Dear E.V. (Month Two)

Dear E.V.,

Your dad and I were finally looking at pictures from the hospital the other day, and I can’t believe how much you’ve changed in just two months. You look like a completely different person now, as if the tiny newborn we met just eight weeks ago doesn’t even exist anymore. It’s amazing that your little body is just sprouting up like a flower in the spring and that your personality is blossoming more each day. We LOVE the person you are becoming: funny, outgoing, social, adventurous and smart. This month has shown us how perfect God has made you, and how wonderful watching you grow can be.

The strangest thing happened a few weeks ago: All of a sudden, your newborn-sized clothes were too small! It seemed to happen overnight, as if in your little baby prayers you asked God to make you a big girl by the morning and He obliged. It was such a surprising occurrence, so much so that I had to call your dad into the room the first time your pajamas didn’t fit. It’s both equally exciting and heart wrenching to see you move onto the next phase of life (being an actual infant and no longer a newborn), and I can’t think about it too much or I get weepy. I want you to stay small so that I can protect and snuggle you always, but I know that it’s your right and desire to grow up and become the person God intends you to be. I still refuse to pack up those newborn sizes, though, as if holding onto them a little longer will make you slow down just a bit…

E.V., you are strong. So strong. Even since the beginning you’ve always had a strong grip (like most newborns), but this month you’ve proven that you are a determined little baby who’s eager to be mobile. You love doing “standies,” practicing standing up while we steady you on our legs. On occasion we have you do standies on the floor, which cracks me up because I imagine you walking around like a mini human. You also love squats, instinctively knowing you need to build up your tiny leg muscles in order to move yourself. Holding your head up is very easy for you now, although after a while I try to give you a little support because you get wobbly but refuse to put down your head to rest. (Whether it’s stubbornness or determination, we’re not sure yet…) Sitting is the best entertainment for you right now; you often sit yourself down on our tummies after a long workout, looking us right in the eyes as if to say, “Well, what’s the news of the day, guys?” And, of course, you are still in love with doing “mountain climbers” up your dad’s chest, pushing off on his hands as you do a basic crawl up his body. This month you added arm movements to your mountain climbers, and I’m sure you’d be scurrying right across the floor if your head-body proportions were more manageable! You always squeal with excited determination when you climb, so much so that it alarms visitors and we have to reassure them that you’re okay. We encourage you by telling you that you’re a “big girl,” which makes you smile with pride.

I’ve tried to let you have more time to yourself this month, which is so hard. I feel terribly guilty if you’re awake and I’m not entertaining you, although I know in reality that you’re perfectly content exploring the world around you alone. You love your play gym now that you can bat at things; your favorite is a hanging red and black lady bug, and I’m sure it will be the first toy you actually grab onto. I adore those little roving hands of yours; they’re so “flubby” (not chubby, but loosely plump) and oh, so tiny! They love to touch everything within reach, and you love to tickle me when I hold you. They’re so small compared to your head that when you hold your cheeks it cracks me up! (And, yes, you often hold your fists at your cheeks and grab your ears and rub your eyes with those flubby little hands of yours, which is adorable!) We’ve sat you under the play gym mirror before, but you’ve never seemed very interested until recently when I caught you almost looking with surprise straight up at yourself, and with much curiosity you’ve been enamored ever since. Usually the dogs consider your play gym time their play-with-E.V. time, putting their paws on the edge of the mat and staring down at you as you stare right back up at them. Oscar also loves to nap with you, and Olive likes to lick you. You are nonplussed by them usually, but have started to bat as Oscar when he lays next to you, which always surprises and amuses him.

In your second month, we’ve tried to be more mobile with you, taking you out into the wide, open world with us. We’ve discovered that you love the hustle and bustle of restaurants, which initially excites you and then eventually lulls you to sleep. You are amazed at the sights and sounds of people and things around you, and rarely cry in public due to this amusement. (And when you do fuss, a firm rocking of your car seat usually puts you right out.) We usually leave you in the car seat, unbuckling it once you’re settled in a chair or on the floor, but you don’t love the confinement (nor do I for you), and it makes you a little overheated when you’re in it too long. We tried using the Ergobaby carrier once, and you enjoyed it for a while; in the coming months, especially as I venture out with you more by myself, I’m sure it will become a comfortable and happy place for you, allowing you to see the outside world from my point of view.

