You, my darling daughter, are now two months old. Luckily you are not yet old enough to notice that this letter is late. I’m sure you would feel this is because you’re the second child, but it’s the marking for my course that has kept me from finishing this on time. I have to put you down far more than I would like to try to finish one last teaching-related email, and I’m looking forward to finishing the course at the end of this month and having E. start back at school in September so that you can finally have some of my undivided attention. Your infancy will always be busier than E.’s was, but I do want to carve out some time for just the two of us.
You are already showing signs of having very firm opinions about a number of things. You want diapers changed immediately after they’re soiled. You want to be held facing outwards so you can see what is going on around you. You want to sit on someone’s lap during meals instead of in your bouncy seat so you’re at the same level as everyone else. You want to nap in carriers during the day and you want to nap as soon as you start to feel tired and not several minutes later after I’ve finished whatever I was trying to do when you first yawned. And, most of all, you do not want to be put down during the day, not even for two minutes while I wash my hands after a diaper change. You are definitely still a baby in the fourth trimester.
Although you do still spend much of the day doing your best Winston Churchill impression – you have quite the scowl and a very intense stare – you’re also very cheerful. You started smiling early, but this month the smiles have become much more frequent. One of my favourite times of day is after your first feed in the morning where you don’t immediately go back to sleep. When I’m getting you out of your sleep sack and getting you dressed for the day, you always give me these enormous gummy smiles which light up your whole face. I’ve finally managed to capture a couple of smiles by getting Daddy to get you to smile while I wield the camera- you clearly respond to faces and the camera is enough of an intrusion that I can’t get a good smile on my own. You’re also cooing now and you want so badly to be able to carry on a conversation. When we speak to you, not only do you coo back, but you open your mouth, wiggle your tongue and your eyebrows, and wave your hands. You have a very expressive face and you already have so much you want to say. You have huge brown eyes- so dark they’re almost black and the pupils all but disappear in some lights. Your hair is equally dark. You have quite a bit on some parts of your head and not very much at all on others. You also have a whorl at the crown of your head in the exact same spot as your brother’s. I know from experience that this is going to make taming your hair a challenge once it gets longer.
You’re already very strong. You’ll tolerate tummy time for a couple of minutes if I prop you up on a nursing pillow and you’ll not only lift your head but you’ll work hard to try to push your chest off the ground as well. You can support your weight on your legs if you’re “standing” against my chest and you’ve started to prefer this position to just being held when we’re working out any burps after a feed. People often comment on how good your head control is. It feels like you’re in a rush to get bigger and stronger, and I suspect you’ll be crawling well before your brother did. When you’re in the K’Tan getting ready for a nap you’ll often drop your head right back to gaze up at my face and smile at me whenever I look down. I can’t resist giving you kisses when you do this, which makes you smile even more, even though I know you need some quiet time to settle and fall asleep. When you do start to get sleepy you bury your face against my chest and I can feel your hot little breath on my skin. If you get over tired you slam your head against my chest (sometimes so hard it startles you and makes you cry).
I’m so grateful for how well you’ve been sleeping at night. Your record is 10 hours straight (from 9 p.m. until 7 a.m.) but your usual big stretch is around 8.5 hours. We have yet to experience any consistent success in getting you down for the night before 9:30 or 10 p.m., but that’s a goal for next month. This month I’ve just been enjoying the sleep. The evenings are a bit of a challenge as you’re usually overtired, overstimulated, and just generally over the day. Most evenings Daddy puts you in the carrier and takes you out for a long walk while I put your brother to bed and then work on the course until you’re back and ready to start cluster feeding. I’m positive all the fussiness and cluster feeding contributes to your exceptional sleep at night; I just hope you can keep the long stretches once we establish a more reasonable bedtime. We switched this month from the swaddle to the sleep sack as it was clear that you no longer liked having your arms tucked in. It was an easy transition- we swaddled you with your arms out for a few nights and popped you in the sleep sack. You’re still sleeping in the bassinet, but you don’t have that much more room left.
I try not to worry about your weight gain. You’re growing in leaps and bounds- at your two month well baby appointment (a week before you actually were two months) you were 61 cm long and had a head circumference of 40 cm. Those measurements are identical to those of your big brother at the same age, but you were over two pounds lighter (at 10 lb, 9.5 oz to his 12 lb, 11 oz). You’re gaining more than the minimum (if only just) and you’ve been gaining at a consistent rate for weeks now, so I think I need to stop comparing. I just hope you’re not going to slide down the percentiles the same way E. did once he hit the six month mark, as you don’t have very far to go!
This month saw your first long journey by car as we made the trek to go and see all of your Canadian grandparents. The drive there was traumatic. It usually takes us a bit over six hours, but it ended up taking eight as we had to stop at every single rest stop on the highway to feed you, change your diaper, and give you a cuddle. Then we’d put you back in your car seat, we’d get a few minutes of quiet, and then you’d start crying again. The last hour and a bit we just drove without stopping while you screamed, because nothing we did was helping and we had to get there. E. spent most of the ride wearing his noise cancelling headphones and informing us that you were crying. It broke my heart to have you be so unhappy and to be so utterly powerless to make it better.
We were dreading the ride home, but then you surprised us by sleeping for almost the entire journey. It still took eight hours, but that was with two long stops instead of six, and there was probably less than twenty minutes of crying in the entire trip. The major difference between the two was the time of departure. Driving there we didn’t get away until 3 p.m. and then we were in stop-start traffic for the first hour. Driving home we left at 7:45 a.m. and had a clear run all the way through. You tend to nap better in the mornings, so we speculate that we just hit a better rhythm. Daddy also wonders if you get carsick like your father and brother; if so, the stop-start traffic at the beginning of the outward journey might have made you feel sick and then you felt sick the rest of the trip. The other option is you were in a growth spurt by the time we drove home- you fell asleep on the carpet after we took you out of the car, and then fell asleep in your travel crib while doing tummy time the following day and in your bassinet when put down for two minutes. I can’t emphasize enough how utterly unlike your usual behaviour this is, so maybe we just lucked out with the second trip by catching you at a sleepy point in your development.
That trip was bittersweet for me. I was so glad you were able to meet so many of your relatives- your aunties and uncles who live further west, your two cousins, who both absolutely adored you and who argued every morning over whose turn it was to hold you first, and your Great-Grannie. You also met both of your Grandpas. One of them you will never get to know- we drove when we did specifically to make sure that he had the chance to meet you before he died. I hope with all my heart that you will get to know and love your other Grandpa and that he will be a part of your life for many years to come, but your relationship with him will not be like the relationship he had with E. before his accident. You won’t know any different- he’ll just be your Grandpa- but it is hard for me.
The easy drive home again after our week away at least made it easier to put you in the car again right at the end of your month for your very first cottage vacation. We spent a week on a lake with two other families. I dipped your feet in the lake- the water was warm enough that you didn’t mind and I think you liked the feel of the sand between your toes. Otherwise you spent the week doing all the same things you would do at home: sleeping a lot at night; nursing a lot during the day; and napping in carriers. I liked wearing you down on the beach. There was shade there no matter what time of day, and I could watch your brother play while you slept. You also had an afternoon nap in a carrier with Daddy every day- he’d walk around until you fell asleep and then he’d sit down and read a book for an hour or two. There were two toddlers there and I found myself imagining what you will be like next year as I watched them play in the sand and wade in the lake.
I’m not surprised that you’re already two months- we’ve been so busy this summer and I know now how quickly babies grow up. You’ve settled in so well. It often seems like you’ve always been here, and your Daddy and I are so very glad you chose to join our family. We love you ever so much.