Since Anna's birth in November, I haven't done much blogging at all. It's often on my mind, though, and I've been wanting to write a post that is all about Anna. I figured now would be a pretty good time to write out some things that are unique about her now that she has reached the ripe old age of six months. More than half a year has gone by already! Next week Anna will be seven months, so there's no time to lose!
As you know, our first daughter Lily is our "rainbow baby" -- our child who finally arrived after loss. She is the first baby we got to take home. Anna Evangeline is the second, and we consider them both miracles. I like to think of Anna as my "something extra" -- lagniappe, as we say in Louisiana. She's my icing on the cake and my precious "bonus" gift from God.
When my husband and I were newly married and for a few years after, we secretly always envisioned our lives down the road with two daughters. I don't think I ever wrote that here on the blog before and it's not something I tell lots of people. It's not that we preferred girls or would have been disappointed with boys. We had always been super close to our nephews. So much so, I think, that it already felt like we had our own sons! We were just a young couple allowing ourselves to dream and imagining what the future might hold. We had no idea what was to come. We never imagined our lives would be turned upside down over the next decade and our faith tested as we tried to have children and faced many obstacles and great loss. So, while we may have thought two girls would be our dream come true, we put that idea aside and focused on the present. We prayed and hoped for a child in God's timing. Boy or girl, it didn't matter one single bit. It never had, really, we came to realize. We knew we would have loved sons or daughters however the Lord decided. We just wanted the chance to be parents.
So when November 2012 came around and we were about to meet our second daughter, she felt like the last piece of the puzzle finally slipping right into place. We remembered those long-ago dreams of having two girls in the backseat of our car, or sharing a room upstairs, or staying up late giggling with each other just as I'd done with my sister. It felt like God was giving back what was lost. I don't mean the children we lost. No, they can never be and will never be replaced. But God restored a dream to a married couple who were afraid to hope that it could actually come true. He brought back that old dream we'd almost forgotten about and made it a reality. Two beautiful girls! We are still amazed.
And now, here are some specifics about my Anna.
There are some things that I guessed at and some things that I knew for sure during my pregnancy with her. I imagined her fairer than her sister, in coloring. It turned out that I was right about that. Anna's hair is lighter and she has the bluest eyes (which I know may still change), and her complexion is fairer like mine. Lily's eyes, even when they were blue in the early weeks, were always so dark. She has beautiful brown eyes now, which I also love, but Anna's are bright blue. I'm thinking that even if they change color, they'll probably stay lighter. (In case anyone is wondering, their daddy has hazel eyes and mine are green.)
The thing I knew for sure was that she would be strong. Mercy, is she ever. Anna was born weighing only about four ounces more than her sister did at birth, but she has consistently been bigger and more active.
At her six month checkup last week, Anna weighed 17 pounds, 11 ounces (75-80th percentile) and was just over 27 inches tall (90th percentile). Her sixth month has been pretty busy! In the last few weeks she has started sitting up all by herself and has now had a taste of rice cereal, oatmeal, bananas, carrots, and prunes. I've been fortunate to be able to breastfeed again this time around, so I still nurse several times a day and usually once during the night. This baby certainly loves to eat. Spoon feeding seems to have gone easier this time, but it may be because I started it a bit later than I did with Lily.
Anna has for months carried on a love/hate relationship with her pacifier. You just never knew when she might want it and when it would just make her mad. That's kind of how she is about most things. Interestingly, she has recently decided that the paci is her friend. Silly kid!
My "Anna bear" (so far the only nickname that has stuck, besides what Lily calls her -- "Baby Anna") gives very sweet snuggles and drooly, open-mouthed kisses with her still-toothless little mouth. She likes ACTIVITY. I always joke that we need to hire a three-ring circus to keep her entertained. She is at her happiest when the house is busy with guests or when we are out and about (although not so much in the car). People always tell me what a happy baby she is, and it's true... but she's at her best when others are present! She tends to get fussy much faster when we're just at home and it's quieter. Anna loves attention and she loves being held. She has a huge smile, one of the things we most adore about her. She loves to be surprised with a "boo" or a "peekaboo" and she is very ticklish.
My baby girl is a pretty decent sleeper, but has surprised (and delighted!) us with a full night's sleep only a handful of times. We are hoping this will be part of her regular routine soon! We just moved her up to her own room and crib and out of the bassinet in our room a few weeks ago. She has adjusted pretty well but would much prefer it if we'd rock and hold her all night long. :) We never know how the night will go at this stage. Night before last she slept straight through, but last night we were up a few times with her. At six months she is taking usually three naps a day (which are now coming at predictable times).
One of my favorite things these days is watching my girls together. They love each other so much and seem happier when they are together. Anna loves to watch her big sister, and Lily has never been jealous of the new baby. Lily, who is shy upon meeting new people, will always use Anna as an ice-breaker, pointing to her and yelling, "There's baby Anna!"
Of course, Anna is JUST coming to the stage where she can interact more and grab toys or cry when they are taken away, so Lily will have some adjusting to do! I hope they will learn to play well together and become good friends. Each and every night before bed we pray that Lily and Anna will love the Lord, love others, and love each other. At this stage it is incredibly sweet to see them loving one another.
Life is pleasantly full around our home lately. Motherhood continues to amaze me while also stretching and challenging me every single day. About two months ago I was (perhaps humorously to someone observing from the outside) frantically trying to balance potty training my two and a half year old and nursing my four month old, but we have settled in once again and adjusted to the new normal. After living with loss for so long, I'm humbled by this position and grateful for the opportunity.
To sum up, Anna is a precious addition to our family. We love her so much! The Lord gave us a sweet, wonderful, unexpected gift -- "something extra" -- when He gave us our Anna Evangeline. We pray that she'll always know just how special she is to us.