Today you are 15 months old. This month has seen a number of firsts for you: first bruise on your face, first (and hopefully last) ear infection, first steps on grass, first whoosh down a slide, and first ice cream cone all to yourself (although it was mini-sized), not in that order. And those are just the firsts I can remember...
Your first bruise on your face... I wasn't even sure you made contact with the edge of the bookshelf but I hugged you until your tears receded... it wasn't until I put you down that I noticed your cheek had gone all red with a white line across the swollen circle, and it later turned blue...
Well, that was how this letter was supposed to start. But in fact it is Sunday, the day before you are officially 15 months old. You are sleeping on your daddy right now, after taking a restless hour or more to fall asleep, then staunchly resisting being placed in your crib, then refusing to fall back to sleep until you couldn't stand it anymore and fell asleep crying in my arms. I had to hand you over to your daddy so I could eat.
You are sick.
See? Your eyes are dull and glassy...
You've had a fever for days and although you're cool at the moment every afternoon for the last few days you've gotten hotter and hotter through the afternoon, evening and night, until Friday night we took you to a doctor. You screamed and screamed when we laid you on your back for his examination, and struggled against the instrument in your ear. But the doctor says you have an ear infection, and we've had to give you liquid antibiotics, which you clearly believe is the most poisonous substance known to man, and it is horrible to force it down your gagging throat, to hold you down while you struggle and cry, clearly horrified and confused that we continue to force this nasty stuff down your throat even though you have indicated with absolutely no ambiguity that it is not to your taste. NOT TO YOUR TASTE, thank you very much. Luckily you only need one dose a day for three days, so only one more dose left for tonight. I surely couldn't force it down your throat for ten days straight.
We've also been dosing you liberally with tylenol, and you seem to think it's dessert: you suck at the syringe like it contains the nectar of the gods. At least we can make you a little comfortable. I'm worried that you were still hot in the middle of last night, and obviously uncomfortable, unable to get comfortable or fall into a decently deep sleep. Surely, the antibiotics should take effect by now (and they certainly seem to be affecting your poor tummy already). I am beginning to suspect that the antibiotics are making you feel worse than the ear infection alone. If the fever persists tonight, we'll have to take you in again, although what else could cause a fever and another else is beyond me.
I am starting to panic that you will never sleep in your crib again, that you will sleep only on my chest or shoulder forever and ever. I know this isn't rational, that you're sick and want the reassurance of your mum and dad, but still I panic, and I have to ask your daddy to tell me that things will be alright, that you will sleep without us again one day. It shames me that even when you are sick, when your normally bright blue eyes are dull and tired, glassy, I keep thinking of me, of my personal space that is no longer, of my sleep.
This weekend was your daddy's birthday, and Grandma and Grandpa came for a visit. They were supposed to babysit you while daddy and I painted the town red, but we didn't want to leave you when you're feeling so crappy, and they didn't want you to associate them with the nasty poisonous-tasting medicine. So instead the five of us went to the park, where we have recently started taking you to the playground, now that you are walking and all, and then we went out for dinner. The wind was strong and cool, but mostly it was quite pleasant to eat on the restaurant's patio with the golden evening sun lighting the burgeoning magnolia blooms spreading above us and the brilliant blue sky above them.
Grandpa drinking the sky last night... you are just outside the frame, happily in his lap.
So that's what's going on right now. But I want to get to what you've been up to for the last month, because mostly it's been pretty fun. For one thing you're pretty much running, and if you're on your way to do something you know we don't like you to do (like putting the computer in standby mode -- although thankfully you've moved away from the power button -- or typing on the keyboard or playing with the mouse, with frightening expertise) you start to move faster when you see us closing in on you, usually with a mischievous smirk that says you know exactly what you're doing.
Just in the last couple of days you have discovered, "Uh oh!" Only you take a breath between the two syllables and it sounds more like, "Oh! Oh!" You started employing "Oh! Oh!" like we do, when you dropped something. But now you say it after you throw things deliberately, or just before, when you're dangling your sippy cup of milk from one finger... "Oh! Oh!" You may or may not actually drop it. While we would prefer to discourage you from dropping and throwing things on purpose, your pursed lips and new words are irresistible and we laugh. Every time.
