Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dear Ellie - Six Months

My dear Ellie,

As of today, half a year has passed since the day you were born. As usual, I cannot believe it. I feel like these six months have flown by, and I know that now I will blink and all of a sudden it will be your first birthday. I love watching you grow and change so much, but I just feel like it's going so fast and I'm trying desperately to preserve each and every moment of your life in my mind. It breaks my heart that your newborn days already seem like a distant memory.

You are getting to be such a big girl. You sit up unassisted very well now, and we can just sit on the floor with you and play for long stretches of time. You continue to be extremely observant and inquisitive, and "playing" for you at this point still means close inspection of the toy that has found its way into your hand, followed by a quick move to put it right in your mouth, and then inevitably throwing it to the ground. Some of your favorite toys this month are your musical radio toy, Sophie the Giraffe, your tag toy, your butterfly, and a handful of pacifiers that we finally gave you to just play with, considering that we still had them laying around and you never did like them for comfort. You do, however, like to chew on them, and many times I have found you using the nipple part as a handle while you chew on the edges. Whatever works, my dear.

As for your favorite "toys" that aren't really toys, you are still a big fan of the remote control, our iPhones (both for chewing on and watching videos of yourself, which always makes you smile), and our glasses. You have become a pro at snatching glasses off our faces, so much so that while I was at the eye doctor yesterday I was inspired to order smudge-proof lenses on my new pair of glasses. Sometimes I'll even be nursing you on my lap and you'll stop, look up at me, grab my glasses off my face and toss them aside, then resume your meal. I must admit, it's funny enough that I don't mind the blurred vision and lenses covered in tiny fingerprints and tongue smudges.

You still can't roll from your belly to your back. STILL. How many months have I been saying this now? You're so strong yet this skill is still giving you trouble. At least you have become much more tolerant of tummy time. In fact, you now prefer to sleep on your belly and roll right over when we lay you down at night, and stay that way until you wake up in the morning. Sure, you still generally wake up mad, but we quickly learned that trying to roll you back over during the night was pointless, as you would almost immediately roll back onto your tummy. Hopefully you can figure out how to go back by the time you leave for college.

Just within the last week or so, it seems you really want to move. You have been a bit fussier than usual the past few days, and it seems that the reason for your displeasure is that you want to get going already but can't really make it happen. You will see a toy (or Achilles) in front of you and bounce up and down, desperately reaching forward and trying to make your way to the object of your desire. Your arms are ready to move forward, but your back end hasn't figured it out yet. Sometimes you try to go forward and end up in a face plant, other times you just bounce up and down, and sometimes your excited movements lead to scooting backwards, even further from where you want to go! I can see how this would be quite frustrating, so I'm doing my best to help you figure it all out. However, THERE IS NO RUSH HERE, BABY. I get the feeling that a mobile Ellie will keep me very much on my toes. As excited as I am to see you reach these next milestones, the very idea makes me ready for a nap.

Speaking of napping, that has been a project this month. I decided that it was time for you to nap in your crib and we just went for it. I cherished our last few cuddly naps together, and then made the transition. It was very difficult at first but you quickly caught on, and you even took a full two-hour nap in the crib by yourself on the very first day of this new routine. I was so, so proud of you! I knew you could do it. We still struggle sometimes, and we're currently working on making longer naps more consistent (you most frequently only nap 30 minutes these days), but I think we'll get there. You have also moved your morning wake-up time to 5:30 a.m. in the past week, which is something else we wouldn't mind seeing extended. But as usual, you sleep so well at night that we don't have any room to complain about any other sleep habits. We're very lucky!

This coming month, you will be starting solid food for the first time. Today marks six months of exclusive breastfeeding for us, which was a goal I set for myself and am so proud of us for reaching it. It gives me such a great feeling to know that you have grown and thrived for your first half year with only what I have been able to provide - what a cool thing! I know breastfeeding can be such a struggle for so many, and I realize how blessed we were that it really went very smoothly for us. Even with the easy time we had, there were still days when it was tempting to throw in the towel. I'm so proud of us for making it this far, and I have loved the closeness we have been able to share during your mealtimes, especially early in the morning when we cuddle close in bed together. And now, I'm very excited to start introducing you to new foods. I can't wait to see what you think of everything and figure out what your favorites are. As silly as it may be, I'm ridiculously excited by the thought that you will be able to eat a baby version of a Thanksgiving dinner with us this year. This whole food thing is going to be a very fun new adventure for you!

