Laura Rennie

Motherhood

Dear Chloe, On Your First Birthday

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Dear Chloe,

You are 12 months old! 52 weeks! 365 days! Over 8,000 hours!

With each turn of the clock, my heart has beat with love for you. You fill me with wonder and joy. Before you, there was a time I was a shell of myself. I felt hollow and disengaged. I missed the "real" me.

You brought me back, Chloe Mae. Now my eyes are filled with sparkles and happy tears. My bitter cup was made sweet.

My prayer when I was pregnant with your sister Jane was that it would be God's pleasure to bless us with a healthy child. That He would find joy in giving us something we desired so greatly. I don't know why He allowed us to experience her loss, but I do know one thing for sure: the heavens rejoice over you, and we do, too.

The first time I met your birth mom I made a joke to my family members that I was going to ask her for her baby. We all laughed, but God knew I wasn't really joking. God knew that a thread had been woven, a connection had been made, and five months later you would be in my arms.

I can only imagine the delight God must have in giving you to us. I think of how your father and I call each other our "puzzle piece" because we fit together so well, and how you are another perfect fit in our family puzzle. He knew you would look like your daddy with your blue eyes and that you'd have long fingers like me. He knew you would love to laugh and snuggle and read.

I marvel at you, Chloe. You are sweet, smart, beautiful and funny. I am honored and proud to call you my daughter.

Happy birthday, precious one.

xoxo
Your mama

Dear Chloe (10 months)

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Your first birthday is getting closer and closer, and it's really freaking me out! Realizing how quickly the time is passing has made me even more determined to enjoy slow days and appreciate every precious moment we share.

In your tenth month...

  • Your Aunt Katie did your swim class with you, and then Grandma took you a couple weeks later! You've always enjoyed being in the water, but now you no longer get upset when you go under and when your eyes get wet. 
  • I took you to story time at the library and "babies at the Bear" (interactive song and play at the toy store downtown). We hadn't gone to either activity since you were only a few months old, and you have so much fun! You explore with no fear and don't seem intimidated by the other kids.
  • You started clapping and dancing! You love "Patty Cake" and music and wobble your upper body in the goofiest way. 
  • You got two more teeth! You now have EIGHT TEETH, you little shark baby, you!
  • You started slapping me. I'm not a fan.
  • You started snuggling more. I'm a HUGE fan.
  • You learned how to go down stairs. You're still getting the hang of it, but you're coming along!
  • You know what several things are and will get them if we ask you to. This never fails to amaze me. We can say, "Where is your caterpillar book?" and you will crawl to your books and rifle through them until you find "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." You've heard us say "ball" or "caterpillar" or "blue block" so many times that I guess you've picked up on it!
  • Once you learned how to clap, you grasped the idea of asking for "more" in sign language (FINALLY). It's adorable.
  • You started pushing a walker! You took to it immediately and love dancing to the music the walker plays.
  • We can no longer keep up with you. With each month you become increasingly curious and on-the-move, but this month it went to a whole new level with getting into cabinets and drawers and pulling books off of the bookshelves. 
  • You went through a crummy phase of waking up in the night screaming like a banshee and sometimes crying for an hour or more. We play an animated version of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" on YouTube for you when you are sick or super upset. It instantly calms you and makes you smile. (Though sometimes you cry when it ends.)
  • I spent a night away from you for the first time. Both of us did well —thank God for FaceTime!

You have a big personality and an even bigger heart, baby. We love you!

Dear Chloe (9 months)

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I don't know how it could get any better than this. You are at such a FUN age! (Your ninth month of life was January 2017 — I'm always behind on these letters!)

Chloe Mae, you are a joy to be around. You smile, talk and laugh all day. There are only a few things that upset you, and they are: when you finish a bottle, when you're told you can't touch my laptop, when you see me eat my belVita biscuits (which I mistakingly shared with you once) and having to wait for food to be put on your tray. You also sometimes get cranky when you're put down to be changed or buckled into your carseat.

Things that make you happy: being sung to, dancing, reading books, chasing your ball (or roll of painters tape), swinging, going on walks, chasing the dog, watching the neighborhood kids play through the window, playing "peekaboo," climbing over your daddy, toys that make noise, Face-Timing and FOOD.