You love adult shoes. You try to put your feet in them, and take them out of the basket of shoes by the front door, and hide them around the house. Lately, your favourite place to put shoes is on chairs. If I can't find my shoes to go out, it's the first place I look.
You have discovered how to climb up on the couch all by yourself, and the other day I looked over from, er, the computer, and you were seated happily on the couch, with a booklet for a local artist's organization and my two shoes next to you. I laughed, and was happy that for once you weren't climbing up the back of the couch or standing precariously near the edge.
Now that you are able to climb up on the couch, I have just discovered the pleasure of you bringing a book (your new favourite is Baby Beluga and it's adorable to watch you 'sing' "Baaa Booo Boooooooooo") to where I'm sitting on the couch, climbing up, and snuggling in either next to me or on my lap for a story. I think this is my favourite new development of the month, sitting next to you on the couch. Sometimes you've even looked at your book by yourself, turning the pages and singing, while I get a chance to read mine.
It seems that all of a sudden you are really tall. The other night, we noticed with a startle that you take up more than half the length of the tub when we lie you back, feet kicking gentle ripples and occasional splashes. You can reach more and more stuff on tables, and instead of actually finding places for this stuff, we just keep piling it up higher in the middle. Every once in a while, you get your little fingers on something at the bottom of the pile and books and papers crash down around you.
Apparently you aren't so keen on the swing: "Get me outta here!"
But where I notice your size most of all is when I nurse you at bedtime. With our newish bedtime routine, once you're bathed and in your pajamas, I nurse you in the rocking chair in your darkened bedroom. This is the chair, and the room, where I nursed you when we first brought you home from the hospital. Your grandparents put a tv in the room and made it comfortable for me to spend a lot of time there, since I couldn't manage the stairs well for a couple of weeks. I spent a lot of time nursing you in that room, back when I awkwardly put you to my breast and worried about your latch (which was always fine) and marvelled in awe at your sheer perfection and miraculousness. Once I could manage the stairs again, I stopped nurisng you up there, instead preferring to be downstairs on our couch.
These nights, I am reminded in bits and pieces of those early days, except that I can't really remember them. I remember that you used to press your feet against the inside of my elbow, which seems impossible, now that my elbow barely goes around your bottom, and your feet dangle down by my knee. Your head seems pretty much the length of my forearm now, where before your entire body wasn't much longer than it. I am having to mark new relationships between our bodies now. These days, your hands are busy when you nurse, rolling on my belly or tucking into the envelope of space between my arm and my side, or holding tightly onto one of my fingers, rolling it then moving onto another. Watching your hands constantly moving, I can't for the life of me remember what you used to do with your hands as a newborn. Maybe you've always held a finger, restlessly comforting, comforting. I know we have lots of pictures of you doing strange things with your hands and fingers while you slept. But somehow I don't think you were yet reaching out for me with anything but your mouth in those very early days.
I can't believe I've forgotten the details I pored over for hours just months ago. Yet it's hard to reconcile this current nursing pair, us, confident, strong and relaxed, with that early nervous, awkward and novice pair back then. Back then I used to worry, really fear in the deepest part of me, that each breath might be your last, the you might spike a fever and I wouldn't notice. Now, I know what a fever feels like and take your temperature just to validate what I already know. Not only have you grown into a sturdy little toddler, even when you're sick, but I've grown into a pretty sturdy mother, mostly confident that you can communicate your needs, and I can understand you and mostly meet them. (Which isn't to say I don't worry -- I do -- I'm just more strategic, saving it for when you have a fever, like now, or other indications of illness or injury.)
Some children know from a very young age that they want kids of their own one day. I wasn't one of them. It wasn't until I was in my early twenties that I started to think it might be kind of neat to have a child. What I was unprepared for was just how much joy and wonder you'd bring into my life, along with everything else. I'm hooked.
PS you seem to have discovered your tongue recently. If you're not grabbing it, you're sticking it out or making 'th' sounds with it. All the time.