Category Archives: Monthly Letters

9 months old

Dearest Hatchling,

TWO Thursdays ago (ack! Bad Mamala!) you turned 9 months old. To celebrate, we took you out to an Irish pub for a quick Guinness. Haha, I kid – we did take you to a bar, but it was really to celebrate your Uncle Matt’s exodus from corporate hell. I must say that you were quite the belle of the bar, though – you definitely thrive in a crowd. As soon as we got there, I stood you on the table and you stretched out your arms in benediction of the drinkers, pronouncing “ba-ba-ba” and flashing that killer grin. Of course, you still won’t let anyone but me or your father actually HOLD you, but as long as you’re safely out of the clutches of any non-parent, you’re happy to flirt and smile and talk and grab and just generally bask in the adoration of those around you.

Ready for lift off

One of the biggest events of this last month was your first Christmas. Of course, you didn’t really get what was going on, but the rest of the family was more than excited enough for you. You had two special outfits, one for Christmas Eve and one for Christmas Day, and you got enough presents for at least three babies. So many outfits, and sleepers (yessss!), and cute little toys, and books galore. My favorite present for you was your new big-girl car seat, which we were desperately in need of, as you have completely outgrown your infant seat. Seriously, putting you in that thing was getting to be a struggle of Houdiniesque proportions; the straps couldn’t be extended any further, your legs sprawled over the sides, and once you were actually fastened in, you were pinned up against the seat so tight that you couldn’t even move. It was not a good situation, but thanks to Grandma and Grampa, you are now riding in style, in a new, roomy, luxuriously padded car seat. Woot!

What's going on over there?

The week between Christmas and New Year’s was pretty jam packed, since your Tante Melissa got married on the 30th. This meant a lot of upheaval in your schedule what with all the traveling and sleeping in new places, and for the most part you handled it with your usual aplomb. You were extremely patient with all the wedding party getting ready, and you only fussed a little in the church before falling asleep on your daddy’s shoulder. Then you had a fabulous time at the reception, munching on a bun of bread and gazing in wonder as your aunt and grampa blew bubbles at you from the party favors.

Watching Bubbles

Speaking of buns, another new and delightful development this month was the institution of “naked time,” a period of about 10-15 minutes just before we put you in your sleeper, where you get to roll around the sofa without a stitch of clothing or a fibre of diaper on you. Lemme tell you, you loooooooooove you some nakey time. We start stripping you down and you just about lose your mind with excitement. You giggle, and kick, and twist around like a little maniac, eating your toes and babbling all kinds of baby goodness to us. I said to your aunt that I figure it won’t be too long before you learn to be self-conscious about your body, so I want to make sure you enjoy the heck out of it until that happens. To which your aunt responded, “I don’t know – she is your kid … maybe she’ll be totally comfortable getting naked even when she’s older!” I’m sure I have no idea what she’s talking about.

Toes are delightful

I can’t forget to mention the other big addition this month, namely: FOUR MORE TEETH. You popped the upper two just before Christmas, and started cutting your lower bicuspids right after that. I dunno why you wanna be such an over-acheiver. You have friends who haven’t even cut ONE tooth yet, but oh, no, you have to have six. Fortunately, you seem to have stopped biting me while you’re nursing. Unfortunately, you’ve taken to grinding your teeth. This, of course, proves once again that you’re my daughter, but oh god it makes a horrifying sound. I can actually hear the enamel splintering off your teeth. Since you’re too young to understand it when we say “no,” the only way we can get you to stop is by putting one of our fingers in your mouth, at which point you grind the finger instead of your teeth. Not much of an improvement, really, because godDAMN, you bite hard. Perhaps you’d care to transfer that power to, say, cheerios in the future?

Hi-ohhhh!

Biting aside, though, you’re an extremely fun daily companion. You’re bursting at the seams with personality, and everyone remarks on what a happy baby you are. I know you certainly make *us* happy, anyway, and I hope the feeling is mutual.

