My Darling Poppy June,
In the days leading up to your first birthday, I was stricken with a severe case of bittersweet sentiment. How could you be one already?! Didn’t you just make your debut on this earth? Truth be told, your first 6 months were a bit of a blur. I don’t want to rehash all of the things so I’ll just summarize and say, it was tough. Really tough. Maybe a stronger mother wouldn’t have been as affected as I was, but I guess that doesn’t really matter because I am your mom. All of the good, and all of the bad. Your mom.
Let me tell you about you. You are our supreme snuggler. I mean it. No one can snuggle like you can. At a very young age, you would wrap your tiny arms around our necks for hugs. You pretty much solely napped being held until you were around 7 months old despite our best efforts. And even now you love to lay your head on my chest, or crawl up to my legs while I’m doing dishes or getting ready and give a big hug and a pat, pat, pat. And before you lay down to sleep, I’ll hold you in my arms, sway back and forth, and sing you a song. It’s one of my favorite things I get to do in my day. And you don’t like to just cuddle with people. You love all soft things: stuffed animals, blankets, towels, scarves, my shirt. If it’s soft, you grab it and rub it on your cheek.
You eat more than I would imagine to be physically possible for your young age. I’m trying to think if you have a favorite, but nothing is coming to mind because you pretty much eat everything. However, we learned you are not a fan of cake at your birthday party. There was no convincing you; I even tried the next day. Nope. You were not having it. You’ve recently started to point to things that you want which is pretty cute, and would be even cuter if it wasn’t followed by your shrillish banshee cry you use to get our attention.
You love music. It doesn’t seem to matter what kind; you’re an equal opportunist. We’ll be driving in the car, and we’ll hear you clap, clap, clapping to songs you like. Or you’ll become a conductor having your arms out and bouncing when the music moves you. And when you’re crying in the car, 9 times out of 10, if I put on the Sinatra XM station, you’ll stop crying. No other station, just old Blue Eyes. Man, oh man, was that a blessing to figure out. You particularly like it when they play Barbara Streisand. You must be a sucker for schmaltzy singers.
While you are a smiley baby, you aren’t much for laughing. I can count on 2 hands how many times you’ve laughed or giggled, but when you do it lights up my whole world. When you get excited about something you scrunch up your nose and stick out your lips, and breathe in and out of your nose really fast. We call it your bulldog face. I’ve never seen a baby do that before, and I think it’s the cutest dang thing in the world.
A blessing and a curse at times, I am your favorite. You love your mama to the moon and back. When you’re upset, no one else will do. Obviously, I love how much you love me, but when you were at your most challenging self, it felt like the weight of your well being was on my shoulders. The older you get the more and more drawn you are to your dad and your sister. Just the other day you saw Dad’s car pull into the driveway, and you were bouncing your whole body up and down out of excitement. You sure know how to be adorable. And obviously whatever Isla is doing is exactly what you want to be doing.
I could keep going and going, because there is nothing in this world that I love more than my family. I hold all of those special memories close to my heart, and I look forward to all the more memories to hold dear.
P.S. Some pictures from your special day.
There’s a part of life that people don’t often talk about. Maybe out of shame. Maybe to stay positive. Whatever the reason may be, Depression is often a hush hush topic. My lovely girls, Mommy slipped into a deep depression this last year. It was sneaky and mysterious. The lines between typical daily struggle and something darker blurred together to the point where there were no distinguishing differences.
I was 100% my worst self. I did not recognize the person talking to her children, and I did not like her. The scariest part was that I did not recognize that person as someone who was struggling. I thought that was me. The new me. And that’s when things took a turn for the worst. I knew that I wanted more for you then what I had become, and I was certain life would be better without me in it. I hate saying that. I hate admitting that it took me getting to the lowest of lows to realize that maybe this wasn’t me. That I needed help. And fortunately that’s exactly what I received. From your dad, family, friends, my doctor, and one really great counselor. All of these amazing people would help me realize that maybe I wasn’t helpless and such a failure, and that it is 100% OK to take an antidepressant.
As I write this, it has only been 3 months since my “Dark Day” so all of this still feels very fresh. I want you to know that this was not you, nor was it me. It just was. And if someday you find yourself not recognizing your own behavior, I want you to reach out to tell me or someone who knows you well that you trust. Tell them. Tell them the behavior that doesn’t feel like you. Tell them to watch out for you and to make sure you don’t slip deeper. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be ashamed. People love you and believe in you.
