My dear Ellie,
Oh, my sweet girl, it's all going so fast! You are four months old today and I can hardly believe it. I said in my last letter that month three seemed to go slowly, but month four has passed by in an instant. I look back at pictures from your newborn days and I already have trouble remembering when you were that small. As always, I am torn between being so excited to watch you grow and change and wanting to freeze time and keep you as you are forever.
This month has been a big one for you, as I expected it would be. One of your biggest accomplishments has been rolling over. You were so close to rolling for about a month, and then one day you just finally made it all the way over. I could hardly believe it and was sure you would take forever to do it again, but no - from that moment on, you've been a rolling fool. You never stop. Of course, you're still mostly stuck on rolling from back to belly, and although you're becoming more tolerant of tummy time, you're still not a fan. So, we have spent a lot of days this month going through the following cycle on endless repeat: you roll over, I watch you for a moment to see if you'll figure out how to go back, you get really upset, I roll you onto your back again, and then you instantly go back over. You've started to make progress in the rolling belly-to-back department, but we're still working on that one. Once you get it, I may need to take up a new hobby to fill all my newfound free time when I no longer have to flip you over all day long.
You are very observant and want to look at everything now. You are not very patient for sitting around - you would much rather be carried around the house so you can inspect everything. One day this month we spent about 20 minutes just standing in the bathroom looking at the toothbrushes. It's so cool to watch you seeing everything for the first time, and I only wish I knew what you think of it all!
You have also become so good at reaching for and grabbing things. It's so fun to watch you zero in on something and go for it. When you get it, you turn it around and look at it from all angles and then it inevitably finds its way to your mouth. Some of your favorite things to grab are your butterfly toy, the caterpillar from your play mat and your stuffed Pooh Bear. You always have a smile for Pooh Bear!
Speaking of things making their way into your mouth, you have just started sucking your thumb within the last week or so. You mostly do it at night or when you are very tired. In fact, this past week I have been able to lay you down in your crib awake at bedtime and you are able to fall asleep on your own by sucking your thumb. There have been many nights when I have longed for something like this, because up until this point our bedtime was a long, drawn-out ritual that involved me nursing you to sleep, waiting for you to be really out cold, and then Daddy or me very nervously transferring you to your crib. If you woke up during the transfer, we would start the whole process over again and it would often take well over an hour. Now, I nurse you and then lay you down, you find your thumb and fall asleep just a few minutes later. This new development is both liberating and heartbreaking for me - liberating in that now I have much more free time at night, but heartbreaking in that it is one of the first things you have learned to do yourself and you no longer need me. It's just a reminder that as you grow you will only become increasingly independent and will need me less and less. Even though I often felt frustrated with our long bedtime routine, and I am so proud of you for being able to soothe yourself now, I already miss being such an integral part of your bedtime. I just keep reminding myself to cherish every moment with you, even the frustrating ones, because one day I won't have them anymore and then I will regret having wished them away. Every moment is fleeting and I want to remember to stop and soak in every last one.
Although your nighttime sleep continues to be wonderful, your nap times are still a struggle. I started this month with the lofty goal of getting you to sleep in your crib, but your newfound ability to roll thwarted my plans - instead of sleeping, you would just roll around and get upset! So we're sort of in this weird "I don't know what to do" napping place right now. Sometimes you nap in your swing, sometimes with me, but it's just not very consistent. We'll get it figured out, but in the meantime, I just hope I'm not letting you get too overtired. Mark my words, baby - someday you are going to regret turning down all these naps!
You are still very vocal these days. You've started making new sounds and you now love to blow raspberries. Watching you form your mouth to "talk" is one of my favorite things. Sometimes you get on a roll and just talk and talk and talk, and I love to listen to you. You have also become much more agreeable to public outings and this month we have been able to make some new friends and get out a bit more, which I think is fun for both of us. Thank you for that, sweet pea!
As of this month, one of your favorite things seems to be kisses. You love when your Daddy kisses and hugs you as you lay on your changing table before bed each night - you always give him a big grin at least, and sweet little giggles at best. During the day you love when I kiss your hands and feet, always giving me big happy smiles when I do these things. This works out very well for me because I am perfectly happy to spend my days kissing you anyway, so if it makes you smile, all the better!
