Dear Elanor 9 months

Darling Elanor

You are nine months old.  You have been outside my body longer than you were inside, which is unfathomable to me.  It’s difficult to see you as the same baby I gave birth to nine months ago; that little girl was so unformed and while she had flashes of personality it was nothing like the opinionated and vivacious almost-toddler I see before me today.

You spent the majority of your 8th month of life out of state.  You turned 8 months old in Virginia as we were visiting with your cousins, and you turned 9 months old in San Francisco and Philadelphia (can you guess what we were doing on August 3rd?)  In your 8th month of life you visited Virginia, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington DC, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Berkeley and Santa Cruz.  That’s 1 district and 9 states! You were a passenger in a car and on an airplane.

With so much travel, you might wonder if we really noticed any changes.  But some of them were hard to miss, such as

CRAWLING!!!!!  I don’t know why I’m excited as it has made my life much more difficult.  You are into things you weren’t into before.  You can decide to be someplace else and get there, and sometimes that’s no so easy on your mommy and daddy.

TWO MORE TEETH–the two top teeth have made an appearance, but are not yet fully in.  I’ve now been officially bitten, and let me just say—ouch.

STANDING UNASSISTED–Yes.  Standing without help.  Only for 10 seconds or so at a time, but we can see the writing on the wall–you are gearing up to walk, and as soon as you figure out all the things that need to happen together to walk successfully, you will be on the move, no question.

CRUISING FURNITURE–when we got back from our road trip I had put you over in your play area to play and sat down on the couch to catch up on email.  The next thing I knew, you had crawled over to the loveseat and had cruised the length of the loveseat and the couch to grab my power cord out of my laptop.  This is when I realized that baby proofing really did need to happen and much more thoroughly than we had thus far.

You are, as ever, extremely social.  Especially with other babies.  You are fascinated by them.  When we have gone to places like the Please Touch Museum in Philly or the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, CA you have attempted to engage with other babies.  You reach out with your chubby baby hands and clap in delight at their accomplishments.  You mimic them.  You crawl after them.  When they hug you, you delightedly hug back.  However, you have also done some hair pulling and some innapropriate touching (exactly what it is about boy’s butts that you find so attractive? you’re a little young for that sort of thing, missy).

This does not mean that there is no separation anxiety.  Perhaps it’s because you spent some weeks without spending time at your grandparent’s house, but when I left you there so that I could begin to volunteer outside the home, and when we have left you with a friend to get some down time, you have spent a good 5-10 minutes crying.

We discovered that this month you have officially fallen off the growth charts.  I struggle with this knowledge.  The truth is that I haven’t always had a healthy relationship with food, and having a child with food issues is about the worst thing I could think of in terms of triggering my own emotional responses.  It’s so hard not to count every ounce, every bite throughout the day.  On the other hand, you have rolls of fat on your thighs and your cheeks are round and chubby.  You don’t act as though you are malnourished.  You are vibrant and bouncy and constantly on the go.  Part of me wonders if the reason you’re so small is that you just burn so many calories with your constant exploration?  I have also gotten the advice that because American growth charts are effectively written for caucasian kids and you’re half asian, that may affect how you look on the charts…that asian kids tend to be small.

We saw a nutritionist this month.  She advised ditching the baby food and mostly just putting you on table food to supplement your bottles.  She advised that we give you things that will excite your palate and make you more interested in food.  To that end, you have eaten hummus, salsa, and many other things I never really imagined giving a baby, and your palate is already far more advanced than mine was at your age.  She said that you need foods with exciting flavors, so within the constraints of your (presumed) food allergies, we are trying to do that.

You love fruit slices as much as you love the fruit baby food.  You’re open to new flavors and liked guacamole.  You are a bit unsure of hummus, but are willing to try and retry it.  You still have a deep and abiding love of pickles.  I have let you chew on things like deli meat.  French fries in ketchup and bbq sauce are also a hit.

Some favorite memories from this month

—On the 4th of July we went into DC.  We saw a reading of the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives, and then were perfectly positioned to see the 4th of July parade.  There were tons of giant balloons, but you couldn’t care less.  The thing that grabbed your attention were the marching bands.  You watched them with unwavering attention, clapping your hands and bouncing with delight.  We also took you to the American Museum, one of the Smithsonian Museums.  You weren’t that impressed by any of the exhibits (even though you saw a Kermit the Frog and the Ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz) but you were endlessly fascinated by a neon colored ball that lit up when it was bounced from the gift shop.  We watched your first fireworks on the National Mall; you were unimpressed.  You spent the whole time playing with your light up ball, which you felt to be vastly superior to the stupid fireworks.  your dad and I disagree, by the way.

–Seeing you with your cousins J and A.  A is a 5 year old girl who was happy to pick your toys up off the floor.  J is a one year old boy who can walk, something you were very jealous of.  But the memory I have of our time with them was when your auntie K and I were pushing you and J in side by side Target carts and the two of you began baby babbling at each other, and reached out and held hands for a moment.  It just melted our hearts.

–This is the month you began physical therapy.  Hopefully you won’t need it for a long time…they are helping you crawl properly, as you have an awkward gait when crawling, regardless that you get where you want to go.

—Your reaction to your Uncle Chris.  He’s Australian, and you found his accent hypnotic. As I’m a sucker for accents, I can’t really fault you for that.

–Taking you to Santa Cruz.  You encountered your first beach…you loved the sand.  You kept picking it up and letting it drift back down.  I took you to the water’s edge to get some pictures, and felt horrible when the water came in faster and deeper than I expected.  You were knocked over by a small wave and I had to grab you and pull you up out of the water.  I hope that it doesn’t give you negative associations with water.   You also rode your first carnival ride by yourself there–there was a little whale ride where you went around in a circle and up and down specifically for kids who were smaller than 36 inches tall–perfectly you sized.  You liked it, but I think it was a bit long for you–at the end you were looking concerned, but not crying.  You also “played” a fishing game with daddy’s help and won a stuffed turtle!  It was a really nice family day.

–Seeing you stand for the first time unaided.  We were in the Yerba Buena Park in San Francisco with your Uncle Harit.  I had helped you stand, and you let go of me and stood unaided for about 10 seconds!  I got you to do it agian and got a picture!  Since then you pull up to standing on some piece of furniture and occasionally let go.

–We also took you to a Ren Faire.  We got you another pair of devil horns, and you were a major hit.  Everyone stopped to say hi to you and many people remembered you from Wicked Faire (the person who organized the Ren Faire, Jeff, was the same guy who organizes WF).  You also aquired a gorgeous purple fairy wand.

You met so many people for the first time.  I love sharing you with our friends and family.  So many people followed your story on Care Pages when you were sick, and although they can see your pictures on Facebook, it’s a powerful experience for them to see you in real life so happy and healthy.

This was also the month when I began to work outside the house again for the first time since you were born.  I have begun to volunteer at Planned Parenthood.  I want you to see as well as know that I try to live my values, including my firm belief that you should control your sexuality and your fertility.  I hope that you will grow up proud of my involvement with Planned Parenthood.  That you will know that I crossed picket lines and learned where panic buttons were to help keep your rights safe.  I’m doing it for me-in fact mostly for me-but also for you.

Every day you look a little less like a baby and more like a toddler.  Your hair is growing and I’m seeing the start of curls…my fingers are SO crossed that you’ll get your dad’s natural curly hair.  You are fearless and wonderful.  You are my precious precious little girl.

love always

Mommy

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