My dear Ellie,
You are eight months old today. It just sounds so old to me, and I can hardly believe it has been eight months already. There are still so many moments when I look at you and can hardly believe that you're really here, that I really have such a perfect daughter. I'm every bit as in awe of you today as I was on this day eight months ago.
This month was a busy one for us. It started off with Hurricane Sandy, which left us without power for six days. You were a trooper through the whole thing and were no worse for the wear. As things got back to normal after the storm, we officially celebrated your first Halloween (which was postponed because of Sandy), and you won yet another award in the Ragamuffin Parade Costume Contest. This month you also played in the snow for the first time, met the Vice President, celebrated your first Thanksgiving, and met both your Great Grandma and Santa Claus (same weekend, but separate occasions!). That is one action-packed month for a baby, and you handled it all in stride. I think you like all the excitement!
As of my last letter, you had just learned to sit yourself up and were working on pulling yourself up, too. Now, you pull yourself up easily on us or any relatively stable furniture you can get your hands on. I remember the first time you pulled yourself up on one of our recliners, where Achilles was napping peacefully. I'm pretty sure his entire life flashed before his eyes when he saw your head unexpectedly pop up over the edge of the chair! That poor dog. You love to pull yourself up and then bounce up and down, laughing as you do so. You also have started holding on to your support with just one hand, or sometimes taking a few steps while you hold on. Feel free to slow all that down, baby girl.
Although, no matter how much I may ask you to please slow down, like it or not, you are officially mobile! You're not crawling in the traditional sense, but instead do this little scoot where you keep one knee on the ground but bend your other leg up so your foot is on the ground and you use that to propel yourself around. It's sort of a one-legged scooty crawl, I guess. Whatever you want to call it, it gets you from Point A to Point B quite nicely. You can really book it across your foam play mat to get to whatever has caught your eye across the room. Of course, you also like to book it off the foam play mat, seemingly hell-bent on your own destruction given that every last inch of our apartment is currently in shambles thanks to our upcoming move next week. I spend a lot of time trying to keep you confined to the safety of the baby-friendly mat, but when you get it into your head that you want to be elsewhere, there is little I can do to change your mind! You are a girl who knows what she wants, that's for sure.
Your naps have much improved since my last letter. You still often refuse one nap each day, but when that happens you usually have taken two other good ones. You generally go to sleep easily on your own, which is very nice. As for nighttime sleeping, that has definitely regressed. You wake up two or three times every night now. It is no longer the sitting up that wakes you, as far as I can tell. I fear that nursing you back to sleep during that phase has just created a bad habit, and now you expect to be nursed back to sleep whenever you wake up during the night. Or, maybe you're just burning too many calories with all your new motor skills during the day and need to eat at night again. Who knows? Your longest stretch of sleep is usually from bedtime until sometime between 11:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m., then you're up every two or three hours until morning. As much as I may grumble when I hear you requesting a midnight snack in the middle of the night, you fall back asleep quickly and easily after just a few minutes of nursing. Usually we are both back asleep in our respective beds within 15 minutes, so I can't complain too much. For now we have no real plans to try to change this system, other than just waiting it out and seeing what happens. In the meantime I will try to keep my grumbling to a minimum and instead remember to cherish our quiet, peaceful moments together as you nurse during the night.
You are also exceptionally talkative these days. I think once you got the hang of all your new motor stuff you were able to return to focusing on your voice. Your shrieks are back, and it seems like you babble constantly. It pains me to say it, but your sound of choice these days is "dadadadada." I try to say "mama" to you, and you just look at me and smile before resuming your "dada"s. You are most definitely a daddy's girl.
Some of your favorite things this month include: Achilles, jumping and bouncing, looking at/chewing on books, my iPhone and the TV remote (still!), your snacks (Puffs, Mum Mum crackers and fruit in your mesh feeder), watching videos of yourself, rolling over and crawling around on your changing table and hugs from Mommy as we look in the mirror. Dislikes include: not being fed immediately upon waking, all the fuss it takes to get you bundled and strapped into your stroller in this cold weather, and having me put lotion on your poor, dry little nose.
