Letter to Eli, 29 and 30 Months

Dear Eli,

I have fallen behind in my letters to you, and just at the time when you seem to be changing most rapidly. Now I feel like I don’t even know where to begin in trying to give you a bit of a recap of your life over the past couple of months!

You have changed from attending the toddler group speech and occupational therapy group to going to the developmental preschool program twice a week. You love it there! It’s in the same building as the other program and there is some overlap of the teachers and therapists that you adore so much. One main difference is that the day is three hours instead of two and you go BY YOURSELF! Last March I would never have guessed that you would have become this independent so quickly.

You are so proud of the things you make at school! We are going to have to figure out some strategy for storage as they are beginning to take over the house, yet I don’t dare throw much of anything out. You love to go and fish a project out of the pile and declare “I made this!” Even something made weeks ago will be revisited with equal amounts of pride and satisfaction as the paper that came home just the day before. Anything I tape to the fridge is soon in tatters as you feel the need to remove it to show it to me again.

And speaking of your declarations… in the area of speech you have really taken off. You now use complete sentences more often than not. And you talk all. the. time. (unless we are with other people)! And know what? I’m loving every minute of it! Just nine months ago you’re expressive language was evaluated to be at the level of a nine month old baby, now you are pretty much right on track. You still have trouble with pronouns and some pronunciation problems, but nothing that is very out of place for a two and a half year old.

One thing that you say constantly, as in at least 100 times a day, is “Oh My!” I was unaware that is was something I said on occasion (or perhaps often) until you picked it up. You say it anytime one might say “Look!” or “Wow!” or “Uh oh.” ¬†It’s actually quite cute, if somewhat repetitious.

Your father and I have been marveling at what an easy child you are to manage these days. At the store you will find things you want, bring them to us (“I need this!”), but if we ask you to put it back on the shelf you cheerfully do. We can generally reason with you, and verbally prepare you for those stickier situations that have caused behavioral problems in the past, and you do alright. Maybe it’s the recent surge in your language ability, or perhaps just a new level of maturity. You have always been a delightful child, but easy has never been a word I would have applied to you. I gotta tell ya, I’m enjoying this stage immensely! We’ll see how long it lasts. ūüôā

You now joke often and seem to always find the humor in things. The people who work with you at school comment about this as well. They say they love having you around because your laugh is so contagious! Your first verbal joke appeared right around the time you turned 2 1/2. You said you wanted to eat, so I asked you what you would like to eat. Your reply? “Eat pee pee? Eat poo poo?” ¬†Yep, you are definitely a boy. Now one of your favorite jokes is to try to convince me that Dan Zanes on the concert video is playing a guitar even though you know it’s a mandolin; for some reason you find this endlessly entertaining.

The pictures in this letter were taken during our family’s recent vacation to Washington State. It turns out that traveling is pretty hard on you at this stage in your development, more so than it has been in the past. You begged multiple times each day “Go home?” But even so you were a wonderful travel companion. Our flight out was delayed an hour in the terminal and then an additional two hours in the plane just sitting on the tarmac. This for a late afternoon flight that should have gotten us into Seattle for a in time slightly late bed time. But my boy… such a trooper! You were cooperative and meltdown free the entire time, even though we didn’t end up in bed in our hotel until 2:30 a.m. I’m still shocked, it’s more than I would expect from any 2 year old, much less from one who has had ¬†sensory processing and excess energy issues.

Now every time you see a plane overhead you say “Eli do that. Eli do that again!”

Even though you pined for home and your beloved guitars you enjoyed our time playing in the forest and at the beach, climbing on a stationary train, and playing with children in the families we visited. Since getting home though you haven’t been liking to spend much time out and about. You last for one activity, such as a visit to grandma, school, or going to church, but then it’s “Go home!” even if the next activity is something that is generally toddler approved, like going to the park. I think (hope) as we settle back into a routine you’ll become more comfortable being out in the community again.

