Today, June 8, 2013, you turn 18 months or 1.5 years old.
Every letter that I’ve written to you, I type that first sentence and then sit here and stare in amazement. I wonder to myself how it’s possible that you’ve been a part of our lives for so short a time and how our love for you could possibly be so big. How you’ve touched every part of our hearts and written your name on it. My sister-in-law told us once that as parents you just kind of grow with your children. As with most things she’s shared with me over the years about her sons, I understand it intellectually at the time, but to see it in my life, to feel the touch of your little hand, the breath coming out of your nose and mouth, the utter miracle of your life, is an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. Yes, we’ve totally grown with you.
You weigh 31 pounds 12 ounces, and are 36 inches tall.
Your lower canine tooth broke through your gums on 05/31. The upper right canine took came through on 06/03. Your left side canines are right there, causing your gums to be puffy and painful. Soon, child, soon, all these teeth will be in. I hate seeing you flinch and cry out when your daddy brushes your teeth at night.
This is getting tougher and tougher to track. Usually your Grandma D. and I collaborate on this part of the update, but this month we’re both just at a loss. I sit there during mealtimes with a paper pad and ink pen, because you know words that we don’t know you know. You just pop them out. You talk about your cup, “Big Cup. Blue Cup. Red Cup.” “Bowl,” “plate,” “day,” “daddy’s car,” “bye bye, cat,” “bye bye, daddy,” “more nah-nahs,” “hi,” “hello,” “push,” ‘open,” “up,” “down,” “belly,” “play,” ‘toys,” “coffee,” iced tea,” tea,” “apple,” “chicken bawk bawk,” “hot,” “cold,” “brrrrr,” “c” for cracker (because we now call it “C” and you have figured out the code letter), “mine,” “Michael”, “blue”, “green,” “purple,” “Waffles,” “pancake,” “turkey,” “toys,” “Play,” “tail,” “apple,” “pear,” “Plum,” “mine,” “more,” bird,” “hey baby,” ‘pee,” “potty,” “baby”. Knows where your playhouse is. point for music, You say “dog” but sometimes you say it like “got, woo woo woo” (dog, barking sound) You make the sound effect of a motorcycle speeding by, “Nnnnnnnnooooeeeeewww” and then look at us and say, “What’s that?” And wait for us to say “motorcycle.” If you hear a motorcycle go by, after it’s gone, you sign “more.” You know you have three froggy loveys, and you know where they’re kept. One in your crib, one in the pocket of our nursing pillow, and one way up high on the bookshelf in your room. If you have one, you’ll look over and say “two?” And if you have two, you’ll look up and say, “Three?” You fake sneeze. You fake snore.
You love our neighbor Michael… he has a Great Dane that you love and a super loud car that you love, too. We always say, “There’s Michael’s car!” and now when you hear his car start up, you say, “Michael!” and if you’re outside, you run to look at his garage. That guy can’t sneak away anywhere with you around.
In music class the teacher sings a monotone “Let’s put our toys away now, bommmmm” when putting the instruments away. You have started singing “Bommmm!” when you’re done with your toys and want to put them away.
Nursing has been crazy and beautiful and sweet this past month. You love to nurse, you ask for it… beg for it sometimes. I am fine with that. I love nursing you. I love this nursing relationship that we have. It is so special to me. Most nights you nurse yourself to sleep, but this past week there have been several nights that you nurse and nurse and say, “More Nah-nah!” and then we switch sides and nurse some more, sometimes you get 5 sides… and then you don’t fall asleep. Then you unlatch and say, “Night night.” I’ll kiss you and put you in your crib and you rustle around and eventually fall asleep. I’ve accepted that we are at an age when every time that you do fall asleep nursing, gently, sweetly, I treasure it for the gift that it is, because I know at some point it will be the last time.
Food: I present you with the same foods that we eat for dinner. If we all sit down and eat together, you’re more likely to eat along with us. Also, I just pay you no mind. I watch you out of the corner of my eye, and if I don’t make a big deal, you’ll often go through the food and sample it. You also don’t eat like adults do, or like I do, anyway, where I focus on one food until it’s gone. You have no qualms about eating protein and then going over and eating part of a fruit, then back to the protein. So I don’t take your food away until you signal that you’re “all done” … and even then, sometimes you’ll decide, as I’m clearing your plate, that you want another bite.
