You are seven months old, my dear, seven! And you have been busy making your little self known. You are definitely not “the quiet one” you seemed to be. Our days are filled with your squawks and squeaks, and more and more, it seems like you’re trying to communicate. You look right at us and grin, laugh, groan. You catch our eyes and make this breathy little dragon sound – lips turned in, and I think you know you’re being funny. You drop your toy, your breadstick, and you immediately break into a whiny cry, your lips out andpouting. You are ever trying out new squeaks, new raspberry sounds, seeing what your voice can do.
Your favorite thing to do is sit, unassisted, on the floor, surrounded by toys. You can play quietly by yourself for like 20 minutes, only tipping over when you’re really stretching towards a certain toy; often I find that you’ve gone from sitting to a crawling position. You’re not crawling yet, but you turn yourself on your belly from the 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock position with ease, rolling (both ways now!) and stretching to get where you want, to get what you want. You also do an armless backstrock of sorts, on your back, knees bent, torso up – and then you push off with your legs, scooting about 4 inches at a time. You can cover a surprising amount of ground this way.
You are also completley obsessed with standing. You love nothing more than to hold onto our hands and stand, or lean against an ottoman, or the side of your crib. Your “sturdy” legs, or “wide base” as your dad calls it, is really strong, and you just delight in holding yourself upright. The other day, you were sitting on the changing table. I was standing right next to you but turned my head for a second to address Owen, and before I knew it, you were nearly pulling yourself to standing, holding onto the dresser. What?! For as much as you love standing, you’re not so into the doorway swing, despite Owen’s attempts to rocket launch you from the kitchen to the dining room with his underdogs.
This past month, we started giving you solid foods, and thusfar, you are not a fan. You gag every three bites. You turn your head away. You cry. I’ve tried all the gentle foods, and you’re just not that into it. We have had relatively more success if we give you a breadstick or piece of fruit to hold and gnaw on while we sneak bites of pureed fruits and veggies in when you’re not looking. But at this point, I’d say you don’t really relish food. You sort of put up with it and look at us as if to say: Really? This is what we’re doing now?
You’re certainly getting enough to eat, though, Elsa Girl. At a doctor’s appointment last week, you weighed in at 20 lbs., 5 oz. – hovering somewhere around the 94th percentile. Your rolls are impressive, and your round cheeks just beg to be kissed all day. I know you’re going to crawl soon, and all those rolls will slowly melt away, so I’m trying to squeeze your thighs (or your “inner knees”) at least six times a day. I will miss your rolls terribly when they’re gone.
We’ve sort of lost our nights this past month. You and Owen are in the same room, and ever since the switch to your crib, you have been getting up at least once a night. You cry, and your dad and I race down the hall to get you before you wake Owen up. I take you back to the couch or our bed, nurse you until you fart or burp, when you immediately fall back to sleep on my shoulder. Having you asleep on my shoulder is everything – the heavy weight of your body, warm against mine, your breath slow and steady on my shoulder – these moments in the dark are sleepy, but I hold you for an extra minute or two, squeezing all the baby out of you that I can.
Now that you and Owen are in the same room, we do bedtime a bit differently. The four of us pile onto our bed. Your dad reads stories in his funny voices and accents, while Owen drinks milk and rubs his hair before squirming around the bed like a small otter. Meanwhile, I nurse you, being careful to keep your feet from touching Owen for fear of his foot-touched rage. You burp, usually giggle, refuse your pacifier. I try to relax you, sometimes giving you Tylenol for your slow and stubborn growing teeth, which you also refuse, believing it to be poison. Eventually we turn the light out and sing a song or two…I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, You are My Sunshine, Jesus Loves the Little Children, The Trains are Asleep…and we pray together. It’s one of my favorite times of the day, all of us together. Your dad carries Owen with his six stuffed animals, and I carry you, your head heavy on my shoulder. I lay you in your crib, tucking your bunny in with you, and you roll onto your left side, knees tucked up. I don’t know why all of this feels so weighty, so significant, but I don’t want to forget it.