Pondering

Love,
Mamala

8 months old

Dearest Hatchling,
On Monday, you turned a whopping eight months old. This is a great age to experience your first Christmas, because a) you won’t remember any of it, so we can ask for lots of boring stuff like clothes and safety gates for presents, b) you’re not crawling yet, so the tree and ornaments and candles are safe from your imprecations, and c) you’ll be thrilled just to rip at wrapping paper and play with ribbons on Christmas morning. Much like the cats. Hm. Anyway, I have to admit that I’m looking forward to opening your gifts much more than my own, since they’re virtually guaranteed to be cuter.

Peep-eye!

Speaking of cuter, you are. We went to a very chi-chi mall today for lunch, and flirty doesn’t even begin to describe your behavior with all the wealthy matrons and less wealthy nannies populating the stores. I mean, really, it was shameless. You don’t just give out smiles to anybody, of course; you make them work for it. They coo and make funny faces and tell you how pretty your blue eyes are, and only when you deem their attitude to be appropriately worshipful do you bestow a slow, huge, toothy grin on them, thereby making their hearts explode. You also have a new trick of reaching out one or both arms towards the receiver of the smile, which makes it all the more endearing.

I CRUSH your head

On the flip side, you’re also in the throes of separation anxiety, which makes it extremely difficult for your Mamala to do anything without you. As long as you’re in my arms or right next to me, you’re a veritable social butterfly. But as soon as I leave your sight, or – god forbid – abandon you to the care of an adoring babysitter, you just lose it. The height of this behavior so far came last night when we had to drop your grandparents off at the airport. You’d been perfectly amiable all day and seemed OK with getting into your carseat. But as soon as I closed your door and hopped into the drivers’ seat, it was as though someone was sticking red hot needles into your eyeballs or something. I mean, you just LOST it. Your poor Oma, who was sitting in back with you, tried everything she could think of to calm you down, but you weren’t having any of it. You cried so hard you threw up your supper all over yourself (which didn’t help matters any) and you kept twisting and turning to try and see me in the front seat – no easy feat from a rear-facing car seat. You were so beside yourself we thought maybe there was something else wrong, like something poking you or a sudden earache or something. But no; as soon as we got to the airport and I took you out of your seat for a little cuddle, you were completely fine – it was like flipping an “off” switch. You gave your grandparents a watery good-bye smile, we packed you back into the car, and you happily babbled and cooed all the way home. Little stinker.

Walking with Oma

In general, though, you remain highly satisfactory. Sometimes your father and I can’t even believe how rough the first three months were, because now? Now you’re like an advertisement for having kids or something. I mean, really: you’re SO GOOD almost all of the time. You’re extremely good-tempered and happy; you’re beyond patient when it comes to running errands or other outings; you’re sweet and smiley with other people, and you’re interested in pretty much everything. One of your most entrancing habits right now is that of chuckling whenever you see something new or exciting. The cat jumps up on the sofa: chuckle. A school bus drives by the window: chuckle. We went to a wonderful kids’ book store that has live chickens (among other animals) walking around, and you thought those were just about the neatest things you’d ever seen. (Or, more likely, the weirdest looking cats you’d ever seen.) They were chuckletastic.

Teethy

You’re still growing like a maniac; it’s a good thing Christmas is coming because almost NONE of your clothes fit you anymore. You’re particularly short (heh, punny) on sleepers – I tried putting you in one last night that said it was for 6-9 month old babies, but they must have been referring to amputee babies because we could get either your legs or your arms in, but not both. An old lady at the vet’s the other day asked if you were a boy (a common occurence, irrespective of the pinkness and beflowerment of your typical outfit) and when I said, no, a girl, almost 8 months, the woman said “My, she’s husky!” To me this word invokes images of hairy, muscle-bound, steroid-saturated hockey players, which is hardly an accurate description of you, but I can hardly deny that you’re generously proportioned for your age. Sometimes I call you my Amazon baby, and you’re certainly strong in both mind and body. Happily, you’re also cuddly and sweet and have not as yet indicated any desire to cut off one of your breasts (though you have tried on several occasions to twist my nipples off). Can’t wait to see what the next month brings.

Circus baby!

