Friday, April 24, 2009

Dear Gwen: Month Twelve

Dear Gwen,

What an amazing month it's been!

There have been so many firsts this month. You got your first haircut, after much agonizing on my part, and you somehow look even more beautiful than you did before (I wouldn't have thought that possible). You got your first big owie, which has already been documented and photographed. You had your first overnight - in fact, two overnights - without me, and you did great. You transitioned with an absolute minimum of grief to a one-nap-a-day schedule. And now you're getting your fourth tooth.

As of Tuesday, April 21st, I would officially call you a walker. Though you took your first solo steps many weeks ago, I didn't want to say you were officially walking until you started to consistently choose walking over crawling. You are now at that stage. Delightfully - and this won't last long, I know - you seem to think the only place you can walk is from one adult to another. So you walk giddily from your dad to me, so proud of yourself, and collapse into my arms; then get up, turn around, and walk back to Dad. It's like it hasn't occurred to you yet that you could actually walk away from us. Which is fine, because we're not ready for you to do that anyways - we're having way too much fun with you! For the record, Easter Sunday (April 12) was the first time I saw you get up and walk without anyone prompting you to do so, and as mentioned above, April 21st was the first time I saw you do more walking than crawling.

Your sleep continues to be one of the very easy parts of our day. You now nap once a day, right after lunch, for two or even three hours. You still go to bed easily at 7pm, giving your dad and I time to (theoretically) connect as a couple or (in actuality) get our chores done. As if life couldn't get any better, we discovered that if we give you a four-ounce bottle in the morning, you will feed yourself and then either go back to sleep or just play and talk happily to yourself in your crib for up to an hour. This has been a real lifesaver on those mornings when you wake up at 5am.

For a few days, you were a bit sick with a lowgrade teething fever and, I suspect, having a little trouble shifting from two naps to one. During that time, you were a little more cuddly than usual, and ended up taking more than one lap-nap. Dad didn't mind at all; in fact, he'd never had the experience of you falling asleep in his arms before, and I think he really enjoyed it. He even took advantage of it by falling asleep himself - smart man!

As for mealtimes, your appetite continues to increase (though at last weigh-in, you were still just 1.5 ounces below 20 pounds). You are all about the self-feeding these days and spoon-fed purees are a thing of the past. The only thing still spoon-fed is that blasted infant cereal, which apparently I have to keep giving you for another YEAR, grumblegrumble. Most of the time, you eat enthusiastically and very, very messily! Many nights we have been sent scurrying into the kitchen to see what else we can serve you after you eat your entire meal and then happily sign for "more, please!"

One of the lessons I've learned this month is that you can choke on things I didn't think you could possibly even fit into your mouth. Last month, your Grannie gave you a Sesame Street clubhouse that used to belong to me when I was little. I spent hours and hours playing with that clubhouse, and I thought it was so neat that she saved it for you! Your dad went on Ebay and bought some Sesame Street people to go with it, and the day they arrived, we all got down on the floor and showed you how the people could go through the trapdoor, down the slide, round the merry-go-round, and so on. Your dad and I were having a great time reminiscing. Next thing we knew, Elmo - it would be that blasted Elmo! - was entirely inside your mouth and you were gagging. Elmo was easy to retrieve, but then we had to reluctantly pack all the little people away until such time as you are old enough not to put everything in your mouth.

As well as your toys, you continue to be very into your books. You routinely pull all the books off the shelves (which is fine, because we keep only the board books at your level), and now you have started to bring one to us so we can read it to you. This utterly enchants us and we are always happy to oblige. Also, since you've only recently learned how to walk, your method of transporting the book to us was completely amusing: you would hold the book way up in the air, with the other hand and the bottom of one foot alternating pushing you along on your bum and other knee. You looked ridiculous, and of course, completely charming.

We've noticed over the past week that your comprehension skills are scarily good. For example, I saw you pulling out the birthday crown that Amber made you, and try to put it on your head. Expecting nothing, I said, "Do you want Mom to help you put it on?" You looked towards me and grunted, so I said, "Alright, bring it over to me," and you did. I was floored, though I suppose I shouldn't be so surprised. I talk to you all the time, and the whole point is that you should be learning to understand me! I guess now is the time to start paying attention to what we say and do in front of you, because you are becoming quite a little mimick. You are quite consistent with your cow (muhh) and dog (wow-ow) noises, and "nuh" (no), "buh-buh" (bye-bye) and "uh-oh" are becoming quite common too. When you know you're doing something you shouldn't, you look up at me and say "nuh". Then go right back to doing it.

Easter Sunday
One of my favourite memories of this month happened just this past weekend when your Grannie and Grandpa Campbell came to visit. You had had a really long nap, so I let you stay up late to play with them. You were in fine form, showing off all your tricks, giggling and walking and charming the hell out of them. I was so glad to see you all having some time together, as you don't get to see them as often as your other grandparents. I know they absolutely loved it too.

Last Sunday was your family birthday party, and tomorrow we are having a birthday playdate with your baby friends. Then on Monday I'm back to work and you're starting daycare. It seems like such a whirlwind right now, and I know the next couple of weeks will be hard for our family, but I also believe we will settle into a routine fairly easily and before long, we won't even think about it. I know you won't remember what it was like to be home with me all the time, but I hope I never forget, and I hope that the memories and experiences of the past year have given you a good start to a wonderful, happy, full life.

Happy Birthday, Gwen.

Love always,

Gwen's Birth Story

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