Happy half birthday! It’s been 5 months since I wrote you last – and I swear I just blinked and you grew. A lot actually. You’ve tripled your birth weight and I feel so many emotions about it. There’s a part of me that is incredibly proud that I’ve been able to exclusively breastfeed you, and another that’s just filled with sincere gratitude that I’ve been able to at all.
Not only have you just eaten breastmilk, but you’ve conservatively gotten about 95% directly from me since you never took to the bottle and besides a few very brave caregivers, would only put up with it from Daddy with much jostling and persuasion. I think that’s why today, as we introduce you to your first solids, I’ve felt considerably more emotional than I did with your sister. In some ways, this is another big step in me opening up your world to others in a way that I didn’t till today. So, because of that, it may seem like a lot of this letter is about our nursing relationship which is to say, till now, that’s been a significant part of our last few months together.
Nursing wasn’t just how I fed you. It was how I put you to bed everyday and how we started almost every day. It was an opportunity to be still with you when our days felt very toddler-centric or paced. It was my way of cradling you close to me and massaging your little thighs to tell you it’s ok when you’re sad or to show you I love you often. It was when I kissed your head the most, played with the hairs on the top of your head (that were longer than the rest), cried the most about you getting a second older, or most dear to me, held your hand (when you’d reach for mine). Nursing with you felt much more like bonding than feeding – which surprises me because I did it more with you than your sister and I expected it to be one more ‘chore’ in our days.
But instead it became our time and our thing, and I loved the stillness it brought to my anxious heart and re-centering it gave me when I felt like I couldn’t wind down from my to-do list. As I last mentioned, having you, slowed me a lot. I would find myself putting you on the couch to clean with a toy, and then stop myself to play beside you on the couch instead. We’d play peek-a-boo or you’d attack your “Ellie” or your Dragonfly toy (as if they were attacking you back). You recently even got into bouncing around in your Jumperoo from the doorway and letting me lug you around in the Ergo – much to my hand-free delight.
This winter was a long one – with record snowfall. So this spring has felt magnificent and January through April like a blurred haze and distant memory. Even now in typing this letter, I feel like I don’t remember a lot of our days – maybe because we didn’t end up doing that much? Maybe because for the most part of your wake time, you’ve been plopped on my lap or on your bouncy chair or in your Bumbo on the kitchen table, while I clean up the kitchen or play with your sister. To be fair, she plays with you A LOT and as long as you were on top of me, you were generally very happy.
I can’t tell you how many times a day I *still* ask her to get out of your face. She loves to jump around you on our bed. She loves to make you laugh – which I find particularly helpful for car rides or when I need to get something done – and it has made all the hard parts of this journey into two kids feel insignificant. I mean it – do you have any idea how much less boring these last few months have felt having a second kid than a first? I have a traveling circus at my disposal who is just waiting to bring you a toy, inspect your poop, or make you giggle BECAUSE SHE LOVES IT. And that has made you seem like a breeze, even if you are a very laid-back baby, a lot of the days pass by so quickly because of your sister.
She’ll hold you in her lap for me. Or remind me that ‘he has to get older first’ before I can feed you. Or get me books to read to you both on the couch- which I’m really grateful for since I feel like I don’t read to you nearly enough. Or maybe not as much as I did your sister. There are so many things I now look back on her babyhood with mild curiosity as to whether we were just taking this whole parenting thing far too seriously. (I’m learning that even now as I am still weighing the decision to send her to any kind of early childhood program in the fall, but I digress…). You don’t have a regular bedtime routine, I have no idea what we are doing for sleep training, how many times you pee or poop in a day, and for the most part, you’re doing really, really great. I would argue you’re thriving and I’m sleeping (well, not so much lately…), which I would further argue, means for the most part, it’s all going to be ok and that we will figure it out.
Instead my extra time has gone to learning you and nuzzling you. I have enjoyed discerning your cries and more fun, your voices. You are SO LOUD. Like ‘Lynn loud’ and you grunt when you’re frustrated and angry with your toys which caught me off guard because your cry is (although now louder) still exceptionally mild. You talk to us regularly and smile as big as you can anytime you have someone’s attention – particularly mine. We have such a special, intimate bond and I have no words to describe it, but I do hope that it never changes. Or that if it has to change, it just gets better and deeper in the days to come. I hope you call when you’re older and worry that you won’t. I kiss that bald spot on the back of your head so much I think that I’ve contributed to your hair loss. I squeeze you tightly on my lap and secretly hope you never crawl or wiggle off of it, but I know that’s just a matter of time. It all goes by too quickly, and it’s gone by faster the second time.
Faster than I thought it could go and still not fast enough at times. I keep thinking of how this letter will change in the coming months and years, and how fun it will be to look back on baby Isaac who kicked off of my legs everytime he nursed or entertained us with that sneaky grin and contagious laugh. I keep wondering who you will become and how you and your sister will play with one another as you get older (and let’s be real, how long you will put up with her in your face…). And I want you to know I pray for the baby-boy-man you are becoming everyday – I ask God for more grace, favor, and purpose for your life because I have no doubt that even greater things lie ahead – although I’m doing my best to enjoy the now.
Because today, you are happily entertained by a ceiling fan, can sit up, but can’t crawl, and I can make all your troubles go away with a boob. And that’s pretty fantastic by me.
I love you so much, Dougie. From your neck rolls to your kankles (and then some).