Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Baby James: 4 months

My wee little man,

You are 4 months old, my son, and we seem to have landed smack in the middle of a growth spurt or developmental leap or something and, my goodness, you are not a happy camper at the moment.  Or, as Katherine puts it, “you are a little bit very fussy.”  After a period of relative peace as you outgrew the colicky stage, in the past week we have reverted to cuddles in the sling and a rather cantankerous mood for much of your waking hours. It’s not all bad – you are a very social baby and quite the charmer.  There are moments when you are absolutely delightful; you are mercurial, as you go from complaint to flashing an adorable grin in a heartbeat if anyone says hello.  But you detest being left alone and won’t stand for it for very long, even when the household is bustling about around you.  No – you must be up and about and right in the middle of things.  I’m not sure when you’ll learn to roll over or practice other gross motor skills as you don’t really like to spend much of your waking hours on your back or your tummy, or really anywhere that isn’t in someone’s arms.  Ah well, I suppose we all get there in the end, and if I’m honest I quite like knowing you stay where I leave you… at least for now.

This month you’ve dialed in that hand-to-mouth thing and also reaching out to grab toys, which you inevitably aim for your mouth with varying degrees of success.  You spend a lot of time chewing on your fingers and sometimes I laugh when it seems you’ve got one or two in your mouth but can’t for the life of you figure out what to do with the rest of them, so you twist and turn and splay them across your face and then give up and shove your whole fist in your mouth.  You’ve turned into quite the dribble monster – maybe you’re already teething? I have little experience in that department as your sister never really let me know.  I’ve seen real tears – once, just once – but it is heart-breaking all the same.  I've also heard you emit a proper little laugh exactly twice - once in your sleep and once laughing at me, but those giggles are still few and far between.

I’m guessing you weigh a bit more than 14 pounds now – you still just about fit into your 0-3 month wardrobe.  I’m not faithfully getting you weighed every month, but it’s certain that you are growing well and strong.  Sometimes I’m surprised because nursing isn’t really one of your hobbies, so I’m not sure where these plump little fat rolls have come from.  During the day you nurse for a frantic few minutes every couple of hours but you often make it clear that you neither want nor need to be fed more than that.  You latch and pull off, latch and pull off, then lay in my lap flashing a cheeky grin.  Overnight, you wake two or three times and we do the roll over, latch and drift back to sleep routine.  In fact, if you do have a hobby I’d say it’s sleep, which you do for hours and hours each day.  Considering how cranky you can be when you’re awake, this is a bit of a blessing for now.  And although I’m often in fear of how your naptime might impact your overnight sleep, we haven’t (knock on wood) yet encountered any problems in that department.  Sleepy times are some of my favourite moments, my little cuddle-bug, as you tuck your plump little body in tight to mine and we drift in dreamland together.

It’s a rough time for you, little one, and sometimes neither of us is having much fun, but although you are a tyrant, you are an adorable, charming tyrant and I will always, always be here to cuddle you through the bumps and scrapes of life.

I love you with all my heart,

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Baby James: 3 Months

The Bear Series: Three Months

My darling boy,

You are three months old little man, and as expected, with your fourth trimester completed you have become a proper little baby. You weigh about 13 pounds, moving up to around the 20th percentile curve, and nurse like a pro.  It still astounds me that I've nurtured your development from two tiny cells to this amazing little person.  I carried you for nine months and now, solely on the nutrition I have been able to provide, you have grown into this lovely plump baby with cute little fat rolls on your legs and dimples on your hands.  After the difficulties nursing your sister, I never thought that I could be comfortable and confident simply nursing without being able to count ounces.  But you've grown so well that clearly we must be doing something right, you and I.

You are so much happier now, as predicted by all, and I no longer feel like I am missing out by wishing away the days of your babyhood.  You wake up in a good mood and are happy to kick and play while watching me get your sister and myself ready for the day.  Your thousand watt smile could melt a glacier and charms all that you bestow it upon.  It's the best thing, when I say "hello, little man," and your eyes lock onto mine and that gorgeous smile spreads across your face, then you coyly turn your head and kick your feet as your grin gets even bigger.  It looks for all the world as if your main crush has deigned to notice you and that it has made your week... every time.

