Magnificently Seven Months

Dear Alice,

I think every month I tell you how much I love the age you are, and your seventh month is no different. Look how happy you are!

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Let’s look at your stats:

You are sitting up like a boss!  Just before Trisha took your picture this past month, you decided to figure out sitting. You are about a month behind your brothers, but that is Ok. My favorite thing is how little you care when you tip over. Your brothers cried or whined when they went booty over apple cart; you just smile even bigger. Like it was fun to tip sideways, backwards, or forward. You wiggle until you are on your tummy and just play that way.

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You are eating food!  Well, baby food. Ok, you like pears. You make faces with apples and bananas, as well as with puffs and those mum mum things. However, you find puffs–and how they stick to your hands–amusing. I think you are ready to try some veggies, but I am sure you will make faces at those too.

We have quit keeping track of when your bottle feedings are, and packed up the perpetual “feeding schedule” that we kept on the island listing when your last bottle was and how much you ate. Now we just know: you have three 6-oz bottles at Renae’s house during the day and two at home before bed.

I took a glimpse back through the notepad before tucking it away in your memory box. That pad of paper had all your feedings since the day you came home from the hospital. The first few pages also had a little column along the side where daddy kept track of which pain meds I took and what time.

That time seems so long ago now. Much longer than mere months–seems like a totally different life. And it sort of was.

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Ever since those first days, you have been a great sleeper. That trend has continued for sure. Renae says that you sometimes doze a bit in the morning, but usually take a nice big 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon. You’re usually passed out by 10:30 at night for us and sleep until we wake you at 6:30am.  It doesn’t matter where we put you in your crib, you always wiggle your way to the one corner–daddy even found you asleep with your head propped up against the slats in that corner one weekend morning! You will fall asleep however, but you always roll to your tummy–just like your brothers always did.

Occasionally you will wake in the night in need of your pacifier and a butt pat, or sometimes a little teething gel. You have three bottom teeth now and they are ADORABLE when you grin.

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While you’re not crawling yet, you are definitely a little mover! When you are on your tummy, you can push yourself waaaay up so you can look around. You can also scoot yourself in a circle and back and forth by launching off your knees, which you can now scrunch up under you. Daddy is concerned that soon we will have to put the baby gate back up by the steps. We waited too long with Charlie and he rolled right down them. Oops!

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Alice, you are the happiest little baby. You love people so much. I still have you sit with us in church rather than put you in the nursery because you are just so good. You sit by either daddy or me and play with a toy or your feet. Sometimes you look at the people behind us and smile, then hide in my shoulder. You make everyone around you smile because you are such a little sunshine.

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When you are displeased with something, you don’t just cry, you make a little huffy whining noise. Sometimes we can change it into a giggle if we pay you attention right away, but if we ignore it, it turns into shouts of anger. It’s sort of a diva move, but since you only do it when you’re tired, hungry, or poopy, I’ll let it go. I mean, I get crabby when I am tired and hungry, and I am sure if I had to sit in my own poop I wouldn’t love it too much.

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Your current favorite things are a mini sofie giraffe teether, making LOUD noises like ZAH ZAH ZAH and DA DA DA, giggling at your brothers, shaking your head “no”, and eating your feet.

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Daddy has been working so hard to get you to crawl. I don’t know why. For one, non-mobile babies are SO MUCH EASIER. And two, once you start, it’s not like we can go back. That will be it. No more stationary baby. We will be done with that phase.

That’s the weird part of parenting. I can see why daddy is excited; you can get on all fours, you just can’t lift your head from that position. So you are on the verge of learning something new. That has always been such an exhilarating part of parenting–having the privilege of being front row for your child’s learning.

On the other hand, I just want to keep you little. I don’t want to rush you to the next thing because once you’re there, that is it. We are done. No more babies will follow with first rolling and first head lifts and  first crawling. You are the caboose of the Sluiter Nation Train.

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In many ways, Alice, you are my easiest baby. You are content 98% of the time whether chilling with your brothers, sitting alone on your play mat, or hanging out on someone’s lap. You weren’t colicky like Eddie, and you don’t have “stranger danger” like Charlie did.