When someone meets you, you win them over immediately. You already have this uncanny way with people; it’s like you look at them and can communicate without words. People love you, and when you’re in a crowd, they often argue over getting to hold you. They always talk about how pretty you are, and, of course, your hair…Man, it is still crazy! In fact, it’s even crazier than last month, and even despite attempting to calm it down with hair product, it seems to have a mind of its own. It makes people laugh, which makes you happy, and so perhaps that’s why God gave you such an obviously wacky head of hair. (You have a good sense of humor about yourself, a good quality to have!) Someone suggested we cut it off, and I thought your dad was going to faint at the thought because he loves it so much! (As a woman and your mother, I try to help you tone it down by having you wearing distracting headbands, although a headband can only do so much…)

You LOVE being on a schedule, and the days when I help you stay on a three hour cycle seem to be your happiest. I wake you up at 8:30 a.m. to eat, and then it’s mommy and Emma Vance time as we watch “Dinosaur Train” (we sing the theme song together, which you love) and then “Sesame Street.” (Daddy’s usually asleep still; don’t you pick up that habit!) Then you sit in your bouncy seat while I shower; you hate the bright lights of the bathroom (or any bright light for that matter, you little vampire!), but seem to be enthralled with the sights (probably because of the contrasting white cabinets and dark fixtures). On the occasions when your dad is up, he loves playing with you in our bed while I shower…although you usually spit up on him during your play time! In fact, the other day he hollered for help, and when I came into the room, you had spit up a TON all over his chest, and it ran down to his belly button! Yuck! (You were amused and grinning, of course, which amused me since you had spit up UP my nose only a few days earlier.) Then it’s nap time, and you fall asleep easily. You usually wake up after one REM cycle, about 45 minutes into your nap, but I can usually get you to go back to sleep with white noise, a paci or rocking. (You take the pacifier a little bit nowadays, but you still prefer those fingers when you can catch them!) Then after an hour and half, it’s time to start all over again! You’re relatively consistent throughout the day with your timing (you almost always start to yawn 15 minutes before nap time), although we did have a few days toward the end of this month where you were just “off,” not wanting to nap; and, of course, there was the opposite earlier in the month where a growth spurt made you a sleepy head. Mainly, we take it day by day and you let us know what you want to do. You often skip your last nap after eating at 8 or 8:30 p.m., choosing to stay up with us for dinner and prime time television. It’s fun to have you sit on the couch with us while in your footy pajamas, unwinding from the day. If you fall asleep for that nap, we wake you up around 11 to eat, and if you skip it, you eat around 10:30 p.m. Then you sleep until about 6:30 or 7 a.m., although on occasion you’ve woken up a little earlier this month. I struggle to figure out a way to get you to last that extra hour or so until 8:30, but I know you’ll do it when you’re ready. I’m thankful that you’re such a good sleeper; it makes life very enjoyable!

When you do sleep, you’re most often in your pack ‘n play bassinet in our room. Just as you’ve grown out of your newborn clothes, you’re quickly growing out of your bassinet. In fact, in my heart I know that it’s already too small for you, but I’m still holding onto it; you’re clearly ready for a big girl crib. We’ve started laying you down for naps in the nursery occasionally, but it makes me sad to see the little indention in your bassinet empty. I also miss hearing the little sounds you make as you sleep; they don’t sound the same through the monitor. I never thought I’d be so attached to having you close by, but I am, so it’s going to take some strength on my part as we transition you to being in the nursery all the time this month. I just love when you’re sleepy; you’re able to lay your head down on my shoulder purposefully now, and so when I carry you to you bassinet, your heavy little body and head feel so good. And then as you grin and laugh while falling asleep, my heart is happy.