Love,
Mamala

Seven Months Old

Dearest Hatchling,

This last weekend, you turned seven months old. They say seven is a lucky number, and it must be true where babies are concerned, because this definitely feels like the golden time of your infancy. You’re still cuddly and sweet, and you haven’t yet introduced us to the terrors of having a mobile child, but you’re learning new tricks all the time and getting independent enough to entertain yourself – and us – more and more.

Happy baby

You haven’t indicated any interest in crawling yet, but you sure do like to have us walk you around the room. It didn’t take you long at all to get the hang of the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other shtick, and if your balance is a little nonexistent, you more than make up for it with the huge smile and coos that tell us you’re extremely pleased with yourself for figuring this out. You’re also absolutely entranced by your own reflection, so one of your favorite places to “walk” to is the mirror in the living room, where you can lean in and give your reflection an open-mouth baby kiss. Which is so damn cute I just about implode every time you do it.

Glamour Shot

Speaking of cute, I’d like to go on record right here and now that your besotted parents are not the only ones who think you’re the sweetest little bunch of yumminess since baby fairy penguins. (Seriously: Baby. Fairy. Penguins.) A few weeks ago we were making one of our regular pilgrimages to Babies R Us for numerous items, including a dress for you to wear to your aunt’s wedding in December. While we were there, we stopped by the “Kiddie Kandids” (I know: gag) to see what their prices and packages were like, since we’d been thinking of getting some formal photos done. The staff took one look at your little face and another look at the frock we were getting and said “You have to let us take a picture of your baby in that dress! For free! We’ll give you an 8 x 10!” Half an hour later, you’d done a whole modeling session with set and prop changes and two different outfits. Of course, they knew perfectly well that we’d never walk out of there without several copies of every pose they shot, so they had a slight interest in telling us how cute you were – but it’s also true that I can almost never go anywhere with you without someone stopping me to say that you’re so precious, or pretty, or darling.

Winter Cuteness

We think you’re going to be shy, like I was when I was little. You’re extremely gregarious when it’s just us and the cats at home, or with a few select relatives, but you’re pretty wary of unfamiliar faces. Strangers are more likely to get the inscrutable stare than one of your neon smiles, and if they get too close too fast, tears will be just around the corner. You don’t care too much for anyone but me or your daddy to hold you right now, though you’ll occasionally tolerate the arms of a doting aunt or grandma. But along with being shy, you also already seem to have a sense of politeness. It’s like you know when it’s important to behave, when I have to drag you to a meeting for the theatre company, or when we’re standing in a long line at the airport, or going to a doctor’s appointment. Even if you’re tired and off your schedule, you mostly keep it together until you can get home and have a bottle and a nap. I imagine that this pliancy won’t last once you hit the “terrible twos” but lord knows I’m grateful for it now.

Great-Grandma is pretty nice

Things you especially love this month: baths – oh, how you love your baths! cookies you can eat by yourself (and by “eat” I mean “apply as a facial”), grabbing the cat in the face, drumming your little hands on your highchair tray, and your nice blue blanket to snuggle. Things you hate: having your face washed, tummy time, changing clothes, and being bored.

Incoming

You’re growing like crazy both physically (you’re bigger than several one-year-olds we know) and in your personality. You’re developing a fine sense of humor, and a whole new vocabulary of baby sounds, including shrieks that could probably shatter glass and certainly my eardrums. Your whole face lights up when your daddy comes home, and when you’re tired you like to bury your face in my neck and burrow. In short, you’re one highly satisfactory kid. Keep up the good work.

Winter Baby

Love,
Mamala

Six Months Old

Dearest Hatchling,

Good god! Yesterday you turned 6 months old. How the hell did THAT happen? You’ve already been around for half a year and I still don’t know what I’m doing. That’s ok, though – we’re having a lot of fun figuring it out.

Ellie-bird 2

The biggest milestone this month was TEETH. You popped those two little bottom center ones and it must’ve been a big relief because man have you been talkative lately. You’re big into prehistoric noises: pterodactyl-type screeches, velociraptor-style squawks, the occasional T. Rex roar. Your favorite place to converse is lying on a pillow next to me right after you’ve nursed. (Apparently a full stomach inspires your verbal eloquence.) You’ll wax rhapsodic about … well, we’re not sure what about, but whatever it is, it’s funny as hell. You even surprise yourself sometimes and stop in mid-speech to look at me or your daddy as if to say “who made THAT noise?”