True story: We went out to eat last week, the waitress cleared our plates. Your plates were stacked and ready to go, your father thought you were done, so he finished most of your food. But then you spotted your stacked plates, pointed and signed “more”… your father felt bad for eating your food when he’d thought you were done.
You have never cared for carrots, ever. But that doesn’t stop me from making them for us and serving them to you. So, I made them as part of a crockpot meal and when I served them, I put parsley, salt and butter on them. I got all excited and was talking in undertones to your father that you were actually eating carrots! Your father responded in the same undertone that you were just sucking the spices off of them. ha ha
You went through a period this month that lasted a couple weeks, coincided with you being sick, that you didn’t want to eat anything. I’ve always felt compassion for parents who have picky eaters, but to experience it with you gave me a whole realm of insight to their world. Moms of picky eaters? My heart hurts for you!
This month has been a wild one for your sleep. The last couple of weeks, you’ve been sleeping 12 hours overnight and taking 3 hour naps. Much different than the 10-11 hours overnight and 1.5 hour naps you were doing the first half of the past month. Who knows why?
Very early on in your life, I was so overwhelmed with concerns about your sleep. I didn’t think it was right that you were melting down every day at 6pm. So I asked my birth doula for guidance on infant and childhood sleep. She had been a good source on everything else related to babies, so I thought I’d ask. She recommended the book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I read through the book and I learned an amazing amount of information about infant sleep. I learned that, at that age, you needed to be asleep every two hours. Even though I worried that I was breaking you somehow by holding you 24 hours, 7 days a week, I couldn’t put you down. I just couldn’t. I didn’t feel right to me. I had carried you for 9 months inside of me, and it felt wrong to me to leave you alone just because you were born. So I held you. I made sure you slept every 2 hours, no matter how I did it. Bouncing on the yoga ball that I had used for contractions. Sitting in a darkened bathroom with the exhaust fan running for sound. Using a clock radio that makes a white noise sound. Giving you a burp cloth, and now a lovey to hold while you sleep. Nursing you. Managing your schedule so that you are appropriately tired, (not undertired, not overtired) when we put you in your bed. All these things I use as tools to make sure you get the sleep you need.
I learned very early on that books are great for information, however, just because an expert said that you should be doing things sleepwise, or anything-wise, that that wasn’t so. As your parent, I felt it made more sense for me to have the information but then do what I felt was right for you, for us, as your family. I also know that a person can’t make anyone sleep if they’re not tired. Sleep doesn’t always operate on a clock basis. I know. I’ve had insomnia. It’s like any milestone, you can’t force walking, talking, eating or anything else… and I’ve learned subsequently that if given time, a child’s sleep and abilities, will naturally and gradually even out as they approach their 2nd birthday. Two years seems like a long, long time to give up overnight sleep, but in the timeline of a person’s life, it really isn’t that long at all. I’m not giving in, you’re not winning something or manipulating me, you’re just being you, a child who needs his parents sometimes in the middle of the night, and that is OK with us. And always will be, even when you’re 40 years old and need to talk, we’ll be here for you.
You have not taken anything away from us, our lives, our evenings, our quiet meals, date nights, our vacations, our road trips, our time in the mountains, our home, our back yard, they are all still there, but so much has been added. There is nothing I “want back” and there is everything I would give you. My back yard now has a playhouse and a water table in it. Our living room now has a bunch of toys in it. Your father’s office is now your room. We now have Cars rugs on the floor upstairs and books strewn about. This is life with you, this is how our lives include you.
THINGS WE DID/PLACES WE WENT:
05/17 – Irvine Spectrum (rode the choo-choo train and the ferris wheel, played at the splash pad and also ran into our Bradley Birthing Class teacher)
05/25 – went to the mountain cabin for a couple days
I spent time working in my back yard this past month, clearing out old plants, cleaning up others. As space cleared, and you spent time out there with me, I noticed that you loved being out there. You love going in and out the door, playing gently with the pinwheels, stepping up and down the small step. We scored a playhouse on Craigslist and you love that thing. Love it! The guy we bought it from was selling 4 items. A play house, a water table, a rocking horse Harley motorcycle and an older model Cozy Coupe. The one thing I thought you’d love, the water table, is the one thing you really couldn’t care less about, and we donated the 2nd Cozy Coupe to charity. But it’s so great to see you go outside on your own terms.