Many times you wake yourself up pooping, which is a laughable event. You can pass gas with the best of them, and the bigger you get, the bigger your messes get! We use a TON of diapers (“diapies”) with you–up to 20 a day! We’ve tried letting you really mess them up before changing them, but you get SDS (Swollen Diapy Syndrome), which makes me feel guilty. You love having a clean canvas to mess up, so often you pee or poop as soon as we change your diaper, making the whole process start over again.

You’ve begun smiling purposely, and it makes my heart melt. Your grin could wash away any sadness or fear in an instant; it’s as if you’re saying with your little smile, “I’m here, world, and everything’s alright!” The first time you smiled at the sight of your dad, it brought him to both laughter and tears, and every time since he’s still in wonder that you love him. I can’t wait until you get your first teeth and that smile becomes toothy! You are so content in life, crying rarely, and I pray all the time that your demeanor thus far is an indicator of the person you’ll grow into.

Everyday is a new adventure, and as you are more and more aware of your surroundings, you are more and more eager to explore. You love to stare at things in wonder, and this month I’ve grown to love your eyes the most. They’re blue still, and we hope they stay that color just like your dad’s! In the sun they sparkle brightly; in the shade they look more gray-blue, and at night I swear sometimes they look deep brown. I love looking into them as you stare back, seeing your little pupils dilate with excitement as I speak to you. My first memory of you was of your eyes; after the NICU team had bundled you up and covered your head, they placed you in my arms, and the only thing that I could see was your little blue eyes looking up at me. When you wake up early to eat and the house is dark and quiet, you look up at me with those same little eyes, and I know that you’re telling me you love me. They say that the eyes are the window to the soul, and yours are beautiful.

Those blue eyes of yours come alive most when you look up at the painting above our bed; it’s of a tree-lined road, and no matter how long or often you stare at it, it seems to engulf your tiny mind with wonder. Your dad and I always talk about what you’re thinking about as you look at it, what your imagination is doing with that scene, and I’m sure it’s become your favorite place to dream of at night. It’s your own little forest, and when I tell you stories, it’s always your home, complete with a fairy castle and lots of forest friends to play with. Truthfully your dad and I had intended on replacing that painting soon (it’s been in our room for seven years now, and we thought we wanted a change), but now I can’t imagine parting with it. It would seem to be a crushing blow to  your tiny world, and I could never do that to you…

I love telling you those stories, and you, in turn, love telling them back to me. This month you’ve found your voice, babbling and cooing all the time now. I swear there are moments when you’re saying words, “okay,” “yeah,” and so on, but when I get excited, my logical side kicks in and reminds me that you’re still only two months old. The other night you learned to hiss like a snake and found it so amusing that you hissed all the way through your bath and being dressed. You were a little serpent, and all I could think of was Harry Potter being a parseltongue! (We’ll read those stories when you’re a bit older.) Your dad and I are so eager for you to learn to speak; we can’t wait to hear your thoughts because your expressions already tell us that you have tall tales to share. I have an inkling that you are going to be a great storyteller in your day, and I will always sit by your side to listen to them.

Emma Vance, the best part of this past month has been seeing your dad’s personality show through in you. I love him more than anyone else in the entire world (yes, dear, as much as it pains me to say so, even more than I love you, which you will one day appreciate once you have a family of your own), and although I inherently wish to see myself in you, seeing him in you is even more fulfilling. I chose your dad because of the person he is, and so even though I love you instinctively and didn’t actually choose you, always know I like you because you are so similar to him. (It just means that we’re going to be easy friends, just like your dad and I are.) There are moments when I swear I’m looking at the baby version of him–in looks you give me, in the way you stretch when you wake up in the morning, in how much you are energized by being around people… You are a lucky girl to take after such an amazing man. Don’t ever forget that, okay?

Thank you for the best eight weeks of our lives, girl. We can’t wait to see what you’re going to do next, and although we’re sure you’ll surprise us in every stage of life, thank you in advance for embracing the wonderful person that God intended you to be. Our love for you is immeasurable.

Love you always,
Me (and Dad)

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