But there is something more difficult about you too. It’s more subtle and hard to name; I think it has to do with fear. My own fear that the smiles and cuddles that are just for me will fade. That you won’t possibly love me this much ever again. That you, too, will join the chorus of “YOU’RE MEAN” and “I DON’T LIKE YOU” that your brothers have begun when they don’t get their way.

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Right now, you like me always, and I just want to keep it that way for as long as I can. It’s like a calm, happy in the middle of a storm of crazy some days.

You are my joy, my dear Alice.

I love you,

Momma

ps. All outdoor, professional photos were taking by Trisha of TMV Photography. We love her to the moon, Alice. She has a heart of gold and is one of the best friends I could ask for. Find friends like her, and you will always have joy in your life.

Four Months Young

Dear Miss Alice,

You are four months old!

Four Month Letter

Today (Monday) you had your four-month well child. You weighed in at 15.08 pounds and measured 25 inches long exactly–75th percentile for height and weight. Your head? Massive. Just like your brothers before you. 99th percentile for that.

You also rolled to your tummy right there on the exam table. Well, you sort of did. You can’t figure out how to get that arm out of the way, so you just laid there on it getting angry.  Then you did it again at home on your activity mat. Twice. And both times you seemed angry at me because you got yourself stuck where you didn’t want to be.

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You are just trucking along being awesome, my dear. You average around 30 ounces a day, give or take a bottle. You are sleeping like a bear through the night, sometimes going more than ten hours at a stretch. You reach and reach for lots of things, but mostly like to hold my hand.

Today Eddie fed you a whole bottle for his first time. He was very proud that you only got mad at his newb status once. He didn’t dare burp you though. I think he is a little afraid of your tendency for spitting up.

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You’re growing to be such a beautiful little lady right before our eyes. You have a cheerful, social demeanor, bu far the most social of all three of our babies. You really do not love your car seat because you can’t see what is going on. You much prefer to be sitting on our lap or being held so you can see out. Although you do love both the Moby wrap and the Ergo carrier.

We still swaddle you at night in your miracle wrap. You are always completely out of it by morning, but you seem to take comfort in being tightly wrapped at night, so we go with it. In fact, you startle yourself awake if we try to lay you down without wrapping you up. Yet in the morning you have both arms out and over your head. This morning you even somehow had a leg out.  You’re crafty.

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Your brothers are still swoony over you. Eddie is a little daddy to you and Charlie tries to make you laugh. They fight over who you’re looking at and who gets to sit next to you when you’re on the floor or on the couch. You give your brothers the big eyes too. You somehow already know they would do just about anything for you.

You are also the most chatty baby we have had. It’s like you stored up all the stories and as soon as you found that you had a voice, you started cooing and squawking and gurgling to anyone who will listen. And the smile you give is the absolute best. The drool is starting to get serious, so I checked for “full gums”, but nope. Looks like you will retain your gummy grin for a while longer. That is totally Ok with me.

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Something is different with you, Alice. Or maybe it’s with me. I’m not really sure. I just know that this third time around? Is different.

I’m not as lost or broken as I was with Eddie.

I’m not as “on alert” as I was with Charlie.

But other than that, I can’t put my finger on it.

People like to chalk it up to “well, all babies are different” and “she’s a girl! Of course it’s different!” And while those may be true, there is something else. Something I don’t have words for.

Maybe it’s because I feel complete now.

Maybe it’s because you’re the last.

Maybe this is what thankful, blessed, nostalgic, sad, and joyful all mixed together feel like. Maybe I am not having any postpartum depression or anxiety this time. Maybe that’s it.

I really don’t know.

I just know that I love being with you. I love being your mom. And I am never sad that you’re around.

It’s crazy here some days with three kids, but you somehow ground me in all that nuts-o-crazy.

I love you more than I can find words for,

Momma

SluiterSibs4mo

Sluiter siblings at four months

The Last Month

Dear Charlie,

This is it. The last monthly letter I will write you.  Today you are eleven months old.  Just one short month away from being a one-year old.

Yup, I'm in shock too.

Yup, I’m in shock too.

Oh, Bird.

