Dearest daughter, I cannot sleep because there is a raucous party going on two houses over. I'm pretty sure these people are older than your grandparents and they're partying HARD. Good for them. Bad for me.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my decision to become a mother so young. Yes, you were unplanned. Well, sort of. You came earlier than expected. Considering that I had you at 23 you might expect that you were early by several years, that your dad and I planned on having children "someday". You would be wrong. Originally your dad and I wanted to get married this year in the spring. Provided that I had a decent job by that time we thought we would try to have a baby and get pregnant sometime within the year. Turns out the two of us are a fertility match made in heaven (sorry, I know you're probably grossed out thinking about your parents in this way) and you were conceived sometime in May 2011.

But like I said, I always planned on being a young mother. I am fully aware that this sort of plan flies in the face of most current attitudes on the subject. My peers and I were always told that in order to be successful in life we must go to college, spend our 20s traveling, working on a career and getting our jollies out before finding a nice guy/gal to marry in our 30s, buying a house and settling down BEFORE having children. Any deviation in this plan (god forbid an unplanned pregnancy) would result in a sense of permanent discontent over our lost youth and shattered dreams. To be honest, this doesn't seem like a bad plan if appeals to you. There's plenty to be said for financial security and pursuing a career before having children. But I just knew this would never make me happy. I knew I wanted to be a mother so much that I would have to rework that sequence of events, or at least the timeline in which they happened. So while it is true that we didn't plan to have you when we did, you were very much wanted and expected.

Ophelia, at this point I want to make something clear. Motherhood has never been negotiable for me. That said, neither has having a career. I desperately want a career. I want it not only so that I can contribute to our family financially but so that I can feel fulfilled as an individual. I want to be your example of a woman in love with the work she does. I want you to become a woman in love with the work she someday does. Building this career is essential to my long-term happiness. But that career can wait a little while. Part of the beauty of having you before becoming more financially secure is that I didn't have to make the decision of whether or not to take time off from a job that I love to be with you. I don't have that job yet so the decision was totally clear. I get to spend a large chunk of time with you as a baby before jumping back into the work force (or graduate school as the case may be). I love this! I also love that you get to be with your grandparents while they are still young. They have so much wisdom to impart upon you, for you to miss out on really knowing them would be a shame.

Sometimes it's difficult to remember why I decided to be the first of my friends to take the plunge into parenthood. It can be isolating and lonely at times. But then I remind myself that your dad and I made this decision very intentionally and our reasons are still very solid. I remind myself that we still have all the resources we need to give you the childhood you deserve. You will have summers spent at the lake with your grandparents, take camping trips to Yellowstone, learn to craft, read endless piles of books, bake blackberry pies from fruit you picked yourself, build tree forts and love learning at an awesome public school. That's the childhood I want for you and it's the one I intend on giving to you. My age plays no factor in that.

I just might be able to fall asleep now despite the fact that the party still isn't over but I'll write a little more about you before trying. You are changing every day and I am always in awe of you. You have started mimicking sounds, smiling and even laughing sometimes. It sends my heart soaring to see your pretty smile. You are such a beautiful baby. Everyone says so. A random stranger walked across a restaurant the other day to say how beautiful she thought you were. People always comment on how peaceful you are too. Serenity- that was one of the blessings we drew for you on the day of your birth. You already embody it. You are happiest in my arms and often start fussing if you're away from me for too long. I feel guilty for thinking it but it secretly makes me happy. I love being your favorite person. You're mine :)

That's all for now, my love.