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Dear Ryan,

I’m sitting down to write this two weeks after your birthday. Such is the plight of the second child, I’m afraid. I’ve been composing it in my head for much longer, though. One year…just like that.

The first things people comment on when they meet you is your hair, and your happiness. Both are pretty remarkable.

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Your hair is starting to get a little too long in the back and is threatening to become a mullet if I don’t do something about it soon, but the thought of cutting it makes me sad. I’m going to wait it out a little longer until it becomes a vision hazard.

And your happiness? Oh, Ryan. You are just the happiest. You are always smiling. Always! You flirt and laugh and give giant, wet, open-mouth kisses. You have pride in your accomplishments and give yourself a round of applause when you do something well, all while shrieking “Yay!!” Sometimes I find you laughing while flipping through a book or crashing a car because, life! It’s a blast!

Your nickname around here is “Trouble”, and it suits you. You are into everything, so very scrappy, and are already proving to be my wild child. One of your favorite “scare Mama” tricks is to push your giant stuffed lion next to Owen’s closet, climb on top of it and pull on the net of his basketball hoop. Can you at least put a helmet on if you’re going to do that? Over the past two weeks you went from taking your first step, to standing from the floor on your own, to basically walking around the house like you own the place. I forgot how startling it can be to have a small person round the corner doing his best Frankenstein impression when you’re not expecting it. I think Kodiak forgot, too, because you’ve startled him a few times.

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I’m hoping once you are fully comfortable with walking that your sleep will go back to normal. And by normal, I mean you used to just sleep all the time. Naps were done in minutes without a fight, bedtime was easy and essentially through the night. As you’ve been working on this skill (and working on adding to your four teeth, I suspect) though, you’ve been up a few times at night, wanting to nurse constantly and have been royally fighting your afternoon nap. I would really, really like to go back to you sleeping. Really. Trust me, we are all happier when everyone sleeps. I will say that you always tell me when you’re ready to sleep. When you’re tired you cry “nigh, nigh, nigh!” until we put you down for night night. Never stop that, ok? It’s adorable.

You are a talker, mister. You are constantly babbling to yourself or anyone who will listen. Your consistent words include: mama, dada, wawa (Owen), dog, book, ball, bear, dat (that), yay, bah (cup), nuh (nurse), night night, hi, uh oh, rum rum (which isn’t really a word, but the sound you make when you drive toy cars around), and believe it or not, dinosaur. It comes out as “dye-dye-dye”, but you only say it when you’re playing with and showing me toy dinosaurs so I know that’s what you mean. What a funny thing to add to your vocabulary. You smack your lips together when you want to eat and always use the signs for more, all done, milk, and have created your own for lovey, which is you touching your mouth with your open hand just like you press your lovey to your face. (SO CUTE.)

Speaking of your lovey, you are totally attached to it. It’s a white lovey with a sheep head that was gifted to your brother when he was a baby. Owen never took any interest in it, but you clutch it to you while you sleep and like to carry it around when you first wake up. It’s slowly going from white to…not so white, despite washing it. I guess it’s just well-loved.

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Owen continues to be your ultimate buddy and it’s clear you already idolize him. If he does it, you need to do it too, and that means imitating him in every possible way. You need to drink from big boy cups, and play with big boy toys, and eat big boy food (you did purees for maybe a minute around six months. Then it was “give me what he’s got”, basically.) (Oh yeah, you eat everything. Every. Thing. And if there isn’t food on your tray mere seconds after I put you in the high chair you shriek!) He loves you to infinity and beyond, even though he’s become very territorial about his toys. I don’t think he was quite prepared for all that sharing. The joy in both of your eyes when you play or spontaneously hug, or the peals of laughter from both of you in the back seat makes me know we’re all doing something right, though.

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See what happened, Ry Ry? I finally got to writing about you and now I can’t stop. There is just so much to tell.

I will stop, though. For today. Happy first (and two weeks) birthday, my not-so-little Little. Thank you for the joy you bring me constantly.

I love you through and through.

Love,

Mama

 

Dear Ryan,

Hello there, my little due date baby. Today you have been out exactly as long as you were in. How we’ve already reached this mark is beyond me.

You are a joy, Ry Ry. From your sunny demeanor to your silly mohawk (which has earned you the nickname “Mohawka”), you completely brighten our lives. Watching you grow has been really fun. I naively thought that the second child would be so much like the first, that each time you do something uniquely you, I am surprised by it.

You continue to be a great sleeper, which is — wow. I mean, thank you for that. Your two naps are usually 1.5-2 hours long and if you go to bed at six that’s a late night. You wake usually just once at night to nurse and then sleep at least till seven. In the morning, I bring you to bed and after you nurse, you are all about your Dada. Owen will have joined us by then, and watching the two of you climb all over your daddy is the highlight of my day.

Your first word came right before you turned eight months old. It was Mama, and I’m not sure there’s a better sound than your child first speaking your name. Your tiny voice reminds me a lot of how Owen’s used to sound, so it’s a treat on multiple levels for me to hear it. It’s adorable, but you quickly learned that you can yell it from your crib, and so you do, at 3 a.m. “Mamamamamamama. Mama! MAMA!!!” Soon after, you followed with O-wa (Owen), yay, hiii, and most recently, Dada. I’m pretty sure you’re working on dog as well. You also clap your hands all day long and wave to people when you see them, and have recently started to give real hugs. Those are pretty awesome, kiddo.

