Saturday, April 4, 2015
My dear E.J.,
Today you are nine months old! That means that I have carried you in my arms for almost as long as I carried you in my belly. As much as I loved feeling you move during my pregnancy, and imagining what you would be like, I much prefer you on this side of things. The smiles, the cuddles, the laughs, the sweetness...it can't be beat.
This month was a very busy one for us. We went down to St. Petersburg during Daddy's spring break, where we hosted Ellie's third birthday party. From there we went to Orlando and spent a couple of days at Disney (you had a particularly memorable run-in with Gaston from Beauty and the Beast), and we finished the trip off with a morning at the hotel pool - your first time actually going in the pool! You also met the Easter Bunny (you were delighted) and took part (kind of) in your first Easter egg hunt. You swung on the playground swings for the first time. Papa came to visit and we celebrated Ellie's actual birthday. Tomorrow we will celebrate your first Easter, the last of your first major holidays. It has been so much fun to share all of these adventures with you!
I suppose I should really begin this month's letter with an issue that has been at the front of my mind all month: your eating habits and weight gain. Your doctor has been concerned about your weight gain (or rather, your lack thereof) for several months now, and we've been going in for regular weight checks. At birth you were above the 80th percentile for weight but your "curve" has consistently dropped, and you've fallen to the third percentile. Between your seventh- and eighth-month weight checks, you actually lost weight. The doctor has been talking about the possibility of seeing specialists and what not to figure out if there is something going on, but for the time being has been on board with trying other methods to pack some pounds on you: milk-boosting supplements for me, increased solid food meals for you, bottles of formula. Needless to say, I have felt the pressure to get you eating before our next well visit mid-April.
We did try a little formula this month, which was a big pride issue for me. I was proud that Ellie never had a drop of formula during her time as my nursling, and I wanted the same for you. I worried that even a small bottle or two a day of formula would negatively impact our nursing relationship. Ultimately I decided I had to try if it might give you additional calories you were lacking and spare you a barrage of testing down the line, and we gave it a go. And after all that, you refused to drink it! I'd be lying if I said I was disappointed, although I do hope you're finding whatever you may be lacking elsewhere.
We have managed to figure out a way to get you to eat, somewhat. You live for Puffs - that little puffed baby cereal snack. Live for them. When we dump some on your high chair tray, you shovel them into your mouth by the fistful before we can even finish pouring. It's quite elegant. So, this month we started putting Puffs on your tray then topping them with baby food puree. And you eat it! You now eat a whole container of baby yogurt in the mornings and a whole pouch of baby food in the evenings with this method. I can't say that I love using Puffs as, essentially, an edible spoon, but whatever gets that food in your belly. Of course, this method also makes an enormous mess, so much so that we have taken to cleaning you off via a bath in the sink after every meal. You actually enjoy this, and particularly love when Daddy wraps you up tight in a towel afterwards. When that happens, Ellie says you're in a basket! And you're just so tickled by the whole thing.
Your mobility also continues to be an ongoing theme for these letters. You have not slowed down at all, to be sure, so if you are lacking in nutrition somewhere, it is not at all evident in your activity level. You still crawl quickly and constantly, up and over just about anything that stands in your way. You've started crawling up off your belly more recently, and to my surprise (and delight, let's be honest), you have adopted the same one-legged scoot-crawl that was Ellie's technique of choice. I love seeing it make a comeback! You love to crawl around the house, stopping to inspect (and often try to ingest) anything of interest that catches your eye. I love to just sit back and watch you exploring your world, happily crawling and sitting and playing and inspecting. You are just very cool.
You also continue to pull up on EVERYTHING, and are doing so with much more confidence and better balance now. Nothing on the coffee table is safe anymore, and your Daddy and I have already added "lower E.J.'s crib mattress again" to our to-do list, because the first thing you do when your eyes open after sleep is pull yourself right up, and I worry you'll try to catapult right over the edge. I sure hope your self-preservation instinct will show itself sooner rather than later.
