Dear Emby–13 months (and a half…sorry)

Dear Elanor

I’m very late with this letter…sorry darling, but sometimes I get behind.  You don’t leave me with a lot of energy at the end of the day to do things like the monthly letter 🙂

This letter will chronicle November 3 (your actual first birthday) through today.

On your birthday, your Dad and I were totally obnoxious.  We came into your room at midnight (although you weren’t born until 5:29 in the morning) and sang Happy Birthday.  We sang it again when you did wake up in the morning.

On your birthday I took you to get your birthday photos taken, and we got some gorgeous shots done that day.  Below are a few of my favorites!

Afterwards we went to Friendly’s where you enjoyed a hot dog and some mac and cheese.  But the real pleasure was dessert where I let you eat your very own cone-head sundae!  You loved it, but your outfit was in sad shape.

For dinner we took you to the Rainforest Cafe.  You liked the big fishtank we sat next to, but were ready for bed earlier than usual, so we skipped dessert.  On our way out through their store, you spotted a stuffed black cat and insisted on it, so we bought it for you.  We ended the night with one more round of Happy Birthday.

In the month and a half since that auspicious day, you have changed a LOT.

Medically, you’ve had a stellar month and a half.

You had an awesome cardiology appointment-they are no longer interested in working with you.  Your heart function is completely normal and the teeny hole you had last year has closed on its own.  One doctor off the list!!!  Neurology is down to every 6 months, and Pedi stroke has decided that they only need to see you once a year.

Gastroenterology?  That’s not so great.  I was a bit overzealous when I said last month that you were 16 pounds.  The last weight we had before your bday was 15 lbs 15oz, which made it feel close enough to call 16lbs.  But it turned out that some of that weight was constipation, and you have backslid.  At your last appointment you were 15 and 11 oz or 12 oz.  They aren’t that thrilled with your weight.  So you have restarted reflux meds (Prevacid this time) with the idea that a lot of your eating behaviors are similar to that of kids who have silent reflux.  It hasn’t seemed so silent as in the few days leading up to us getting the Prevacid (CVS had trouble getting it) you threw up three times.  Your puke now is a lot more vile smelling than it was when you were just a breastmilk or formula fed baby (much like your poop is much more vile smelling).  We’re also under instruction to give you mac and cheese (a HUGE favorite of yours) once a day and to fry foods that can be fried, to add butter, and we’re adding heavy cream to your milk to make it higher calorie.  Anything we can do to try and fatten you up.  If there isn’t real gain in the next 6-8 weeks, we’re going to have to do more testing to see if there’s a different problem…but I really think it’s probably silent reflux and the fact that you’re a teeny bean to begin with.

The lack of weight gain has become a problem as your height continues to grow on it’s curve.  You are tall enough to wear size 6-12 months for the most part, or 6-9 months for companies that make it, but the waistbands are too big.  So we compromise between size 3-6 months from places where the length is about right, or we do overalls, or sometimes I just let the pants do a bit of a low-rider thing on your diaper.  I have also resorted to pulling the extra waistband fabric back and securing it with a ponytail elastic.  Not terribly fashionable, but at least your pants stay up.  If it were summer, I’d just put you in dresses and call it day.

You have a new fashion accessory and will have a second soon enough.  Because of your previous stroke and the Von Willebrand disease, you are at high risk for another stroke with head trauma.  As a new walker, there is still a lot of falling and….well…head trauma.  So you are wearing a helmet.  It came in the week after Thanksgiving, but it needed some modification, so you’ve only really been wearing it for a week now.  It looks a lot like a pink football helmet.  I’m sure you’ll have seen it long before you ever read these letters, so you’ll know what I mean.  It’s also been decided that you need a brace to help with your right foot, which is pointing in and down, and causes you to fall a lot because it screws with your gait and is harder for you to control.  Not to the point where a casual observer would think you’re anything but a new walker, but for me (who watches you walk all the time) or a physical or occupational therapist, it becomes very clear very quickly.  So far all that’s happened is that you were evaluated by the EI physical therapists and we have an appointment after Xmas to have your foot cast by an orthotist.

