Tuesday, February 14, 2006

To My Little Valentine

Well, peanut, here's the letter I've been meaning to write you every month for the last 6 months, but as it turns out, you keep me a lot busier than I expected! Still, I figured 6 months was the perfect milestone for you to get a letter from your Mama. Not to mention that it's Valentine's Day. Did we plan perfectly or what?

Actually, you are teaching me that life can't be planned perfectly, especially when it comes to a baby. And that started with your early arrival. Six months ago today, you were nice enough to give me a nice, short labor. Little did I know this was your way of telling me that this was the way you liked everything -- quick and to the point. From eating and playing to your short naps (I like to call them "snaps"), everything is done with an intensity that even I have a hard time keeping up with!

Let's start with the fun stuff -- you love to play, play, play! I should have known by the kicks inside my tummy that you would be a busy little bee. Your legs move nonstop and have since you were a few weeks old. The doctor was amazed at how active you were at your 1-month well-baby appointment and warned us that we had a very energetic child on our hands! :o)

Your first favorite toy was Mr. Star, who mesmerized you for the first 4 months. That is, until the exersaucer came into your life. This was much more comfortable for you since you were off your back and able to play with several different toys at once. Although you are careful to play with each toy, the book is your favorite. You try to turn the thick plastic pages for minutes on end and never get frustrated. At least we know you have some patience in you!

And your legs aren't the only body parts constantly moving. Those hands keep up just fine. When they are not in your mouth, they are grabbing for anything in sight that may or may not fit in your mouth, including other people's fingers. You also took to praying early on. ;o) For a short time, you liked to sleep on your side and your hands naturally fell into the praying position. Although you changed your sleeping position before I could get a picture, it is imprinted in my mind forever.

Believe it or not, one of your favorite things to do is get your diaper changed. From day one, you have loved your changing table, which has turned into a fun play area for us. We have our little ritual where I tickle your legs before we change your diaper. You know from the moment those pant legs are off what's coming, and you straighten your legs and wait for those goose bumps. No smiles or giggles, just some serious relaxation going on. In fact, this is possibly the only time I can get those legs to stop moving! But once that diaper is off, it's playtime again, where you do everything in your power to prevent the diaper and pants from going back on. Kick, giggle, kick, giggle, kick…and since Christmas time, you now squeeze in a few toe sucking sessions in there as well. Thankfully, God has granted me with an enormous amount of patience when it comes to this part of our day. I actually think it's hilarious and probably encourage it more than anything. When else do I get to see joy in its purest form?

Your smiles came early, right around 6 weeks and have been melting hearts ever since. Fishy lips were a sure way to get a smile early on, but lately we've had to work a little bit harder. You also carefully choose who hears your giggles, and only a select few have had the pleasure so far. You actually have two kinds of laughs. You have your silly playful laugh when we say funny things or sing silly songs, and then there's the belly laugh. This comes when we are tickling your tummy or your sides. These are my favorite!

You are certainly one vocal little girl and have been since you first discovered your voice. You amazed me and your Daddy with your early forms of communication -- how you managed to make noises that sounded exactly like an elephant is beyond us, but you did so for several weeks until you started cooing, which was the most precious thing ever. These soft, angelic noises were much different than your early grunts and garnered the undivided attention of your aunts, uncles, and grandparents. It wasn't long, however, before those coos turned into very loud goos and gagas. And boy do you like to be heard! You're not exactly soft-spoken, and you know exactly what you want and will communicate accordingly. You literally yelled at your Daddy the other day for leaving you in the car seat for too long. Now we just eagerly await your first word, which will hopefully be Mama or Dada (although baba is looking more realistic). We work on all three words, but for now, you seem to just enjoy watching me make these strange noises, with little interest in mimicking me. But that's okay. We have many years of talking ahead of us!

Rolling over started early for you. You first flipped from your tummy to back, right around 9 weeks. You stuck with that trick for quite a while, until you finally figured out you could roll back over onto your tummy. That happened right around 5 1/2 months. You just started to sit up on your own last week, but you have always liked the upright position. I can recall you fussing at a few weeks old, and you would only stop when I put you in the sitting position on my knees. I know part of that was because of your reflux, but it is also because you like to see what is going on. There is so much to see! You're not a big snuggler and would rather face outward so you can take in every bit of your surroundings. In fact, I better feed you in a quiet, dark room otherwise forget about it. Your head whips around at the slightest noise. Why waste time with eating when everything else is so much more interesting?

Eating has certainly been a journey for both of us. You caught on to breastfeeding quickly and knew exactly what to do from the first feeding. No problems there. You ate more than enough and gained weight so quickly that the doctor actually thought I needed to spread out your feedings. Little did he know that you absolutely had to eat every 2 hours and no one -– and I mean no one -– was going to change that. So I fed you and fed you until you finally got big enough to eat every 2.5 to 3 hours. This made it a little difficult to do much else but feed you, but I learned quickly that catering to your needs was my one and only priority -– a responsibility that I have grown to treasure with every passing day.

Unfortunately, the fact that you needed to nurse frequently didn't mean you exactly enjoyed it. You wiggled and cried often, leaving your Mama pretty confused and frustrated. However, as time went by, we discovered why you were so unhappy. Not only did you have a pretty bad case of thrush, you also had acid reflux and a milk/soy allergy. That's a lot for one little person to handle. But you did so with relatively little crying; you're such a trooper! The good news is that after some medication, strategic sleeping positions, and a strict diet, we got it under control the best we could. (By the way, I am demanding that you buy me a box of chocolate for every birthday and special event until I die. Your Daddy can explain why when you get older.)