As I write this letter, you are in Florida for the first time. You took your first plane ride this month (and did very well) and now have met all of your grandparents, all but one of your great-grandparents, and your aunts and uncle. Everyone is so in love with you, baby girl. We have had a wonderful time showing you off, and the comments we hear about you most are that you are beautiful, alert, aware and observant (all true!). And of course, that you look like your daddy! (Although some people have said you have my eyes, which makes me happy that maybe you look like me a little bit!)
Also very important - today was your baptism day. You were baptized at the church where your daddy and I were married, and so many family and friends came to celebrate with you. You wore a gown that has been in our family for three generations now and you looked so beautiful. I was so proud of you and it meant so much to me to give you back to God today. Baby girl, before you were born, I prayed for you so much. I prayed for God to bless me with a sweet baby, to make me a mommy. When I found out you were coming (just over a year ago now!) I was so thankful but so apprehensive. I just wanted every last piece of you to be perfect. I prayed every night for God to help you grow healthy and strong, to help me give you a good home while you were in my belly and also when you came out. When you arrived, you were so much more amazing than I ever could have hoped for and every day I feel blessed beyond measure. I can never give enough thanks to God for entrusting you to me. I pray that as you grow you will come to know Him, to love Him, to follow Him faithfully. He is so good!
My sweet Ellie, I love you so much. I can't even put into words how proud I am to be your mommy. I look at you and I just feel like my heart cannot possibly contain all the love I feel for you. I am the luckiest mommy in the world.
Happy Four Months, Sunshine. I love you.
All my love,
* * * * *
We really seem to have a good thing going. By now, you are pretty much getting the hang of this "being a baby" thing and I feel like I am getting much more comfortable being your daddy.
The easiest way to sum up your development this month is to say that you might be getting predictable. For instance, your moods seem to correlate well to whether, when and how long you were able to nap. When you get fussy (which happens less often these days), we almost always know why, which can include being tired or hungry or simply wanting to walk around and look at things.
Speaking of looking at things, you have been incredibly alert this month. You just love to look at and study the world around you. Although the observation really began last month, you have started reaching for things and using your hands and mouth to explore. I have really enjoyed watching you begin to develop this skill because of all the cool things you might someday do with your hands.
At four months old, the smiles continue to flow freely. Getting back to the predictability theme, there seem to be so many more things that you really enjoy than even a month ago. Off the top of my head, you almost always smile when I: kiss and hug you (which is so precious it hurts); get you out of bed in the morning; talk baby talk to you (especially when I copy your noises and faces or when I say "DaDa"); show you your Winnie-the-Pooh toy; kiss your feet; and make you kiss your own feet.
Although napping continues to be a bit of a challenge, you have been an amazing night sleeper. This month, we stopped swaddling you and even stopped waiting for you to fall completely asleep after your bedtime dinner before laying you down in your crib (via a five-minute wait, an uber-careful two-hand transition from our bed to yours and a five-minute prayer that you would stay asleep). Lately, you are able to eat, get drowsy, lay in your crib and get soothed (sometimes you even soothe yourself!) to sleep, where you stay asleep until the next morning between 6:45 and 7:30. Though I should probably not put it in writing, your Mommy and I almost take for granted these days that you will stay asleep (even if Mommy insists on regular/frequent trips to check on you). We have been left with a nightly struggle between battling exhaustion to stay up and enjoy actual free time and needing to get to bed to prepare for the early wake-up call. This is obviously a great problem to have.
Finally, in this month's installment of "the thing that is so wonderful, I cannot adequately describe how great it makes me feel," I would like to tell you about putting you to sleep in my arms. Though this has happened from your first full day in the hospital, I feel like it has become almost tried and true when I know you need to sleep but will not. I love that you grab onto my arms and that I usually need to hold you extra tight to keep you from wiggling too much. I love that I can feel your head get heavy and I love to feel your limbs go limp one at a time. I love to listen to you breathe and wake up every so often to snuggle in closer and reposition your little head.
I love you, sweetheart, and I love that you are growing to love me, too. I think I can tell that we are going to be great friends.
Though it should go without saying, I think you and your Mommy are the best.
All my love,