Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ten Months

My girl is only two months away from turning one year old! Many times lately when I look at her I feel like she is already twelve months and beyond. She is getting so big and changing so much that it seems every day we wake up to something different.

Here's what's new around here:

Eating: Overall I'm really proud of how Lily has done so far with learning to eat table foods. Naturally there are some things she just doesn't like, and she promptly spits them back out and then avoids choosing those things from her tray. I think her favorite so far is still tomatoes. I peel and chop them for her and she gobbles them up. Lily likes a variety of different fruits, so I try to keep the house stocked with plenty of them. This month she seems to enjoy yogurt a lot more, too. We switched to the yobaby brand and that made all the difference. Her favorite is the apple and sweet potato combo.
It's definitely a challenge to come up with different meal and snack ideas for Lily at this stage. There are always the old faithful things that she likes and I know she'll eat (carrots, sweet potatoes, breads, and cereals), but I also want to keep adding variety as often as possible while she is willing to try new tastes. I still try to introduce a new food or two every week. This week she tried plums and cottage cheese and both seemed to be a success!

Sometimes I find it completely mind-blowing that I'm nursing a 10-month-old baby. Of course it still shocks me that I wake up every day as someone's Mommy and I'm incredibly grateful and humbled for that, and for the privilege to breastfeed my baby for her first year. I was so afraid in the beginning that we weren't going to overcome some of our obstacles and be able continue with nursing for very long, but we made it through and are still going, thank the Lord. We are down to only 2-3 times a day now (morning and evening, and sometimes before the afternoon nap), and I try to work in at least 2 sippy cups of formula a day. Lily continues to not be a big drinker, so I feel like I'm offering milk to her all day long to try to make sure she gets close to the right amount.

Sleeping: Lily's sleep patterns are much the same as last month. She gets about 10-11 hours of sleep a night, usually with one or two wakings during the night, and is still taking a morning and an afternoon nap.

Milestones: My big 10-month-old can now say "uh-oh" and "Mama." Those are her only two words with meanings (well, that we know of!). She babbles a lot these days, mostly ba-ba-ba sounds. This month she seems to really be finding her voice and she likes to use it loudly! We think it's super cute when she yells out words like "BOB," "BOP," and "WHOP."
Lily can wave hello and bye-bye, clap her hands, and sign "more" and "all done." She still loves it when I sing to her, and I think her favorite song right now is the little Bible story song Zacchaeus.

My sweet girl is really showing a lot of personality these days and it's really fun to get to know that part of her.

She is very much a daddy's girl, and if he's anywhere near you'll find her in his arms. She loves to be held and carried by Daddy, but Mommy still makes her laugh the hardest and gets more kisses. :) It makes me so happy to see Lily being so affectionate with her extended family members as well. She loves to snuggle with her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins! Her face lights up when she sees those familiar faces (even though she's still sometimes shy at first).

Our BIG news this month is that Lily is mobile! I call it crawling, but technically we have a scooter. Lily is rarely up on all fours and has never crawled that way, but she scoots herself forward on her bottom using her hands and one knee while the other leg is tucked in (does that make sense?). Regardless of whether it can be called crawling or not, she sure does get herself around that way!

On top of that, she just pulled up all by herself for the first time this week. I was getting her ready for a bath two nights ago and I set her down in her bed to put the dirty clothes away. When I walked back into her room a few seconds later, she pulled herself right up as though she'd known how all along! There have been some big, big changes at our house for sure.

And one more little tidbit: Lily finally cut her first tooth around 9 1/2 months. She has her lower right front tooth (central incisor) and the one next to it is very close to erupting I suspect any day now.

It's a joy to watch this baby girl grow and change. She is less and less like a baby every day, which does make me a bit sad, but we are delighting in each new day and every new phase and skill that she picks up. We are so proud of our precious, happy girl!

P.S. Thank you all for your condolences, thoughts, and prayers last week after the death of my grandmother. They were much appreciated.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Moment to Be Thankful For

Today my grandmother, my mother's mother, passed away.

It was only a few years ago that my husband and I had six of our grandparents still with us. We had my two grandmothers (both of my grandfathers died when I was in high school), and my husband was fortunate to have all four of his grandparents still living and in relatively good health. We knew that we were fortunate, as we were nearing our 30s and had many friends whose grandparents had already passed on.

