Oct 4, 2011

Dear Daughter: Month 7

Dear Vivienne,

You are now a seven month old baby. I say this every month, but the time is whizzing by. You are developing physically and mentally at a pace I never would have expected. Even your daycare headmistress commented that your mental progress is astounding. I'm delighted that my little girl is so smart and bright.

As you might realize as you grow older, your old mother is a little bit of a hippie, especially where child-raising philosophies are concerned. I'm really a believer in attachment parenting; I believe true independence will come from a place of security. As long as I let you know that you are loved, and safe with me, you will develop your independence yourself. However, I didn't think you were going to do it at six months of age! We had all been co-sleeping happily, though your father had asked that we start putting you in the crib when you turned 6 months old (the age that the SIDS risk plummets). I was decided that we'd co-sleep for a much longer time, maybe up to a year or so. However, the day you turned six months old you started wriggling and fussing in the bed with me. You also abruptly decided the bassinet in our bedroom was no good for you either. In an effort to find anything comfortable for you, I placed you down in your crib, at which point you promptly fell asleep for 7 hours. I miss my little co-sleeper terribly, so when you wake up at around 3am, I take you into the bed with me for the remainder of the night as you are usually too sleepy to notice.

To make up for the loss of co-sleeping, you have reinstated a different bonding activity between us this month. For the last couple of months, you were not remotely interested in nursing during the day, because there was too much to look at. I am glad to report that you have now decided to boycott bottles in favour of nursing. This has posed a problem for your daycare minder, as well as making outings a little more challenging (compounded by your refusal to abide nursing bibs), but I couldn't care less. I love having you nurse again.

The most momentous activity this month for you was our trip to Kansas, which marked your first flight. I was extremely nervous about flying with you, not because of the reaction of other passengers to crying, but to the idea that you would be in pain. I did lots of reading, and sought advice from many people as to how to minimize discomfort. However, it was all for nothing, as you promptly fell asleep right before each take off, and when you did awaken, you were as cheerful as always. I was given many compliments from other passengers about how well behaved you were. My personal moment of triumph was sharing a quiet cuddle with you as a two year old a few rows back was throwing the mother of all tantrums.

Everyone in Kansas was enamoured with you. Your Great-Grandmother Melva had not seen you since you were a month old, and was thrilled to see how much development you have accomplished since then. She commented on how mentally acute you are, noting in particular your fine motor skills. I've always known you were brilliant but it's nice to have it confirmed by someone who ran a daycare for 28 years.

Another concern about travel I had was the possibility that you would get sick. Luckily you didn't, but the week before our trip to Kansas, a stomach virus went through your daycare. You threw up a couple of times, but you never fussed and you didn't get diarrhea like the other children. Your father also caught the bug, and was knocked down for a couple of days with aches and chills. I ended up getting something between the two of you. I think you fared better because you are such a strong and happy little girl, but also because you have been nursed. I've read that being nursed lessens the frequency and severity of contagious diseases. As your father and I weren't nursed, I think we can attest to that theory.

Your daycare is going really well. Marie, your minder, says that you are one of the sweetest children she has looked after. She also commented on how alert and bright you are, and told me that you are really social. Apparently, you stroke the other babies when they crawl by you. I've been working on teaching you to pet the cats (as opposed to grabbing wads of their fur), and I think you might have thought I was telling you to pet anything smaller than you! Marie also said that while you are sweet, you also have a good temper! I have to agree with Marie, as I have seen you get close to terrible two levels when I try to put you in the car seat, or when I fail to get your cereal quickly enough. Your Nana claims you got that from me.

At daycare, you had your first school photo taken this month. I wasn't planning to buy anything as we take photos of you, and my friend Kristin is a great photographer, and is available to take pictures of you. However, I put you in your little "Collins Family" Sweater, and you looked so adorable that your Dad and I ended up buying one. It's very cute.

Your biggest discovery this month is that your little jumper in fact allows you to jump. It's very sweet to watch you in it. You seem to forget that it has this property, and accordingly discover with great enthusiasm every couple of minutes that you can bounce in it.

This month has seen a great increase in the amount and variety of solids that you are eating. You love your rice cereal and oatmeal, but your absolute favourite is bananas. You have started eating sweet potatoes and carrots, but avocados are being firmly boycotted. I have a confession to make: I've been sneaking them in with your bananas! And what better time to become interested in solids than the same month you cut your first tooth. You were a little restless one night, but not fussy at all. The next night you returned to sleeping happily, and when I dropped you off at daycare, Marie told me she had spotted your tooth the day before. I was a little sad to be reminded that in all likelihood, Marie is going to see you reach as many milestones as I do, if not more. Nevertheless, I am so blessed to be your mother, and I am delighted by how quickly you are meeting those milestones, so who gets to see them is less important.

This month has been so much fun. You are just the sweetest and happiest little girl I have ever met, and I am in awe of how quickly you are developing. I was watching you sitting up unassisted and playing with your activity mat the other day. You took the mirror I have hung from it, and angled it so that you could see yourself. Then you inspected the wings on one of the butterflies. You held part of its wing between your thumb and index finger, and there was a very certain purpose to your movements. I remembered how only months earlier, you would lie down on the same mat and flail your arms about aimlessly. It's amazing to watch your progress unfold before my eyes. I am so proud of my precious daughter.

I love you, Beebop,

Mum xxx

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