Dear Elanor, Month 11

Dear Elanor

This month’s letter is very hard for me to write.

While we had an excellent start to your 11th month of life, the end is a very sad one for our family.  My cat, Lady, is dying.  She is your cat and your Daddy’s pet as well, but she was mine exclusively for the first 11 years of her life.  Your story with her will far shorter than I had hoped.

I was quite worried about how Lady would react to you when she had never been around infants or children before, and had little to no tolerance of kittens or other animals that she saw as competition for my attention.  I don’t know what she thought of my pregnancy, or if she even noticed that my body was changing.  Most likely, what she noticed was that we were gone for several days and then brought home blankets that we kept close.  We showed you to her, and she sniffed you, but she was very wary of you.  Then, of course, you got sick and we were gone for about 3 weeks.  Friends dropped by to refresh her autofeeder and her water and to change her litter, but we were missing.  I went home once while you were in the hospital and Daddy went twice or possibly 3 times.

When you came home the second time, there was a bond that formed.  You would cry and she would seek me out to look at me anxiously.  Maybe she was saying “Can you please make the loud noise stop?” but I always saw it as “the baby is crying!  fix it!”  Until you were six months old, we kept your crib pushed up against my side of the bed with the drop side removed.  You would sleep at the head of the crib, and Lady would sleep at the foot of the crib.  She would hang out near you, and you watched her with fascination.  Once you figured out that you could pet, you were always eager to try, even if you were overenthusiastic in your affections.  Lady shocked me…rather than scratch you or run from you when you inevitably pulled her fur, she would just give us long-suffering looks that conveyed “a little help here, please?”.   Once you began Early Intervention, each time your EI services came out to us, Lady always made a point of stopping by the visit, as if to check up on things.

There was the time in May that you were sitting in your Bumbo and you picked up a cat toy that happened to be next to the Bumbo on the floor and you played with Lady.

And I can’t forget that an integral part of the bedtime routine has been “Tails are Not for Pulling,” which has always involved Lady coming over and your Daddy showing you how to pet Lady gently as he read the book to you.

In short, the two of you have had a beautiful friendship…and I find myself breaking into tears knowing you won’t remember it, even as I show you pictures and video.  Much like I feel towards the dog my parents had who adored me as an infant, and with whom there are pictures, and many stories, I feel only a vague sense of curiosity or affection, and not genuine emotion.

**************

You have finished your time abroad for the time being.  The day you turned 10 months old was the day you and I ventured up to Loch Ness in Scotland.  Several days later our family went to London, where you visited your very first Hard Rock Cafe (and of course got a t-shirt to commerate, although it’s far too big for you), the Peter Pan Statue, Buckingham Palace, rode the London Eye, and had many other adventures.  We got our replacement seat, so I was finally able to stop jerry-rigging your stroller (that we broke at Holyrood Palace going up some very steep and circular stairs to Queen Mary of Scots chambers).  The flight home was a nightmare as your Daddy couldn’t book the same bulkhead seats, so there was no bassinet, and you wanted only to be held by me and cuddled on the flight home.  Which was mostly okay, except by the time we got to Boston I felt like my shoulder had been dislocated.

We had only been home a week when the predictable happened—YOU WALKED.  Something you have only gotten better and better at with each passing day.  By 10/3/09 you could stand up on your own in the middle of the floor and walk at least halfway across a room.  You are frighteningly mobile, beloved child.

Your weight gain is still worrisome to me, although not necessarily to your gastroenterologist.  I took you into the pedi and found out you’ve only gained 2 ounces since your 9 month well baby visit, and while it’s very common for weight to plateau when a child learns to walk, I wasn’t expecting to unpack your 3-6 month stuff…silly me for packing it away at the start of summer, certain you wouldn’t still be wearing it come fall.

Once home your sleep began to fall apart.  Sadly, the thing that cured it was moving you to your own room.  I say sadly, because part of me misses my baby in arms reach.  But in truth, I’m also relieved.  I have missed having a grown up bedroom free of a massive crib.  Your room is adorable, and I am especially happy with the way you’ve returned to sleeping through the night there.

We had our first experience with a Daddy free week.  Daddy had a conference and I was just too tired to deal with any more travel, so we didn’t go.  It was weird not having him there, and I felt like an intruder at bedtime, which has always been your and Daddy’s thing.  It was the week of your sleeping poorly, and moving you out of my room (with your Dada’s-grandpa’s) help made my room even lonelier.  On the upside, it was probably the cleanest our home has been since you arrived on the scene.

We have planned out your first birthday party, which will be on 11/1/09.  Your friend CJ and many of our friends will come and celebrate it with us.  I will be making you a cake with whatever allergy sensitivities are necessary.

Speaking of which—you are now on Soy!  So far so good after a week.  You have enjoyed soy yogurt, soy hot dogs, and we have soy pudding to give you too.  And soy ice cream!  Assuming this continues to go well, we’ll introduce dairy before the month is out.  First though, we’ll have to take a poopy diaper to your gastroenterologist and get his okay.

Other things of note

*Still working on that 7th tooth…sigh

*You have waved bye-bye a few times, but are not yet doing it consistently

*You have said “bye” and “no” each once or twice, but not with purpose

*You also like to say a word that sounds like “woosh!”

*We are cutting your physical therapy back to every other week as your side preference does not seem to be affecting walking the way it did crawling

You are very loved, little turtle

Mommy

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