Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dear E.J. - Five Months

My dear E.J.,

Five months! How? In my head you're still a newborn, and my mind thinks I only just gave birth, but somehow nearly half a year has passed. I always felt the time passed quickly with Ellie, too, but now with the two of you, the days seem to fly by in double time.

Probably the biggest development for you this month was that you started rolling from back to belly. Naturally, the very first time you did this was while you were sleeping (and repeated it shortly thereafter on your play mat), and even though you rolled belly-to-back first, you now seem to have forgotten that is even a possibility. Needless to say, this new skill has become quite the sleeping hindrance. Of course, you were not yet sleeping through the night before all this rolling started happening anyway, but your wakeups increased in frequency quite a bit with this new development. It got to the point that in a fit of desperation after a night or two of you waking yourself up every hour or so, I went online and ordered a (kind of pricey) self-proclaimed "Magic Sleepsuit" that was supposed to help keep you from rolling over in your sleep. It improved things (back to the status quo, at least) for a couple of weeks but just this week you have discovered how to roll over in the suit, too. I guess there's no such thing as a quick fix, eh? So, for now we're continuing on, with me rubbing my tired eyes while I spend our days giving you as much tummy time as possible so you can please-oh-please remember how to roll belly to back!

This has been a big month for you physically in other (less sleep-destructive) ways, too. A couple of big things for you now are grabbing for things and jumping. Your hand-eye coordination has improved dramatically and you are constantly reaching for just about anything that passes into your line of sight, and when you grab hold of it, you immediately pull it straight into your mouth. At your daddy's birthday celebration this week, you grabbed hold of his fork and nearly had your very first taste of cake thanks to this habit!

You also love to jump. You spent most of the month bouncing on our knees or jumping whenever we held you out with your feet touching the ground. After Thanksgiving we brought home our Jumperoo, and now you spend a good bit of time each day jumping furiously, with the occasional break to examine the toys in front of you or to flash us that trademark E.J. grin.

You're just very active on the whole. When on your back, if you're not rolling over, you're scooting around - often right off your play mat! You wiggle and arch your back and flap your arms at your sides, and my upper arms are nearly bruised from your constant kicking while I feed you. Just last night I also gave you a chance to try sitting up on your own and you were able to do so for a few seconds at a time! So it looks like we have more exciting (and possibly sleep-disrupting) milestones coming up this month.

One of my favorite things you started doing this month is shrieking. Boy, did you ever find your voice! You spent so much time just happily bouncing on my knee, yelling and squealing and screeching with delight the whole time. You also blow raspberries now, which I know is a favorite of your daddy's, and you've also taken to pursing your lips and sort of spitting during nursing sessions. I suppose it's possible I should be insulted that you are literally spitting the food I made for you back into my face, but it's really funny and cute so instead I choose to laugh and try to capture it on video.

Of course, even with all these developments, you continue to be the World's Happiest Baby. Smiles are not at all hard to come by from you, and can often be found even in the middle of an unhappy fit. All we have to do is generally coo in your direction and we'll be rewarded with your biggest grins. You giggle quite a bit, too, which is one of my most favorite sounds in the whole world. The best ways to make you laugh include tickling you or showering you with kisses (my preferred methods), or making you "fly" or swinging you around in the air (Daddy's approach).

You've started to show some interest in a few specific toys this month, most notably your glowing seahorse (it made you smile so much when we saw it in the store that we bought it on the spot) and your triangle tag toy, a hand-me-down from Ellie. You also especially like the ball and the monkey on your play mat, and you find Ellie's dog pull-toy particularly hilarious.

You're also just really, really cute. Aside from your expressive face, adorable eyebrows, and million-dollar smile, you have the most awesome hair. It's just long enough now that it sticks straight up off the top of your head and is quite possibly the cutest thing I've ever seen. It's also delightfully soft and fuzzy. I cannot get enough of that hair.

This month, we celebrated your very first Thanksgiving. We went down to St. Petersburg and spent it with family and had a great time. You rocked an adorable turkey hat and spent the meal sitting on my lap, happily ripping the paper tablecloth to shreds and relentlessly trying to ingest it. In the future, I imagine you will come to the Thanksgiving table with a more refined palate. At least, I should hope so.

We have all our Christmas decorations up now and we are preparing for what I think will be a really wonderful holiday season. I know that you are too little to really realize or appreciate what all is going on around you, but that will not stop me from trying to make your first Christmas a really special one for you. You have already met Santa Claus and helped us trim our tree, and I cannot wait to watch you experience even more holiday magic in the coming month. Between this being your first Christmas and the first that Ellie is really able to be excited about, I can hardly wait to share all the fun with both of you. I have always loved Christmas, but seeing it anew through the eyes of my children has really brought a lot of magic back into it for me. This year is going to be really special!

E.J., I just love you so much. I'm so proud to be your mama. Whenever people in public comment on how cute or sweet you are, I beam with pride and can't help but boast about what a good boy you are. You are so sweet and so happy and so much fun, and we're very, very lucky to have you as our boy. I could just eat you up, I love you so.

Happy five months, buddy.

All my love,

* * * * *

Dear E.J.,

How are you five months old already? I can't believe how much further you seem now from being a tiny baby than you did just last month. You are very strong and wiggly and have pretty much mastered grabbing the things you set out to grab, though you are still young enough that all you want to do (or are capable of doing) with them is chew(ing). Besides the obvious answer to this question (the inexorable march of time), I am beginning to wonder if the real answer doesn't include some measure of indescribable amazement. As for the element of time, I should acknowledge first of all that it is obvious you will be entirely beyond your baby era and exponentially stronger and better coordinated by the time you read this letter. You will have replaced the wiggles with purposeful movements (such as a golf swing?), and limited your eating to actual food. However, at some point between now and then, I am going to stop tracking your progress so closely. You will cease to be more than you used to be and will simply be who you actually are. I have lately been noticing this transition with your sister. She is getting so much bigger and smarter all the time, but I am at a loss for when and how it keeps happening. With you, I am looking for changes and can appreciate how many of them are happening, and in such a seemingly short time.

In both cases, the disbelief in time (or at least a statement to that effect) may not be so much a statement of fact about the surprising accumulation of it and of developmental milestones, but a more concrete way of stating awe at the entirety of your existence. The easiest way to process this is to chronicle your growth and to daily balance my excitement about the things we may someday do together against the lament for the tiny baby things of yours you will never do again, while never knowing when the adorable things of today will add themselves to that list. Keeping tabs is a constant reminder of how quickly the latter list is growing and leads to feeling like it is all going by too fast. To be clear, the statement still applies to your sister, but I can see how that may not always be the case. Ultimately, it's a pretty cool thing to interact with someone whom you have known their entire life, knowing for a fact they started with nothing but unlimited potential.

In case the entire letter ends up reading like a mess of bad philosophy, I want to at least acknowledge my favorite memories of you from this past month: your adorableness on Veterans Day; your attempt to eat my birthday cake when I tried to photo-op you holding the fork; your first Thanksgiving friendliness with my family; your not sleeping more than a few hours at a time at least a few nights per week; your constant delighted screeches earlier in the month and the raspberries towards the end; and the fact that you smile at almost everything.

My E.J., thank you for being such a happy baby. I can't imagine my life without you, your sister or your mama. I love our little family and am excited to continue to get to know you better.

All my love,

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