Saturday, December 06, 2008

Four Months Old!

four_months

Dear Valerie,

You are four months old today! Four months! Wow. That's how old the other walking group/playgroup babies were when we started meeting together, back when you were two months old and looked so tiny next to them. It's hard to believe you're that big now.

img_1511

One year ago this week, I started to get really bad heartburn, and I stopped liking coffee. That was how you made your presence known in this world. My taste for coffee still hasn't returned, which makes me somewhat sad, but I'll take you over coffee any day.

img_1567

You're developing such a personality. You love music, and you love laughter. I sing to you all the time; sometimes real songs, sometimes made up songs, and frequently real songs with the real words replaced with things like "burpie" and "poopie". You're going to be very disappointed one day when you discover that the chorus to The Happy Wanderer is not actually "Valerie, Valerah". But I like it better my way. And so do you. You find the world a very amusing place. You especially like listening to adult conversation, watching flashing television shows (like Doctor Who and Highlander), and people laughing at you. It's very easy to make you laugh: All I have to do is laugh at you, and you laugh right back.

img_1450

People used to tell me, during those early weeks of your life, what a good baby I had. I wanted to punch them. You were a happy, quiet baby in public, but then as soon as we came home, you turned into a screaming, inconsolable baby. Now, when people tell me I have a good baby, I smile, and say, "Thank you". Because you are a good baby. You do have your fussy times, like most babies. You've been acting like you have teeth coming in for a while, and everyone keeps telling me that you're too young for teeth, and after three or four days of drooling and gnawing and sudden shrieking and other such very teething-like symptoms, your teeth will suddenly decide that it's too early after all, and the teething symptoms will go away for awhile. You also fuss if you are tired, but the adults in the room are not asleep. You have no trouble going right to sleep if I'm going to sleep, too, but if it's the middle of the day, and there are things going on in the world around you, you will fight tiredness like it's the most painful torture ever. You will scream and cry, and I will be at my wit's end trying to figure out if you're gassy or hungry or temporarily teething again, and then, all of a sudden, you will be fast asleep, and I will feel dumb for not thinking of it earlier, because you did the same thing yesterday. I can't blame you, though, for wanting to be a part of the adult world. I was the exact same way when I was little. I remember when my parents used to have adults over for a visit, and they would just be sitting around talking about boring adult things, but I would still cry and cry when I was sent upstairs to bed. Once, I stopped on the bottom step to listen for a few minutes before continuing upstairs, and I fell asleep right there on the stairs, only to be discovered at the end of the night when my parents' friends were getting ready to go home. Note to self: always check the stairs after sending Valerie to bed during parties.

img_1510

I mentioned before that you managed to find your thumb, and I was all excited about it, and even took a picture, but then you seemed to have promptly forgotten about it. Until a couple of weeks ago, when you suddenly remembered about that thumb of yours, and started to be able to plug it into your mouth with very little effort at all. And, like I said before, I will probably find it less cute when you're older, but right now, I just love watching you suck your thumb. There is something very mature about it, because you are deliberately taking action against a perceived problem, and meeting your own needs. Whether it's your indecisive teeth hurting, or simply a need for comfort, you're starting to be able to calm yourself down with your thumb, and it's really neat to watch.

img_1546

You've become very interested in the feel of things this month. You're always reaching out with your hands and stroking or grabbing or scratching whatever you can get your hands on, whether it's me, or my clothes, or your car seat, or even, once in a while, a toy. You don't care for toys very much, yet, which I think is due to the fact that you are so much more interested in people's faces. You only have a few toys that you care even a bit about, and those are your maraca and the little jingle toys that hang over your car seat. Both, it should be noted, are musical toys. You have always loved music, since before you were even born, and you used to listen to me sing and play the djembe in church, then kick in rhythm after I stopped playing.

img_1515

This month has been a very interesting month in the sleep department. Before I went back to work, you were spending about half of every night in your crib. I would try, and try, to put you down, and you would never stay down until about 2:00 a.m. Then you would sleep on your own until about six, at which point I would bring you into bed with me, and feed you, and we would doze together until I had managed to get enough sleep. This worked well for us, until I went back to work. And, in order to get up at 3:30 a.m. with even remotely enough sleep to get through a shift of work, I needed to get to sleep well before 2:00 a.m. So, I tried taking you to bed with me at 9:30, nursing you, and seeing if you would stay asleep. Lo and behold, it worked! Everything I have read about cosleeping and sleep training has now been thrown out the window, because you know what the best rule to follow in parenting is? Do what works. This works for us, this works for now. You nurse several times through the night, but I barely notice, because you have mostly overcome your reflux issues and you can nurse lying down while I sleep. And I get so much more sleep, now, with you in the bed all night, which is really my number one "me" priority if I am going to function at work. And, in spite of what people kept telling us about how babies who cosleep don't sleep through the night as well as crib babies, you know what? This week, you started sleeping for five to seven hour stretches of the night. Well, of the morning, actually. I think you finally figured out that when I wake you up at 3:30 to nurse, it's the last, proper boob feeding you're going to get until 10:30 or 11. Which you have demonstrated to me in two ways: first, by being extra snuggly and comfort nursing for sometimes an entire hour during the 3:30 feeding, and, second, by sleeping peacefully with your dad through the rest of the morning, and only taking a few ounces of pumped milk if you do wake up, so that you can nurse for a solid hour or more when I get home from work. But that was this week. The week before, you would wake up early and eat five or more ounces before I came home. So who knows what you will do next week. You like to keep us on our toes.

img_1572

This past week was a very special week for our family, because it was the week that you were dedicated to the Lord at our church. It was such a special event that Grandma came all the way from Canada, and your aunts and uncles and cousins and Nana and PopPop came to our church to be there with us. You wore the same white dress that I wore when I was dedicated as a baby, and we stood in front of the church, and we promised to raise you in a godly manner. This means that, while my politics are very liberal, and my stance on public morality is very liberal, I hold myself and my family to a different standard because I believe strongly in the choice we have made in the God that we worship. I want to raise you to be a smart girl who thinks for herself and makes her own decisions, but I also want to arm you with the same strong, moral fiber that I was raised with that allowed me to stand up against the immorality that it always seemed like "everyone" was doing. I don't expect that finding the balance between the two will always be easy, and I don't expect that I will always do it right, but I will do my best to equip you to be a strong, Christian woman, as my parents did for me.

img_1539

Then, after the service was over, you pooped all over that beautiful white dress. Because you're a baby, after all. And babies poop.

6 comments:

sarah said...

I love this post- so sweet!

christianlady said...

She is so beautiful! 4 months already!

Anonymous said...

No poop picture?

Anonymous said...

(Alana)

jd said...

I didn't even see the poopy dress! I think you wanted to get it washed out before I did!! It was a wonderful weekend, and I'm so glad I made the effort to be there.
Great blog, too!

Jill Minnick Jennings said...

Jule Ann, That was beautifully stated. I know you and Jeremy will do a fantastic job raising Valerie. I also liked the poop ending. Nice way to usher everyone back to the reality of babies - they poop.