My dear Ellie,
Three months old! We've made it to the end of the so-called "fourth trimester." Your newborn clothes are all packed away and whenever I look back at those pictures from your first days, I am struck by how you look so much more like a baby now, not the newborn you once were. You're growing up so fast, sweet girl!
I would say this month has gone by the slowest so far, although I'm not sure why that is. You and I have had some challenging days together this month, so maybe that's why. Our biggest struggle continues to be your naps. You will usually take a late afternoon nap every day for several hours, which is wonderful. It's getting you to nap earlier in the day that is the problem, and usually I'm lucky to just get a short catnap out of you between morning wake-up and late afternoon. That means that by afternoon nap time, you are just mad at the world. But then I wrap you up in your swaddle blanket and nurse you to sleep, and as you nap peacefully beside me I almost forget that just few moments earlier you were screaming your crazy baby head off. Motherhood really plays tricks on your memory sometimes.
I am pleased to report that although daytime napping can be a battle, you are still an excellent nighttime sleeper. I'm always afraid to put that statement in writing, for fear I might jinx it. This month you slept in until a record 7:45 a.m. two nights in a row! Your bedtime is pretty consistently around 9:00 p.m. now, although if need be we sometimes bump that up a little bit. I'm convinced that you are the best baby ever for sleeping so well during the night. Please, please, PLEASE keep that up, little one!
This month it seems like we don't have much to talk about in terms of you doing new things, but you are really on the verge of so much. You still hate tummy time, but you're willing to tolerate it for a few minutes before getting upset. You're lifting your head up off the ground a bit, and it seems you're really working to figure out how to roll over - both front to back and back to front. When we put you on your tummy it seems your cries are less about anger in general and more about the frustration of being so close to rolling over but just not quite being able to get there. Don't worry, baby, you'll get it. And when you do, you'll have found a way to free yourself of tummy time forever! Of course, you also seem to be trying to go the other way (back to front) and I worry that if you succeed at that first you'll be enraged to realize that all you did was put yourself in tummy time. I'm really sort of on the edge of my seat to see how this all plays out.
Your arm movements also look like they are almost becoming deliberate - like you are thinking about trying to reach for things or grab things but just can't quite make it happen. When objects do find their way into your hands, you hold on for dear life. I love watching you hold onto a toy, staring at it in your hands, like you're trying to figure out how it got there and how to make that happen again. I especially love watching you hold onto my shirt as you're nursing - it only adds to the feeling of closeness we share in those moments. There's nothing like it.
As for your legs, it seems they almost never stop moving! You just kick and kick and kick. You also like to press your feet against the floor and push off, arching your back and shoving your little butt into the air. You do this when you're laying on your back, and also when you're in our arms and want to express your displeasure with your current position. When you get really excited about something, those legs go into a kicking frenzy. You sometimes even kick them in your sleep, or press them against your mattress and push off, propelling yourself around your crib in some sort of repetitive scooting motion that will turn you around 180 degrees and push you up against the crib slats, far from where we left you. It's always funny for me now to get up in the mornings to retrieve you from your crib and see where you ended up. You always greet me in the morning with a big, happy grin, as if you are so proud to have moved all over the place. It's as if you're saying, "Look at me, Mommy! Look what I did!" I see you, Baby Girl, and I'm very impressed!
You're most certainly becoming even more alert and aware of your surroundings. You like to be held in an upright, sitting position, and you'll just look from left to right and back again, taking in everything around you. I can see you really studying things, trying to figure everything out. You've also taken more notice of Achilles this month, and even smiled at him the other day! He has reciprocated your interest and has taken a liking to licking your head. He has also made some attempts to cuddle with you, and is very patient as your flailing limbs kick and punch him over and over. I'm so excited to see you interact with him even more as you grow. I think the two of you will be great friends.
A downside of your increasing alertness is distractibility during nursing, which can sometimes be a little painful for your poor mom. But, there are times when I have a hard time getting you to focus on nursing because all you want to do is pull away and smile and coo at me, so who can be mad at that? It's quite possibly the most precious thing ever, actually.