I hope that whenever you (or anyone else) read this that you find strength. Strength to admit and face your struggles. Strength to be vulnerable. Strength to hope for your future.
My darling girls, I am so sorry for who I was to you during that period of life. With time, I hope to fade those memories by replacing them with ones full of joy.
My Darling Girls,
Momma is starting feel like she’s in a much better place now a days. Between some therapy, exercise, deep breaths, 2 wonderful babysitters, and a mantra for this new year (“Let it go”) sailing is at least a little bit smoother. Never underestimate the power of deep breathing girls. It can get you through a lot of challenging circumstances. Also, having your mantra be a well known Disney song doesn’t hurt either. Singing and dramatic arm motions have quite the de-stressing effect. I also got the chance to flex my creative muscle at an all day photo shoot for an ad agency. It was so nice to have a sense of accomplishment outside the home. You both are wonderful, but I’m also more than just a mom. It was nice to feel that.
You are the cutest little chunk nugget! You know you have a chunk nugget when you can play peekaboo behind your baby’s thighs (which you love). You and sleep are not friends right now, but you and your toes are. You found those suckers last week, and you’ve gone from just barely grabbing a toe to grabbing both and trying to get them in your mouth. Then just yesterday you figured out how to roll from you back to your belly. Today you were rocking and rolling like you mastered the skill weeks ago! You’ve started to laugh a little too which is among the best things in life. For the most part you’re just a happy, mostly easy going babe. You’ll need to pump the breaks on growing girl because I don’t know if I’ll be able to carry you in your car seat much longer. At your 4 month check up you were 14lbs 12oz and 24.5 inches long. And unfortunately we’ve been trying to fight off a yeast infection for the better part of the last month. Sorry sweet girl. While I’m grateful you don’t have any serious medical issues, you do constantly have something going on with your health.
Your favorite things right now are blowing raspberries, grabbing your winkle rattle, watching your big sister, and grabbing your toes.
You like your sister have not been the biggest fan of sleep. We’ve gone through this super fun (not really) trend of getting out of bed multiple times at night and marching into our room… you know, right after we’ve fallen asleep from taking care of Poppy. Luckily we’ve bought a little clock that turns green when it’s ok for you to get out of bed which has helped a ton. Unfortunately, you are pretty wishy washy with naps even though you desperately need them still. Here’s hoping this all resolves itself.
Now the fun stuff… you retain information like I can’t believe. I’ll say a word once and somehow you have deciphered the meaning and starting using it in a sentence. It blows my mind! Because of that now I’m much more careful what I talk about in front of you and have stopped listening to NPR in the car. You’ve started using the term “all day” a lot which is completely adorable (“I eat snacks all day”, “Ellie poopy all day”, “I love you mama all day.”). You do this sweet thing during our night time routine where you make Daddy lay on the ground and then you proceed to tackle hug him.
Your personality is much like it has been but with more things that intrigue you. You have lots of favorites. You love to dance and sing, ballerinas, smoothies, Mary Poppins is still high on your list, pretending to be a dinosaur/tiger, and you love to love on your little sister. You love to lay your head on Poppy’s chest, Poppy seems to love the snuggles, and this momma loves all the love. You got to play in the snow for the first time, and you had your first Christmas morning of waking up and seeing presents. A very magical morning.
I know I’m missing a ton of details from the last month, but sometimes you just have to write what you can remember and…. Let it go.
My Darling Girls,
Another month goes by with endless opportunities to learn and grow, and I’m mostly talking about myself. Between 2 colds and a bout of food poisoning, I feel like I’ve been in constant recovery. I’ve also learned that once a perfectionist always a perfectionist, and so I’ve been working on that not running and ruining my life. Those tendencies towards perfectionism sneak into my life from time to time, and I don’t even notice it most of the time because it’s such second nature. The good news is that when I realize that I’m going down that path again, I can try to pull in the reigns and calm down a bit which really helps me mentally and emotionally. So here’s looking to you January, let’s make it an even better month.
Spunk Nugget (i.e. Isla Rose),
You are so very spunky, full of sass and life and as stubborn and strong willed as yours truly. We’re still in the same mode we’ve been in: easy-to-get-along days and everything-is-a-fight days. There really only seems to be hot and cold, but I guess that’s life with a toddler. Not helping this situation is the double ear infection and two teeth you have coming in. Poor baby, I can’t blame you for being a little pissy.
