My darling Rhiannon
You are now one year old!
This time last year we were still in the hospital, both of us still recovering from your unexpectedly early arrival into the world. You were constantly cuddled close to me, skin to skin, as we got to know each other. I hated putting you into the bassinet, and only did so when absolutely necessary. We were learning to breastfeed, and I was fervently hoping we’d make it to six months. You were a tiny little doll, but even then your gorgeous big brown eyes tried to take in everything (even though you couldn’t see very far with any clarity).
Living with a newborn was both familiar and completely new all over again. I remembered, vaguely, that I got up a lot with a newborn. Nothing really could prepare me for waking up that frequently, and still needing to be a present parent for my older child (instead of just sleeping whenever you did–although I did as much of that as I could). Breastfeeding was also very new to me, as was trying to figure out how to breastfeed on the go.
You were a bit fragile at the start-getting hospitalized twice-one at a month of age with gastroenteritis and once with RSV at two months of age. Luckily, since then you’ve been quite resilient, although you’ve had the full complement of head colds your sister has brought home from pre-school (as have I).
You were both louder and calmer than your sister. When you want something, your shrieks spiral up into decibel levels we’d never experienced before, earning you the nickname of ‘the banshee’. However, those moments are fairly rare (and usually have to do with wanting a diaper change or food faster than I am capable of delivering either). In general you are the calmest, happiest baby I’ve ever encountered. You are easily pleased–a cuddle is your most common request, and one everyone is happy to give you.
You are adored wherever you go. When we drop off or pick up Elanor, the teachers of the school all know you by name, and often pass you around to adore and cuddle you. They’re a group of aunties to you, who are just as excited by the news that you had learned to sit up or crawl as we were. In crowded elevators you draw smiles and waves. Even in the US, where babies aren’t as universally adored as in Asia, you were smiled at and adored. You look at the world as a place full of people who love you and are happy to see you…so you move through the world with an equal amount of love and happiness to share with them.
However, there are few people you adore as much as your big sister. The two of you have a mutual adoration society I’ve written about elsewhere. She gets some of your biggest smiles, and you are her favorite person most days as well. I have loved watching the two of you develop your relationship–it is a source of smiles and a great source of comedy (she defines “sharing” as she gets to play with your toys, for example).
You are already very well traveled, having flown to the US twice and to Australia once. I would argue that you are not the biggest fan of flying, but the reality is that we won’t really get a sense of what sort of traveler you are until you’re a bit older. It’s awfully hard to sit still for that long as an adult–it’s clearly so frustrating to sit still when you’ve just learned to crawl!
You love food. You were a big fan of breastmilk from the start. For a short time, we were able to give you the occasional (maybe once a week) bottle of formula if you were with your dad and I wasn’t around, but you soon wised up and flat out refused, occasionally deigning to accept apple juice if absolutely necessary. Jarred food was not a big hit, but once you learned about table food, you immediately began to demand it, squawking loudly in anger if we didn’t feed you fast enough or share all the food you felt it important for us to share.
Your favorite foods are blueberry yogurt, ice cream of any flavor, french fries, toast with strawberry jam. You eat with far more enthusiasm and interest than we’d ever seen before (your sister being an eat to live kind of child, whereas you live to eat). However, you are very petite–you’re about 14 lbs–almost triple your birth weight, and still quite teeny (for which my back is very grateful).
I love that I have let myself have the luxury of enjoying where you are now, rather than worrying about what was next.
Your sister was so ill just after birth, and her personality was always so driven to do the next thing now now now that we were always focused on what would happen next with her.
With you, we accepted your changes as they’ve happened, but not worried about if they had happened yet or why they weren’t happening faster. Personally, I was thrilled that your teeth didn’t come in until about 11 months and am very happy you’ve not started walking yet. If I’m being honest, I’m probably much more present and calm with you because I’m not so stressed about potential medical hiccups. I probably have allowed myself to be calmer and more in the moment with you…and that’s been a wonderful luxury.
Having said that, two days ago we saw you stand alone for a second as you picked a toy off the couch. Then you realized you weren’t holding on and immediately sat down. It was only a second, but both your Dad and I were so thrilled to see you growing and changing before our eyes.
You are still sleeping in a crib next to my side of the bed, and wake to nurse once or twice per night. I am definitely looking forward to sleeping the whole night through again (some day) but I really love those quiet moments at 4 am when the world is dark, your Dad is asleep next to us, and we just cuddle and breastfeed.
You sign “milk”–which can mean you want milk…and it can also mean “mama.” I guess it does make sense that the two are interchangeable for you. We have made it to one year of breastfeeding…and while part of me is thinking about weaning, I’m pretty confident that we’ll taper off naturally. You primarily nurse at night these days–maybe once during the day, but for the most part your waking hours are filled with an interest in food, not mama’s milk.
You say dada, mama, heeeeeeey (to mimic us) and are a pretty chatty baby in general. I can’t wait to hear you add more words to your vocabulary.
You view the world with great amusement. I can practically see your eyes gleam when you know you’re getting us to do what you want. You’ve started to play the drop something on the floor to see you pick it up for me. You know how to wave bye-bye but prefer to watch us wave and dance for you before deigning to gift us with a wave back.
There are days when it is tough. When I get frustrated at trying to balance two children, or feel frustrated on your behalf because I have to wake you early from a nap just to go fetch/take Ellie somewhere instead of letting you sleep. But I can’t imagine our family with you in it.
Happiest of birthdays, my darling.
A full set of pictures from Rhi’s birthday can be found here.