Your fascination with music and instruments has grown beyond guitars and drums. You now pretend to play the trombone, the trumpet, the bass and the violin. You can identify the saxophone, french horn, tuba, piano, harp, bass, banjo, mandolin, accordion, harmonica, and I’m sure others that I just don’t recall right now. When we pass a music store with real instruments in the window you will stay there transfixed for 15 minutes or more. Once I read to you the sign on the door saying that they give music lessons so that people can learn to play instruments. You began tugging on the door with all of your might begging to go inside. Luckily the store was closed, because ¬†you are still a pretty much walking death sentence to any instrument you get your hands on (other than the drums). When you learn to treat things a little more gently and you have a bit longer of an attention span I am sure music lessons will be in your future.

And finally, our days of babywearing have come to a definite end. We had pretty much stopped the practice with the onset of this pregnancy, but the Ergo made it’s appearance once more to help us navigate the airports on our trip. I’m glad I had this last opportunity to enjoy you this way, and that you were in a sleepy, snuggly mood for a portion of it. I’m so thankful that the morning sickness has pretty much faded and that I had the energy to do it. It really felt so nice and I needed that opportunity to say goodbye in a gentle way to this part of our relationship. But the day after we got back from our trip the doctor told me that I should now not be lifting any more than 20 pounds. Oops!.. you are somewhere between 38 and 40 lbs. at this point.

I hope you want to still hold my hand for a long time to come.

I love you so very, very, very much!

Mama

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Letter to Eli, 29 Months

Dear Eli,

Oh my beautiful boy, what a challenging month this has been! I think it is safe to say that it has been the most difficult month we have experience together from both of our perspectives. And while I would give almost anything to have been able to make it easier for you, still, I’ve got to say that you have astounded me with your resilience.

Your Mama is growing you a sibling that will be born right around the time of your third birthday. Both your Daddy and I are so pleased, as we have wanted you to have a sibling’s life-long companionship from the very beginning, but weren’t completely convinced it would be possible. So many people have commented to me already that you are going to make a terrific big brother, and they are so right! You have ¬†incredible sensitivity and a heart overflowing with love for those around you. I can’t wait to see the shape that will take as you forge a relationship with your new brother or sister over the years to come.

The temporary downside of this pregnancy however is that it has come complete with all the morning sickness Mother Nature can dish out. I’m quite familiar with it as it took up residence in your poor Mama for the first 4 months of her pregnancy with you as well. We are praying it doesn’t feel as inclined to stick around quite as long this time.

This has meant a quick succession of great losses for you. As I am barely able to lift my head from the pillow for the greater part of most days you have lost a playmate. You’ve never been one to like playing by yourself, yet the best I can do now is watch you and comment on what it is you are doing as you do it. It’s just not the same. There have been no art projects or cooking sessions, no going out to visit friends in the neighborhood, few tickle sessions, and much, too much, TV.

I can no longer carry you in your beloved Ergo. Not only do I not have the energy, but as I am also usually light-headed and unsteady on my feet, the last place you should be is strapped to my body. This also means that I’m not carrying you in my arms much at all either. One good side to this though is that you are learning to cuddle. You have always craved physical contact, but unless there was nursing involved, it had to be with the one holding you standing up. Now that you will snuggle in along side me for a good cuddle while reclining it’s become a much more relaxing experience for me!

The biggest change in your life though has been that we were forced into weaning. I had always planned that you would be able to nurse as long as you felt the need. I dreamed that you would grow up with sweet memories of the time you spent feeling safe, secure and so very loved nursing in my arms. I had read up a lot on nursing through pregnancy and then nursing a toddler alongside a newborn. I know it is very possible and a wonderful experience for many that choose to go that route with their family. But for me this morning sickness is too great an obstacle. It is so very difficult for me to eat and I am losing much too much weight. Not only was I unable to take in the extra calories that are required for the pregnancy and the additional calories needed for breastfeeding, but the act of nursing itself made the nausea beyond unbearable, further decreasing my ability to eat and keep down food. Initially, we decided just to night wean as at that point the worst wave of illness generally caught me during the very early morning hours. You and Daddy moved into your room to sleep leaving mama with the “family” bedroom (and master bathroom!) to herself. It took 14 nights for you to accept the idea of sleeping without chi-chi. It broke my heart to hear you cry for me and to be unable to respond to you, but your Daddy was with you, loving and comforting you the whole time. As the morning sickness has become even worse we eventually had to stop even your daytime nursing sessions. This has also been difficult, but not nearly so much as the night weaning. You now have accepted that “chi-chi is broken” and you don’t ask anymore. I am so sorry, Little One, but please know that I sincerely tried my hardest to keep going. I would never have done this this way if I had any other choice.

