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Dear Baby

23 Aug

You are just over 20 months now. In just a short turn of the season you’ll be 2. This past year has mostly been focused for me on keeping you alive, keeping you healthy, learning who you are becoming. I have found that the first 12 months required much more focus on physical tasks than psychological development. Poop. Food. Sleep. Naps. Brace. Rash. Croup. Nurse.

We have cleaned bottles, and diapers, and clothes; brushed hair and teeth; shushed and soothed, rocked and reassured. Everything is ok, you are safe, go back to sleep. Drink more water; eat your oatmeal mush. Your interior needs have been, until now, pretty basic. We have read to you and with you from the start, and we play and give comfort and encourage and cajole. When you were happy, you laughed. When you were sad or tired or hungry or scared, when you wanted a thing, or got too wound up, you cried. When you met something or someone new, you stared.

But this new you, you at almost two? You are getting to be a person, baby. On Sunday, sleeping in the pack-and-play beside our bed at the cousins’ house, you woke up before dawn. Rustle, rustle. Then: “big. city. bus.” And then back to sleep. Big city bus. I came into your room on Tuesday, and you looked into my eyes and said, “Doc Seuss cards?” The Doctor Seuss cards with letters and opposites? Sure. What does a sheep say? A fish? A cow? You know 20 of these, I am running out of animals whose sounds I can reproduce. A late walker, you are a very verbal toddler.

You take naps, sometimes an hour, occasionally as long as three! You sleep from 7pm to 6:15am, which keeps me on my toes and keeps mama sleepy most of the time. I suspect that this is part of your plan. You eat lots of fruit, blueberries and blackberries and raspberries. Bananas and sugar plums, grapes and apples. Although you used to eat spinach pie pretty regularly, it has become more challenging to find vegetables you like. You still eat the sweet potato and white bean baby food puree. If vegetables are fed to you in soup form – lentil, matzo ball, chicken – you are more likely to eat it. You eat steak, cut up into tiny pieces, joyfully calling out ‘meat!’ while you do so. Couscous and rice are in, chickpeas seem to be out. But when they are in falafel form, then you will eat a whole ball of them. For breakfast, you ate mush for a long time, and we are now graduating to oatmeal. Which, really, is just more adult mush. If anything is remotely hot, you look at it with disdain, ‘hot. hot. hot.’ We have to tell you, no it is not hot! Perfect! You can eat two cups of plain yogurt at a time. And you would do it every day if we let you.

You like to feed yourself, calling out ‘baby’s!’ for when you want to do it yourself. Your fine motor skills are good and getting better. You like to take bites that are too big, and your spoonfuls are too large as well. We have been telling you to tap-tap the spoon to get some of the food off of it. ‘Baby’s!’

I used to joke that we would have an easy, sleeping baby. And people laughed at us and said, just wait. But you were an easy infant. And then I said, no, we are not going to have one of those difficult toddlers, we ordered a nice, delicious, easy one. And they said, just wait. But so far Baby 1.5 is a super-easy baby.

And in the last week or so, we taught you to say, “I love you, papa. I love you, mama.” It sounds garbled and cute and smiley and brimming with life. I love you too.


Dear Little One, part 2

20 Apr

Some time, when you’re older, you might wonder what kind of baby you were, and what kinds of things we did with you. By the time you want to know these things, we will probably have forgotten them. So, here are some things about your baby-hood, baby:

– Your mama used to sing Simon & Garfunkel’s song, “At the zoo

– When you were just weeks old, you would wake up every couple hours to eat. And when you did, you would cccrrrrrryyyy! To calm you down, I would dance with you while singing Louis Prima’s song “Buona Sera.”

– We swaddle you when we put you to sleep, but somehow you seem to Houdini your way out of the swaddle almost every time. We don’t know how you are doing it.

– Your favorite toy is a multicolored caterpillar, which we shake while moving it towards you. You get all excited, and try to stuff it in your mouth.

– You once went four days without pooping, and we got so worried we called your doctor. Everything was fine.

– When you were released from the hospital, your bilirubin levels were high. We had to get you blood tests for four days after that, where they poked your heel to get blood. Once they took it from a vein in your arm, with a baby needle.

– We ended up needing to bring you to the hospital, to put you under UV lamps in a neonatal warmer, for a night. It was, at the time, the most stressful night for your mama. The would only let one of us stay with you, so I went home and slept.

– There was a blizzard on the day of your bris. We said nice things about you, and your grandma cried.

– You are easy to soothe, and you don’t really cry much. You are such a happy baby that when you wake up in the morning, the first thing you do is smile wildly at me.

– We casted your foot when you were a couple weeks old, and re-casted it over the next couple months. You almost never cried, and the orthopedists and technicians all commented on how easy you were. Even during your tenotomy, you were easy to soothe.

– You love playing in your Gymini, where you can contentedly bat around the giraffe, monkey, bird, and elephant for hours at a time. now, you grab them to put them in your mouth.

There’s more, but if I were to describe you at 4 months, I would say you are happy, fat, and chubby-cheeked. You love to be held, and you put everything in your mouth. You sit through baths without crying or loving them, and you don’t freak out easily. And when you do, you are easy to soothe. Overall, you’re pretty much a model baby. We don’t know what Benjamin 2.0 will look like, but Benjamin 1.0 is great.

Dear Little One, Part 1

21 Feb

[I’m going to be writing this a little at a time, since I a) don’t know how to write it all right now; and b) would rather write something while I’m thinking it than think it for a long time and write nothing. So this is going to be an intermittent, open letter to my Bouncing baby BRGL].

Dear Little One,
I’ve been wanting to write you for a while. You are a bit over two months old, and it’s been a heady two months. My thoughts and feelings towards you at this point are a jumble of hopefulness, joy, anxiety, curiosity, and exhaustion. You wake up so frequently now, and you’re so demanding, that it’s been hard for me and your mother to rest. And as you’ll learn, writing things down means putting one word in front of another in front of another, and inside I’m really feeling all of these things at once, with emotions and thoughts layered on top of one another. It’s hard to get it down just right, so that when you are a bit older, if indeed you are interested in understanding, you will actually understand.

When I was little, almost but not quite 7 years old, my own mom died. I had two older brothers. The oldest was born, and then, thinking they could not have any more children, my parents adopted a boy. 2 years later, I surprised them. So there were three of us, and mom and dad, and the boys were 6, 8, and 12 when she passed away. She was all of 34 years old. I think we had good times, maybe great times, with my mom, but I don’t really have memories of them. Nothing that wasn’t in a photograph, or that isn’t a story that’s been told to me time and again.

And my dad remarried a few years later, to a woman who brought a son and daughter to me and my two brothers. The son shared a room with me, the daughter floated away in a teenage eddy of anger and stupid and petulance. So there were four of us, all boys, 5 years from oldest to youngest (that’s me). We are a family of choice as much as biology. Two biological brothers, one adopted brother, one step-brother. I’d drop everything for any of them, still.

Despite the family turmoil and drama, it was a lovely childhood, a suburban one filled with games and running around, and outside play and the ups and downs of older siblings. I don’t know that you’re going to have lots of brothers and sisters in your life. Certainly not 3 or 4 of them. I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that you’re here, and that my father was done having babies at 29 while we’re having you when I’m ten years older than that.

I think your childhood will be quieter than mine was. Less drama, less chaos. I hope this doesn’t keep you from thriving in chaos and drama, or knowing how to find your voice in a room filled with others.