Sweet Zoe –
On Sunday, you turned a year old. I can hardly handle this. Last Friday night, after you and Daddy went to bed, I opened up my laptop and looked at all your pictures from the past year, and then… I cried. I mean just plain ol’ cried. Like a baby. Then I cried some more.
Earlier that night, at dinner, when your Dad asked me why this (your first B-day) was so hard for me all I could say was, “I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know, well, maybe it’s because, ah, I just don’t know. I don’t know, okay!”
That night, I looked through your birth photos and all your photos from this last year; I was amazed by how much has happened in the last 12 months. As I reflected on it all, my heart just ached inside me. I couldn’t make sense of it- why is this difficult? My best guess is that it’s because your birth was the most amazing experience of my life and now I’m further away from that moment. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, compares to bliss I experienced the first time I held you in my arms. After ten hours of un-medicated labor, there you were, my first-place-prize. Now that you are a year old, this means that amazing, life altering day when God gave you to me is further in the past. For some emotional reason, this is a little hard for me.
The passing of time seems so much faster with you in my life. I recognize how quickly it goes, because there you are — my child, my ticking clock. You are here reminding me to savor the moment, because tomorrow you’ll be different, and a few weeks from now you’ll be taller, you’ll have more words, and will be more steady on your toes, and will grow out of those blue shoes that I just love on you. So here’s a little letter to tell you all about you this first year.
For the first eight weeks of your life you cried. I mean all the time. Night and day. I remember the first full night you were home, you cried all night long. Everyone in the house was asleep, (don’t ask me how) and I sat in the living room with you and rocked you, and nursed you and burped you and changed you and swaddled you and did everything I knew to do for you. My milk hadn’t come in yet, and this was frustrating for you, (Thankfully, my milk came in on day two!) but it seemed there was something else going on which I could not fix. Being so worn out from labor and broken down from lack of sleep, I cried too. I felt sorry for myself, motherhood was supposed to be butterflies, cuddly rabbits and warm fuzzies – not screaming banshee baby. This was not what I imagined. I loved you more than the world, but good grief, could you stop crying for a moment, so I can get a little sleep. Please.
When everyone finally got up for the morning, I remember I handed you to my mom. I went straight to bed. I felt immensely guilty for being relieved that I could pass you over. This was not what I should be feeling right now. This is not storybook motherhood.
I’ll never forget one day in April, when you were around five weeks old, you had been crying all day long. I was at the end of myself. I did everything I knew to do to keep you happy and myself sane, which meant nursing you all the time. You were huge and had gained over 3 pounds in a month. That particular spring day, in the midst of your wailing of gnashing of gums, for about an hour you quit crying. Oh, the relief! Suddenly, you smiled at me. Your first smile was the loveliest smile on this planet and made everything worth it! You even did it a few times, enough for me to get a picture. And then right after that last shot, you went back to crying. Sigh…
After weeks of this (not to mention several painful bouts of thrush for you and me), we finally worked out that you had acid reflux. I remember sitting in the Dr’s office describing your symptoms as I said to the pediatrician, fighting back tears,
“I really want to enjoy these first few weeks, and I haven’t been able to. I feel horrible because of this.”
Dr Newell said, “I guarantee you, in a few days you will have a new baby, and you will call and thank me.”
It took a little longer than a few days, but sure enough, you got better. You stopped crying and started to get to sleep faster (sometimes you would cry for two hours, as we tried to get you down for the night) and on top of that, you started sleeping for more than two hours at a time. Which meant that I could start feeling like a human again. And I did. I still regret that I didn’t trust my instincts sooner and have you checked for acid reflux when you were two weeks old.
By the time you were three months old, we were all in a great place. You became a happy, laid back baby. You smiled at everyone – showing off your adorable dimples. You also babbled constantly. Sometimes Peter and I would have a conversation and you would start-up with your babbling, you would get so loud, we would stop and look and you, then you would kick your legs and arms out and smile at us.
When we would take you out grocery shopping, you would babble and squeal the whole time, too. In fact, if Daddy and I ever got separated, we never had to search very hard. We could always hear you singing away. You’ve cut out the babbling since then, now you love to whisper. You whisper, “szha, szha, szha, szhaaaa, ba, ba” all the time to yourself. Frankly, it’s pretty darn adorable.
By month four, you were rolling over, and by six months you were sitting up. By seven months you were belly crawling, and by eight you were crawling. At ten months, you were pulling yourself up and cruising all over the house. Though, it seems, you still prefer crawling to get where you need to go, so no walking just yet.
Every morning, you wake at 8:30 AM and you are brought to mommy and daddy’s bed. You cuddle and nurse, and cuddle some more. For almost 30 minutes you lay with me, patting my face and smiling and saying, “glee, ga glee, gla, glas, sha sha.” I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I’m pretty sure it means I love you, lots and lots.
You start your day with breakfast, and then play time. Around 10:45 you nap for an hour and a half, at least. Then it’s lunch time and then play time again. When the weather’s nice we take walks through campus. You love this! By 4:00 it’s time for another nap, you’ll sleep to 6:00 (if I let you), then it’s dinner and a bath and off to bed at 8 PM. My life got so much easier once I started following a routine with you. You seem to like having a schedule quite a bit as well.