You are one busy girl. You crawl so fast that sometimes you trip over yourself. You go from room to room and play with everything from empty cereal boxes to a roll of painter's tape to a stray sock. You can stand up against something and bounce and talk for what seems like ages.

NOTES FROM NINE MONTHS:

At your nine month appointment you weighed 19 lbs 4 oz and measured 28.94 inches long. You're super tall and everyone thinks you're older than you are and tells me you don't look like a baby anymore. (Way to depress me, people.)

One of the most exciting things that happened this month was hearing you say, "guh guh kuh" — aka "good girl, Casey." You say it over and over to the dog and it never gets old. You're such a chatterbox! You said the word "baby" perfectly for a few days and then stopped. It was adorable while it lasted!

Your favorite books right now are "Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?" "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and "Home Sweet Home." You turn the pages and smile and giggle and look at each picture with intense concentration. One of my tricks for calming you down when you're upset is to recite the words from "Brown Bear" — I know it by heart!

We've learned that if you crawl away and we want you to come back, we only have to start reciting a book or sing a song and you'll come barreling towards us with a huge smile on your face.

You've started understanding space better this month and will peek under, over and around things. Though it's a bit hit or miss, there are times when you'll correctly point to things I've asked you to find, or picked up a toy I've asked you to get.

One of your Christmas presents from Grandma and Grandpa was enrollment in a "Water Babies" class at Hood College, which you started this month. The indoor pool is loud and busy and a bit overwhelming for a little one, but you seem to enjoy your class. I'm not a fan of putting on a bathing suit in the winter, but seeing you in your little pink suit makes it worth it. I love the way you hold me tight in the pool and how you smile when the instructor pulls you around on a kick board! 

You FINALLY went down to two naps a day this month! Whoohoo!

We can't get enough of you, bunny.

Dear Chloe (7 months)

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Sweet bunny, I never want to forget the way you shut your eyes tight when I turn the light on in the morning and then open them with a big smile on your face.

You kicked off month 7 by saying "dada," which we thought was a really big deal, and then five days later you started crawling! You constantly amaze us. It was as if a switch went off in your brain and suddenly you knew how to move your arms and legs just so. You take little breaks and rest on your side like a model, and then you're on your knees again and ready to go.

We celebrated your first Thanksgiving at Meemaw's house and your Aunt Melissa snuck you a taste of whipped cream while I wasn't looking. People love to spoil you — they see those chubby cheeks and sweet smile and can't help themselves! Thanksgiving day was fun, but the night was AWFUL. You had your first cold and refused to sleep in your pack-n-play because you couldn't breathe. You could only sleep propped up between your dad and me, and you would rest for all of twenty minutes at a time before waking up screaming bloody murder, legs kicking and arms flailing. I thought I was going to lose my mind. Your screams made my heart hurt and I cried with you. I also desperately craved sleep. Your dad was a saint through it all and sang to you and walked you around the room while I wept tears of exhaustion. You've been a great sleeper since day one, so I guess we're due a few miserable sleepless nights.

Speaking of sleeping, you're still on a three nap schedule. I've read 7-month-olds can go 2-3 hours between naps, but not you, bunny! Two hours is pushing it with you. You started WAVING this month when I take you upstairs for naps or bed. I don't know who or what you're waving at, but it's adorable! You are almost always thrilled to be put in your crib and you immediately pop in your wubbanub pacifier and snuggle with your lovey.

You're one busy bee! Now that you're crawling, you are constantly on the move. It only took two practice sessions for you to learn how to climb the two stairs that separate the living room and dining room. We have to keep a close eye on you because you know how to go up, but not down. We haven't yet baby-proofed — our current method has been, "Wait! Stop! Put that cord down! Don't tear the leaf off that plant! Don't stick your fingers in the dirt!" It works some of the time...

You've recently started making a super goofy wrinkle-nose face (captured in one of the pics below) and you'll make a rapid blowing noise that sounds like a woman in labor. It's ridiculous and hilarious and I thought you were SO WEIRD, but then we found out your friend Caroline does it, too! You're not alone in your weirdness, bug.

