Dear E.V. (Month Three)

Dear E.V.,
These past three months have passed by so quickly! You get bigger every day and are changing so fast; your dad and I can hardly keep up. If you could slow down just a bit that would be great. (We just don’t want to miss a thing!)
This month has been a one of a change for you. You’ve slowly been turning from a newborn to an infant, and with that have come some new challenges. The most confusing change (for everyone) has been your sleep schedule. It seems as if every day this past month I’ve tried everything and anything to get you to take the recommended 90-minute-long naps, but you simply won’t do it. At first I thought it was a growth spurt, but as the weeks have gone by, it appears that it may be the new norm. Although it seems that your cycles should be getting longer, little lady, I’ve realized and accepted that you’re happy with a two and half hour cycle right now. (We’re rolling with it.) You naps only last about 45 minutes each–until the late afternoon when you seem content to just sleep the rest of the day away. I’ve learned to love these afternoon naps and have been indulging your wishes by snuggling you in our big bed, watching you sleep and working on my laptop. Your sleepy facial expressions always amuse me, and I cannot wait until one day when you can tell me all about your crazy dreams. 
Thankfully, despite these unusually short daytime naps, you’re still sleeping well through the night, which I am grateful for. You fall asleep at 9:30 p.m. each night (even when I put you down earlier, you just hang out until 9:30 anyway) and wake up between 7 and 8 a.m. most days. Early in the month, however, you did go through a strange few days where you woke up at 5:30 each morning. Although in the moment I would be miserable getting out of bed to feed you, I would always find myself holding you a little longer than necessary when you were ready to go back to sleep; I know that these days of our private morning conversations are drawing to a close, so I’m resolved to enjoy them while I still can.
You spend most of your naps in your crib, although at least once a day you still nap in your bassinet. It’s getting laughable how small it is compared to your growing body, but I like having you nearby when I can. You still sleep in the bassinet at night as well, although your dad and I have resolved that this month we’re transitioning you to your nursery. Clearly you’re ready; I’m just dragging my heels. I have this impending sense of loss because I know that once we move you, you’re officially on your own and won’t ever revert back. (Is it bad that I already look forward to the occasional bad-dream night where you need to snuggle in bed with us?) This month you also outgrew your smallest swaddler (and 0-3 month-sized clothes). The small swaddler used to snuggle you with a bit of room to breathe; now it barely wraps around your tummy! Your time being swaddled is also coming to a close shortly, so we’re taking in every sweet moment of newborn-ness that is left in you while we still can. 
In trying to figure out your napping schedule, one variable that we’re still testing is your ability to be out and about. You LOVE the sights and sounds of restaurants, and so thankfully you’re relatively well behaved when we’re in public. (You do drive your dad a little crazy, though, because any time you do happen to fuss, it’s always when you’re sitting next to him and when his hot food’s just arrived! Funny lady…) However, the drawback is that you try so hard to stay awake through your normal nap times because there’s so much to see. I tried to test your limits–how long you could be on the go without being cranky–and although I have yet to figure out the perfect balance of being neither a homebody nor a busy bee, I have learned that you rest best at home. Even when you pass out in the car, you never can quite make it from car seat to crib and remain asleep.
Part of testing your out-and-about limits occurred this month because your dad started traveling a lot again. (Many days, getting out into the world was my only non-baby human contact–and yours too!) I made sure to talk about you everyday to him, and we tried to have facetime every night so that he could see your sweet smile. I know he missed you terribly, but when he came home, the two of you were as happy as can be. You grabbed his beard, scratching all around it, as if you had never seen anything like it before, and when you realized it was him, it was like Christmas morning (which you’ll learn about in a few months…). You adore him, and I love watching the two of you together. One of the sweetest/funniest moments thus far happened with him this month: He was cradling you in his arms, talking to you while you gazed up at him, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, you got the biggest, saddest pouty lips ever. This unexpected change of mood made your dad laugh, which made you immediately grin. Then, as quickly as before, you pouted again, then grinned at your dad’s laughter. This went on for a few minutes, and the whole family cracked up at your baby version of a joke.
