From 36 weeks to 13 years.

3 years ago

38 years old. 7+ years into my marriage. 36 weeks pregnant. Looking forward to my due date of July 7, 2001.

My pregnancy was pretty great. Well I did have a bout of pneumonia. And the gestational diabetes. Oh and the fact that our house sold on the first day on the market, to the first person who looked at it...for the full asking price. And we had NO WHERE to live.

The vacation rental out at the coast, Bodega Bay, was such fun. While we looked for a house. Found one and then, moved into it in May. 2 weeks before my baby shower.

Is it any wonder my blood pressure was so high?

I was going to the hospital for weekly 'stress tests'. On June 4th, I went in for one and my OB told me that if my BP remained high, she would consider an early delivery.

I woke up on Tuesday, June 5th, at 7:30 am. My Blood Pressure was very elevated. I called my Dr.  and she said to come into the hospital straight away. I said I needed a few hours to "shave my legs etc...”

The next 30 hours were very exciting.

My labor lasted exactly 24 hours from the moment I was induced.

Grace Katherine Stockham was born naturally at 3:45pm, on a Wednesday, June 6, 2001. She weighed 5lbs and 6 oz. and was 18-1/2 inches long.

Today this firstborn daughter will be 13 years old. A teenager.

Umm...what?

Grace and her life are well documented in my blog. She has faced challenges that seem incomprehensible to many. She has achieved successes that I feared she would never reach. Every single day that she is on this earth, the world is a bit better. This is a fact.

As is my custom, I am writing this "letter" as an annual tribute to my child. It is my 13th letter to Grace.

Your 12th year was a tremendously exciting year. I can only begin to imagine how exciting this first year in teenager hood will be.

I know you are really interested in getting your first boyfriend. I am not that interested in that. I know that being an 8th grader is going to be super exciting. You being the Class Secretary and in the Leadership program. I fully expect another good season in Cross Country AND Track. As always, Mom and Dad think your grades are the MOST important and we (mostly me) will continue to hold you to the high standard that you are capable of. Your little sister will not be infringing on your strongly intact social group. She is going to attend a different Middle School. However, just so you know...Lea Jane always has your back. She is fully prepared to show up and make that a well-known fact...IF anyone is crazy enough to pick on you. I believe the 2 boys who made fun of you in Science class would much rather face off against Lea than me.

(Based on their frightened faces when you pointed them out to me and I slowed my car down enough to roll down the window and give them the "STARE").

You are going places Miss Grace. This is your pre-ordained path. The minute your challenges were revealed to us, Dad and I knew you would change the world. Our joy is being able to watch you do it. Every day. In every little way.

The boys will come. The successes will continue. The challenges will remain. You are an amazing gift. Dad and I spend way too much time singing the praises of our two girls. I apologize in advance for what is sure to be many more years of the same. We just love you so very much and could not begin to imagine a life without you in it.

Please don't try too hard to be a "big girl". We want you to stay our little girl for as long as you can without it being weird.

I will try to loosen the strings so you can feel your wings a bit. That probably means letting you go to El Patio after school a few days a week to hang with the cool kids. <----For starters.

I admire you Grace. I admire your non-plussed attitude about gossip. I like how you can't even really remember the gossip when your sister asks for details. That is going to help you later on when you navigate through High School. I like how confident you are in your own skin. I like how you have no problem speaking up for yourself. Or speaking in front of a crowd. These are great assets. 

You have some things to work on this year as well. Mom thinks you should let go of some of the "rituals" that you have around bedtime and Carrie Underwood videos. But that will take some time and I get that. You have to continue to work on your anxiety around "new" experiences. It is very important for you and the "YOU" you want to show the world.

You are a loved, fun loving, social, young lady. Your group of friends has expanded 10 fold and I think you are a good friend. I have tried to impart my attitude about the importance of your relationship with your sister and how she will be your friend for LIFE. I also want you to respect the idea that friends come before boys. 8th grade will bring new challenges in the area of peer pressure and I want you to continue to trust me with your confidences. Bank on the idea that I have your best interest at heart ALL THE TIME.

I am so proud of you my Gracie girl! So, so Proud. I am excited for your 13th year. For your teen angel-hood. You will always be my Tootie but per your request I will stop yelling, "Go Tootie" as you run your races. I can't speak for your Dad though. Sorry.

Go out there and get it. Grab it all. You can soar to amazing heights and I know you want to do just that.

Do not be self-limiting.

Do not be a critic.

Dream big.

Stand in your power.

Set no limits.

Keep your heart open.

Most of all Grace, continue to be you. The you I so love. The you Daddy and I have been nurturing for 13 years. The you we hold in our hearts.

You are my shining star. I love you completely. With all that I am.

Happy birthday Grace Katherine. Happy Birthday!

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