Your fluffy pooch remains one of your favorite things. You squeal when you see her in the morning and always try to crawl after her. Casey likes you the most when you are in your high chair and you drop Cheerios and other foods on the floor for her to gobble up.

As the month has gone on, you've added a few new consonants to your repertoire. You've mastered "dada" and now say "ba" and "la." I joke that you are calling me by my first name when you say "lala."

Your mama turned 30 this month! I imagine this birthday would have been hard if you weren't a part of our lives. You're the best present I could have ever asked for this year — and what a happy surprise you were/are!

We truly delight in you, Chloe Mae. 

 

 

 

Dear Chloe (6 months)

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Dear Chloe,

I read this on Instagram recently and thought it perfectly summed up how I felt during your sixth month of life: "A good mom has bad days and great days and normal days and overwhelming days and perfect days and supermom days and just being a mom days and a whole lot of love and real and crazy motherhood days."

(Let's be honest, I feel this way all of the time.)

Month 6 has held a lot of changes and new experiences.

Sleep: As most parents will tell you, as soon as you get on a good schedule, your baby decides to change it! A month and a half ago you went to bed between 8:30 and 9. Now you go to bed around 7 and wake up at 7! You go to bed so early that by 8 or 9 p.m. I'm already missing you tons. Sometimes your dad and I sneak in your room at night and pick you up for a snuggle. We can't help ourselves. :) You now take your naps in your crib, and you usually take three naps a day... though your last nap is usually only 30-45 minutes long. You sleep more than what I read is "normal," but I'd rather have a baby who sleeps than one who doesn't! Plus, it's no wonder you're tired — you're growing SO much!

Eating: You've always been a great eater. You make excited noises when you see me get your spoon out, and you almost always burst into tears the second you realize you've sucked all the milk out of your bottle. You currently eat peas, unsweetened applesauce, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, pureed meat and veg, pureed meat and rice, pears and mangos. I recently started giving you two or three Cheerios on your tray to keep you occupied while I cook and you love to pinch them and push them around. Sometimes you get one in your mouth, but you mostly drop them on the floor for the dog to gobble up.

Playing: One of my favorite things to do with you this month has been sitting out on the stoop and enjoying the fall weather. You sit in your bouncer and play with your feet and I read my book, and it's absolute bliss. EXCEPT, you recently started leaning forward and almost tipping out, so bye bye bouncer. We've also removed your play mat, which no longer kept you contained. We have three main areas of play for you: your room - where we keep most of your books along with a stacking toy and rattle, the living room - where we keep your ball and crinkly book and a few board books and the den - which has your beloved jumperoo. We recently added a johnny-jump-up to the main floor, and while it's a huge pain to get you in and out of, it's worth it because you love it so much! 

Growing: You are now 16 pounds 12 ounces and 26.38 inches long! I can't believe you haven't cut a top tooth yet because you have been teething CONSTANTLY! You started sitting up on your own right at the six month mark. Being able to plop you down wherever is fantastic. You aren't crawling quite yet, but you scoot yourself around and end up in the craziest places. I've found you under your crib, under the living room chair and under a table. You recently worked your way completely around the couch by scooting backwards. Oh, and speaking of growing — you've had two haircuts this month! TWO!

Saying: The day before you turned seven months you said "dadadada" multiple times. I thought your daddy was going to burst with pride! You continue to chat, grunt, razz and squeal, and you've been experimenting with volume — so much so that your grandma and I found ourselves shouting to each other in the car once just to hear each other over the sound of your loud babble. It isn't hard to make you laugh, and you often wrinkle your nose when you think something is funny. 

Firsts: One of my favorite parts of parenthood has been enjoying all of your "firsts." This month you went to the pumpkin patch, experienced swinging and going down a slide, wore your first Halloween costume, sat in a restaurant high chair, sat in the front of a shopping cart and sat in your stroller (instead of carseat).

You bring us joy every day. You light up our life, baby girl!

 

Dear Chloe (5 months)

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Dear Chloe,

I cried in the car the other day because I was missing you, and I couldn't come straight home from work because I had a doctor's appointment and we needed meatballs from Costco. You squealed and kicked your feet with delight when you saw me come through the door. Girl, you're the CUTEST!

