Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dear Daughter

Dear Cecelia,

Today you turn one.  Right now you are next to me on the floor pulling all the papers out of a basket; a task sure to drive your father crazy.  You very much enjoy opening drawers, cabinets, purses, wallets, etc. and pulling out every item you can get your chubby hands on - you do not limit yourself to those places - you've also been known to reach into the recycling bin (ok) and trash can (not ok) to extricate items.

You keep us on our toes.  But let us begin at the beginning.  One year ago today you rocketed into the world storming the walls of our lives on Bastille Day.  And you didn't have to do that - we would have let you in the front door.  Your entrance was perfect and fast, much like yourself.  As you were being examined, one of the first pictures we have of you is you stretching out and scrunching up your face, squinting your eyes as if to say, "It is much too early for these bright lights" - from the first moment of your arrival you displayed so much personality.

I've seen this wake up stretch with your lips pouted and your face scrunched time and time again and it is one of my favorite things.  There are so many favorite things, it's hard to list them all - but I will try.  Now then, back to the fast - you started letting me know somewhat early on July 14, 2009 that you'd be gracing us with your presence (which should have been a clue that you were and still are a very early riser).  I labored at home with you and in between contractions ate a huge breakfast, washed the sheets, the dishes, and let your father sleep in.  Not much has changed since then in those departments, except that your dad sleeps in because he does such an awesome job helping out when you wake up during his "shift" 1am-5am.  (and - you've now moved on to pulling out poker chips and playing cards - your dad taught you how to play Texas Hold 'Em yesterday)  We went to the hospital and 2-3 hours later you were in my arms.

 Love at first sight.  And boy did I feel great - this parenting was going to be a breeze (foreshadowing).  In the hospital you slept and accepted visitors, you ate when you felt like it (not much has changed there either) and did your business.  Before you were here, I never realized just how obsessed I would become with your bowel movements.  In the hospital and for a week or so after, you have to count them to make sure baby (i.e. you) is getting enough to eat and I wanted to make sure we were doing everything RIGHT.  (And you've abandoned the poker chips to come to me and complain that I'm not paying attention to I will take a break and do so - save)

And we're back - you've had your one year doctor's check-up and I've been told by several people how awful I am for scheduling your doctor's appointment on your birthday, but guess what - you got your Polio shot (and that's all you got) and you didn't make a peep - didn't phase you at all - that's my girl!!

So, where were we?  Right - bowel movements.  I realized my adoration of your mere ability to go when I started to tell a friend who is not yet in the kid stage about your being a little backed up...then I backed up and thought to myself - does she want to know this?  Probably not - and didn't say anything.  Overall it was a good reflection for me.  And in terms of those bowel movements - you've been using the potty since you were 6 days old.

A friend told us about Elimination Communication and you were a pro right away - now, we still use diapers, but you go on the potty most times and since you've started eating solids, you've only had wet diapers, not "dirty" ones.  You learned the sign for potty and signaled it to us a few times.  It looks a lot like you're waving, so then others started waving back and ever since you've stopped signaling for the potty and instead wave at anyone who will give you the time of day (which is quite a few people!).

And I'll get off of that tangent and back to our timeline.  When you came home from the hospital, we weren't always sure what you wanted, but you always seemed to want something!  Most times I tried to feed you, and that personality came roaring out because if that was not what you wanted, you'd smack me and scream some more.  One of your daddy's favorite stories of your first days is when he was trying to get you to sleep and you screamed, and screamed, and screamed, and finally you started punching him - you always were quite coordinated!  He gave you a voice letting me know that you were telling him to give you back to "her" (me) and "We're. not. friends. any. more!"

You loved (and still do) your sling.  It saved my behind many a day as it was, for a while, the only way you'd fall asleep.  And you needed to sleep - on that topic.  As a mom, before you got here, I thought I knew exactly what I would do in any given situation.  The reality was far different than I ever could have imagined and that gave me an incredible perspective on the human experience and the parenting experience more specifically.  Now, someone will relate a story of how someone does something with their kid and isn't that awful/crazy/unsafe/fill in the blank.  I, now, always maintain that you don't know until you're there what you might do.  And that is specific to that kid, that parent, that family.  They decide what they do.  And we decide what we do.  To elaborate.  Before you arrived, I thought you couldn't possibly sleep in our bed because, well, that's just not safe.  I was a part of a group of moms where everyone else did and thought to myself - how dangerous, how terrible.  I knew that I had found the best alternative - a co-sleeper, a bassinet that fits right next to the bed, so you're there, but you're not in the unsafe, fluffy blankets, pillows all over the place bed.  Well - you had a different plan altogether.  You would prefer to be in constant contact either touching skin, or feeling the breath move in and out of my body.  Once I decided to try to nurse you in bed, to practice, to try it out - I fell asleep, you fell asleep, and when I woke up - you were fine, still sleeping in fact, and I was fine, and we never turned back.