I will make a difficult confession to you, Elanor.  I hate seeing you in the helmet, and I know I’ll hate seeing the brace.  Obviously I want to keep you safe and I make sure you’re in it/will be in it, but there’s part of me that just hates every minute of it.  I think it’s because you were SO sick, and your recovery has been nothing short of miraculous that in general I can think of you as just a normal little kid.  The helmet is something that marks you as different, and while I wouldn’t mind a stellar intellect marking you as different, something so obvious hurts.  I worry about people’s reactions and feel very protective of you.  More difficult to admit-I worry about people’s opinion of me, specifically that I’m one of the moms that I hate that’s trying to put their kid in a bubble and helmeting them for “safety” as opposed to “because a doctor made me.”  Luckily both are meant to be a short term thing.

You are up to 10 teeth (the 9/10th ones are just poking through the gums) and there are two more on the way.

Developmentally you continue to astound us…

You are saying your first non-mama, dada word consistently.  There are a few things you say (my favorite is “tan oo” for “thank you”) randomly and without meaning.  For example your Daddy said he was going to put you to bed and you said thank you, but then began to scream when he put you in the crib.  You also haven’t said it in over a week.  What you ARE saying consistently is “YUM.”  I posted all about it last week about how it means “FEED ME NOW.”

When asked you can show or point to your head, your ear and infrequently your nose.  You clap your hands when asked where are your hands?  You kick your feet when asked where are your feet?

If presented with three objects (say a book, a ball, and a shoe) when asked for an object, you most often pick the right object.

You can throw and kick a ball, although kicking occasionally turns into falling over a ball….

With a little help (in the form of a step) you can climb onto furniture.  You can climb up stairs.

You love to dance to music, whether it’s on my iPod or made by one of your 8 million obnoxious musical toys.  Currently “dancing” means bobbing up and down, but it’s adorable.

You’ve started picking up your dolls and giving them kisses.

For that matter, you’ve started distributing kisses far and wide to almost anyone.  Generally this is well received, but recently we were in the doctor’s waiting room and a three year old girl entered.  You ran up to her and threw your arms around her.  She was NOT happy about this and tried to pull away, but wasn’t sure how as she seemed to get that you were a baby (compared to her) and she shouldn’t hurt babies.  I pulled you off her, but she kept avoiding you and I had to keep pulling you away from her.  On the flip side, we were at Isis Maternity for class and a woman was leaving the class next door with a young baby in its carrier and you walked up and wanted to see the baby.  I asked if it was okay and you gave them a kiss on their blanket, which made both me and the other mom melt a little.

Less enchantingly, you’ve started throwing tantrums when you can’t do what you want.  This usually means you can’t rip leaves off your grandparent’s plants, can’t have a diet coke can, can’t come into the bathroom with me when your dad is home, or hear the word no.  If we pick you up to get you away from the thing you’re not supposed to be doing/touching/eating/whatever you shriek and arch your back and try to get away.  I’m lucky I haven’t been bruised by the force with which you fling your head back against me.

Also, for the record, I’m not loving the complete and total meltdowns you have when I want to do things without you, like go to the bathroom when your dad is home or go out for a few hours to grocery shop without you or even just to go watch tv without you (when your dad is home, obviously).  When I’m in the apartment this means I hear you wailing and hitting the door of whatever room I’m in but you’re not.  When I leave you, you usually freak out for a good 5-10 minutes, and your grandparents tell me you go to the door and indicate that you want to go.  This also resulted in a meltdown when we tried to get your picture with Santa.  I put you in his lap and stepped out of the shot and you freaked.  Separation Anxiety…fun!!!!