You tried cereal at 4 months and loved it. Unfortunately, we stopped it after a few weeks because it seemed to plugging you up. This may have been a mistake because you have now made it very clear that you don't want any part of this stuff we call cereal. You'd much rather have the potato chips Daddy is eating. I have a feeling real solids are in your very near future.

We also recently decided it was time to put you on formula. You didn't like the taste of it at first (and I don't blame you for that -– it smells pretty bad!), but you have adjusted extremely well. Although I am sad that I am no longer your sole provider of food, I know your Daddy and other family members are having fun feeding you. Even with all of our struggles, I will always treasure our feeding times. Sometimes we would "fight it out," but other times we had lots of fun as you played hide and seek and spoke to me in the sweetest little voice I have ever heard. And then there were the peaceful night feedings where I fell in love with you over and over and over again. You'd fall asleep on my shoulder and nuzzle in close enough so I could kiss those chubby cherub cheeks and your sweet little lips. Thankfully, you do the same with your bottle night feeds, so I get to enjoy that for a little while longer.

Sleeping has been another fun adventure. After about 2 weeks of age, you decided sleep was something necessary, but not something that was going to interfere with everything you had to do during the day. You slept much like you ate -– quick and often. No long stretches for you. That would take up too much time. Your strategy was to get in just enough rest to get you to the next play time. No quiet time necessary.

In the first few months, you only lasted about 45 minutes before you were ready to sleep, and your naps were only about an hour long at most. Eventually, you were able to last an hour and a half before a nap, but that's didn't mean you'd sleep longer. Quite the contrary. A 30- to 45- minute nap would do. It is only recently that you are able to sleep longer than that, but those times are few and far between and are usually at a time when I least expect it. You love to keep me on my toes! And for as much as I want to believe our recent (dare I say it out loud) schedule is here to stay, I have a feeling it will be changing right around the time I get used to it.

Sleeping through the night is not an idea we really even entertain yet, but you have gotten much better. On good nights when your reflux isn't bothering you, you will get up for one late-night feeding and one early morning feeding. For the most part, you sleep from 7pm to 7am. You have a few "pacifier moments" here and there, but you don't put up a fight. Your Daddy and I haven't gotten brave enough to let you cry yet, so for now you have our full attention around the clock. We are hopeful you will learn to sleep on your own. Until then, I have a feeling you are going to milk our attention for all it's worth. Truth be told, provided that you go right back down, I don't really mind these little pacifier moments since they are usually at the time I am thinking about you and missing you. Sometimes I wonder if you are psychic.

You are already famous. Since you've been born, you have been featured on TV and a Web site. Your blog might even end up in a book! You also have met some pretty special people. Your first week home, we made a special trip to meet your Great, Great Grandma Emma. Watching you two meet was a very special moment. Five generations doesn't happen every day you know! She is so proud of her namesake, and I know she looks forward to watching you grow up these next few years.

Your 4-month birthday also brought the birth of your baby cousin Evan, who I know will be your buddy (and bodyguard) in the years to come. He is already trying his hardest to catch up with you, so I know he'll be a great playmate. He's very relaxed though, so I have a feeling this may be a ying and yang relationship. It will be fun watching you two grow up together. I see embarrassing bathtub photos in both of your futures!

So there you have it. A quick little summary of our life together these past 6 months. It goes without saying that you have rocked our world Miss Emma in more ways than one. We have more love in our hearts than we ever imagined possible.

You have also taught me more about myself than any college course or career ever could. I am learning to enjoy the simple things in life again, and for that I am truly grateful to you. You are my buddy, and I love spending my days with you. I can't wait to see what the next 6 months have in store for us.

We love you, bunny!


Mama C-ta said...

This was so sweet and perfect! Happy 6 months Emma! I thought I would have met you by now but just 2 more months!

Lisa - now that Julian is crawling and I'm running around the house after him like a mad woman I think about you every day. Julian was always so mellow compared to Emma so if HE, the mellow guy, is this crazy...you are going to have a LOT of fun!!!!

By the way, love the Snaps term, I'm going to adopt it myself.

Jana dykstra said...

Tears in my eyes. Thanks for a sweet summary of Emma's life. It IS nice to remember the small stuff in the midst of the crazy stuff. Good job, mom! Thanks for sharing with all of us:)

Anonymous said...

Wow, you are an amazing Mom Lisa. Of course before that, you were an amazing daughter (and still are, I might add). Thank you for a beautiful reminder of why God gives us children. To love & to cherish. I do and I do. Love ya lots, Mom

Aunt Jenni said...

WOW again! Well, you wanted us to post spmething and this was just the way to do it! I had to post something after reading that! That was probaably the most beautiful thing I have ever read! You and Jeff are wonderful, loving and very patient parents! I know I am the "older" sister and that you probably watched and learned from me as we were growing up, but now I am watching and learning from you, and I can only hope that I am half as wonderful a mom that you are! I love Emma very much (and Jeff), and I know you already know that, but don't ever forget how much I love you, baby sister!

Anonymous said...

I love the blog keep it up. It is so fun to read all about Miss Emma.
Love you, Aunt Lorrie