When my husband and I learned I was pregnant with our long-awaited baby, we spent the first few months daydreaming about the feeling of her on our chests, her first crooked smile. Toward month seven or eight, during my “nesting” phase, my mind immediately sped to all the things I would need for my daughter. Need being a subjective word in this case: a white-railed crib, soft blankets, fringed moccasins, and framed animal artwork. I was lost in a rainbow of paint chips and tiny furniture.
A friend popped me out of the bubble by asking, “That’s great and all, but did you get her an email address?”
An email address. It sounded terribly unromantic in the grand scheme of things. I remember crinkling my nose. “I don’t even know how much tech I want her to have.”
An email address. It sounded terribly unromantic in the grand scheme of things.
“You won’t regret it,” my friend insisted. “In this world of email communication, she’ll be one step ahead. And you can send emails to her whenever you have something to say.”
I couldn’t deny that my friend had a point; a unique email address was increasingly hard to come by, and why wouldn’t I want a repository for our memories about our daughter’s childhood? A time capsule of sorts. At the time, no one I knew was doing it, though there are plenty of resources now on how to create one!
And so that day, we registered our unborn daughter for her very first email address. I sent her my first email right then, across an ocean of hope. I put all my anticipation for her, and my joy in my pregnancy, into that email.
We decided on your name this weekend. It means well-loved. Already to us, you are ours, loved beyond compare. Our little adventurer. Our little kicker and bouncer and hiccuper. You are made from the history and joy and boundless wishes of two very different, very loving families. You are so wanted by both!
Our hearts are full right now with waiting for you, but I know they’ll only get fuller once you are here. Stay in there a little longer, get big and healthy, and we’ll see you where all the bright lights are.
Over the years, this email address has replaced the idea of a baby book in our family. When something momentous happens, like a first word or a first step, I send a letter to my daughter, recounting the whole scene in vivid detail—detail I can grasp firmly, because it just happened. I loved the immediacy of writing these letters. They combine the bubbling joy of the present with that veiled future promise.
Today you walked, with a drunken sailor gait that we find so funny and charming.
You have this precious way of asking for something. “’Gain!” you say. Again and again and again.
You haven’t slept terribly well, which means we are curled up on the rug by your crib most nights. You have a soft snore that rises and fades like a wave.
My husband and I send emails on special occasions, such as holidays or birthdays, and most often just because we have something to share. Sometimes we’ll include photos, quotes, or videos. We’ve given the email address to beloved grandparents and godparents, so they can send their in-the-moment love and hopes too. I haven’t looked at the contents of that email address; I feel that the first viewing is our daughter’s right.
Yet, even without seeing the letters, I dream about giving her that email password one day and watching her take in the years of heartfelt wishes and singular moments. I feel we’ll be gifting her memories back to her, ones that would otherwise be lost without space and technology to preserve them.
How many countless things do we hold inside as mothers, waiting for the perfect time to reveal them, to allow ourselves to connect? And in the flush of years and errands and schedules, how many of those things actually see the light of day?
Write your child the letter. Capture your memories and send them off into a capsule just for them. Whether it’s one letter or five or five hundred—your words are some of the most meaningful gifts you can give.