One big milestone you hit this month was your first real laugh! Daddy pretended to feed you a piece of pizza and there it was, in all it's adorable glory. Daddy and I both looked at each other in shock and since then have spent our time with you making complete fools of ourselves, hoping to make it happen again. You're really making us work hard for it, aren't you, baby? We can usually get those wonderful gummy smiles out of you, but that laugh is now the Holy Grail in this household.
You also went on your first road trip this month. You got to see my hometown, meet your Great-Gramps, and attend your first church service in my old home church. All of this meant so much to me. It was so surreal to see my new daughter in these places where all of my own childhood memories took place. And to see you with your great-grandfather was an especially beautiful thing. Family is so important, and it was so special to have four generations of family together at once. As for the actual trip itself, suffice it to say it was an adventure. You did alright in the car on the way there (it took about nine hours, including stops), but then basically refused to take any sort of substantial nap the entire weekend (I assume you just didn't want to miss any moment of your time in your new surroundings), so by the return trip, you were DONE. There was lots of screaming and I'll just say that more than one of us shed some tears during a particularly bad meltdown on the way home. But, we made it, and your first trip is officially in the books.
So that's where we are at three months, a quarter of your first year already behind us. We have some fun things planned for this next month, and you're on the verge of so much developmentally, so I can't wait to see what I'll be writing about at four months. Yet at the same time, please don't grow up too fast, baby!
I love you, Sunshine. Happy Three Months.
All my love,
* * * * *
First of all, I want to thank you for the Father's Day gift. I loved the picture of you in your golf gear and I can't wait to take you to the driving range and teach you to play the real thing. That said, if you do not happen to feel the same way that I do about golf, then I sincerely hope you find something that you love to do. All the better if you can someday get paid to do it, but, even if not, I very much want for you to be passionate about something or some things. However, I do not want to get too carried away with hopes and dreams just yet. While three months is enough time for your Mommy and me to start imagining the kind of girl you will become, I am so much in love with the little baby you are now, that I will try to keep this letter focused on the present.
Other than eating and sleeping, which you are still doing quite well (thanks!), your time seems to be divided between taking in the world, crying and smiling. I trust your Mommy's letter will cover the specifics of your ever-growing interest in your surroundings, so I will only mention how cool it is to watch. I can't help but wonder what you think about the things you see and can't quite get my head around the fact that everything is brand new to you. I know this will not always be the case and I cannot wait to help you figure it all out. Physically, you are holding your head up really well, laughed for the first time and might roll over any day. Other than the laugh (which was pretty amazing), nothing groundbreaking has happened this month, though you seem on the verge of doing some really cool things.
As for the crying, I will mention that this month has definitely been interesting. Just this past weekend, you spent several hours perfecting your craft while we drove you back and forth to Cleveland. Listening to you was one of the most difficult experiences of my young fatherhood, second only to introducing you to a bottle. Although each took some work, you eventually succeeded. I hope you managed to learn valuable character lessons, or, at least, you did not get scarred for life. Only time will tell, but my fingers are definitely crossed. Seriously, though, listening to you cry is very difficult in ways that I did not expect. I remember reading that the decibel of a baby's cry is at just the right level to raise the blood pressure and heighten the nerves of those who hear it. However, I was not prepared for the mental difficulties of being equally frustrated at not always knowing what you want and heartbroken to listen to you struggle. I understand that at this point crying is your primary (only?) means of communication, so I am happy to keep trying to do everything I can and hoping for the best.
In more important news, I love you more than I even knew was possible. I know that is cliche and I had every reason to expect it would be the case, but I can think of no other way to express the way I feel about you, my sweet, sweet girl. My favorite times of the day are saying good morning when you first wake up and hello when I get home from work. Although you don't always respond immediately to my voice, you break into the biggest grin the moment you realize who it is. Other than those free ones, I am more than happy to try everything I can think of to make you smile. Making baby noises and faces, playing bicycle or snake with your legs and simulating the wind are some of your current favorites. If I am being perfectly honest, it can get pretty embarrassing, but the payoff is so very great. Hopefully you don't make me do anything too crazy because no price is too high. Thanks in advance.
Keep up the good work, baby girl, and enjoy month four!
All my love,