You have the smoothest skin, perfectly-shaped ears and the most precious chipmunk cheeks. Your soft, yummy-smelling hair is growing fast and I can now give you a tiny fountain of a ponytail on the top of your head! I can't get enough of holding you in my arms, kissing you all over and making you smile and laugh. I miss the days when you'd sleep on my chest during every nap. Now you mostly nap in your pack n play, though occasionally we nap together side by side on our backs, holding hands. That's pretty wonderful, too.

So far every month of your life has seemed like the "best month" to me. But then the next month comes, and that's really fun, too! I am trying to keep this in mind when I'm tempted to collapse into a heap of tears just thinking about you turning six months in a matter of weeks. 

Here's what's new:

- You are very distracted by your surroundings. You used to look people in the eye when they would talk to you, but now you gaze off in the distance and look at things like paintings and furniture. You can get away with this behavior now because you're little and cute, but maybe don't do this forever, k?

- Your little hands love to grasp, pull and rake. You rake your hands across your crib sheet, people's shirts and blankets. You like to pull my hair and occasionally get a hold of one of my earrings. You can be a bit rough when you touch faces and have grabbed noses, slapped cheeks and poked people in the eye. Crazy girl! You often grab something from your bassinet right as I start to pick you up. Once you carried something all the way out to the car before I noticed! You just started throwing things, and I'm amazed by the strength in your little arm! I recently noticed your hands exploring the outside of your diaper, and sure enough this morning you pulled one of the tabs on your diaper open. It was a good thing I caught it in time, because there was some nasty business inside! 

- You discovered your feet! They keep you entertained for long amounts of time.

- Your legs are always kicking, especially your left one. You move around on your play mat and in your crib, and I wouldn't be surprised if you're crawling before long. You get so excited when we put you in your jumperoo (yours is an older version of this one) and you bounce and spin and explore all of the different toys. You particularly enjoy toys that make clacking noises or rattling noises.

- You cut your second tooth shortly after your first one came in! Your teeth are ADORABLE. You almost always have two fingers in your mouth. Your tongue is often twisting around and exploring the new development, and you continue to chomp on anything and everything.

- You've now tried both oatmeal and pears. You weren't too sure about the oatmeal — you pushed it out with your tongue — and it gave you diaper rash and an upset tummy. We gave you a week off from food and today, after watching you "chew" (with nothing in your mouth), I decided to see if you would go for some pear. You loved it! You gobbled it up and leaned forward with eagerness. In a few days, or maybe next week, we'll see how you like sweet potato.

- The funniest thing happened a couple weeks ago. I had never had you in the bathroom before while I've gotten ready for the day, but for some reason I decided to pull your rock 'n play into the bathroom so you could keep me company while I did my hair and makeup. I turned on the hair dryer and you nearly shot out of your seat with surprise. You got a confused look on your face and your hands went up and covered your ears! I couldn't believe it and practically fell over from laughing so hard. I confess I had a bit of fun turning my hair dryer on and off just to watch your little hands shoot up to cover your ears. I had never seen a baby do that before! Later that week you covered your ears when a train went by, and again when your daddy let out a loud sneeze. It's just the cutest thing ever. You are such a smart girl!

- You're obsessed with blankets. We keep your bouncer next to our basket of blankets in the living room, and you'll reach your hand out and grab hold of a blanket and pull it towards you. You also adore your lovey — you rub your face in it, pet it and try to eat it. 

- You can feed yourself a bottle if we use a small wide one, but we don't do it too often. I love to feed you!

- You talk and talk and talk! You mostly babble at a normal noise level, but you occasionally experiment with shrieking and yelling. You especially enjoy talking to dogs and you crack up when they play with their bone or ball. You ADORE the baby on the Pamper's box and you smile, coo and chat with him. (Her? I don't know.) 

You continue to be a happy and content baby most of the time. Your smiles never get old! Each one feels like a gift. You're a delight to be around. You laugh every day, multiple times a day. We often start off our jokes by saying "Hey Chloe" and now just hearing those two words makes you giggle.

I love you, little bunny.