Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dear E.J. - Two Months

My dear E.J.,

Here we are, commemorating another month together. In addition to being your first full month at home, this month saw a lot of changes for our family, including a move into a new rental house and Daddy's return to work. Things have been pretty chaotic at times but as the month wraps up, we are starting to settle into a little bit of a routine.

Some of the routine has been at your insistence, actually. You have found a way of very quietly steering us in the right direction and telling us what you need. For example, early on this month we were trying to get you to doze in your nest in the living room at night until we were ready to go to bed, too, at which time we would move you to a bassinet in our bedroom. However, after a couple of nights of refusing to go along with this plan (and a decent amount of worried-sounding fussing out of you), we decided to try just putting you to bed earlier in the evening. And lo and behold, that was all you wanted, and now you sleep in your bed from 8:00 p.m. - 4:30 a.m. before waking to eat, then back to bed until 7:00 or 7:30. Similarly, at times I was trying too hard to get you to sleep before putting you in your bassinet (nursing, rocking, patting, shushing), and you refused to go along with that. In frustration, I simply laid you down, and wouldn't you know it, you put yourself to sleep in minutes. All you wanted was to be left alone to do your thing and you told me so pretty politely. Since then, that is our bedtime routine. You're making it so easy on us, kiddo. Thank you!

I feel good about your ability to dictate portions of your routine because much of our day is subject to the whims of your sister, so it's nice that you do get some say. After a quick morning nap for you we're generally off to keep Ellie busy, be it at the park or with errands or playtime. For the most part you have given me the gift of an afternoon nap at the same time as Ellie (which I am eternally grateful for), and then we spend our evening similarly keeping Ellie entertained. You are generally very willing to roll with the punches and if you are sleepy, you will doze off wherever we are, enabling us to make sure your sister's needs are met. People told me that second children tend to be this way, and I do wonder if that is the case - are you so agreeable simply because you have no choice as the second child, or is it more a credit to your easy-going nature?

You really are such a good-natured little guy. You started smiling so much more this month, and each morning you greet me with the world's happiest grin. You make my day before it has even begun, buddy. Then we spend some time chatting and playing together on your changing table before Ellie wakes up, while it's just the two of us. I love that time with you.

You've really found your voice this month. You chatter and coo constantly and the sounds you make are just the best. Every time I hear that voice of yours it puts a smile on my face and I can't help but stop whatever I may be doing to talk back to you. You seem quite pleased with yourself, too, and your conversations are accompanied by the most pleasant (if not downright proud) facial expressions.

When you do get upset, last month's assessment still stands: you mostly just fuss, sounding very worried. When you do give your loudest cries, they are often short-lived and you quiet yourself down pretty quickly. It's as if you just want to make sure your complaint has been noted, but you have faith that we will take care of whatever you need as soon as possible and you're willing to be patient with us. What a sweetheart!

Your agreeable disposition also comes in handy when dealing with your sister. E.J., I'm not sure I can fully convey in words how much she adores you. Hopefully someday you will watch all the videos I take of her interacting with you and see it for yourself, because it really is a sight to be seen. We wondered how she would adjust to the addition of a sibling to our family, to no longer being my sole focus as our only child. We anticipated some jealousy and hurt feelings, but I have only seen one slight hint of jealousy, and that has come when it's time for me to feed you. But rather than her being jealous of you as the recipient of my attention and cuddles, she is jealous of me because I get to hold you and she is anxiously awaiting her turn to cuddle with you. The first words out of her mouth each morning almost always are, "Can I go see E.J.?" and as soon as she is able, she is off to find you. I spend a lot of time keeping her from waking you and/or smothering you, because I think she would climb right into your nest with you if I let her. She switches into her "E.J. voice," a high-pitched, sweet, baby-talk tone, and gushes over you and your "tiny little toes." She tells you she loves you, she missed you, and she showers you with kisses. She gives you her toys to play with and wants you to come to her room (or wherever she is headed) with her at all times. She just can't get enough, and you are endlessly patient with her and her constant, very physical attention. And even more than just tolerating her, you seem to actually enjoy her, responding to her affections with big smiles and coos of your own. I cannot get enough of the interaction between the two of you and I pray every day that it is only the beginning of a very close bond that you two will share.

As for other developments and interests, you're still working on those neck muscles and are getting better at holding your head up. You're pretty tolerant of tummy time, and you've come to really enjoy your play mat in general. After tummy time you love to lay on your back and look up at your toys. You also have just recently started showing a great fondness for being worn, falling asleep almost the very same instant that I get my carrier tied around you. You also seem to really like the bath and the feeling of water on your belly, and you love to stare up at the scoreboard above your changing table during diaper changes (this really pleases your daddy and me - we worked hard on that thing!).

You were also able to meet a few more family members this month, although it was made possible by a sad occasion (the funeral for your great-grandmother). Despite the circumstances for our visit, we are always thrilled to have the opportunity to show you off and people just marvel at what a good baby you are. The comment we hear the most by far, however, is how much you look like your daddy. Even people who have never met either of you but have only seen pictures comment on the resemblance. Most of the time, I don't notice it, because I have already come to know you as your own person, but every now and then I'll see a photo or catch an expression and think, "yes, that's his father's face." That's a good thing, though, don't worry - I think your daddy has a very handsome face!

And so begins another month for you. I can't wait to see what you have in store for us this month! The first two have been so wonderful, watching you grow and seeing how seamlessly you fit into our family. I'm excited to watch you continue to develop into the person you are meant to be, all the while getting to know you better and better. I just adore you, little man, and I am so humbled and grateful to be your mama.

I love you, buddy.

All my love,

* * * * *

Dear E.J.,

Happy two months! I wonder how many more age doublings we are going to share. Actually, since I am currently a math teacher working on building number sense in my high school students, I will go ahead and estimate that with average life expectancies, I have eight more to experience with you compared to the one you will have with your mama and me. Speaking of your mama, she is going to roll her eyes pretty good at the last line, but these letters are day-of contemporary accounts of the things we happen to say to you and these days, I spend a lot of time thinking about teaching math. This often makes me wonder how easily learning will come to you and your sister. Either way, I have decided that I am more hopeful that you realize how cool it is to understand things and that you will both enjoy trying to figure them out and, even more importantly, persist until you do. But, for now, I am amazed at just how much you are going to learn before you can even make sense of what I am writing to you, considering that two months is still young enough to literally list every single thing you can do.

Don't worry (which is actually a funny joke because your most common expression makes it seem like you are often doing just that), I am not going to list everything here. What I will say is that at this point, I would most concisely describe you as a pleasant little guy. You get upset, to be sure, but are pretty content most of the time and you are generally open to being settled down in a lot of ways. Right now, you get especially relaxed eating and riding in your car seat (either in the stroller or in the car - so long as it is moving!), but also enjoy being rocked/patted gently in someone's arms, facing outward while we bounce you and looking in mirrors or laying on your activity mat. Adding to your pleasantness is the fact that since smiling for the first time, you have started doing it a lot. You almost always have a series of them when you wake up or recognize someone in your family, which you are impressively good at already.

This month, you have also started verbalizing, which you seem to enjoy doing almost as much as I love watching you do it! You have a very expressive face (see, e.g., the worried look or smiles mentioned previously) and look ever so pleased to be moving your mouth (and whole head and arms and legs) to summon all the sounds you can find. You are one of my favorite people in the world to listen to, and you don't even come close to saying anything! I honestly can't wait to share ideas and stories with you someday (maybe over 36 holes?), but right now you are making it easy to wait. Keep up the good work, little guy. I love you very much.

All my love,

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