You are a champion sleeper as well, and I can count less than a handful of times when you've fussed overnight.  It's lovely to awake refreshed each morning with you snuggled up tight next to me.  Now that you've reconciled yourself to your arrival in the cold, bright world and are willing to be parted from me by more than 10 inches for more than a few minutes, you also nap often and well.  You've even logged a few naps that are hours long - a blessing as your sister never napped for more than 45 minutes umtil she was about 15 months old.  What you can't see at this moment is I'm desperately trying to find some wood to knock on, because there is one thing that remains unchanged about babies, and that's the fact that nothing ever stays the same.

You have become obsessed with your hands and spend a lot of time trying to figure out how much of them you can fit in your mouth. Your eyes are so expressive, easily conveying consternation, surprise, interest or delight.  You've also recently started to coo and chat, especially when I'm reading books to you and your sister. You lay next to me and chatter along.  You've even started to giggle a bit... well, they are nothing more than little titters at the moment as you grin and chatter, but they are adorable all the same.  You love your sister and are fascinated by watching her play, and she loves you too - last week, she even spontaneously told me, "and I love... James!" as she made a list of her passions.  I'm so looking forward to watching your relationship develop with her, even if it will sometimes be fraught with the usual sibling rivalry and squabbles.  Although it may seem that I often compare your infancy to Katherine's, you must understand that frame of reference is the only one I have, and I'm endlessly fascinated by both the differences and the similarities between the pair of you.

While we haven't yet developed anything that could reliably be called a routine, there is a certain rhythm to our days now.  I start the day, generally with two content children, and end it with varying degrees of success - sometimes with cuddles and calm, sometimes with tears and wailing from both of you.  At those tough times, I tell myself that it may feel that I'm losing the battle, but overall I'm winning the war.

The very best moments are when I wake up before Katherine does and you are snuggled up tight to me.  There is nothing more innocent and peaceful than a sleeping baby and those quiet early moments with no other demands on my time are blissful.  I drink in your lovely calm baby face, my eyes tracing the sweet curves of your tiny little features and my love for you swells until my heart bursts wide open, because, my son...

I love you with all my heart,

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Baby James: Two Months

My little sweet-pea,

I read a quote on Facebook the other day that went something like: "Labour is the only blind date where you know you will meet the love of your life."  It's been two months since we met, my littlest love, and already I'm beginning to forget how tiny you were when we did.  It catches me off-guard, when I look at photos from a few short weeks ago and see how much you've grown.  You are deliciously round now and weigh in a little over 10 lbs.  You are stronger and longer and spend much more time looking around and watching what is going in your world.

Your temperament continued to challenge me this month, little man.  For much of it you refused to be content if I put you down - not when you're awake, not when you're asleep. Since you're still in your fourth trimester and I understand your need to be close to Mummy, I've carried and cuddled you nearly 24-7.  It's felt claustraphobic sometimes, and I've gone to bed many nights with every muscle aching... not from exertion - just purely from tension... the tension of holding you, bouncing you, jostling you in pursuit of keeping your cries at bay in the evening.  I'm mostly successful.  This is a good thing, because when I'm not successful, it's tough on all of us.

But on the other hand, you sleep well in your car seat when we're out and about, and naps together are lovely, as you're happy to sleep for hours as long as you and I are cuddled up. And you sleep so well at night, tucked in next to me, that I can deal with pretty much anything you throw at me during the day.  Please don't give that up, little one.

Things are getting better though.  In the past week you've started your days content to watch the merry chase of getting your sister ready for nursery from the comfort of your swing or your playmat. You've become engaged and engaging when alert.  You love it when Mummy sings to you, beaming a great big grin at me and you're a sociable little thing, with a ready smile for any and all who say hello.  

Those moments when it's just you and me, and I can relax into the space where we are right now - this mandate to cuddle you - it's sublime.  I look at your peaceful sleeping face or your wide-eyed nursing gaze.  I hear the soft whisper of your breath.  I breathe in your lovely baby smell.  I feel the warmth of your compact little curves pressed to my chest, and I'm wistful for these moments before they've even gone.  Because I know, I know, that each one is fleeting and slips through my grasp like mercury, bright and shining and impossible to capture and keep.

