Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dear Gracie, Part 4

Oh Grace Louise, you are 10 months old already. Where has the time gone? Before I know it we'll be celebrating your first birthday, and I have not recorded nearly enough of your first year.

I started writing this, I think, when you were about 5 months old. I wrote the following two paragraphs:

"When I pick you up out of your highchair or take you from someone else's arms you put your hands around my neck and bury your face in my collar bone in a little baby hug, and it is the most wonderful thing in the whole world. You don't do it to your dad or anyone but me, oh, and I think it is one of my favorite things you do.

When I carry you around on my hip going about daily activities - putting laundry away, getting snacks for your sister - you periodically stop me by putting your little hands on my face until I look at you. Then you lock eyes with me and smile, and I stop whatever I'm doing to take in that moment. It's like you need to be reassured that it's really mommy carting you around. You're a pretty happy baby, quiet a lot, but you always let us know when you need some attention."

Then I believe I gave up.  

We moved when you were almost 6 months old, and you didn't sleep for the first 8 months of your life. So those are my excuses. That and you needed to be held and bounced constantly for the first 3 months of your life.

You were a very difficult newborn. Lordy, you were. But the clouds seem to have parted and here you are a cheerful little baby who crawls like the dickens and climbs on anything within reach. The way I describe you is that you are a very happy baby... until you're not. Because you are quite content most of the time, but when something is wrong you protest loudly and furiously until it is corrected. A doormat, you are not.

You started crawling and pulling yourself to standing at about 8 1/2 months. I've tried to coax you into taking steps, but you are so proficient with crawling I wonder if you might be a late walker.

We took a trip to the Outer Banks in early July, and I was excited but also terrified. Terrified of how you would handle being in the car for 14 hours (which was about as bad as I expected) and terrified that you would keep everyone awake all night with your screaming. While the first few nights were rough because you did not like sleeping in the same room with mommy and daddy, after we moved things around so you could have your own room, it was gravy.

And you loved the beach. You loved being around your cousins. You loved the pool. You loved the waves, and you loved sitting in the sand. I was worried you would just sit and shovel the sand into your mouth, but you were pretty content to dig.

You are not at all a snuggly baby. Your sister is, and always will be my snuggly child, but you never stop moving long enough to cuddle. I'm now only nursing you in the morning and before bed (and you take 2 bottles of formula during the day - more on that later), and I think I'll miss nursing when we're done because it's the only time you'll lie in my arms.

When you were about 7 months old I took you to the doctor (several times) because you were such a terrible sleeper I was sure something must be wrong with you. We found out you were dropping and dropping in the weight percentiles (at the lowest, you were in the 7th percentile), and perhaps you were just really hungry! You never liked to be spoon fed baby food and you often got too distracted to nurse much. So we started forcing bottles of formula on you and letting you have your way with finger-feeding yourself, and suddenly you started gaining better and sleeping better. And you do love to eat! Your favorite is probably macaroni and cheese and you love fruit - blueberries, strawberries, banana, pear, cantaloupe. You probably eat more than your sister.

You babble all the time. We think you really call daddy, "dada," your sister, "sis," and the cats, "didi." I've heard you a few times utter the word, "mama," usually when you are in distress and I comfort you.

You aren't big on strangers. When we went to Aunt Amy's wedding a few weeks ago I was so stressed out about leaving you with Aunt Penny's friend. But you did so much better than I could have expected. You just have to warm up to people. And if I am around while a "stranger" is holding you, they don't ever stand a chance. You are a mommy's girl.

People often ask me if you adore your sister. You do, but it's different than I thought it would be. You definitely want to be where ever she is and want to steal whatever she is playing with, but it's almost like you see Mia as an extension of yourself. You don't light up at her presence. You see her as an equal, essential part of you, like, "oh, of course, there's my sister, my other half." And Mia does adore you. She can't keep her hands off of you. I guess that's the downfall of having such a cuddly sister.
She'll try to make you cuddly too!

You dance to music and attempt to do the hand motions for songs like The Itsy Bitsy Spider. You take the lotion bottle and imitate rubbing lotion on your legs or steal a hair brush to brush your hair. You have 7 teeth and hair that hangs in your eyes unless I put it in a pony tail on top of your head. You love to play with balls and to put things into containers. You love to climb and swing and swim.

You are just such a sweet, happy little baby. This is really my favorite, favorite baby age, and I just want to bottle you up exactly as you are right now and keep you for always. I couldn't imagine having another little girl. I expected you to be exactly like your sister, but you are so so different and somehow fit like a puzzle piece into our family, into a spot I didn't even know needed filling, and I can't imagine life without you. My Gracie, my perfect little baby.