You had a couple good weeks and then you caught an upper viral infection over Memorial Day weekend, so we’ve gone back to using our “cold toolkit” of Hyland’s Cough syrup, Advil, Vick’s Baby Rub on your chest and bottom of your feet, and Eucalyptus Oil in a diffuser in your room, as well as a cool mist humidifier. We also went to the pediatrician to make sure you didn’t have another ear infection, and you didn’t. We saw the pediatrician that you’ve seen since you were a newborn, sadly, though, that will be the last time you see him. He is practicing in an office too far away, and I don’t like the pediatrician who replaced him … so I’ve changed pediatricians. I’m hopeful the new doctor and new office will be a hit. I love everything I’ve read about them on the internet so far, and the nurse triage was super nice and helpful when I called with ten thousand questions.
PLAYTIME AND CHILDREN INTERACTION:
You are quick to climb up on the couch, and you have fallen off of it a couple of times this past month. To that end, I bought you a smaller chair, something your size, the hope being that you can learn the proper way to get up and down from it so that when you’re on bigger furniture, you will have the knowledge in place. You are also super quick to go climbing up the stairs if you even see a glimmer that the gate got left open, so we are really being conscious about closing it.
You continue to be non-aggressive in playing with other children. You are interested in toys and instruments, but you never forcibly take them away from another child and if another child forcibly removes them from you, you let it go. You love to watch other children run, jump or play, and will walk around them giggling like crazy. The little boy on the scooter at the playground, the little boy playing basketball, the little kids jumping on the jumper at Chick-Fil-A and you giggling in response to their play. It is so sweet to watch.
THINGS i WANT TO REMEMBER:
I love how any time is a good time to sit down and read a book. My idea of babyproofing my desk drawers with packing tape was genius in my book. Apparently, yours, too, as you are now distracted with ripping the tape up and putting it back down, as opposed to opening the drawers and emptying the contents. Not quite the intention I had in mind when I did it, but it works… just in a different way. You try to put the bark back on trees. How I tell you that it’s sleeping time and put you in your crib, I hear you fake snore in response. The way you rub the corner of Froggy on your ear lobe or the palm of your hand when nursing to sleep. The big smile you greet me with at the end of the day, which quickly turns into you leading me to the nursing chair, removing the cat pillow and handing me the nursing pillow.
I love how deeply you feel every emotion. Happiness and glee that are so big that it fills you up and you overflow with vibrations, jumping and laughter. When something goes wrong, usually a transition that goes awry (like the neighbor’s car that you can’t have) the sadness that is so big that it encompasses you, and your lips quiver and your eyes fill with tears and your sobs fill you and you vocalize how unhappy you are. Oh, precious child. I know how big these emotions are. I feel them myself, and it’s taken me every bit of my 42 years to learn to deal with them as well as I do. I will hold you and love you as you go through them. You will never be left alone with them. I can’t solve all your problems, but I can certainly try to help you figure them out.
How you love to look at pictures, point at people’s faces and ask “That?” To entertain you on a long, boring drive in a tow truck this month, I handed you a picture of us on the sky tram at Sea world. You thought it hysterical to point at your daddy, I would say “Daddy!”, then you would point at me in the picture, I would say, “Mommy!” Back and forth you went. Also, every time you finish nursing for our 5pm session, you look behind the nursing chair and point at the picture of our family and say, “Daddy!”
Someone asked me what I do when I’m nursing you, because nursing can be very time consuming. Early on, when you were a newborn, I was able to read things on my netbook. But that disappeared rapidly when you became aware of what I was doing. It was then that I realized just how fleeting babyhood is, and so I started closing my eyes and trying to imprint the feel and smell of you on my heart. This time with you is going so fast. You are morphing before my eyes. I have learned that there is nothing in this universe as satisfying to me, when you wake in the night, I go to you and hold you and you lean to the side because you want to nurse. You sniffle and latch on and within a few minutes you are settled peacefully back in your crib. I always stay just a couple minutes longer with my eyes closed and smell your sweet and unique baby/toddler smell. People told me a lot of things about parenthood, but they never told me that the smell of my child in the middle of the night, all limp from sleep and nursing, would be more addicting than any drug, legal or illegal.
Happy 18 months, baby.
Love you forever,