She takes it right out of his mouth

Your eating continues apace. You can down rice cereal like it’s nothing, and are now branching out into the exciting world of fruits and veggies. True to your genetic code, applesauce is by far your favorite (your grandma says your father smelled like apples for the first three years of his life due to his consumption of vast quantities of applesauce and apple juice). But you’re pretty interested in just about anything you can put in your mouth: peaches, sweet potatoes, wine glasses, styrofoam coffee cups – you know, whatever. The new foods have also taken your belching abilities to a whole new level. I’d put you up against any beer-soaked barfly, any day.

Mmmm ... styrofoam

The cats are also an endless source of amusement. Fortunately, we got the training models, so they’re pretty patient about being grabbed in the face or having large tufts of fur pulled out of their tails. You get so excited when you get close to them, it’s all we can do to grab your hand and say “gentle!” which you don’t understand anyway so I’m not sure why we bother. I’m sure you’ll be an animal lover when you grow up, but right now you’re more of an animal stalker. God help the cats once you start crawling.

You were a big hit at your Tante Ellen’s wedding a few weeks ago. I can objectively state that you were the cutest baby there (and there were a lot of cute babies), and you adjusted to the new surroundings like a seasoned traveller. Not only did you exhibit great patience with the hordes of people passing you around like a plate of sandwiches, you also charmed the pants off the flight attendants, security guards, and other passengers on the plane. I wouldn’t say it’s exactly fun flying with an infant, but you get major points for bumping us up to the front of all the ticketing and check-in lines. Good going, kid!

Happy Ellie!

So anyway, your daddy and I are more and more smitten with you as the days go by. You’re developing a very sweet and spunky personality, and while you do have the occasional moments of possession by the cranky demon, you’re a pretty awesome daily companion. Can’t wait to see what the next 6 months bring.

Sweet baby

Love,
Mamala

5 Months Old

Dearest Hatchling,

Today you are 5 months old – I can hardly believe it! We went to visit some friends who’ve just had a baby, and it didn’t seem real that you were that small such a short time ago. If you’d asked me last year, I’d’ve said that five months wasn’t really that long a period – but in baby time, it’s whole epochs. I remember thinking you had quite a personality when you were born. PAH! I spit on that notion! Your personality then was NOTHING compared to what it is now, and I’d be willing to bet this is just the beginning.

Parks are fun!

For example, we can already tell that you’re a people-pleaser. You’ll nearly always smile on cue, and even when you’re clearly a little anxious about not being in my arms, you’re extremely good-natured about letting complete strangers (to you) hold you and coo over how sweet you are. Anxiety-ridden mama that I am, I worry a little that you’ll grow up to be someone who puts the needs of other people above her own … but then I remember that I have to cut down on the crack-smoking, because HELLO! I don’t even know anyone more strong-minded, and honey: you come from a goddamn strong-minded family. Holding you the wrong way? You’ll let us know about it. Not ready to go to sleep yet? Ditto. Ready to get up, regardless of the ungodliness of the hour? We’d be fools to think there was any other option. In short, so far your ability to assert yourself seems relatively unimpaired, so we’ll put that other stuff down to your inherent good manners. God knows where you got those from.

Hi, Mom!

You’re also full of new tricks, just about every day. You know your name, despite the spate of bizarre nicknames your father and I regularly apply to you. You already have certain favorite activities and toys that you “ask” for with your best nonverbal noises and gestures (read: screaming in a ‘why the hell are you just sitting there and not getting me that thing I want immediately’ kind of way. Very effective.) And you’re so much more aware of your surroundings now than you used to be. You love watching the cats in their daily routines around the house, and you spend a lot of your time just looking around, taking it all in.

