to look into your eyes and say hello, Sophie.

I cannot wait to softly call your name, Sophie.

Smile, dear girl.

For you are meant to be.


Her Door

by Mary Leader

for my daughter Sara Marie


There was a time her door was never closed.

Her music box played “Fur Elise” in plinks.

Her crib new-bought – I drew her sleeping there.

The little drawing sits beside my chair.

These days, she ornaments her hands with rings.

She’s seventeen. Her door is one I knock.


There was a time I daily brushed her hair

By window light – I bathed her, in the sink

In sunny water, in the kitchen, there.


I’ve bought her several thousand things to wear,

And now this boy buys her silver rings.

He goes inside her room and shuts the door.


Those days, to rock her was a form of prayer.

She’d gaze at me, and blink, and I would sing

Of bees and horses, in the pasture, there.


The drawing sits as still as nap-time air –

Her curled-up hand – that precious line, her cheek…

Next year her door will stand, again, ajar

But she herself will not be living there.