Dear E.V. (Month Four)

Dear E.V.,
Happy four-month-birthday! 
This morning you woke up sick. Actually, to be more accurate, you woke up “crusty.” You haven’t been feeling great for the past week, and this first cold of yours has been quite the challenge for all of us. I feel so bad for you–the tiny coughs, stuffed nose, watery eyes. It’s a sad sight to see. If only I could explain to you in baby language that this miserable cold is only temporary, I’m sure you’d be quite relieved because in the middle of the night, when your congestion is at its worst, you panic for fear of suffocation. It’s going to be alright. I promise. It’s been keeping us both from getting a good night’s sleep lately, and I’m certain that we are both ready to get back to our normal nighttime schedule. Your being sick has also challenged me as a mom; I learned a little something about myself from your cold: Nose bulbs make me wretch. Literally. Even when it’s your dad snarfing the snot out of your nose across the room. Gag. But, I’m a mom, and I’m tougher than that. They say that mothers call upon super strength in times of emergency to save their children (lifting cars off of them and such), and after surviving a full week without actually throwing up while unclogging you, I am confident that I could also throw aside a burning beam to save you from a fire. But let’s hope it never comes to that.
Emma Vance, this month and this cold have taught me that I would gladly take on any amount of your suffering in life. I hope your life is only full of beautiful things, but if hard times come, I will gladly take on your sorrows and suffering. Even if they involve nose bulbs.
Your fourth month has been a bit hectic. We’ve been busy selling this house so that we can move to a bigger, better home for you. That alone is enough to make life hectic, but there’s all sorts of things going on in your parents’ lives right now, making your schedule and daily routine very erratic lately, and for that I’m truly sorry. I know that you’re happiest when things are nice and routine, and I promise that once this move is over we’ll get back to “normal.” Until then, bear with us! And, thank you for being so flexible, napping relatively easily on the go, putting up with being in your car seat more often than is comfortable, and gladly eating a little irregularly to accommodate your mom’s schedule. (Perhaps it’s me whose so uneasy with this whole lack-of-a-schedule thing…)
This month was like last when it comes to your sleep habits (for the most part). You usually have a week or so during each month where you hit a growth spurt, waking a little early to eat (around 6 a.m.) and then going back to sleep until your usual wakeup time (8:30 a.m.). I love the way you look at me in the morning, with big, blinking eyes that are always confused for the first few moments of wakefulness. It reminds me of the first time you looked at me. You were so little, so new! Then, after a few moments of contemplation, you recognize me and get a huge grin on your face. (I take that to mean, “Oh, good morning, Mom!”) For bedtime each night you take a bath, read a story, talk about your day and say your baby prayers. Then you have one more feeding (during which you usually pass out) between 8 and 9:30 p.m., depending on your daytime napping schedule. I’ve gotten in the bad habit of letting you fall asleep on our big bed (you think it’s the most comfortable place–and I agree!) initially, then putting you in your bassinet after your midnight snack. Right now life is so crazy that I allow you this small comfort as a consolation, but don’t get too used to it, okay? 
This month we stopped swaddling you, which went much more smoothly than I thought it would. Swaddling was always your dad’s favorite thing because it was his sole duty, so we held onto swaddling a bit longer than necessary because it was the best bonding time for the two of you. I miss seeing him smile down at you and you sleepily blink back at him as he wraps you up for the night. I know I have to accept that you’re becoming a big girl already, which means letting go of those moments. Also, this month we swore we were going to move you to your crib permanently, but, truthfully, once we knew we were moving, your nursery became a battle zone for things to be packed. So you’re still in your laughably-too-small bassinet at night, which neither you nor I seem to mind right now. (This month, I swear!) You’re also taking naps in your pack ‘n play during the day, but you use what we call the “West Coast”–the left side where it’s flat like a crib. When you’re on the “West Coast,” you love to be rocked to sleep, arching your back to reach around and touch the mesh sides, read the warning label, or grab at the monitor camera. You also like to chew on your fingers as you fall asleep. In fact, you’re taking a paci less and less, so we’re about ready to fully abandon it soon. And, speaking of your daytime sleeping habits…Oh, those naps, those short, short naps! You’re just chugging along with your 45 minute naps, which seems to suit us just fine for now. Everyone keeps telling me that you’re not sleeping a full hour and a half because you’re hungry, but I’m not quite ready to try formula to see if that’s truly the case. I’ve accepted that this is our schedule, and it works for us.
Speaking of eating…Could you please pay attention when you’re nursing? That’d be great. For whatever reason (improving eyesight?) you’ve become ADD while eating this month. It reminds me of your dad! If the reason you’re not taking long naps is because you’re hungry, then it’s your own fault, girlie. :) I get so mad when the dogs bark or when your dad distracts you because it takes several minutes to get you focused again, and (especially this month) I’ve got things to do! You grew a little slower than the previous three months, which is fine, but I’d love to see you continue to remain in the average or high percentiles for growth, so eat up, little lady. 