But because of all of this you are learning to sleep! Most nights now you are only up once begging to eat. Other nights you sleep all the way through. Getting you down without nursing still remains a challenge. Naps only happen if Daddy takes you out in the car in the afternoon. You go down and sleep through the transfer into a stroller and your father gets a couple of hours to work on his laptop or do some reading in the air-conditioned Barnes And Noble Cafe before you wake up. At night,¬† initially you would just go an go and go until eventually you’d crash wherever you happened to be, which was often on the bathroom floor.

Now you will occasionally go down lying in bed next to one of us, or with a story in bed with Daddy, but that is still rare. Most often it still takes Daddy holding you and dancing slowly as he sings to you. You are very specific that this has to take place in a certain spot in the living room. Sometimes it feels like baby steps, but considering you were still often up six times a night just a few months back, you really have made a lot of progress. Eventually you will learn how to negotiate that release that takes you to the Land of Nod independently.

In many areas you have been becoming increasingly independent. Probably the most often heard phrases in our home these days are “Eye-yai (Eli) do!” and “My turn!” And oh the tragedy if your father or I should accidentally preform a task that you think should be yours… even if it is something you’ve never shown interest in doing before! While not always convenient this drive of yours towards independence is helping you to grow rapidly in all sorts of skill areas.

I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve been letting you play with the iPad far too much to keep you entertained while I am unable to engage with you the way I always have before. You really love using YouTube. Your favorites are TuTiTu videos, episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (you don’t seem to care what language it’s in so we are hearing a lot of Eastern European cartoon voices lately), and most of all videos by Dan Zanes and Friends, especially All Around The Kitchen and House Party. You can’t watch the music without strapping on your guitar and playing along. You also now will switch between an acoustic guitar and the electric guitar as appropriate (even when playing along with music on the stereo). You think all guitars should be plugged in now so you’ve rigged up ways to attach the vacuum cleaner cord or the cord to an old Skype headset to your guitars before you begin to play.

As I am writing this to you a bit late it’s getting difficult to remember where one month ended and the next began in terms of what you’ve been doing lately. Especially since we are lacking photos this time around I think I’ll stop here. I’ll be writing to you again really soon.

Thank you for all of your patience, help and understanding this past month. I know it has been difficult but you have done a marvelous job of adjusting. I am so, so proud of you!

As always, I love you very, very, very much!

Mama

A Beginning to the End of Babywearing

Today was the tipping point when I finally realized that using a stroller will be easier than carrying Eli in the Ergo. I’ve been getting comments for months now about how he looks as big as I do, and am I STILL carrying him in that thing?

But the truth was that babies grow gradually and I was okay with his weight. I love babywearing. I like the closeness, the extra snuggle time that gets added into my day. I like how I know what he’s looking at and can respond when he notices something and points. I like that I can talk to him without stopping to walk and having to bend down. I like that I don’t have to take ¬†up all the extra space that one needs when navigating ¬†a stroller.

Baby in buggy, 1935

Image via Wikipedia

But though they grow gradually, grow they do, and Eli’s 30 pounds make traversing our hilly neighborhood quite a workout these days. Especially with the diaper bag backpack added as a counter balance.¬†I was so excited when I researched the Ergo as it says it can be used to 40 lbs and is tested¬†to 90 lbs. I thought I’d be able to carry Eli this way until he was 3 or 4, or as long as he was content to be carried. But one must also add the mother’s stature into the equation, and I’m no Uma Thurman.

I will still use the Ergo from time to time. When Eli doesn’t want to leave a place it can be impossible to strap him into a stroller, but he calms down and stops squawking as soon as the Ergo straps are buckled. When he is tired or needs to nurse the Ergo is so convenient. But when we are ¬†going to be leaving for an extended walk, I think I’ll have to start reluctantly using the stroller.

Unless a back carry position can buy me more time…

Baby carrier

Image via Wikipedia