My dear Ellie,
Today you are nine months old, and that means that I have known you for as long outside of my belly as I knew you on the inside. Considering how much joy you brought me when you were in my belly, it hardly seems possible that you could bring so much more on the outside. Plus, you kick me in the ribs considerably less now, so I have to say I enjoy having you on this side of things.
This month has been completely nuts for you, and I have to say, you have been a real trooper. We moved from New York City to Florida early in the month, which was a huge change in itself. On top of that, before we left the city we spent weeks carting you around to any and every New York sight we could possibly think of. Then, when we finally got to Florida, we were busy not only with unpacking and settling in, but also with taking you to see family and friends right off the bat. All that finally calmed down a bit just in time for all the festivities of your very first Christmas. Needless to say, you have been one tired baby this month, but I think you're starting to settle in and get used to your new surroundings and way of life, and that's great to see.
On top of all that craziness, you decided to sprout a couple of teeth this month. You started teething in earnest for the first time the day before we flew to Florida, working on both bottom front teeth at once. This was less than ideal timing. There were many tears, many tantrums, much clinginess and many restless nights. We did our very best to minimize your discomfort as much as possible, but you were just not happy. I will admit to warning you that the Tooth Fairy may not bring you anything for these teeth someday, as she will want nothing to do with these Devil Teeth. That is not true, of course, but the first teething experience was just not fun for any of us. Of course, I imagine it is quite an uncomfortable process, especially for a sweet baby who never knew pain like that, so you are more than entitled to complain. And now that the hurt has passed (until next time), you look adorable with your new toothy grin.
You have really been vocal about your opinions this month. Not that this is particularly new, but this month you have really perfected your Tantrum Squeal. If things are not going your way, you are not afraid to tell us about it. You are a baby who knows what she wants and you will make that known. I have to say that although I may feel differently in the moment, that is a quality I admire about you. I hope that as you grow you will always feel confident to speak your mind and clearly express what you want in life. I do hope you find other ways to do so instead of the angry face and squealing, but I hope the strong will sticks with you.
Probably the most notable change this month has been your Mommy Phase. All you seem to want in the world is for me to hold you and carry you around while you suck your thumb. This is quite understandable, of course, given all the recent upheaval in your world. But this phase has brought mixed feelings for me. On the one hand, it's wonderful. Up until this point you have been so all about Daddy that I assumed you just considered me The Lady Who Brings The Milk. It has been so nice to feel like you really want to be with me, to see you seek me out in a room and reach for me, or to get your little scoot-crawl going as fast as your arms and legs can manage to get you to wherever I may be. When you reach my feet you pull yourself up on my legs, reaching as high as your arms will go until I pick you up. When I lift you up, your little body leans into mine as you wrap your arms around me and bury your face in my neck. You have been more content to cuddle with me than ever before, and where once you required constant play and stimulation, you have been happy to just sit on my lap for hours. You climb all over me, of course, but stop regularly to lay your head on my chest, resting quietly and sucking your thumb. Every time you nestle into me like that, it makes my heart soar. It is a feeling I always dreamed of and one I never want to forget.
However, the downside to this phase is that if I don't instantly pick you up, or if you can't get to me, you get so upset. Your face crumples and the tantrums flow freely, as do the tears. There is much weeping and gnashing of teeth. Of course, this is also the only time you ever say the "mama" sound. When you're happy, it's all "dadadadada" all the time, but when you're upset, you just wail "maaaaaaaaa maaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" as you lean forward and lay your forehead on the ground, because the weight of your troubles is just too much to bear. It is the saddest thing. It got to a point this month where I felt distraught about this Mommy Phase, because I missed your smile. As much as I love having you want to be with me, it seemed every time I walked into the room you would instantly go from happily playing to wailing in distress until I held you. I missed seeing your face light up with your adorable grin when you saw me, missed hearing you laugh, missed watching you play. Last month you were just so happy and I missed that joyful little girl, because I felt I rarely got to see her this month. It was a bit discouraging and sad. But ultimately, I just tried to remind myself to focus on the good parts of this phase, because in the blink of an eye you will be too busy with your own things to come hang out with your ol' mom. So I have tried to soak in those moments of you pressed against me, or reaching up for me, longing to be close. And now your happiness seems to be returning, so perhaps the phase is on its way out and it will be all dadadadada again before I know it. Until then, I will treasure each bit of closeness while I can.
In other developments, you are wearing me out with your mobility. You love living in a large house now, with lots of room to move and places to explore. You crawl all over the place and pull yourself up on everything. You especially love to pull yourself up on the back of the couch so you can look out the front window, or on the sliding glass door to look out into the backyard. You have gotten very fast at your scoot-crawl and it continues to make me smile every day. I also love to watch you stand and examine things, or sit and play with your toys. I just love to watch you take in the world.