Despite all the developments and changes we have seen in you this month, when I think about this month and what stands out the most to me, it's just that you are so happy. You are interested in everything and so many things make you smile. And it's not just any smile, either. This month your signature look has become a big, huge, open-mouthed smile of pure delight. It makes my heart jump for joy every time I see it, and especially so when it is the result of me walking into the room. You have also started making silly, scrunchy smiley faces sometimes, and I can't help but laugh when you do. And speaking of laughing, not only are you handing out smiles left and right, but the laughter is also flowing freely. Two of my favorite moments with you this month involved you laughing: once when I picked Achilles up and brought him towards your face so he could kiss you, resulting in a fit of giggles out of you, and when I put the silly new fur hat I bought for you on your head then let you look in the mirror. You saw yourself in that hat and laughed out loud and it was almost too much for my heart to handle. I just cannot get enough of this happy, joyful, inquisitive, delightful little girl.
I'm very excited about this happiness and hope it continues through this upcoming month, as I am very excited to experience your first Christmas with you. As much as I love Christmas every year, I'm finding myself far more enthusiastic and excited about Christmas this year, and I think I have you to thank for that. I just can't wait to show you everything and have you be a part of our traditions, to watch you as you experience it all for the first time and to see what you think of it. It is so magical and I'm so excited for you to see it all for yourself.
The last thing I wanted to mention is that as this month winds down, we are preparing to move from NYC to Florida. This is going to be a big change for us, and it is hard for your Daddy and me to say goodbye to New York. I know you will not remember your time here, but I hope you will know that we tried to give you every New York experience we possibly could while you were here with us, and that we have every intention of bringing you back someday and doing it all again. We have all been so lucky to have lived here and called this place our home. And now, we're getting ready to embark on a new adventure, all three of us. I can't wait to see what Florida has in store for our family.
My Ellie, I love you so much more than I can ever say. I am the luckiest mama in the world to have you as my daughter. I think back to the days before you were born, and how I longed to have a baby, to have a child that was part of your daddy and part of me, to be somebody's mother. I had these visions of what that might be like but really, you can't know what it's like until you live it. And you, Ellie, are so much better than I ever could have imagined. So, so much better.
I love you, Sunshine. Happy Eight Months.
All my love,
* * * * *
The word that best describes you this month is happy. It's as if you have finally started to make up your mind about the things you have spent months studying. And the answer is that you love a lot of it. As of a week or two ago, you have been adorably open-mouth smiling and giggling all the time, including when one or both of your parents enters a room, the dog passes by or you spot yourself in a mirror. Ellie, the world would be a better place if more adults enjoyed anything half as much as you have been enjoying these things. Fortunately for your mommy and me, this joy is contagious and I find myself again overwhelmed with gratitude for you and your mommy and the family we are becoming.
In other newsworthy month eight news, albeit less world-view changing, you are continuing to work very hard on your physical development. You have been pulling yourself up to a standing position most of the month and are becoming much more efficient. You now seem to be working out how to climb over the things you pull up on, but luckily for your mommy and me, you have not gotten that far. You began the month by somehow willing yourself across the room, but have gradually worked this rough action into a pseudo-crawl. I don't want my description to conflict with the one your mommy is going to try, so I will just note that unless you start walking very soon, you will forever be labeled a "scooter." The motion seems to work for you, so I have no problem with it, and am proud that you don't feel held back by convention. You should just keep up the good work.
In addition to the moving, you are making noises and babbling all the time. I'm not going to say you have said your first purposeful word, but you have definitely taken a liking to the "da da" sound, which is just fine with me.
As you enter month nine, there are very real changes coming to your environment. Adding this to your continued development, the imminent abundance of family and your first Christmas, you are going to be a very busy baby. I hope you are ready to be stimulated! At least you shouldn't be totally unprepared because we have been taking you to see everything we can during our last weeks in New York City. Though you won't remember any of it, you will have more stories and pictures than you know what to do with (baby or otherwise).
In closing, I should note that I am on the verge of turning 30, an age that will seem ancient the first few times you read this letter but much less so when you get there yourself. At the risk of sounding sickeningly positive (spending too much time with a smiley baby can have that effect), I could not be happier about the decade passed or more excited about the one to come. Ellie, I hope all your years are as rich in love and wonderful experience as my first thirty have been. Judging by all the smiles, you are off to a good start.
All my love,