You’ve been getting into everything you’re not supposed to lately. You practically gave the babysitter a heart attack when she thought she lost you, but you had just found your way into the garage. Every morning you now get out of your bed, open your door, and come find us. You then announce, “I got out my bed.” You then shrug your shoulders and give the most adorable little giggle like it was the most unusual thing to happen as of late.
The Christmas lights, Polar Express, Christmas movies, there is just so much to love about Christmas time! You’ve been to see the lights at Rhema in Tulsa and at Botanica here in Wichita. You met Santa 3 times, and you got to ride on the Polar Express (I was so sad, because I had to miss out on this). You like to point out the stockings on the mantel and for some reason always ask, “I eat them?” So very random and so very funny. It’s true what they say, the Christmas magic is stirred in your heart when you see your children’s eye light up with the wonder of the season.
Your flavors of this month are frozen blueberries (pronounced “boobies”), pretend play (which I adore), helping us in the kitchen, and singing “jingle bells, jingle bells, HEY!”
Pop Nugget (i.e. Penelope June),
Happy 3 months, baby! You are 100% a different baby, and the whole household is thrilled! Your presence feels so much more like you were when you were first born. There is a calmness and awareness about you that I just love. When you smile, it starts in your eyes and then washes over your whole face. Your eyes squint and you bashfully turn your head to the side. I live for those smiles.
You also love a good conversation. Your voice starts off small and soft and a few minutes in your inflections are boisterous and completely adorable. Getting to chat with you makes my days so much brighter. Just these small glimpses of your personality are so thrilling to experience. They remind me of what I loved about Isla’s first year: the miracle of the growth and development of a person! That is no small miracle!
You are incredibly strong and rock tummy time like it’s nothing. You’ve rolled over from your tummy to your back a handful of times, but it’s almost always accidental. You’ve started to be much more active while rolling around on your blanket, more kicking and bopping around. You love this play mat that has a mirror right above you and a keyboard at your feet to kick. It has some toys that hang down, and you’ve started to bat at them. You’re quite focused when your working at reaching for the toys; I love seeing the wheels in your head turn.
Thank the good Lord above, you have been sleeping so well 95% of the time at night. We’ve had a few nights you’ve slept a full 12 hours even! Nap times during the day tend to be pretty short, but I don’t have to fight you for them most of the time and you’re not grumpy when you’re awake so I’ll take it. Something special we’ve done lately is take a nap together while Isla is sleeping. Not only has it been nice for this sick mama to get a nap in, but those warm, sleepy snuggles are what dreams are made of.
I love you girlies. Until next time…
We are still trying to figure out this whole family of four thing, and mom is having a hard time adjusting. There really isn’t anything quite like a newborn to bring out all of my less desirable qualities, but fortunately for me you won’t remember it. I’m feeling guilty because I can’t completely give all my attention to either one of you and I want to desperately. I’ve never been a great multitasker (a common female trait that I missed out on).
Poppy, you’ve been so uncomfortable in this world. Whether it’s “colic,” reflux, or overstimulation, you and sleep haven’t mix easily. Sometimes it feels like we do everything but a rain dance to get you to sleep. Fortunately, in the last week you’ve been doing much better, and you’ve been so much happier. It’s hard to tell since you’re only 2 months old, but you feel like a very gentle spirit to me. You’re very smiley, and you have the softest little voice. It immediately melts away all the frustration I may be harboring. You love to cuddle, and you’re face immediately lights up when we start our chats. I think you would prefer to live life in my arms right now which is very sweet but can be a little tiring and unrealistic. It’s funny how even though you look identical to Isla as a baby, you’ve already carved your own notch into my heart.
You are continuing to grow like a weed… 12lbs 11oz and 22.25 inches long. You’ve graduated to size 2 diapers and 3-6 month clothing. It blows my mind because you very much still feel like my newborn baby girl fresh from the hospital. I’m 99.99% sure you’re our last baby so I’m trying to savor these times, because you’ve already blindsided me with how fast you’ve grown just in 2 months.
Isla, what can I say about you girl? You are the apple of my eye (Poppy, you are too… I just get to interact more with Isla now). For the most part you’re the same feisty, sweet, and smart girl you were last month, but you have been using the potty on and off which is a pretty big deal. This is also the first Halloween you participated in. You were a cake, and you were so dang cute. You were very apprehensive of the whole trick or treating experience, but you got the hang of it in no time.