I love you with all my heart,

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Katherine at 2 1/2

My darling girl,

You are 2 1/2 years old, my sweet, and the light of my life. Each morning you come bounding into our bedroom, generally not long after 6 am, announcing quite loudly "I'm HERE!" (you certainly are) or "I'm AWAKE!" (and now so are the rest of us).  You greet the day full of sunshine, even on the grayest of days.  This is in direct contrast to how you usually wake from your 2-hour afternoon nap, when you are decidedly grumpy, but sometimes also drowsy and cuddly, melting into me in that delicious way of a child.  On the other hand, you might wake up and melt down over a minute detail of your existence that isn't to your liking... one never knows.

A full 1/5 of your life has passed since I wrote your 2-year letter, and when I think about the math on that, I shouldn't be surprised how much you've changed.  But it feels like you turned two just yesterday and when I look back on the past 6 months, I'm astounded by how grown up you've become.  You weigh a sturdy 29 pounds, and no longer seem small for your age.  Your chameleon eyes skew more towards brown these days, and the untameable curls and waves of your hair sport gorgeous honey-gold highlights.  Although you have at least one of your last four molars through, possibly more (you refuse to open your mouth for me to look), I know that you have at least one more to go.  But teething has never been an issue for you, so I'm sure that will sneak in there with as little drama as the rest.

You are now quite articulate and continually surprise me with the words and concepts you understand, especially since you absorb so much at nursery that your world-view extends far beyond what I expect.  You are developing a sense of humour, and are tickled by absurdity.  The other day, Daddy was explaining to you that the tall bamboo in our garden is actually a type of grass, and you giggled mightily that he could say something so ridiculous.  I'm amused by the courage of your convictions.  "What colour is the sky?" Daddy asks on murky, rainy day.  "Blue!" you exclaim confidently. "That's not blue, that's gray," we assert.  "No," you say seriously, "That's blue," and dare us to disagree.

You are independent and fearless at nursery, standing your ground in the minor disputes that occur among children but rarely, if ever, acting the aggressor.  You simply won't stand for interference.  Speaking of nursery, I'm pleased that you enjoy your time there so much.  Each morning when we arrive you shrug off your jacket and throw yourself into a cuddle with one or another of the staff that are so charmed by you, or run off to play with your friends, all without a backwards glance for me.  "Say good-bye to Mummy," the staff entreat, but you never do because you are already absorbed in your world there, which doesn't include me.  On the other hand, your enthusiastic greeting of "MUMMY!!" when I arrive to pick you up warms my heart, and you're so excited to share with me what you are doing at the time.

Although you have your share of tantrums, transitions such as the school run, home time, leaving the playground or going to bed are surprisingly free of drama.  I'm often grateful, when I stop to appreciate it, for the composed approach you have to moving through the routine of your days.  That composure served you well when your world was blown apart 8 weeks ago by the arrival of your little brother.  You had an emotional few weeks as you adjusted to this change in our family, but you deserve a medal for the way you've adapted.  You largely ignore James, but when you do deign to notice him, you are ever so sweet and gentle.  "He's smiling at me!" you exclaim, even if it's only that he's awake and not crying.  You insist on placing the blanket on his car seat before we go out to keep him "warm and cozy." Once he was crying as we left for nursery and I explained that he was hungry for milk.  "I know, I know!" you said, running off and returning with your toy milk bottle and placing it in James' car seat.  You were so proud to help, and I'm so proud of you.

You are sometimes a bossy little thing.  "Sit down, Mummy." "Cross your legs, Mummy." "Like this, Mummy." "You don't go get it, Mummy.  I'm going to get it!"  You are stern and serious in these commands and sometimes it is deeply important that you are obeyed.  Perhaps I haven't done you any favours by acquiescing when it matters little to me to do so as that does mean that you can be terribly offended at the times I refuse to comply with your orders.  Sometimes I simply get a strict, "I'm. Not. Happy." Sometimes you cry like I've broken your heart, and it breaks mine a little too.

Other times you are deliciously sweet. We play a game where you stand in a corner, lining up a run like a gymnast.  Then I throw my arms wide and you charge across the room toward me, collapsing into my arms and laying your head on my shoulder. Then I stroke your back and you stroke mine too.  Sometimes you murmur into my neck, "I love you mummy" and I'm reminded that I can't and don't tell you often enough how very much I love you.  And I do, baby girl; I love you with the heat of a thousand suns...

...And with all my heart,

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Baby James: One month

My dear James,

It was, as the sports commentators say, a game of two halves, your first month.  You arrived about a week and half early, after a short and easy labor, and we were able to go home less than 12 hours later.  You were calm as they placed you on my chest right after you were born.  You pretty much slept through your first night home, and your first few weeks slipped by in serenity as you mostly slept off your jaundice.

