Five months

November 13, 2014

Dear Eva,

To commemorate your five months of life, I’ve made a list of my five favorite things from this month. It was difficult to choose just five, since there are probably five things every day that I don’t want to forget. Like the morning that I picked you up out of bed and, I swear, your hair and eyelashes had turned brown overnight; the time you rolled over (which is still the only time) and only daddy got to see it; the day you started reaching straight up for things like your activity gym or the toys on your car seat, first grabbing and shaking them and then looking for the one with the tag to pinch and pull into your mouth; the evening you started grabbing your feet, albeit rather unenthusiastically, as if trying to show me that this really isn’t a big deal; the morning I walked into your room and you had twisted around onto your side and into a backbend so you could watch the doorway; the day that we were leaving a coffee date and a friendly dog licked your toes for the first time and your face lit up and I looked at you and thought, yes, just like mama.

Eva Joy

Eva Joy

Eva Joy

One tooth has made its grand entrance, and I think the second is close behind. You’ve been working on those teeth for so long that the appearance was pretty exciting. Of course, it also now means that chewing on my finger is much more precarious than before.

Eva Joy

Eva Joy

Eva Joy

Two little feet have regularly escaped their footsie jammies lately. This is no surprise, given how much time you spend practicing your kicks. It’s still unclear whether you accidentally break loose in the course of wrestling against your swaddle or whether you need to get your feet out because you’re just like me and want your feet out when you’re sleeping.

Eva Joy

Eva Joy

Eva Joy

Eva Joy

Eva Joy

Eva Joy

Eva Joy

You seem to be growing aware of cause and effect, especially in three areas: bottle time, food time, and bath time. You get a big smile on your face when you see your bottle coming together; when I hold up your spoon, you open your mouth and eyes wide; and you seem to know that dark outside plus getting naked plus bath time song means it’s time to get in the tub. You are also running into cause and should-be effect — that is to say, the way that certain objects should behave and bend to your will. When they don’t, you get frustrated, which is yet another mark of our shared genes. At least for me, this is characteristic of the creative mind: envisioning things that are difficult to bring to life in the fullness of your imagination.

Eva Joy

Eva Joy

Eva Joy

(Can we stop for just a moment and talk about those little thigh rolls? Also, thank you for helping with your diaper, but can you help me put it on instead of taking it off?)

That tiny spoon that you already recognize has introduced you to four foods: sweet potato, avocado, egg, and apple. Unsurprisingly, you are a very enthusiastic eater and already trying to feed yourself. I was very conflicted over when to start giving you real food; I found it hard to trust my instincts in the face of very passionate, adamant proponents of the six month rule. But I’m so glad that we decided to start when we did. It brings you such joy, and brings out so many happy squeaks and squeals.

Eva Joy

Five a.m. is the time at which you would like to start your day, but some of us (meaning all of us except for you) aren’t quite ready. Instead, we have mama-Eva snuggles — sometimes an hour, sometimes two — in the early morning not-quite-light. You nestle your head in the crook of my arm and I listen to your sleepy breathing, and I try to imprint every bit of it deep within myself because it won’t be long before I look back and ache with longing for this time.

Eva Joy

Eva Joy

Eva Joy

This week, I was reading a fellow mom’s letter to her son on his third birthday in which she tells him that she loves him with her whole heart. And that’s exactly what this is, loving you with parts of my heart that I didn’t even know were there, or that I didn’t know were capable of this.

Eva Joy

Eva Joy

Eva Joy

Eva Joy, I love you with my whole heart. Happy five month birthday.

Eva Joy

Four months

October 13, 2014

Dear Eva,

Time must already be accelerating, because it feels like just yesterday that you were three months old.

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But everything around you attests to the passage of time. My favorite floral jumper that doesn’t snap anymore. The coral stripe footsie pajamas that are much too short. Your little portable bed that’s also too short. All of your headbands that leave impressions in your skin after you wear them. The changing pad that’s barely longer than you are now.

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None of these markers should surprise me. We found out at your four-month appointment that you’re now 26 inches long (96th percentile) and 15 pounds (69th percentile overall; 25th percentile in proportion to length) — and your brain has been very busy growing, because your head is now 16.25 inches around (70th percentile). It’s hard to believe that you were once the baby who had to go to the doctor for twice weekly weight checks. Now all of your growth charts are nearly straight vertical lines.

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You’re also growing into all of your abilities, honing your skills. Tummy time is now accompanied by smiles, as you hold your head high and look around. Being swept up into the air used to scare you, but now playing airplane is one of your favorite things. You can now put your thumb directly into your mouth instead of needing to gnaw on your whole hand for awhile in hopes that the thumb finds its way in. You would almost always rather sit than lay down. We now have whole car rides without crying. You barely need your little towel in the bath anymore (although you still get so happy when we wrap you in it, because you know that it means it’s time for your bath). And I’ll never forget the astonished look on your face the first time you really saw yourself in the mirror.