We went on a mommy daughter date to see Mary Poppins the musical. I was floored by how well you did at the show! You sat on my armrest and watched the whole thing, only asking “where’s Poppins?” if Mary Poppins wasn’t on stage or gasping in awe at the actors flying across the stage. That night will go down in the books as a favorite. Getting to share something I love with you and you loving it just as much… words can’t fully explain how special that night was for me. Totally worth you staying up 2 hours past your bedtime.
You’ve also been processing daily occurrences more and more… point A to point B to point C. It’s fascinating and awesome seeing you grow. Sometimes you flat out floor me by what you already know and understand. I need to start writing those moments down, because while they aren’t monumental they’re very special. I’m just so proud of you, and I can’t wait to see you conquer the world.
Your current obsessions are The Polar Express, Mary Poppins, dancing, grapes, coloring, and the color purple. On a side note, I asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up. I start listing off occupations (doctor, president, teacher, businesswoman, etc), and when I got to “Mommy” you beamed and said “yeah, I wanna be Mommy.” Raising a toddler is hard because a lot of the time you feel invisible except when someone is mad at you or needs something. But the way you said you wanted to be a mommy, it allowed me a glimpse into how you see me and love me. Lord knows I need that occasionally. I proceeded to tell you “why don’t you be a mommy and the president?” Girl, you can.
Well girls, in the spirit of Thanksgiving I think I’ll wrap this letter up with telling you how grateful I am to be your mom. It sounds simple, but it’s so so big.
My Darling Girls,
My goal (and no promises as life does happen) is to write a letter to the two of you every month. I did an okay job of that with your first year, Isla, but not such a great job on your second. You just celebrated your 2nd birthday, and, Poppy, you just turned 1 month old so this seems just as good of a time as ever to start.
Isla Rose you are fun and frustrating at this age (more fun some days, more frustrating others), and I’m learning a thing or two about growing my patience. You have been the best big sister to Poppy, very loving and caring, and I have a feeling that once Poppy can interact with you more you’ll be in heaven. It is hard for you to learn to share Mommy and Daddy, and so we have some behavioral things we’re working on… but you are only two so you’re very much just acting your age.
You have so many things you love right now. You love your family, and often times we’ll go through a “role call” if you will where you ask where everyone is at any given point in time. You are your mother’s daughter because you love to color, paint, and create (when you say, “I made that” my heart warms and tears come to my eyes). You are always going a million miles a minute. When you’re awake, you’re BUSY… jumping and dancing. It’s pretty dang cute. You’ve been on a big Mary Poppins kick; you could watch it over and over without losing interest. With that has come lots of singing, and you have such a sweet little voice (and surprisingly good pitch). You also love Daniel Tiger and Curious George.
You also love to talk…. all day long… often times the same thing over and over again. Right now some of those phrases are:
“I like that/I don’t likey”
“I lub boo”
One of my favorite moments leading up to your birthday was the week of your birthday. You knew that for your birthday you would get cake (you’re a big fan), and one day you started singing “happy birthday to me…. cake?” Your dad and I laughed so hard, because my child, your humor and delivery are on point.
We love you so much Isla Rose, and I look forward to seeing you grow even more this year.
Poppy, oh my darling girl, you are WORK. When you sleep, you tend to sleep like an angel, but GETTING you to sleep sometimes takes an act of God. You’ve had a lot of issues spitting up and with food sensitivities so there have been periods of time when you are so uncomfortable. When you would be awake, sometimes you would just scream. It broke my heart (and my spirit a bit to be honest). We also just found out that one of your nasal passages isn’t full open (actually, it’s practically closed) which makes you sound perpetually congested. The doctor said that it’s open enough to not need surgery, but closed enough that if you get sick we’ll have to watch you like a hawk to make sure you’re getting enough oxygen. Scary stuff, so we’ll pray our hardest and try our best to keep you away from illnesses this year. It’ll grow as you grow which is good news though.
You ARE growing like a weed though! Since you were born, you gained almost a pound a week! You have easily filled out your 0-3 month clothing no problem, unlike your older sister who grew much slower. Your face is so round, and your body is so squishy. I just love giving you kisses and cuddling with you during Isla’s naptime. Since sleep is very hit or miss with you, you’re a pretty sleepy babe. Every once in awhile we’ll get some tummy time in, and if we’re lucky (and you’re feeling well) a few sweet smiles.
We love you sweet girl. I hope you start feeling better soon, and I can’t wait to see your little personality grow…. and to get some more sleep (#keepingitreal).