Your sleep has been all over the place this month, but given the developments we've already covered here, I think that is to be expected. You are still waking up through the night, and naps have been a bit hit or miss since we arrived in Florida, but I think things are finally starting to sort themselves out. You also started sleeping in your own room for the first time this month, a transition that was much harder on me than it was on you. As nice as it is to no longer spend my nights being afraid to move for fear of waking you, I miss having you so close to me all night long. You are still just a few feet away, but it's still much further apart than we have ever been. I miss you!
Just a few days ago we celebrated your first Christmas. It was such a blessing to be able to do so here, with all of your family. We had an exhausting Christmas Eve/Christmas Day as we hopped from place to place, but it was perfect. You were an angel in church on Christmas Eve and tore into your presents on Christmas morning. You visited with everyone, smiled, laughed, crawled and played. You got a great number of noisy toys for Christmas, including a walker from Santa, a laptop from Grandpa, a toy house from Uncle Ronnie and Aunt Stephanie and a toy remote from Grammy. So far you are enthralled with all of them and the books Santa brought you have hardly been touched. Isn't that the way it goes? Regardless, the whole Christmas holiday was so much more magical for your daddy and me this year, all thanks to you. It was so much fun to introduce you to all of our traditions and watch you experience it all for the first time. I already cannot wait to see how much more fun you'll have next Christmas, and I especially cannot wait to teach you the real meaning of Christmas as you grow. We are very blessed, my sweet Ellie.
Baby girl, here we are, nine months in, and I still cannot believe you are really here. Your daddy and I still regularly ask each other, "can you believe how cute she is?" because you are just so unbelievably cute. And funny, and silly, and sweet, and precious, and perfect. I am so in awe of you. As I sit with you in those quiet moments during the night as you nurse back to sleep, I just stare at you and feel so overcome. I am overwhelmed with love in a way I never could have imagined possible. My heart just aches because it is overflowing with love for you, your daddy and our family. I am so very lucky.
Happy Nine Months, my love.
All my love,
* * * * *
I can't believe you are nine months old. You are climbing and crawling all the time and are getting so big. You have officially doubled your birth weight, which was on the high side to begin with. Emotionally, you have been pushing the boundaries on both ends of the spectrum.
On the positive side, you have been really excited about people and things this month, which is just the coolest thing. You flash a big grin and bounce up and down when you see someone you haven't seen in a while or that you are excited about. At a minimum, this includes my coming to "rescue" you every morning, but you also like your new toys, the dog and are beginning to do this for much of your extended family. You have also perfected the art of raising your arms when you want to be picked up and you love to climb up my legs until I lift you. You are mimicking noises more often and seem to enjoy doing it. In fact, you were so smiley at the beginning of the month that you would regularly scrunch your face up as if you could barely contain your excitement. This face has officially been invited to join your sneeze moan and raspberry-blowing as charter members of the Cuteness Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately, sweetheart, this month has also seen you learn to cry on purpose and throw a super tantrum. These fun activities seem to be most strongly manifested in your new obsession with Mommy. Fortunately, I have been able to distract you during the past couple of days so we can play and mommy can work or do something besides hold you while you suck your thumb. However, Mommy's arms have been a pretty popular hangout spot these past couple of weeks. Before I learned the distraction technique, you would sit in front of her and scream with everything you could muster, which included some pretty high-pitched screeches and laying your face flat on the ground. It is simply maddening to see you so upset, and even more maddening to watch you flip the switch the second she picks you up. I don't know what we are going to do with you, but I really hope we can figure out a way to channel this single-minded strong will to something good so it does not get used against us too often in the future.
For the sake of completeness, I should also talk about all of your movement. You started climbing over things the day after I wrote your last letter and have only gotten better and more frequent at pulling yourself up and "scooting." I can hardly remember a time when you just laid in one place, though we have plenty of pictures to suggest it actually happened. I think the huge growth in your mobility has been fueled, in part, by all of the extra space at Grandpa's house. I suppose this may be a metaphor for how the larger move we are making as a family is really in your best interest. The theory is basically that you can use your mommy and me a lot more than you can use things and that our happiness with work and life will help make you happy. I probably owe you a fuller explanation for the move we are making, but for now the theory will have to do. In fact, I can already tell you that it works in reverse. Watching you be happy is the most satisfying experience I have known. It is so simple and yet so profoundly beautiful.
I love you so much, my Ellie, and I would be lying if I said I didn't understand your fascination with Mommy.
All my love,