I got so emotional thinking about this…I almost couldn’t write this letter.

This has been the absolute best eleven months ever.

Yes, there have been a few set-backs and developments in my mental wellness, but Bird, you have made me laugh away the fear and the sadness every single time.

Your personality is growing and shining through in new ways daily.

Part of it makes me sad that I don’t get to devour this newness all day, every day.  But most of me knows I am at my best for you because I don’t.  I also know that I notice each small change because we are apart during the day.

You are starting to have different smiles.  You smile one way when you see me and another way when you hear your daddy come into the room.  You have developed a mischievous grin when you know what you’re doing is naughty, and a proud one when you accomplish something you have been working on getting right.  You have a wide one that shows all your teeth (12 already! the front eight and four molars!) when you see Eddie doing something silly.

And then there is the smile the spreads when you are giggling really hard from being tickled or teased by one of us.

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You are SO close to walking.

Not only do you pull up on everything, but you cruise along anything (including the walls).  Sometimes we will hold our breath as we notice you are standing alone next to the couch or ottoman, so engrossed in whatever is in your hands you don’t realize neither of them are holding onto anything for support.  But as soon as you catch us watching, you realize what you’re doing and start flapping your arms in proud excitement.  And then you fall on your booty with your super smile plastered across your face.

You love for us to hold your hands so you can “walk” to someone else…usually daddy or Eddie.  The entire way you smile and make a happy grunting noise.

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Your happiness is contagious and you can’t be pushed to the next milestone before you are ready.

Just like we were sure you could roll and crawl, we are sure you can walk.  But until you are ready?  You won’t do it.  But the day you do, I have my suspicion it won’t just be one or two wobbly steps, but a full on run.

That is your MO, Charlie Bird.  You save it up until you can do it perfectly.

Speaking of perfectly, you have quite perfectly decided that baby food is for, well, babies. And not you.  One day you looked up at me with a mouth full of squash and let it fall out of your mouth.

And that was that.  Full on “real” food from here on out.  And you’ll eat pretty much everything.  You have given us stink eye over some of the choices, but you’ve eaten them without much prodding on our part.

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I’m not looking forward to calling you my toddler instead of my baby.  I’m not even looking forward to when you give up bottles completely for sippy cups (which you are getting darn good at using for water).  I will not be sad to stop buying formula though.

I’m looking forward to your first distinguishable words, though.  Just like with Eddie, I long to hear “momma” come from you.  You babble tons, and even seem to have certain sounds that are quite purposeful when you use them like “da da da” when you are looking at daddy or Eddie.  You also mimic some sounds we make like when I make the “brrrrrr” sound when we play with trucks and cars or when daddy blows raspberries on your tummy.

One of the not-so-great things you have started is biting.  I’m not sure if it’s because you have so many dang teeth for your age or what, but you want to bite furniture (which, Ok, Eddie did too), but you also bite people.  Hard.  This is not Ok and daddy and I are working hard to nip that behavior in the behind.

You also love to bother people.  I mean, it’s cute and I laugh, but daddy and Eddie are not laughing.  It’s totally something I do too, Bird.  If I see someone just sitting and doing something serious, I want to poke at them or burrow on them or do something to get their attention.  When you see Eddie lying on the couch, you can’t leave him alone.  You pull on his blankets, his pillow, his Lamby.  If he is playing Mario Kart, you want to sit practically in his lap.  The other night daddy was lying on the floor and you crawled into him at full speed and burrowed yourself into his side until he acknowledged you.  It cracks me right up.  Especially how you sit and grin after you get the reaction.

Oh Bird, you make me laugh.

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When people meet you, you come off as so serious.  You stare people down without much of a smile.  Even when you are concentrating on something, your bottom jaw goes out (just like daddy) and you push out those little bird lips of yours.

But once you know someone…really get comfy with them…your goofy side that I know and love tumbles out and wins hearts.

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I can’t even put into words how proud I am to be your momma.

How happy it makes me to swoop you into my arms each day.

How blessed you make our lives.

Oh how we will cherish this last month of your first year.  And then all the days after that.

Love you, Charlie Bird.

xxoo

Momma

All photos by mL photography

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