On Wednesday, I take you out to play with your friends Ella and sometimes Royal (they were born three days after you at Inanna). At first, you are more interested in observing what everyone else is doing before you dive into the toys. But once you are focused on your new object of interest, there’s no stopping you, you will crawl over whomever and whatever to get what you want, usually dragging toys that are stuck in between your belly and the floor as you go.
You seem to like playing all by yourself, and you entertain yourself really well. Your independent play has helped me a great deal since I work on book projects during the day.
You love Baby Einstein, and Yo Gabba Gabba. You are entranced by all those cool colors on the screen. However, your favorite thing to do is sit with a stack of board books. I try to read to you several times a day, and I think it shows. Sometimes I’ll be working away in the dining room and I’ll notice how quiet it’s gotten, concerned I’ll look over to see what you’re up to and there you are, sitting on the floor with “Brown Bear” opened up in your lap, you are turning the pages and quietly talking your sweet baby language. I think you must be reading to yourself. It’s so very charming.
You just love Nutmeg. Nutmeg brings a smile to your face like nothing else. In fact, you’ve even said dog already – a very rough version of it, but dog nonetheless. Everyday you chase Nutmeg around, while she hightails it away from you. Someday, you two are going to be best friends, but not any time soon if Nutmeg has anything to do with it.
Every morning you eat a whole banana. I sit you down in the high chair and you say, “Na, na, na.” until you get your banana. If we don’t get it to you fast enough you cry, very loudly. (Which is annoying, I’ll be honest. We’re gonna have to work on that one.) You like quinoa with milk and apple sauce for breakfast, too. In fact, you love anything that Mom and Dad likes. If either of us have food in our hands, you and Nutmeg both follow us around till we give you each a bite, You crawl over to us and go, “ah, ah, ah ah” till you get your nibble. Apparently you love yummy food. In fact, not long after you were born you were in the 90th percentile for weight and 60th for height. You were such a chunklet, with seven rolls on each of your baby arms, lots of rolls on your legs and two chins. I’ll never forget how at bath time we had to lift up your chin fat and scrub in between in order to make sure you stayed smelling sweet. Don’t worry, Mommy and Daddy thought this was funny and cute. Well, those days are long gone, now that you’re moving everywhere all the time, you’re in the 50th percentile, weighing in at 21.6 lbs. and 29.25 inches long. I really miss those sweet baby rolls. I could snack on them all day.
You are ticklish! In fact, you laugh if we even get close to your tickle spots. I can’t resist. It’s my favorite thing to do when you’re on the changing table. Mostly, because your laugh is the best sound on this planet. It makes everything inside me smile, and then I laugh too. Which you think is so cool, and you start laughing with me. I’ll never forget the first time you laughed, a real, honest to goodness baby giggle, you were three months old exactly, June 7th. You were laying on the bed at Auntie A’s house and I was playing games with you. You thought the game where I look in your face and go, “Boo!” was the best ever, and that’s when you adorable baby laughed spilled out. I’ve been hooked since.
You are already showing signs of having my determination and your daddy’s observation. Generally, You are not loud or rambunctious, but rather you are gentle and sweet and love to study things. Today, when you and I went for a walk through campus, you found a fall leaf in your stroller and held onto it the entire time, switching it from one hand to the other while you held it up to study it.
You are quite content, normally. Even, after your nap time, you will play in your crib, happily. Sometimes, you don’t even cry when you wake up. You just sit up and start to play with your board books that hang out in your crib. This is amazing, I think. It helps me finish up the last-minute house work, before I come and get you from your nap.
You smile quickly and easily, and you would rather not go to strangers, especially bearded ones. You love to explore everything, in particular opening drawers and cabinets. You constantly try to get to my and your daddy’s laptop. Actually, you have never stopped moving and exploring ever, except when you have a book in your hand.
Everywhere I go, folks stop and tell me how sweet you are. I have to agree. You also get compliments on your pretty blue eyes. You’ve got dark blonde hair that has just a hint of strawberry to it. Lord knows, I never expected to have a blonde baby girl, but here you are with your blonde hair and blue eyes, and I just love it!
You’ve finally started to sleep through the night, just this month! Thank the Lord in heaven! For the first time in over a year, I got 9 hours of straight sleep the other night, thanks to you. So, would you please keep this up. My life is much more manageable when you sleep straight from 8:00 to 8:30 am. (please, God, please let this stick). You are also a pro at going to bed on your own now! A little cuddle time and a song or two and I can usually lay you down in your crib and you’ll work the rest out. Good job, little one, because trust me, that took quite of bit of sleep training.
All in all, sweet girl, you are a delight. I hope to be the best mother for you. I hope that we will be as close as a mother and daughter should be. I also hope you don’t go through a horrible rebellious stage. I just don’t know how I would handle that. I hope that your Dad and I can provide all the care and love for you to become a strong, confident and beautiful person.
You are the stars and sky for me, little one. I promise to love you and care for you with everything I have. I will always hold you tight and drink you in, savoring you every moment I can. Happy first birthday, peanut. Please don’t grow up too fast.