Speaking of your crib, sleep is another topic that continues to warrant a mention. Your naps in your crib have greatly improved this month, although there are still "off" days a bit more frequently than I'd like. On good days, you nap for up to two hours in the morning and about an hour in the afternoon. However, your night sleep has regressed again, and you are back to waking up two or three times each night, requiring me to nurse you back to sleep. I'm not sure how we fell into such a backslide, but here we are. You almost always wake up between exactly 5:55 and 6:05 a.m.; that is the one instance where you are pretty consistent (much to my sleepy dismay).
This month has also brought a slight shift in your generally happy demeanor, and you have been somewhat less willing to go with the flow. You've been a bit fussier, and have shown a clear preference for Mama quite a bit. I know Ellie went through something similar in exactly the same month, so apparently month nine is just a rough one for my kiddos. You already seem to be coming out of it, however, and your laughs are more free-flowing once again and of course, those gummy smiles are flashing left and right. And yes, still no teeth! You had a few particularly drooly days this week (accompanied by fussiness, poor sleep and congestion) so we thought teeth might be on the way, but nothing has been spotted yet.
Of course, even with increased fussiness, possible teething, sleep regressions and weight gain concerns this month, you have managed to steal our hearts by being the most adorable baby in the world. Several examples of the too-much-to-bear sweetness come to mind in particular: your vocalizations, which are increasing in frequency and include a lot of "da-da" (of course they do) and happy shrieking (which is the best); dancing, in which you bop back and forth to music along with me; and most of all, your hugs. Every time I pick you up after you wake up or even just after a long period of separation (by that I mean, on opposite ends of the room, perhaps), you wrap your arms around me and squeeze. I have never known a little baby to give hugs like that, but I know that is what you are doing and they are the very best hugs. I love that you want to pull me close and that you are content to just be held and cuddled as you rest your head on my shoulder. That feeling is simply the greatest. I cannot get enough of it.
E.J., every day I catch myself looking at you in awe. What a special little person you are. I do not even have words that can properly convey the way I feel when I look at you, my precious son. Words like "proud," "loving," "adoring," "devoted"—they come to mind, but fall far short of accurately describing how very lucky I feel to be your mama. You are so precious to me and I hope you will always know how very much I love you.
Happy nine months, little man.
All my love,
* * * * *
Nine months. Nine letters. Two definite hugs. Two big boy meals* per day. Three distinct crawling styles. Numerous milestones. Immeasurable happiness. Please don't think I am too cheesy to have enumerated such a list or, especially, to have ended it with a non-number cliché. It's just that my feelings towards you are so easy to express. You are the most fun little guy I could have imagined and quite possibly the cutest darn thing in the world. On top of that, the second time around, there is a lot less of the uncertainty and anxiety that come with adjusting to parenting a kid of each monthly age for the first time, which only makes it easier to appreciate your awesomely good nature.
This has been a very busy month for our family. We traveled to St. Petersburg for Ellie's birthday party, spent a few days at Walt Disney World, entertained your Papa in Jacksonville and celebrated Ellie's actual birthday. On top of that, I taught a unit I had never taught before (i.e., extra prep time) and am actively seeking the best opportunity for me and our family after this school year is finished. Other than some sleep regression, you handled all of this pretty well. I guess what I am trying to say is that I feel like I have less to say this month because I haven't been thinking much about parenting at a meta-level or about the art of letter-writing or even about us long-term other than to really hope we are great friends someday. I feel good about the relationship we are developing, but sincerely hope we can someday enjoy watching sports and playing golf together, and that we can talk enthusiastically about your regular life as well as your hopes and dreams. You're my actual boy, E.J., and trust me, that is something even cooler than you will someday imagine. I don't have that with my father, so I want so badly to make what I imagine is possible a reality for you.
Although it may have fit more naturally in the previous paragraph, my bandwidth must be so limited as to not be able to easily identify a re-write, so I will just do it here and clarify some things about the relationship I said we were developing as you hit nine months. First of all, you still say "da da" a lot and clearly know who you are talking about, given that you will find me and smile so sweetly when it's happening. Additionally, you have started frantically—yes, frantically—crawling to greet me at the door when I come home from work and we are developing some "things," like when I put you "in a basket" by wrapping you up tightly in a towel after washing you down in the sink after meal time and when we hilariously bite each others' hands and fingers, or raise your arms in victory.
All of this is to say that you are such a fun son. I love having you around and can't be more excited about loving it even more as you keep growing up.
All my love,