You've been nursing like a champ, and had gained nearly 1.5 pounds in a little over 3 weeks.  After the difficult nursing journey that I experienced with your sister, caring for you in the newborn days seemed easy in comparison.  No pumping, no sterilisation, no muss, no fuss.  We evolved into full-time co-sleeping because it is just so easy for those night feeds.  Life was good, my son.

Notice a use of the past tense there? Yes, so that was the first three weeks or so.  Then you figured out that you were no longer tucked up warm and cosy in my tummy and boy, are you ticked.  For the past week or so, if you are awake, you're probably fussing.  When it comes to it, you aren't necessarily that content when you're napping either.  I can't yet call it colic, because I have an arsenal of tricks to use which do actually help you settle down.  You generally aren't totally inconsolable, and for that I am grateful, but it takes up all my time.  You've got baby radar which goes off every time you and I are separated by more than about 10 inches, even if you're peacefully asleep.  So we spend a lot of time with you curled up against my chest in the sling or on the sofa.  It's lovely, it really is... unless I want to get something done which involves much bending and moving around, or chasing after that chatty tornado you'll come to know as your big sister.

You do sleep well at night, and for that I am really, really grateful.  You wake every few hours to latch on and feed for who-knows-how-long, because I usually drift off to sleep before you finish and you slip peacefully back to sleep as well.  As a result, I've felt only marginally sleep deprived since you were born, which is helpful since your sister wakes me without fail at around 6 am and I spend the rest of the day balancing my efforts to care for her and keep you from melting down completely.  By the end of the day I'm exhausted and need every bit of sleep I can get, so thank you for that and long may it continue.

I don't want to wish away these fleeting squishy newborn days, when you're all curled up so tiny and adorable.  We will never be here again.  This morning for the first time you looked directly at me and beamed the sweetest smile, and that makes it worth every exhausting minute.  This journey through the newborn phase is both much easier and much more difficult than what I experienced with your sister - the challenges are there, they are just a different sort. But one thing remains the same: I love you truly, madly, deeply.

And it's a good thing you're so darn cute.

I love you with all my heart,

The Bear Series: 3 weeks

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Two Years Old: My Name is Baffrin!



You are two years old, my little love.  I often wonder how it's possible that time seems to have passed so quickly when I can also barely remember not having you in our lives.  You weigh 27 pounds and stand right about 3 feet tall.  I have to guesstimate that height because it's not like you ever stand still long enough for me to measure properly.

Your sport adorable curls that resist all attempts to tame them, and it gives you an air of permanent bedhead.  You love your "bunkie" - any one of a number of muslin cloths that function as a cuddle blanket - along with your Bear and Hare and Tigger (who you only recently stopped calling by an "ooh-ohh-ah-ah" sound because you think he looks like a monkey) and Pooh.  You like to throw your bunkie over Mummy or Daddy to make us "go to sleep" and then proudly announce that "Mummy/Daddy is peeping" before yanking the bunkie away to wake us up and then laugh and laugh.

It's been ages since I've written your last letter at 18 months, and the biggest development is that you are now properly talking.  I wish that I had documented the progression in real time, but this summary will have to do.

By around 19-20 months, you had developed a litany of animal sounds, along with a short list of words that included: Mama, Daddy, night-night (used for bye-bye), up, flower, bubble, whisper, shhh, row-row (a request for row-row-row your boat), and most impressively at the time, glitter and triangle.  Your range of vocabulary comprehension was wide, as it was clear that you understood the names of parts of your body, foods, animals and words from songs, but you weren't really one for copying what we said, so it was always a delightful surprise when you came out with a new word.  You remained at this stage of verbal development for quite a while, adding a few words here and there like milk, juice, cheese, shoes, Bear, Hare, balloon... you know, the important ones.

You absolutely love counting, bringing Daddy or me books or counting toys and listening raptly while we counted out loud for you.  For a long while you would "count" by saying "three-two-three-two" while you ticked items off, and soon you developed your own sequence that went, "two-three-four-five-eight-BALL!" and you were so proud of yourself.  Then one night when you didn't want to sleep, you sat up and counted out from one to ten perfectly, and there you are.  We could hardly believe it.