While your dad was gone, a strange thing began to happen: Your diapers started exploding. Huh…? We’d never had a problem before, so the first time it happened I figured I had done something wrong. Then it happened again, and I thought maybe we got a defective batch. Then, upon inspecting the diaper box, it occurred to me–you’re growing out of your size one diapers! I couldn’t believe it (and still really can’t), but the box says “up to 14 lbs.,” and I’m sure you’re almost there. The logical thing to do would be to go out and buy some size twos (which we did), but we’re still trying to knock out the last of the size ones so as not to waste them. This upcoming month you’ll not only move into your room, move out of size 0-3 month clothes, and move away from being a “newborn,” you’ll also make your first move to a bigger diaper size! Oh, my. You’ve grown so much this month. I can’t even wrap my head around it!
Since your dad spent so much time traveling and I was your sole caretaker this month, I spoiled you a little bit with a new toy. It’s a play gym with a piano you kick, and from the moment you learned how to use it, you’ve been obsessed with it. It has occupied you for hours this month, and you love it so much it makes me wonder if you’ll be a musician one day. (In fact, it prompted your dad and I to ask you if you were going to be a musician when you grow up, and you actually shook your head “no.” That made us laugh–especially when we then decided to ask you if you were going to be an actress and you shook your head “yes.” Seriously! I know it’s just your little baby head bobbing around, but it seemed so intentional! We’ll see in time…) You love that gym so much that it’s given you the idea to kick your legs like crazy ALL the time. It’s hard to explain to a baby that kicking only results in music when a play gym’s involved, so it’s very confusing to you when you kick and it’s quiet. We started holding out our hands and being Mommy or Daddy Pianos, singing to you when you kick us. (It makes you happy, so we’re happy to oblige!) In fact, you even like to kick in the tub now, and the splashing water is just as exciting as music to you. Your piano’s little tunes have become part of the sounds of our household, and although it’s just the tinkerings of nursery rhymes, it’s sweet music to my ears. I hope you’re entertained by that little piano for a long, long time.
Besides playing piano, you are developing in many ways these days. You love sitting in our laps, facing us or the world. In fact, I think that it’s your favorite, most comfortable position right now. Your neck is getting stronger and stronger each day, and we’re just waiting for your balance to catch up so that you can sit up on your own. (Soon, baby girl, soon.) This month your hand-eye coordination has blossomed quickly, and you’ve gone from batting objects to grabbing them! Your piano play gym has a hanging elephant holding a rolling ball, and it’s your favorite toy to grab. You play with the rolling ball, moving it this way and that with excitement. I’ve also caught you staring at your hands in fascination, holding them out in front of you and moving them slowly around as you contemplate them thoughtfully. Yes, Emma Vance, YOU are making that happen! They’re such tiny, cute little chubby hands; I’ll be sad to see them lose their baby fat one day. You also find your feet to be quite interesting lately (perhaps because you can see them when you’re sitting), and you seem quite determined to get them into your mouth. (Move over, baby belly! E.V.’s got feet to get to!)
You also continued to find your voice this month, making more noise than ever before. You’ve always had distinct cries (sleepy, happy, overstimulated, hungry), but now you’re starting to sound like person who can talk. And, little girl, do you like to talk! To us, to strangers, to yourself…you could talk to a wall! When people speak to you, you parrot their tone of voice eagerly, which I love to hear. Upon realizing this, your dad and I began saying “I love you!” over and over, and you’ve learned to mimic it back to us. My heart melts every time I hear you “say” those words, although I know you have no clue what you’re doing. I can’t wait for the first time you actually know what those words mean and say them to us intentionally. Your words will have more power than any force on earth, and I can’t wait until you are old enough to know this truth. I can’t wait to hear you pray at night, which I know you’ll love to do since you already hold your tiny hands in the praying position often. (Hey, you can never practice too early!) When I see your little clasped hands, it makes me imagine what your prayers would consist of right now–how small your world is and how big God is.
