Dear Owl,

So – this was current as of the writing of it at the end of May, though some things may have changed. You can learn more about the updated you in your next letter. Because really, this is ridiculous. I am usually able to keep up with the monthly letters better than this. No. Who am I fooling? As of late, I’ve been bunching Penguin’s letters together too. Let me let you in on a little secret. Having two boys is really hard work. Particularly when one is an infant (you) and one is a preschooler (your brother). I don’t know that I can recall the last time I actually just sat down in the house. I mean, there are moments when I am sitting, for sure, but they are brief and always interrupted. It’s ok. Most of the time I really don’t mind. But every now and then, I’d really like to just veg out to one episode of Third Rock from the Sun. Meh – I have time for that later, right?

So, the last time I wrote you a letter, you had just turned two months old. Suffice it to say, you have changed dramatically since then. Let’s review month by month – as best as my recollection can allow. This is surprisingly well, considering that I spent most days walking and talking and working while still asleep.

The weeks between you turning two months old and three months old didn’t look all that remarkably different. You slept a lot and ate a lot. You laid on your back a lot. But you also started to become very, very chatty. You make a lot of sounds like “agooo” and “muuuuh” and this really increased during those weeks. I am not remotely surprised. I can be very chatty and I think that you caught the chatty bug. When you are in your pack and play or in your bouncy seat or laying on a blanket on the floor, you are always making little sounds. At about this time, you started to unclench your fists, too. I don’t know why, but I just love this so much. You always held your hands in such tight little balls. So tight, in fact, that they really were a very stinky, sweaty mess. I know I mentioned that in the past, but it never ceased to amaze me how smelly a tiny little hand could get. There was even a hand version of “toe cheese” between your fingers. But that’s not why I was excited about your hands opening. I just love to see little delicate baby fingers grabbing at things. Grabbing at a toy, grabbing at my shirt, not so much grabbing at my hair (though the sentiment is sweet). Baby fingers are so tiny yet so perfectly sculpted that my love of them must harken back to my undying love of miniatures. I am smitten by all things designed to be a tiny replica of functioning things I use and see in my real life. Hence my love of the dollhouse supplies aisle at craft stores. Even now I cannot resist the urge to wander those aisles and have a hearty chuckle at the miniscule television sets, the little boxes of dish detergent or a tiny little coffee table. So little baby fingers holding things and grabbing things and pointing at things send me into a state of real joy. When I first started to notice your fingers starting to unfurl that month, I could not wait for the spectacle that would be awaiting me.

Owl, you have this wonderfully round head. I mean, it is just so round and squishy and awesome. You had this head from birth, mind you, but in the past few months, your face and cheeks have really started to fill out. When a baby is first born, you get a sense of what he will look like as he ages, but just a sense. And thank heavens for that, because most newborn children look a little bit like pugs. Or frogs. And while pugs and frogs are adorable in their own right, human children they are not. So you looked like my adorable little human pug puppy for the first few weeks. Don’t get me wrong – that is cute. But man alive if you are not capital “C” cute now. You are really lovely. Your little nose is the perfect size and shape for your face. Your little eyes and mouth fit perfectly, too. Everything seems just right – like it could not be any other way. And I am not just saying this because I think you look a touch more like me than Daddy. I am saying this because every time I look at you, I marvel at how wonderfully you are put together. Your face is sweet and open. Fitting, really, since this has been your personality thus far. You are starting to sprout blond hair on your head, replacing some of the dark hair you had in the earliest weeks following your birth. Your eyes are really interesting. Really. Unlike Daddy and Penguin, who both have those rich chocolate eyes that make me swoon, you have a color that is all your own. They are not blue, like mine, but they are not brown, like Daddy. They are some blend of blue, brown and green. I can’t predict what they will look like in time, but I can say that I think they will be very pretty. If I had to choose which superficial physical feature I would be most thankful for, it is the fact that every member of our family has lovely, expressive eyes.