Something happened around 22-23 months, all of a sudden you were talking up a storm, and there's no stopping you now.  You started copying all the words we say, speaking in sentences, using please, thank you and your welcome (coo-celcomb!), naming shapes, colours, days of the week, foods, places.  You've even become quite conversational, once saying "I am a cat.  Meow!"  When I responded, "Are you being a cat?" you patiently said, "Yes, Mummy, I'm a cat."  It charmed me completely that you weren't just using words for critical communication, but adding the social niceties too.  "Oh, dear," you say when something seems amiss... and much to my shame, the occasional "dammit" has slipped out as well. 

I'm very pleased that you finally say your own name, too, because for a long time you were chatting away about all the other children and teachers at nursery, but hadn't attempted your own name - preferring the more proper use of the pronoun "I" to the odd construct of referring to yourself in the third person.  Then one day I coaxed you to say "my name is Katherine," and you finally claimed it as your own...  with an adorable version that sounds something like "Baffrin."
I have nursery to thank for a lot of your progress.  The other day, you pooped on the potty there, when I had no idea you might be gearing up for potty training.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I don't have a village here, so although I pay dearly for your care, nursery is my village and I feel very, very lucky that you are so content there.

You've learned so much at nursery...this morning we were playing with your Winnie-the-Pooh number puzzles and you showed me that you can identify the numbers 3, 4 and 6.  When you did that with my phone the other day,  I thought it might be a coincidence, but to my surprise you actually know this stuff!  You also know the letters Z, K, and H.  With your love of music, you really enjoy song time at nursery, learning your own versions of "twinkle-twinkle," "happy birthday," "itsty-bitsy spider," "baa-baa black sheep," and with the coming of Christmas, "little donkey" all of which you sing to me in the car on the way home. 

You've got a mind like a steel trap and I'm often surprised at the things you remember and repeat back to me out of the blue.  Listening to you "read" all the crucial points of "Are You My Mother?" based on the countless times you've heard it from us is truly one of the most heart-warming moments of my parenthood journey so far, along with the time you threw your bunkie over both of our heads and planted a kiss on my nose, and the time you hid in a play tent and then called out in your sweet little voice "Mummy.... I miiiissss youuuuuu."

While it's been two or ten or twenty steps forward with your language, it's also been a few steps back in the parenting journey because about a month ago, your nighttime sleep patterns fell apart completely.  Although you still sleep through 40-50% of the nights, when you do wake up, it's no longer a simple matter of five minutes or so to get you back to sleep.  No, it can be an hour or two, and on a particularly horrible night last week it was 3.5 hours before you slept again.  Since you've always been a fairly good sleeper, this is totally new to me (well, since your newborn days) and I'm not going to lie - it has been terribly difficult.  They don't use sleep deprivation as a torture technique for no reason.  I can't figure out the pattern leading to the good nights and the bad nights, but I'm hoping desperately that this phase, too, shall pass... and soon.  When you are awake you like it best if I curl up around you and you can shove your feet in the crease between my thighs... and if you can't get your feet comfy that way you get quite cross, my adorable little weirdo.
You are fiercely determined and independent and sometimes this is frustrating for both of us, as you try unsuccessfully to dress yourself, while I try to negotiate giving you some help so that we can get underway within a reasonable time frame in the mornings.  You refuse to be transported in the pram, preferring to walk yourself and last week you walked nearly a mile and a half when we were on a "Christmas Tree Adventure" to view the lights at Windsor Castle. 

You know your own mind, and are surprisingly adamant about certain things - approaching them in your own time, like refusing to wear your wellies (rain boots) despite frequently trying to get them on yourself.  You just don't like the way they feel.  But then one day at nursery, while all the other children were putting on their boots, you put yours on and went outside to play like it was no big deal.  Or when you received a birthday present all wrapped up and couldn't believe my audacity at trying to show you how to unwrap it.  You were so distraught at my wanton destruction of your pretty package that I had to tape the torn corner back up again.  Then two days later you just decided it was time to open it and did so like you'd been opening presents all your life.

On the other hand, on most issues you are reasonable when reasoned with, provided I am patient and give you long enough to either decide that your desires converge with mine or process the fact that it is inevitable I will get my way, because after all, I'm the mum.

Huh, that still surprises me now and then... I'm a mum!  But I am so very, very lucky that I get to be mum to you.

I love you with all my heart.