And so I write.
You are a JOY, Elsa, and I’m so glad you’re mine.
Things You Love: sleeping in our bed, burping / farting, breadsticks, sitting up, toys (especially plastic keys, the tickle bug, and anything that makes a crinkly, plastic sound), bath time, being naked, the Ergo, when your dad bounces and dances with you, music, dancing, chewing on anything, Owen
Things You Hate: getting out of the bath (you cry bitter, bitter tears), getting dressed, your pacifier :(, when Owen takes toys from you, being fed with a spoon, most solid foods, tylenol
Elsa’s first experience of solid food.
Your dad and I have been saying it a lot lately – you just seem so much older lately. Here you are, already six months old, halfway to a year, and it’s like you’ve always been here. You continue to be extraordinarily sweet. You rarely cry. You wake up with coos and sighs. You kick your legs and grin when we get you from a nap. You can barely eat you smile up at me so much. You are just so content, such a joy to take care of.
Little by little, you’re gaining control of your body. You carefully hold toys and slowly, carefully bring them to your mouth, concentrating on not dropping them. When on your back, you immediately pull your toes to your mouth, and on July 27, a week past six months, you rolled over from your back to your stomach for the first time and now do it like it ain’t no thing. We stand you up, and you are pretty solid on your feet, and you’re just starting to sit up, though you use your hands to keep you from tipping over, not unlike a little frog.
My Elsie Belsie – you are just the biggest baby. You are wearing many 12-month clothes, and the same diaper size as Owen. Your rolls are one of my favorite things on earth, and I hope that I never forget how they all look in a swimsuit.
You now officially have teeth. As of July 8 (at 5 months, 2 weeks), your first two little bottom teeth popped through. I had my finger in your mouth to let you chomp on it a while (which you will do with anything these days), and suddenly there were two very tiny, very sharp teeth on my finger. It surprised me…because though I knew you’d been teething, you hadn’t been that miserable, so I had figured we had a ways to go.
Elsa Bels, you make me laugh all day long. You have started doing this gaspy, breathy squawk/screech. We can’t tell if you’re singing or talking, but if we do it back, you crack up. You LOVE music, and love to dance. You giggle the entire time we make you dance, throwing your arms up over your head and wiggling you to shake your little booty…you even laugh just watching us dance. You can’t handle Rise and Shine – it still gets you every time. Your face lights up at the sound of the bathwater running. You get in and kick and splash and look up at us as if to say: do you see this? It’s amazing!
And then there’s Owen. You are completely smitten with him, watching his every move with awe and wonder. You crane your neck as he runs by the couch. And in the (rare) moments that he comes close to you, engages with you, gently leaning his head in to hug you or to zerbert your belly, you are in heaven. You giggle and sigh happily. If it came down to it, I’m pretty sure you’d pick him over me.
Lately, it seems like the reality that you are here to stay has been hitting him…and he’s kind of having a hard time. It breaks my heart to see how much you love him and how jealous he can be of you. This gives me a glimpse down the road into rejection you might someday face. And the day you come home from school with your feelings deeply hurt, I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle it. I will comfort you and give you strategies and tell you that it’s okay to be hurt and that you’re strong and wonderful and loved, but then I will go hide in the corner of our bedroom and cry for you. I pray that your love is always returned well, Elsa Ruth.
Elsa, I’m so glad you’re here. I’m so glad you’re mine. I love that you are my little girl, that I get to be the one to nuzzle your cheeks and comfort you. You are an absolute joy, such a happy addition to this home, and I cannot imagine life without you.
Things you Love: pacifier, sleeping bunny, burping, pooping, the Ergo, bathtime, being naked, chewing on anything, Owen, your dad, me, dancing, music, books with high-contrast pictures, crinkly dice, Sophie the Giraffe, rolling over, being sung to, screens of any kind, swimming in the lake or pool
Things You Hate: getting dressed, being on your belly too long, being held by too many unfamiliar people, the slightest injury (your leg brushing into the doorframe as we walk by), the sun in your eyes