Playing with Grampa

One of the cutest things you’ve started doing this month is adding a whole new range of sounds to your vocabulary. This last weekend we were visiting your grandparents and you stayed up WAY past your bedtime cooing and ahhing and mmm-baaing and shrieking and just generally taking the stage. You also enjoy talking while in the car, which is highly entertaining for me while I’m driving, and infinitely preferable to your old habit of howling like someone was dipping you in molten lava. Best of all, sometimes you’ll even talk yourself to sleep. There’s nothing more likely to reduce your parents to piles of gooey mush than the sounds of your breathy little baby voice coming over the baby monitor.

Yeah, I'm eating. What of it?

Speaking of sleeping and driving, you’ve finally figured out that they go together! On longer road trips, you’ll fall asleep only if you can clutch tightly to both my index fingers, one in each hand. But on shorter trips you can go to sleep all by yourself, and with a minimum of whimpering. Since I myself typically fall asleep on any car ride longer than 20 minutes, I say you go girl. You’ll never have a more comfortable seat than this one.

Helping Daddy

One thing I’ll remember about this month is how eager you are to help us out with taking care of you. You obligingly hold your toes up while we’re changing your diaper; you grab your bottles with a killer grip and shove them optimistically, if inaccurately, in the direction of your mouth. When your daddy is feeding you, you politely guide his hands into the correct position and hold them there for the duration. And when it’s time for cereal, we can hardly get the spoon in your mouth quickly enough to prevent you from diving head first, mouth agape, into the bowl. You’re still working on those teeth, but they aren’t making you quite as grumpy as they were last month. Your favorite thing to chomp on lately is my chin; you’re practically giving me hickeys, you’re biting so hard. Tonight the physical awkwardness of this position was making me giggle, which made you giggle, so there we were on the sofa, locked together chin to mouth, giggling like maniacs. It was the best fun I ever had.

Ellie and Mamala

Love,
Mamala

4 Months Old

Dearest Hatchling,

Friday you turned four months old. Your daddy and I had brought you up to Grandma and Grampa’s house so they could watch you while we went to a wedding, so it was a busy weekend. I think your grampa had his hands full with you (evidence: he put your diaper on backwards), but the mere fact that we could make such a trip shows how you’ve grown over the past month. I used to think that there was a vast right-wing conspiracy among experienced parents to hide how much the first three months of baby rearing can SUCK IT UP, but now I’m beginning to suspect that the months that come after are good enough to make people forget the hell that comes before.

Smirk

Because you’re getting so fun now! It’s like your little mind is waking up and you’re just noticing more of the world. Bright colors and lights fascinate you, as do your own fingers and toes. In fact, they fascinate you so much that I’ve developed a new theory of child development: I think the first year of being a baby is probably like being on a major trip from some killer weed. Sure, there are the occasional moments of paranoia (“Where the hell have my keepers gone? What the hell is going on!?!”) but mostly it’s just, like, whoooooaaaaa, dude. HANDS. And then you get major munchies and need some boob.

Mmmmm, yummy elephant

Being so fascinated with the world makes it much easier to keep you entertained. I mean, you can actually ride in your carseat now for over ten minutes without screaming! Even when you’re awake! This is major stuff, kid. You’re not so big on lying down these days, but if you can sit or stand and look around you’re good to go. You’re also getting smilier and smilier with each passing day, and you’ll flash those gums at just about anyone (random old guy on the sidewalk) or anything (the striped curtains in the living room) that tickles your funny bone.

So many toys!

What’s even more amazing about this transformation is that it’s happening in the face of some hurdles. Apparently no one told you that babies aren’t supposed to teeth or get separation anxiety until around month 6, because you’ve gone ahead and started both things now. Oh, your gums hurt so much sometimes! You chomp on your little fists or our fingers as if your life depended on it, and drool like it’s your personal mission to coat the world in viscous baby saliva. Tylenol and Anbesol help a lot, but you still end up being manic depressive baby some days – giving us huge grins one moment and making the saddest face ever the next. We sure will be happy when those little buds start pushing through.