Some time at the end of March or in early April, you really started to try and use your hands. At first, it was a shaky, wobbly ham-fisted batting of toys placed near you. Then you started to reach out and try to put a wobbly finger on a toy. You would grab at things, but seemed to miss more often than not. Now, however, you are a master of the hands. You just love to grab your feet. Love it. If you are on your back, your feet are almost always in your hands. This is always cute, though it poses special challenges when I am trying to diaper you or change your clothes. I’ve taken to changing you on the ground or a mattress so that I can lay you down in front of me and engage in the intricate dance that is getting you to pull your hands away from your feet. I have to have everything prepared in an easily accessible semicircle around me. Diapers and a wipe (already removed from the pack) over here, the socks (uncoupled), pants and shirt over there. I put your legs down and grab the waistband of the pants and pull them down quickly. Then your legs and feet pop back up in the air, so I tug of your socks at that time. This is assuming you have not already done so for me. Once the pants and socks are off, if you have a onesie, I snap that open while your legs are still in the air. Now here comes challenge number one. I have to remove the diaper and wipe you down while trying to keep your hands off your feet and your legs down enough for me to complete the task. Usually, it takes a few tries. The mega challenge comes next – getting the diaper on. Because even a clutzy, non-coordinated doof can rip a diaper off. But it takes special balance and skill to put the diaper on a baby that prefers laying in a spherical position. So, I have to first put down your legs and then stare at the diaper for a few moments, wondering how I am going to both hold down your legs and grab a diaper. In the hundreds of times I have you, I have never spontaneously sprouted the arms to do so. A pity, really. So I then steel up my resolve and mentally coach myself through the task. “Hands off! Legs down! Legs open! Grab diap…. Argh! Hands off! Legs down! Legs…no! Hands off! Legs down! Legs open! Grab diaper! Lift bab….gah!”  You see where this is going. As you are laughing and being generally fat and cute the entire time, I cannot help but be amused. However, I do have to give myself a good chunk of time to get you changed and dressed. It becomes more comical when I am fumbling around in the dark, sleep-deprived and aching to go back to sleep. You actually have started baby laughing during some of those times because of my comical ineptitude in the face of changing you. Never mind that I then have to rewrap you in your swaddle. See preceding paragraph. It all applies here, too.

You and Mama sleep together in the same bed at night. You have since you were born. I really love to be very close to my new little babies when they are born. Truth be told, I love sleeping next to non-babies as well. I am very hippyesque in my love of the family bed. Daddy is not as much of a fan, which is why I could never convince him to buy a king-sized bed so that the whole family could sleep in there at night. Our daily sleep routine would probably make normal families weep out in judgmental cries of judgment and crying, but here is what we do. I put you to sleep every night at about 7:30pm. This was not really my choice. You’ve had the remarkable ability to fall into a sleep routine without me even trying. It’s been amazing. So, you and I head into my bedroom at about 7:30. I change your diaper and read you a book. Right now, we are really into Little Gorilla, Little Pookie, a Sesame Street book about shaking one’s leg and Counting Kisses. These, I must note, are books just for you. I bought them for you so that I could read them to you. So often I think younger brothers get the hand-me-downs from older brothers, but I want you to know that I went to the bookstore and picked out these books special for you.  We read our book and then you drink your milk and then I give you a good burp, swaddle you up and place you in your little top-of-the-bed baby crib. If you are really tired, you just pass out right then and there. But if your eyes are still a little awake but drowsy, I turn on your sleepy friend. It is a seahorse that plays soft piano tunes and has a soft yellow belly that is lit from within. I call it your friend because it seems to be so. You really like to fall asleep to the lights and the music provided by the little seahorse. At night, if you awake and it is not from hunger, I sometimes turn on your friend and you fall back asleep. If you don’t, then I tuck you into the crook of my arm and we fall back asleep together. You are usually asleep within seconds if I do that. It’s incredibly sweet. I don’t tell Daddy because he thinks I am spoiling you and that I spoiled your brother by doing this during infancy. But I don’t care. I do it anyways because I love it and I love that I can be there for you in the night. And truthfully, he’s all talk. I think he likes it, too. Though he says that all of your snuffling makes it hard to sleep. When you were younger, in the first few months, you snuffled and snorted a lot in your sleep. Now you are much quieter when you are sleeping, but when you are awake, you are AWAKE. It’s amazing how you can go from totally asleep to totally awake in the span of a minute. Anyways, after you fall asleep, I am up for a few hours more before I retire to the bed myself. I put your brother to bed and then I attempt to stay awake for a few minutes to watch TV with Daddy. That almost never happens.  Then  I crawl into bed. On a great night, you sleep until about 3:30am. I give you some milk and then you are sleeping again until about 7:30am. Lately, however, you’ve decided that sleep is not all that I made it out to be and you are waking more frequently. I have a few theories on this. One, you are nearing 6 months and I think this is a classic sleep regression age. Babies simply decide that they don’t need sleep.  It gets in the way of important foot-holding activities. Two, you’ve started solid foods. I’ll get to that in a minute. Three, you’ve started teething. I’ll get to that, too. I think you’ll put yourself back on your own schedule in time, so I don’t stress about it much at all. But back to the routine. So, about 6am, I wake up with the intent of exercising. If Daddy has passed out in the bedroom with Penguin, and he almost always has, I wake him and send him to our bed. Then I pick you up, baby crib and all, and bring you in Penguin’s room. Then, even though I told myself for the thousandth time that I am going to go exercise, I lay down next to Penguin and fall asleep. I set the alarm, but we find that you are actually the best wake-up call there can be. Some time between 7:30 and 7:45am, Penguin and I will generally wake to the sounds of you babbling and cooing. It’s cute. Penguin gets very excited and says “Owl’s awake!” Then he attempts to unwrap you from your swaddle and insists on a good cuddle. Then I get everyone dressed for the day – if I can – and spend about an hour with you both and head off to work for the day. Missing you all the time, as you can well imagine.