You’re in between sizes right now, size 0-3 months being ridiculously small, size 3-6 months being ridiculously big. I’m in the process of packing up those 0-3 month sizes as part of our move, making sure you get one last wear out of my favorite little outfits. I can’t wait until you grow just a little bit more, though, because I’ve been stockpiling that next size up and am eager to have some new “looks” for fall. :)
You’ve grown up quite a bit over the past few weeks, E.V., and I’m so proud of you. You’re talking a lot (as usual), but your “words” are becoming more distinct with every passing day. I get a rush of emotion when you mumble “mama” (mostly when you’re crying), and I can’t wait until you say it intentionally one day. You squeal and screech A LOT lately, finding your voice with each passing day. It’s a bit unnerving to your dad when you’re so loud in public, but it just cracks me up. I won’t be surprised if you turn out to be one of those squealing pre-teens, swooning over some pop star one day. :) 
Your mouth is your favorite avenue of exploration still; you test everything our by tasting it, chomping on it, drooling on it. You are OBSESSED with blowing raspberries, which often result in whoever’s holding you being spit on (but they don’t seem to mind). It’s hilarious. You’re hilarious. This month we had a MAJOR revelation–we can now make you laugh! Even thinking about it now makes my heart swell because it’s the sweetest, most innocent laugh, and I love being able to know that I’m making you happy. The best way to get a giggle from you is to jiggle you, throwing you just a little bit into the air. You get this big, toothless grin and your eyes become two little rainbows as you laugh. (You are so cute!)
Over the past month, you’ve developed a lot of wonderful motor skills. You can easily grab items, and you adore exploring the world with your tiny, flubby hands.Your feet are your latest pursuit, and I’m confident that pretty soon you’re going to grab them successfully. Keep at it, girl! You feel around ALL THE TIME, scratching everything within reach. It’s a funny sound, and it cracks me up when it’s dead silent in a room and I hear, “Scratch, scratch, scratch.” (You scratch a lot when you sleep; I think it must be comforting to you to feel your surroundings.) Your nails are so looong, and your dad asked this month if I would cut them. I’ve been too fearful of cutting you to try, but this week I decided it was time. And then I cut you. On the first finger I trimmed. Needless to say, your nails will stay long until your dad’s ready to make an attempt. 
You are fascinated with using your little hands to grab your dad’s beard, my hair, and the dogs’ fur. (You even pulled Oscar’s fur so hard that he yelped, I had to intervene because he was so pitiful, in pain but instinctively knowing that he couldn’t retaliate against a baby. Another time you literally yanked out a handful of his fur; thankfully he LOVES you, so it’s a small price to pay to be near you.) You seem to have an obsession with hair, and I can’t blame you. With a mohawk and rattail that just keep getting more and more extreme, hair seems to be your most noticeable feature! People love to comment on it, to try and push down that mohawk or rub that rattail. It’s amazing and doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of going away. Thank goodness!
This month’s playtime has been spent mostly doing the following things: playing your piano, putting toys in your mouth, sitting in your bumbo, doing standies, watching “Sesame Street” and “Dinosaur Train,” and being forced to “dance” by your dad and me. I can’t wait for the upcoming months when you can really sit on your own and play with toys easily. (How much your world will change when you realize that you can use your hands to play that piano!) We’ve also been working on our tummy time to encourage your rolling skills; right now you can roll tummy-to-back easily, but the back-to-tummy is still frustrating to you. The dogs love joining you on the floor during tummy time, and it’s the cutest thing to watch them be face-to-face with you. You guys make me so happy.
The best moment of your fourth month happened just this morning. I was laying in bed next to you as you sat criss-cross-applesauce next to me. I had one hand on your belly to steady you, and you leaned forward, reaching with your arms as if to hug me. I was so surprised that I looked over at your dad open-mouthed but speechless. He was so ecstatic that it scared you, and you didn’t really get to hug me. Then you did it again! Not only did I have a witness, but we had a repetition so that I knew it wasn’t a fluke. You’ve tried a couple of times to hug both your dad and me today, and it is the best feeling in the whole wide world. I’ve never understood why people always say that something as simple as a hug can brighten someone’s day; now I know it’s true. 
Emma Vance, we love you. We love you. I don’t know if you’ll ever comprehend how deep our love for you is, and that’s okay. One day you’ll have this same unconditional love for your child, and in that moment when they first reach out to hug you, you’ll think back to your dad and I, and something magical will click. I can’t wait for that moment in your life. It will be amazing.
Love You Always,
Me (and Dad)

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