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But my favorite, hands down, is all of the talking. Where there were once noises with occasional word-like interjections, there’s now babbling for minutes upon minutes. And there are talkative moments of particular sweetness: when you lay in my arms before bed, after your bottle, and coo at me; when you and other babies babble conversationally; when I hear you wake up from a nap and lay in your crib talking to yourself; when we have quiet mornings at home together and you have so much to tell me after a whole night apart. I’m not sure if you just have a lot to say or if you needed a way to start communicating with the other babies at Montessori school, but either way, it’s the highlight of my whole day.

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You have already discovered your fondness for screens, which I’m sure is bad for your brain but it’s hard to resist letting you watch a little football on the weekends when you get so excited watching it. Your penchant for moving lights also makes it easy for us to practice our selfies.

selfies

You also give me glimpses into the baby you’ll soon be. Like when you sit in your bumbo chair on the dining table, watching us intently while we eat. Or when you lay under your activity gym and amuse yourself. Or just in the last few days, the way you’ve started reaching for and grabbing your toys differently — with much more focus and precision.

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At the same time, you give me glimpses into the baby you once were — like when you fall asleep on my chest or in my arms, or when you’d rather grab and squeeze my fingers than any toy.

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Of baby past, baby present, and baby future, I couldn’t possibly choose a favorite. I love them all — because they are all you, the joy of my heart. Happy four month birthday, baby girl.

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Three months

September 13, 2014

Dear Eva,

I was looking through your photos this week, and I realized that I can’t remember the last time you fell asleep on my chest. In fact, you rarely sleep on me at all these days. Now I take those snuggles wherever I can get them. Like a few mornings ago, after you woke up for your wee-hours meal, when we cuddled on the couch for an hour while you slept and I listened to you making all of your sleeping noises. Or late last week when you weren’t feeling well and fell asleep in my arms. These moments are fewer and farther between with each passing day. So even if they’re at 2 a.m. when I’m exhausted, I try to cherish every one of them.

Your new favorite thing is sitting up. You sit in your bumbo chair and watch me make meals in the kitchen or fold laundry in your room. You sit on my lap with your back against me and pull yourself up by grabbing onto my hands and flexing those little arm muscles. And you sit in your bouncy chair and kick wildly, bouncing (and amusing) yourself quite happily. You don’t have a real laugh quite yet, but your squeaky giggles usually come when you’re in the bouncy chair.

You still don’t love tummy time, but you’re getting quite good at doing a mini push-up — and every time you do it, your face lights up in a giant smile, either because you’re pleased with yourself or because you’re so relieved that your face isn’t on the floor anymore.

You’ve also already mastered the pouty lip. You use it to express dislike, disapproval, or unhappiness that isn’t quite worth crying over (at least not yet). Like whenever I turn on classical music, or when you’re tired of bouncing yourself in your chair and want me to bounce you instead — out comes the lip! And let’s be honest. The lip gets what it wants.

Because you can’t seem to catch a break, you already started working on teeth this month, and you had your Wonder Week two weeks early. I’m sure we won’t see teeth for many months yet, but it has motivated you to figure out how to put all kinds of things in your mouth for chewing. My fingers, your fingers, Sophie the Giraffe, and any kind of fabric (ruffles on your clothes, car seat straps, your swaddle blanket, the bathtime towel) seem to be your favorites. You’ve also located your thumbs this month and find them particularly good for chewing.

You went on your first two camping trips this month, and we’ve started calling you Camp Baby because you loved it, especially the second time. You slept better in our tent than you do at home, and you napped all over the place. Those cooler temperatures and fresh mountain air must’ve calmed your spirit — or you’re just an adventurer at heart.

All of a sudden — seemingly overnight — you stopped being the string bean who needs her clothes altered. You chunked up for just a few days in preparation to grow dramatically longer, so you’re still more slender than most, but you’re starting to get those little thigh rolls and squishy cheeks that we’ve all been waiting for. And at three months, you can finally wear all of your 0-3 month clothes — although now that they come close to fitting you properly, I can barely snap most of them because they’re too short.

Even when things seem the same, they’re changing all the time. Other than Sophie, you still don’t have much interest in toys — but you look at them more intently than before. You still don’t care much about the books I read to you — but now, every once in awhile, I notice you watching the pages as they turn. You don’t sleep the 11-plus hour night that some say you should — but there are many days when you don’t fight your naps as much as before.

If I could go back in time, I would do a little less Baby Whisperer and a lot less Baby Wise and spend a lot more time just enjoying you. I know we’ve had our challenges, and I know that all our hard work will pay off — but as with most things, simply creating space and listening are of greater value than much of the rest. The days are long but the years are short. I already believe this to be true.

You are a newborn no longer, sweet baby girl. Happy three month birthday.