As our childless years began to stack up with no end in sight, I used to spend a lot of time worrying about having a child before we lost those precious members of our family. I used to see those prized "four generation" and even FIVE generation pictures and, as each year went by with no baby, it would weigh more heavily on my heart.

To put it plainly: I love old people. I just do. I love their memories and histories and stories. I like to visit with the elderly and just listen to them speak. And after I became interested in genealogy several years back, I really began to treasure the times when I could call or sit and talk with an elderly relative of mine or my husband's. I listened raptly, soaking up every word like a sponge and usually taking notes so I wouldn't forget a thing. I pored over old documents and photos, spending hours researching on the internet and visiting cemeteries all across Louisiana. I began to wonder if I'd ever have the opportunity to pass it all down to my own descendants, but it became an extremely interesting and satisfying hobby for me and it was a great way to fill up my time while we waited and hoped for a child of our own.

In a funny way, too, researching my family history brought me closer to having better relationships with my grandmothers (particularly my dad's mom, who will turn 94 next month). At the very least, it helped me to know and understand them a bit better while I had the chance.

As time went on and our dear grandparents' health began to decline, I realized that I needed to let go of my dream of seeing our children in their aged arms. They had lived full lives, and while we weren't ready to say goodbye (and never would be), if it was time for the Lord to call them home then it was time, regardless of whether or not I had a child. Of course, it was never about me in the first place. I needed to just be grateful for the time I'd had with them and record and cherish their stories for me. Because I wanted to know. If I would be able to one day pass them down to another generation, whether through my own children or those of our siblings, then that would be a bonus.

We lost my husband's paternal grandfather and grandmother in 2007 and 2008, respectively. In 2009, his maternal grandfather went home to be with the Lord.

Lily was born in 2010, and we made it a priority for her to meet our remaining grandmothers (my two and his one) as soon as possible. Lily had met all three by the time she was five months old, and it brought me so much joy each time. It was a culmination for me, and I know it was for these three women too, as they had also spent the past decade praying for this child of ours that we were finally able to see and touch and hold.

At long last, I was able to take pictures of my daughter with her great grandmothers. It was indeed another "longing fulfilled" moment for me.

And while I still can't say I was ever extremely close to my maternal grandmother, that is something I will always be grateful for. At the funeral on Wednesday I will be sad for our family's loss, particularly for my mom as she buries her mother. But I'll also whisper a quiet prayer of thanks to the Lord for moments like these that I'll remember forever.

Lily with my mom's mom, taken on New Year's Eve 2010/11, six months before she died:

Lily with my dad's mom, age 93, taken in February 2011:

Lily with my husband's maternal grandmother, age 84, taken in February 2011:

And again in June 2011:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

An (Extra)Ordinary Day

Yesterday was an ordinary day.

I got up early with my girl and our day was filled with playing, eating, naps, and diapering. It was a typical day around here with a nine month old who is becoming more active by the minute.

But nine years ago yesterday I lost the first baby that I carried.

I don't know that baby's gender, name, or face, but it was the first of our children that we loved, wanted, and cherished. It had been the first positive pregnancy test for a young couple who thought they would become parents nine months later... instead of nine years later. When we found out that we would lose the baby it was the first time my heart was really and truly broken, and that same deep hurt would be felt five more times in the years that followed.

I never did mark the day on my calendar, but it was a date that I always remembered. This year was no different. I was mindful of it all day long even as my hands were constantly occupied with toys and baby food. While we drove to pick up my sister from the airport yesterday I remembered our late-night drive to the hospital. She was with us then, too, pregnant with her second child. Our babies were due one month apart. My nephew will turn nine years old this December, and I wonder what it would be like to have a child that age...

July 6, 2002 is a day I've thought about often. It was the day that changed everything for us and started us down a path we never imagined we'd take: recurrent miscarriage. But God has been faithful. He was good then and He is still good today.

Here's one example of how He was good to me yesterday:

It seems incredible to me, but during my "ordinary" day, my baby girl said "Mama." She had been babbling it for about a week or so, but yesterday she said it for real. I was able to mark the date of July 6, 2011 on her calendar with the sticker "Says Mama."

She's not the first baby I loved or carried, but she is the first one I've had the privilege to hold and sing to and rock to sleep. I'm so thankful that there's someone here who calls me Mama.

After waiting nine long years to hear that word, hearing it yesterday was particularly special. And it sure turned my ordinary day extra-ordinary.