Since then you have gradually (and I do mean gradually) begun to sleep on your own for longer and longer stretches, but you still spend at least a portion of each night in bed with dad and I and we love having our family close together.  You're a good napper now whereas before you needed to be held to sleep or at the very least be next to a warm body.


 I remember worrying - oh did I worry!  That you would never sleep on your own.  I gained perspective that this, this moment, this closeness, would not, could not last forever, and that I needed to cherish every moment that I got to hold my sweet baby girl, even if I felt I had other, more important (and what could possibly be more important) things to do.  I became a better rested, more relaxed, and just plain better mom as a result of letting things go - I brought a book with me into the room to read while you rested if you wanted to stay in my arms or I tried to rest at the same time myself.  I had finally learned to "sleep when the baby sleeps."  I still hear many moms indicate that that is the only time they can get anything done and I sigh.

And the carseat - your love/hate and mostly hate relationship with your carseat confounded other people.  You did not like it.  And not only that, where most babies fell asleep the moment the wheels hit the pavement, you screamed incessantly.  There were many, many (did I mention many) times that we pulled over and held you and swayed alongside a busy road, or I tried to nurse you and you ate (or smacked me to indicate that was NOT it, lady).  This made getting out of the house a challenge.  Likewise, you despised your stroller.

You would prefer to be carried at all times, preferably in a sling snuggled up next to mom or dad.  Over time you've learned to love both, unless you're just. not. in. the. mood.  Which still happens from time to time and when it does is all the more startling as we're not "used to it" now.
 This picture was taken b/c you were crying like crazy and I wanted to get a picture of that phenomenon, but when you saw the camera, you turned on your smile...faker.

Some changes - you used to spit up after pretty much every meal and now, not a drop.  In fact, the other day we went to visit mom-mom at work and I was tossing you in the air because that makes you a happy girl (I think you'll be an amusement park expert rider like mom).  One of mom-mom's co-workers mentioned that you would spit up and I said no.  Then mom-mom said that you never were one to spit up.  I looked at her a bit incredulously and reminded her of the first four or so months of your life.  She smiled, indicating that she didn't remember any of that.  I reminded her in more details.  Your cuteness has clouded the memories of others.  I'll make it my mission not to be swayed from the true course of your history.  If for no other reason than to let you know about your feisty personality and your determination.

You have always been determined, and it will serve you well in life.  When you were on your back, you wanted to roll over, then you seemed frustrated that you couldn't sit up - until you did, and when you could do that, you wanted to stand, so you did, and then crawl, and cruise, and walk...and I'm sure that in mere moments you'll wake from your nap, and want to run.  You can climb stairs quite expertly, but getting down is a whole other issue.

Your flair for dramatics is unparalleled.  Sometimes you turn it on just to see if we're paying attention.  You play the part of the perfect angel in front of others, which is just fine by me.  When they ask if you're "always this good" I tell the truth.  No.  You are an incredibly good baby.  But not always - see "screaming" "sleeping" "smacking" and "punching" above.  You are independent and strong.  You are funny and adorable.  You are vocal and sweet.  I simply cannot wait to watch you grow up and learn more about the girl and woman you will become.  I just wish it didn't have to happen so fast.  This year has gone by much too quickly.  I was able to take off of teaching school for this first year of your life and I wouldn't have had it any other way.  I am excited to return to work and excited for all of the adventures that you and daddy will have.  You love your daddy so and I love seeing the two of you together and hearing stories about your days with daddy when I am away.  But I will miss you so.  Since you're such an early riser, I know we'll have our mornings together, just you and I.  And since you're such a terrible sleeper, I'm sure we'll see each other quite often in the night.  I love your sleep smiles, your stretches, your laugh, the way you peek your head around a corner to look at daddy or I and giggle with surprise each and every time.  I love holding you and squeezing you tight and giving you millions of kisses.  I love playing with you and reading with you and watching you discover new things - whether it be a bottle in the recycling bin, or the leaves on a tree.  The world is new to you and you're ready to reach out and grab it.  Happy birthday baby girl!  Make it count.

Love, Mommy


Gaby said...

OMG, Elle, I'm crying here! I'm so proud of you and you are simply the best mommy around! That little girl is lucky to have you and even though she is loved by so very many people, no one will love her like her mommy--ever!! Hugs and kisses to you and Cece!! MWAH!

Anonymous said...

This is incredibly beautiful Ellen! Love, Kerrie

Steph said...

OH MY GOODNESS - the tears! And I'm working, yikes!!! I love your love for her :)

Becky Smith said...

So beautiful Ellen! I can completely relate to almost all of this since Reese is showing her feisty personality already;). Can't believe how fast it all goes! Hugs to Cece!

Colleen said...

Awww Ellen, the tears! She is going to love reading that one day! How special:) I hope that her first party was great.
Love, Colleen