I think a major theme of this past month has been that you consistently impress me. Gone are the days of me whining that I can't take you anywhere or do anything, of feeling trapped, feeling like life would never be any kind of normal again. Now, we are able to take you places. We go to play groups and other meetings regularly. We have gone to the movies, to Fashions Night Out, celebrity-watching and sightseeing. Each time, after the event is over I find myself saying to your daddy, "She was so good." And you were. I am constantly amazed by what you are able to do, how you handle everything in stride and even seem to enjoy these new experiences. At the very least, you are a trooper and are very patient with your crazy parents who love to drag you around town. I love that we've been able to give you these experiences, and I am especially looking forward to being able to do more someday in the future when you will actually remember them!

Ellie, you amaze me every single day. I am just so in awe of you. Here you are, only/already six months old, this perfect, beautiful, funny, smart, curious, happy, wiggly, delightful little girl that I really get to call my daughter. It's all still so surreal. I still can't believe I'm somebody's mama, and I especially can't believe my luck that that somebody is you - perfect, wonderful, lovely little you. I am so, so thankful for you and I love you more than I could ever say. I am so incredibly blessed to have you and your daddy as my family.

Happy Six Months, Sunshine.

All my love,

* * * * *

Dear Ellie,

Happy six months! You are officially halfway to your very first birthday. (Incidentally, I am also halfway done writing you these letters.) As of today, you are doing a lot of cool things and are just so much fun to hang out with.

This month you started and basically mastered sitting up, and it already seems like you want to get moving. You are now leaning, folding and twisting from all positions and you look like you are trying to figure out how to go get the things you used to carefully observe. We'll see how long it actually takes you to start crawling given that you still haven't really gotten the hang of rolling from front to back, despite doing it for the first time months ago. For now, it is fun to watch you grow and figure out how your body works.

In any event, sitting up on your own means we can actually play together. Several times a day, we will put you on the alphabet floor mat and your mommy or I, or both of us, will hand you toy after toy so you can inspect it, taste it, throw it down and pick it back up. Sometimes, we even sit with a book and read to you while you watch and talk to the pages. These play times are frequently accompanied by music and almost never involve background television. Honestly, it's not because we are trying to follow the literature to make sure that you end up being super smart, but rather because you seem to like the music and you are cuter and more interesting than anything on TV.

In general, I would describe month six as another happy one. While it's true that you have had a few "off" days, it's hard to hold these against you. As I said before, you are working on all kinds of new movements and you have started napping, or at least trying to nap, on your own this month. I understand these things can make it difficult for babies to sit back and enjoy regular life, so I hope you keep continuing to make steady progress. As for the solo naps, although they promise to do wonders for Mommy's free time, they are still very much a work-in-progress. I will leave the details to her letter, but I really hope you make great use of this skill, because, even though you have been pretty good at getting the hang of it, the cost in listening to you cry has been pretty steep.

While I know you have no chance of remembering any of the things we have been up to, I sincerely hope I never forget how precious you are right now. One of my favorite things in the whole world is to sit and stare at you while we play. Even though I am making all the faces I can think of to get you to smile, finding a successful one is so surreally awesome that I feel like I am having an out-of-body experience. I can't think of any other way to describe it than to say how wonderfully present I feel while it is happening.

Thank you, baby girl, for being so great. Though, in fairness, I can probably take at least half the credit!

All my love,


Nichole said...

Wow, has it already been six months?! Happy "half" birthday :)

Lauren said...

Can't believe she is 6 months, so adorable love the Gator outfit too :-)

Meghan said...

She's so big! And adorable, as usual! LOVE the outfit!