February 7 - March 7, 2012Dear Carys,
There is something frightening about eight months old. Even though technically it's four months away, "eight months" sounds like "almost a year." And you, my tiny girl, can't be almost a year old. Every day I look at you and you're older, more toddler-looking. You're developing that lean toddler body and losing your chubby baby rolls. And on Tuesday, February 28, you woke up with a tooth. It wasn't there the day before (I know, since you spend much of the day chewing on various parts of my body). I spent the rest of the day frantically trying to take pictures and video of your gummy baby smile before the tooth shows itself fully. There's a commercial right now that implores the viewer to enjoy the moments at hand by saying, "There are only so many gummy smiles," and now even thinking of that makes me cry, because they're right, and the days of your toothless grins are over. I'm not ready for that! Sob. No, really. Sob sob sob sobsobsob.
What did we do this month? We went to Kansas City to meet that little dreamboat Weston. We went to Des Moines to hang out with your nana and uncles and aunts and ate at Zombie Burger, where you a) utterly charmed our waiter and b) made a huge mess with an avacado. We went to the Des Moines Science Center and Botanical Gardens, both of which you found fascinating.
sleeping at ZombieBurger
in the hotel room in Des Moines
We are still taking swim classes, and to the casual observer it probably seems like nothing has changed since the first class, but you've learned to anticipate underwater dunks and will close your eyes and hold your breath.
We went to another hockey game. You quite enjoyed the screaming and ringing the cowbell. Go Mavs!
You hit one hundred and one milestones between seven and eight months. You army crawl everywhere, in hilarious a manner, as you drag one leg behind you like it's lame and use your two arms and other leg to scoot around (which leg you use varies depending on the day). We love to narrate your scoots like you're a wounded Civil War soldier: "Johnny, I...I can't feel my legs. Tell Mama I love her. Tell Suzy not to wait for me."
You climb. Literally, you climb on everything, a mini Sir Edmund Hillary. You scale the mountains that are mounds of comforter, knees, and backs while laying in bed with us in the mornings, usually using my hair as a grip. This has given me inch-long tufts of hair all over my head (hint: my hair was not meant to support the weight of a 19 pound infant). Speaking of hair, yours is starting to curl over your ears, and some days I feel like it's getting darker and some days I feel like it's getting lighter (exactly like your eyes, which are still a dark blue-gray). For now, it's settled into a beautiful light golden brown, with occasional reddish hints that appear in the sun.
You added three consonants to your vocabulary (which previously was all vowel sounds and screeching): m, b, and d. And of course, to the delight of your daddy, you strongly prefer your "d"s. You spend your days saying "da-da" over and over and over, whereas I don't think you've said "ma-ma" more than a handful of times, the day you first discovered your "m"s. We have hours of conversations that consist of: "Say ma-ma. Can you say ma-ma?" "Dada." "Try mama! Ma-ma." "Dadadadada!" "Mama?" "Dada!" You might like him better because he taught you to high five (Though you don't quite get it yet - but you will touch your hand to someone's hand if they hold it up and say, "High five!". Close enough!).
Several times, you've sat up from a laying down position, though I'm not convinced you entirely know how you did it. (Now, adding pictures to this letter just two days later: you definitely know what you're doing. My bad for doubting you.) You still want to stand all the time and will pull up to a stand on anything that might offer support (including my legs, chairs, backpacks, your car seat, your jumper, your crib, the dresser, and the back of your high chair.).
It's somehow shocking to walk into your room in the morning and see you standing up. You've taken it a step further, though, and added cruising and letting go to the mix. You will start at one end of the ottoman and be at the other end in seconds and I'm still not sure how you got there. You often completely let go and balance for a few seconds, not realizing that as an eight-month-old child you aren't supposed to be standing alone yet. Slow your roll, child.
And then there's the tooth (no picture of this, as I haven't even seen it yet - you won't let me look at it. But I can feel it!). For some reason, this more than anything else sends a pang through my heart. I know people whose babies got teeth at three months, so truly it doesn't MEAN anything. But it means everything too. A tooth. Little babies don't have teeth (except: see previous...I know they do, but in my mind they don't). Big girls have teeth. You aren't a big girl yet. You're still my tiny baby. But you're not a tiny baby. You're....you're getting to be such a big girl. And I'm not ready for that; I'm not prepared for that. I did everything I could to cherish and hold onto each baby moment but it passed so quickly. Entire months fly by and I wonder where they went and when. I pack away baby clothes and wonder when you were small enough to fit in them, and then I look at the size and they're 3-6 month and you just fit them just a few weeks ago. Were you ever truly that small? It feels like it was just a dream. I often ask my mom, "You remember this, right? You remember me being this small, despite 30 years and three other kids? I won't lose this entirely?" She says she remembers, but I have my doubts...I feel like I barely remember the newborn stage and like all that time slipped through my fingers.
I have hundreds (literally) of pictures, and I look at them and try in vain to recall what it felt like to have your tiny body curled on my chest back in July, and I hate that I can't recall it exactly. Hazy memories return on the rare occasions you'll let me snuggle you close now, or when I hold other newborns, but it's different. It breaks might heart that I might never again remember exactly how it feels to hold you, our first child, close, skin to skin, for the first time.
Trying to get a video of you laughing to send to your dad while we were in Des Moines
Don't get me wrong, I love eight-month-old you. You make me laugh every day, and everything about this feels right. Before I had kids, I always
I'm comfortable being a mom. This is the one role in my life so far that I've felt totally at peace filling. I've been anxious about a lot of things (Am I a good enough wife? Do I visit my grandma enough? Do I have enough money? Is driving this Chevy Tahoe going to ruin the environment?) but raising you is not one of them. Somehow, even in the throes of those first eight weeks when I was in near constant, scream-inducing pain from your bad latch, lazy eating, mastitis, and thrush, when nursing sessions took an hour and you wanted to nurse every two hours, when you woke up every two hours to eat and it was a dream to get rare instances of three hours of sleep...I still felt confident and comfortable and like I was in the right place (not to say that there haven't been moments of "What the hell am I doing?!?", because of course there have been). I don't know whether that's because I'm fulfilling that destiny for which I was meant, or whether it's because I read a million books on every known baby-related subject and educated myself to the point of ridiculousness (for years before I even was thinking about being pregnant), because you're just that awesome of a child, or if it's because my own mom was so amazing (so. fricking. amazing.), but whichever of those is to blame...this all feels just right.
To be clear, this feels right and I can picture this feeling right for the next eight or nine years. Once you hit the tweens, though....all bets are off. Somehow they snuck the "parenting a teen" line into the contract and I signed it without realizing. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. (I just noticed I joked about this in the last letter: it's either unoriginal or very true...or both!)
And to be even clearer, parts still suck. Teething? Sucks. Waking up at night several times because of teething? Sucks. Getting bitten? Sucks.
But I'd say overall...you're pretty damn worth it.