Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Letter to My Daughter: Four Months Old

Dear Brennan,

Today you are four months old. So much has already changed since we brought you home.

We've had some amazing laughs out of you. Initially it was in response to tickling, but last Saturday, while Eric was outside snowblowing, I put you in the exersaucer for the first time. Trying to interest you in the toys, I slid one mouse over the clock (it's Mother Goose themed). As it made a clicking sound, you laughed a great big belly laugh. I froze, shocked, and then did it again. You didn't disappoint, so I grabbed the camera, not wanting to miss this moment. You couldn't get enough. I would push the toy, you would laugh suddenly, then go immediately quiet as you looked at me. It was a perfect moment, one that nearly brought me to tears. I am still so honored to get to see you grow every day.

You had your first Christmas, yet you didn't show much interest in events around you - lots of staring, but little interaction. I know next year you will be quite the opposite, although if rumors hold true, you'll be more fascinated by the boxes, bows, and wrapping paper than the objects they hide.

You're more easily distracted. I noticed you were riveted by the large TVs our families had - it didn't matter what was on (news, football, or the like), you had to watch the moving shapes and colors. Even at home with our modest TV, I notice you turning to the sound and staring at it. This might limit when we have the TV on since it's starting to distract you from eating and I'd rather you not show an interest in it just yet.

You smile all the time. I have so many photos of you with your huge grin, and I love that you're a happy baby.

You grab toys now, not just ones that we place in your hands. In your bouncy seat, you grip the parrot especially hard, and on your play mat your fingers find the spinning toy. You love to kick objects, and it seems like when we change your diaper you are starting to learn to lift your legs out of the way.

You love bath time, and while we still have the baby tub in the kitchen sink, you're starting to get a lot of height with your splashing, so it's probably time to transition you to the bathroom tub in the near future unless I relish trying to clean off water from the ceiling.

You used to sleep until 7:30 or 8:30 AM, but you've now regressed to waking up around 6:30. This is especially hard on your parents after having been spoiled by several weeks of a good night's sleep, especially those nights when we're putting you down around midnight after your last feeding (you've usually been sleeping a couple hours by this point). I'm learning my night-owl tendency has been replaced by a desire to be well rested whenever you choose to rise, so I'm quick to jump into bed after putting you down for the night.

You are teething and have been showing signs for several weeks now. Yesterday we finally caved and gave you a half dose of Children's Tylenol, and today we graduated you to a full dose. I sometimes wonder if teething is to explain for your earlier mornings. You drool a lot now and you try to stick your fist in your mouth. You hate pacifiers - when we tried on multiple occasions to give you one, you act as if we're trying to choke you, so we remove it since your gagging shows us you're not a fan. In lieu of a pacifier, you suck on the side of your left hand. The reddened, dry skin along your thumb and forefinger show evidence of this. You haven't found your thumb, and I admit I'm not in any hurry to introduce you to it, since the side of your fist seems to placate you just fine. You also show signs of enjoying a teething ring, Sophie the Giraffe, and Ivy, a soft doll with knotted limbs you received at Christmas.

On a regular basis, especially when you're growing tired or fussy, I will catch that left hand in a fist against the back of your head. You've got a lot of peach fuzz now, but I can imagine you tugging on your hair or twirling it for comfort as more grows in.

You seem to enjoy books now, two of your favorites being Hippos Go Berserk! and Barnyard Dance. I think you are drawn to the sing-songy nature of the rhymes, and I still like reading them to you.

You sleep for about 13 hours a day, which leaves a lot of time to interact (your daytime naps seem to last 30 minutes most times, and periodically you indulge in 45 minutes to two hours, but it's hard to predict when those will happen). We read, play on your back and tummy, sit in mommy's lap facing outward so you can see what's going on all around, and even make use of the bouncy seat and exersaucer or a baby carrier.

I used to be somewhat nervous in the beginning - I think it's understandable given our experience with Katherine. It was hard to leave the room for long when you slept, even when I had the baby monitor on me. And when you'd suddenly sleep for much longer than normal, I'd have to check in on you to make sure everything was fine. A little congestion on your part had me looking up symptoms for RSV multiple times in the span of a week or two (sleepless mothers with newborns don't retain new information very well). And when someone at church commented on your complexion after seeing you for the first time, she said, "She almost looks a little jaundiced...but that might just be the lighting," I spent the rest of the day googling images of jaundiced babies and worrying there was a yellow tint to your skin when compared against mine. When I finally broached the subject with Eric that evening, he laid his hand next to your skin, and you were both the same shade. I'd been worrying for no reason. I tell myself that even though there has been plenty of grieving in my life with losing my brother and Katherine, that doesn't mean I'll only know sadness. You're doing much to bring joy into each moment.

Gradually as we're starting to see more of a routine emerge, and as my fear that something will happen starts to subside, I'm better able to balance my day. Your nap times turn into marathon cleaning sessions for me as I see how many baby clothes I can get folded and put away or how quickly I can clean the microwave, make lunch, vacuum, and the like. Sometimes I'll do a little work from home and I try to be pretty efficient in what I can accomplish in short order.

It's true babies change and grow so quickly. This week I put you in a purple vest I had knitted, and as I propped you in the corner of the recliner to take pictures, I marveled at how much older you seemed - sporting khaki pants, a long-sleeved white shirt, and this vest all while you sat propped up made me marvel at how quickly you're growing. Our joint naps in the recliner late at night or early in the morning are few and far between now, so even though it was a sign we were both tired, there's something sad about those days being mostly behind us.

It's fascinating to see how your sleep has evolved. In the early weeks, you seemed to sleep all the time, although you woke frequently to eat and seemed to sleep only while being held, so Eric and I were like two ships passing in the night, to and from the recliner with you. I remember being amazed at the night Eric and I were finally both in bed at the same time (although I usually ended up in the recliner with you around 4:30 or 5 AM until Eric relieved me when he woke up so I could stretch out in bed for some real sleep). In the midst of sleepless nights, we coped - the sun coming up in the morning did wonders to rejuvenate us - and while I wasn't sure how long before those days would end, on this side of things I see how quickly it evolved to you being able to sleep longer stretches in your bassinet or crib instead of jolting wide awake the moment we ever-so-gently laid you down.

You're starting to stir from your afternoon nap, so it's time I wrap this up. But know how much we love you. I can't wait to experience more new milestones in the coming days and weeks.



~Amanda said...

You say it all beautifully, Faith. Brennan is so cute - love how expressive she is. Thanks for sharing!

Moonlit Goddess said...

She's getting so big! Love that laugh.

Dr. aWoW said...

Beautiful letter. Brennan's really going to appreciate having her childhood documented when she's older.

Dr. aWoW said...

...and my favourite is the 2nd image (below where you say "I love that you're a happy baby."). Such a great picture.