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Dear Baby,

Your mama’s a romantic. You’ll probably learn this early on when I’m nostalgic about everything from your first set of pajamas to favorite movies—especially this time of year.

And I’ll tell you, Baby, being a romantic isn’t easy. Being a romantic means having high expectations about the feeling, the intangible of everyday, and sometimes, little one, you have to make that stuff up out of thin air. Life doesn’t always hand you the feeling to go along with the reality.

I’ve spent a good portion of my life coaxing and prodding the romance out of life, looking for the intangible magic of holidays and traditions and Tuesday nights.

This year, I’ve been neglected by the Christmas Fairies. The stress and the work and the pregnancy and the consumerism has left me exhausted and feeling decidedly unromantic. To top it all off, I came down with a flu right after a long day of Christmas shopping when even a Macy’s with halls decked to the nines couldn’t get me in the spirit. This feels like a particularly unfair blow for someone 17 weeks pregnant and determined to enjoy the season. Instead of soaking in all the magic, I’m stuck on the couch hoping you aren’t too hot in my feverish body, little one.

Even our tiny, neglected Christmas tree seems ready to call it a season early. With lights out and needles falling, it looks like this year’s yuletide feels: only half as sparkly as it once was and worn out already.

Your daddy has been tasked with saving Christmas, trying to keep me comfy and finishing up the last gifts and tasks. I’ve felt half jealous, half thankful as he ties bows and addresses gift tags. But now that I’ve begun to feel better, I’m wondering how it’s possible that my original frustration at missing out on tastes of Christmas romance has given way to a quiet peace and comfort.

It’s probably because I’ve been noticing bits and pieces of that romance, even while my ears are ringing and my body aching. I’ve noticed it in your dad reading you the Christmas story or singing you an off-tune carol.

I’ve noticed it in the 97-cent gift tags your daddy bought at the grocery store after convincing me that pregnant women with the flu shouldn’t make Pinterest-inspired homemade tags. It’s in wrapping presents on Christmas Eve together with your dad.

The romance is in a family that is just happy you and I are on the mend and doesn’t care if we show up without homemade gift tags. It’s in opening stockings in our PJs, and having Chinese food downtown on Christmas Eve. It’s in watching TV on the couch while I cry at every Christmas commercial—sappy, pregnant, silly tears, because happy commercials make me think of you.

The Chinese food was amazing, by the way, and I like to imagine you were dancing around like you were at our last ultrasound, enjoying the food. Besides, I’m pretty sure my fortune was about you.

So yes, Baby, your mama is a romantic. But I’m learning—especially as you come into our lives—that romance will look just as mundane as a quiet Christmas week at home. Romance doesn’t need to be poked and prodded out of life—it just has to be noticed.

Emily mothers, reads, and writes from a valley in scenic Idaho. Her paying job is in marketing, but she much prefers her other job titles like Chief Activity Director for her toddler, Blogger, Household Director and Gardener. You can find her at her blog on Instagram, and on Twitter.