But let me get back to those teeth and the food eating. I think you are teething because I am starting to feel bumps where I expect your two front lower teeth to be. Plus, you are frantically chewing on everything you can stuff into your mouth. And there is drool. Much of it, though I expect that it will increase in time once those teeth are just about to break through. You’ve been very calm about the teething thus far, though I expect a little more vocal displeasure in the upcoming weeks. I’ve been giving you cold teethers to chew on, but your response has been somewhat lukewarm. You can take them or leave them. Your own fist, however? Heaven. You really jam that little chubby paw in your mouth, grunting and squealing with delight the further it goes. Do I foresee your participation in competitive eating contests in your future? It’s amazing how much hand you can actually fit in your mouth. Since I started to see the formation of little white tooth spots at the gum line, I thought you might be ready to try solid foods. You were sitting up in your high chair, albeit awkwardly, and you seemed interested the one day I took a tiny bit of mashed banana and put it on your tongue. So one day, when Penguin and I were out shopping, we bought you some baby food. We made it for you that evening. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, as your brother hated the experience the first time. You, on the other hand, gobbled up the whole bowl of rice cereal. And I do mean gobbled up. There was nothing left. You kept shouting out if I was too slow in refilling the spoon and putting it in your mouth. That was about a week ago now and you’ve continued to show the same enthusiasm for eating since then. I’ve even started adding a little prune baby food for flavor and you’ve liked that, too.  There is such an interesting and exciting world of food out there and I am excited for you to be trying it all. It’s fun to be a parent during times like these. You know, when you stumble across something your child really likes and you know that there are so many ways you can explore this thing in the future. You like food – at least you seem to. I am excited to introduce new flavors and new textures because I think  you’ll appreciate the adventure of it all.

You just celebrated your first Easter this year and your first Mother’s Day with me. For Easter, you received a spinning wheel toy that you just can’t get enough of and some other toys that cycle in an out of your play repertoire throughout the day. While your brother was searching for Easter eggs, you were wheeled around behind him in hot pursuit. I think you’ll find that it will be tremendously fun to search for eggs with your brother next Easter. I kept wondering, as I would look at both of you that day, if you would search for eggs in a spirit of cooperation, friendly competition or bloodthirsty greed. I’ll hope for the first option, be fine with the second and shudder at the thought of the third. But somehow, I don’t think that will happen. I don’t know that it will stay like this forever, though I most sincerely hope it does, but you and your brother seem incredibly smitten with one another. You watch Penguin a lot, and if he does something goofy, you smile and laugh. One can never make predictions about these sorts of things really, but if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say that you two are going to be quite the partners in crime. I think that Penguin will be the one to concoct naughty plans and you’ll be the one to carry them out. I think Penguin will try to get you into trouble, because he is mischievous that way. But when push comes to shove, I think he is going to be in your corner, a force to be reckoned with. And I think you are going to look up to your brother, as little brothers do, but also be an important calming presence for him as well. Like I said, I can’t say for sure. But it’s what I see now. Penguin gets very upset when you are crying and wants us to attend to you right away. He is quite protective of you, I think. And you are some of the most potent power we have in getting Penguin to calm down when he is upset. I can think of more than one occasion when he has been in the midst of an early morning temper tantrum because I selected the wrong pair of socks or had the audacity to mention a short-sleeved shirt when only a long-sleeved shirt will do. The mere mention of putting you on the bed to cuddle next to him has stopped the screaming almost instantly.

I – well – there are many things that I hope for in this life. I hope that you will grow up to be a happy, healthy man. I hope that you will always know how much I love you. And I hope that you and your brother continue to have a very special relationship. That you remember, during those adolescent days when everything seems intolerable, that you and he were so loving and sweet together in these earliest months that the mere thought of it brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat. It’s THAT kind of brotherly love. And it will be tested. You’ll take and then break his favorite toy. He’ll trash your favorite book. You’ll both play too hard one day and nearly take each others’ eyes out. But remember this: when life was simple and you were very small little boys, you thought the world of each other. Keep that close to your heart, Owl. I will tell your brother to do the same.

This past Mother’s Day was special for me. It was my first Mother’s Day with you and my last as the mother of a new baby. That’s rather bittersweet. We are done expanding our family. We feel complete. You are here and are more than we ever could have asked for. I felt very thankful this year. Last Mother’s Day, I knew I was pregnant with you. It was early in the pregnancy, so I was very cautiously excited about the prospect of having another child. But so much can happen in 40 weeks that I never really feel secure about having a baby until the baby is actually in my arms. And even then that just ushers in a whole host of new but different anxieties. So this year, on Mother’s Day, I thanked the universe and everything within it for delivering you safely to me. What a joy you are!

Love,

Mama

 

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