Toward the end of your third month, you began not only to “talk,” but also to grunt. It’s a disconcerting sound, and seems so painful! We tried all sorts of remedies–burping you, Gripe Water, gas drops, rocking… Nothing has seemed to work consistently, and at best I believe that the grunting means that either you have gas or that you’re frustrated that you can’t change positions on your own. If I know you don’t have gas and you’re grunting, a little help from mom or dad in rolling over seems to satisfy you, although I know you wish you could do it on your own already. You are such a strong and determined baby; it’s maddening to you that your body hasn’t caught up to your desire to move around! You especially like to roll around to see the paintings above your crib and FANS. Girl, you have a fascination with fans, and if you suspect one’s in the room, you’ll do anything to position yourself to stare at it! Although I’ll be so happy one day when you actually start rolling, crawling and walking, I hope it’s not too soon…
You explore the world through so many avenues these days, but by far your mouth is your greatest tool. You love to blow bubbles, to put things in your mouth, and to lick all sorts of objects. You’ve begun drooling a bit this month, but it’s not too bad yet. :) We play The Tongue Game, you and I. It goes like this: You stick your tongue out; I stick my tongue out. You wiggle it around; I wiggle it around. (You get the idea.) It’s quite entertaining for you–and for me too. You’re like a little snake, E.V., sticking that tongue in and out so often like a little boa. Plus you’re still hissing at me during bath time, which is the strangest habit. Perhaps “boa” isn’t as accurate as “water moccasin.” That tongue cracks me up every time!
When I look at you, all I see is adorable beauty. There are moments when I swear I can tell what you’ll look like as a little girl, and let me tell you this: You are going to be so beautiful. Then there are moments when all I can see is how cute you are right now, and I swear that you are never going to be anything but a baby in my eyes. People still tell us how much you look like me (which, yes, I take pride in–of course!), but there are more and more moments when I catch glimpses of your dad’s features in you. You definitely resemble him in his baby pictures, especially in how big you both are! (People are always shocked to learn how young you are.) Your hair is still crazy and shows no signs of calming down anytime soon. In fact, it just keeps growing and growing and growing. Your rattail is getting conspicuously looong…which your dad is SO proud of…which cracks me up. On more than one occasion he’s lamented about it ever being cut off, and every time he worries about it, I assure him that you’ll be our little Rapunzel. In fact, toward the end of this month, I thought you might be developing a little rash on your neck, and in talking to him, I said, “Emma Vance is getting a rash under her rattail, so I’m going to take her to the pediatrician to check it out.” I have never seen such fear in his eyes as he responded, “Don’t let them cut it off!” Not, “Oh, how bad of a rash is it?” or “Do you think she’s okay?” or “What do you think is causing the rash?” His only concern was keeping that little curl of yours! As it turns out, it was just a little irritation that went away on its own, so your dad didn’t have to worry anyway. :) Whew. He was relieved!
I have this anxiety in my heart everyday, Emma Vance. I worry that these precious moments are escaping me too quickly, that these moments are fleeting and rare. Tears well up in my eyes at the mere thought of how much you’ve already grown. I want to remember every second of your life, even the insignificant events of your daily activities. Life is so fragile, and you remind me of its preciousness with every moment. The other day I was holding you as you fell asleep, and you tiny hands reached out and began feeling around for me as you slumbered. Your little fingers scratched rhythmically right over my heart, and it was a tender moment. It was as if you just wanted to know that I was there, watching over you. You were so cozy and secure, not a care in the world, protected and loved. I know that I won’t always be able to hold you close, that you won’t always reach out to feel for my presence…but please know I will always be there for you, right by your side. I promise.
Every day I am reminded that having you made us a family, and I will be eternally grateful to God for giving us the opportunity to be your parents. We love you. 
Love always,
me (and Dad)

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