Mmm, hands are tasty

The separation anxiety is a little rough, too. You used to be so good about letting your hordes of adoring relatives and friends hold you and play with you, but alas, no longer. You’ll still go to other people, but you need a half an hour to warm up to them, and even then it still helps if you can see me in the room. Woe betide the well-meaning person who greets you by getting right up in your face and saying hello or blowing a raspberry at you: they’re more likely to get a storm of insta-screams than one of your killer smiles. This makes it a little more heartrending for us to leave you with babysitters, but we keep doing it just the same, in hopes that you’ll eventually figure out that other people are not necessarily the devil.

Must be nap time

But really, these are just small obstacles to navigating through your little baby world. Every day you’re more and more engaged with the people and things around you, and every week you learn a new trick or find a new talent. Best of all, and I hesitate to even mention this for fear of jinxing it, you’re starting to sleep like a real person. This last week you’ve actually taken a 90 minute nap every morning, and another one most afternoons. You can even soothe yourself back to sleep sometimes when you wake up at night. Honestly, for a while there I thought you were going to go all Einstein on us and only ever sleep in 40 minute increments for the rest of your life. Maybe this new pattern means you’ll never resolve any major questions in quantum physics, but frankly I’m willing to sacrifice any potential Nobels for a good night’s sleep. Let’s make it a date, shall we?

She likes it

Love,
Mamala

Three Months Old

Dearest Hatchling,

We made it! You’re through the “fourth trimester” and by all accounts things should start getting a little easier from here on out. This month was already easier than last month, so let’s keep that upward trend!

Pretty girl!

One of your favorite things to do lately is kick and push with your little legs. Most of the time you can roll yourself over onto your tummy, and then you strain and strain to get back on your back until I give you some help. You’ve also become a wizard at wriggling out of your swaddling – Daddy calls you his little Houdini. Unfortunately, your magic powers don’t yet extend to sleeping much longer than two hours a pop at night and 30-40 minutes during the day. See if you can work on that, ok? You wouldn’t even believe what an awesome Mama I could be with a few more hours sleep.

Peapod!

Your biggest milestone this month as far as I’m concerned is that you laughed. You only did it once, but now that we know you can your Daddy and I have been trying every trick in the book to make you do it again. We’re basically complete whores for baby laughter – it’s like crack to us. (Note to self: do not let the Hatchling read these posts until she’s old enough to think crack jokes are funny.) Even when you’re just smiling, the smiles have gotten bigger and more joyful than they were last month. I’m sure it won’t be long until you figure out that your smiles and laughter will pretty much make us forgive you for anything. Lord help us then!

Grampa makes funny faces

One way we can tell you’re getting older is that you can stay up longer than an hour at a time now without getting cranky. You’re also just beginning to take an interest in some of the baby toys we have. You still aren’t so good at grabbing or holding on to anything – you still haven’t quite figured out that your hands belong to you – but anything with lights or music is instantly fascinating. I’m hoping this explains the uncanny attraction you have to the TV right now. You loooooove watching the TV, nestled in my or your daddy’s arms.

Sitting with Mama

Some of this may be genetic, as both of your parents are professional-level couch potatoes. As soon as you get to the point where you can start actually understanding what you’re seeing I’m planning on cutting us off, cold turkey, since I really don’t want you watching TV until you’re at least 2. (We’ll see how long that plan lasts.) But for now it’s the best light and sound show we’ve got, and sometimes it’s the only thing that will quiet you down. Add it to what I’m sure will be a lengthy list of bad parenting maneuvers on my part. Your therapist will be fascinated.

Ber-whaaa?

In a few days, you and I will be flying out to stay for a week at our family lake cottage in Canada. Daddy has to stay home, but Aunt Squony will be coming along to help me take care of you. I’m a little nervous about taking you on a plane – I don’t want to be one of those parents with a screaming baby who pisses off all the other passengers – but I must say that in general you charm everyone you meet, even when you’re fussy. I can’t go anywhere in public with you without someone stopping me to say what a beautiful baby you are. Sure, sometimes they think you’re a boy baby, but we put that down to people’s outdated notions about wearing the color blue. They’re right, too – you ARE a beautiful baby, inside and out. I’m so glad that I didn’t have to go back to work just when you’re getting interesting. We may have to survive on peanut butter and mac and cheese for a few years, but I wouldn’t give up this time with you for anything.

Hi. Daddy

Love,
Mamala