You also are exhibiting a new and strange fear.  The vacuum, which you never cared about before is suddenly a thing to run from and scream whenever I run it.  Considering the number of crumbs you strew about the house and the messes you make, I run it multiple times a week.  Having you lose your shit over it is not fun.  However, this is developmentally appropriate, and something for me to just kind of deal with until you grow out of it.

Final thing I’m not loving at all…you dropped down to one nap a day.  Seriously child?  I need two naps a day just to keep up with you…what’s with the single nap?

Adventures in November and early December…

You tried out gymnastics, and everyone (medical personnel especially) were very enthusiastic about the idea of you doing it.  You love “flipping” (you bend over into what looks like the downward dog yoga pose and wait for someone to pick up your ankle and flip you onto your back).  Your grandparents bought you lessons for Xmas, and we start formally tomorrow.

We finished off our “Sprouts” class at Isis Maternity this week.  We made some lovely friends and you absolutely loved it.  While Isis classes always end with bubbles, this was the first time I saw you get excited about them.  You now chase bubbles with excitement.

We tried out an Early Intervention playgroup, but you and I both hated it.  The instructor was not at all enthusiastic or fun (as opposed to our Isis instructor who is bubbly and gets you toddlers excited), and you kept trying to leave, which was the biggest sign of all.  We decided against taking you back.

We’ve also had play dates.  We haven’t seen C and Asince your birthday, but that’s just been scheduling.  We hung out with Z and his parents at the Burlington Mall-he can say “Elanor” (sort of) now!  Next week we’re going to get together with some of the other “Sprouts” moms and their kids!

But your favorite play dates this past month a half was the week that your cousins were up from DC for Thanksgiving!!!!!  They stayed at your grandparent’s house and we went over EVERY day.  Your older cousin, who is 6, absolutely adored you and kept picking you up and giving you kisses.  She didn’t care that you kept stealing (and trying to eat) her hairbands.  Your younger cousin (who’s 18 months old) wasn’t too sure of you.  Sometimes the two of you played some strange toddler interpretation of tag (I scream you run after me, I scream and run after you), sometimes you fought over toys, sometimes you kissed him and he ran away from you.

They were up for Thanksgiving, as were their uncle and their grandparents.  We were 12 for Thanksgiving, which is the biggest Thanksgiving I’ve ever been a part of.  On one hand it was amazing to be part of such a lovely family gathering, but on the other, I was often overwhelmed by the sheer number of people.  I also loved seeing how you fit into your bigger family.

The day after Thanksgiving we all went to the mall to do pictures of the whole family, each smaller family, and the kids all together and individually.  Your cousin’s parents don’t want pics of them on the internet, so I’ll just post a pic of the three of us..

You also had your first weekends away from us.  Your dad and I went to LA for a weekend and left you with your grandparents.  But then to be fair we had to go away for a night and leave you with your grandma and auntie the following weekend.  It was good for your dad and I to get a break and just be us and married for a weekend.  You mostly handled it well, but each time we called and you heard our voices you started crying because you missed us.

One last serious thing…

Perhaps the biggest change in the last 6 weeks or so is that you dad was laid off.  It’s been difficult not to let the tension affect our relationship with you, but we haven’t always been successful.  We are okay because we have savings to cover things like this, but as Daddy looks for a new job, it’s pretty certain that we won’t be living in Massachusetts in six months.  We could end up somewhere on the East Coast (which would be great in that our friends would still be pretty close by and would visit us and vice versa), on the West Coast (which would be less ideal, but would be radically different for us and that has it’s own benefits….plus it’s a LOT cheaper to buy a house, etc), in London (which is a dream of ours) or Singapore (which would be quite the adventure).

The things I worry most about with a move are separating you from your grandparents and all of our friends who have grown close to you and become your surrogate family.  I also worry about making sure that your medical care is uninterrupted, that the quality of doctor we find in our new home matching your amazing doctors here, and ensuring you get what you need.

But no matter what, we will always love you and make sure that you are taken care of.

Mommy

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