You are going to be my daredevil, I just know it. You are seconds away from officially crawling, but you’ve been on your hands and knees for a while now and maneuver around the house pretty well. The other day I left you on the living room rug and moments later found you under the end table a few feet away. I was pretty sure it was going to be Owen’s waffle that finally inspired you to move your knees, but in the end I wouldn’t be surprised if you crawled first to the dog.

You refuse to sit still any longer, and will try and swan dive out of our arms to explore. We had to lower your crib mattress as you are now pulling up to your knees. You should have seen your face when I first discovered you like that — so full of pride and cheekiness.

You have solid food about three times a day now. Oatmeal, sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini, spinach, pears, peas, apple sauce and yogurt are some of your favorites. You don’t really enjoy bananas. Your pincher grasp is great and you eat puffs, diced fruit and shredded cheese like a pro, and pretty much have the sign for “more” down pat. You’ve pretty much mastered the cup, too, and do that funny frat boy chug with your water. You have yet to cut a tooth, though!

Owen remains your very best friend and I can see how hard you try to imitate him. Your whole face lights up when he enters a room and you shake and squirm until you can reach him. If he leaves, you crane your head and yell “O-WA!” until he comes back. You have baby toys, but would much rather play with his trucks or blocks. You already steal toys from each other and have started to wrestle. It’s quite the glimpse into our future.

According to our home scale, you are just over 20 pounds. I had to weigh you twice because your brother was 19 pounds at four months and I have a hard time believing you aren’t bigger. I guess we will find out for sure at your well visit next week, even though I can see you are certainly not the chunker he was.

You are a love, Ryan. From your little laugh to your great big smile, I couldn’t have asked for a better second baby. I can’t believe my next letter will be wishing you a happy first birthday!

I love you through and through, Chickie.

Love,

Mama

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Dear Ryan,

Today you are six months old. Hard to believe it, little boy. Six months is a fun age because you do stuff now. You sit like a champ, though you still topple over. But when you do topple, you roll onto your belly and play. You “talk” and mimic and grab onto our faces, holding them close while flashing us your gummy smile.

You are such a happy baby, save for the past few weeks where you were such a grump. I blamed it on teething (because I always blame this stuff on teething), but you woke up from your afternoon nap today all smiles and giggles and started to blow raspberries — something I haven’t seen you do yet. Was that the skill you were working so hard to master that was making you so angry? Raspberries? Well, you’ve mastered it now so let’s keep Happy Ryan around.

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I could spend my whole day staring into those big brown eyes of yours. Your eyelashes are unreal, kid.

Right before I went to sleep on New Years Eve, I checked on you and found you sleeping on your stomach. After that, it was Roll City. You like to rock yourself back and forth to move around the living room and the changing table has become a playground. As soon as I get you on there you start hurling yourself over, doing anything in your power to flip. You find this hilarious and laugh right at me as I try in vain to get your diaper on while you audition for the Olympic gymnastics team. You are trying SO HARD to move. You can almost get yourself up on your knees and I can see how much it pains you not to be able to just take off after your brother. I would not be surprised if you crawled and/or walked early.

You are my cheeky one, Little. With your sparkly eyes, big smile and infectious laugh I know you’re going to sucker me out of getting into trouble. You’ve got that “who me?” look down pat already.

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You are already a blankie/lovie kid. I don’t let you sleep with one yet for fear of you smothering yourself, but during waking hours the easiest way to calm you is to pass you a receiving blanket or a burp cloth and you are good to go. You always have one in the car to snuggle and suck on.

You’ve tried rice cereal a handful of times, but unlike your brother who literally “mmmm’d” his way though his first tasting, you could take it or leave it. Granted, it’s boring old rice cereal, so we will introduce you to some veggies soon, but it may be a few more weeks before you’re truly interested. Your cup, however, brings you much delight, and while you’re not really drinking out of it, you’ve gotten pretty good and putting it in your mouth. You’re also really good at banging it on the table while shrieking with delight.

Your four-month sleep regression was nothing more than you fussing a little more at bedtime and waking around 1 rather than 4 or 5. Thank you for that, kiddo. I really do appreciate it. You continue to be such a great sleeper — most nights waking just once and some nights not at all — and I love that I can put you down for naps and bed wide awake and you will put yourself to sleep.

Owen remains your very best friend and the two of you are so funny together. You laugh together and you always want to be touching him. You watch him wherever he goes and you love tagging along to his story hour and toddler dance class. You will mimic his voice and kiss his face and in turn, he showers you will love. I couldn’t have asked for a better pair.

Sure, you have days where I’m ready to put you out with the bath water…

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(Sure am!)

…but I think we’ll still keep you.

I love you through and through, Little.

Love,

Mama

Ryan will be four months old next week and yes, that’s wonderful and awesome and he is a delicious little ball of chunk and smiles, but I can’t help holding my breath and waiting for the other sleep shoe to drop.

I don’t have to tell you about Owen and sleep the first year. If I do, you haven’t been reading long enough. Feel free to browse the archives from June 2010 through…oh, well. Now, really. I mean, yeah. Owen and sleep, man. If we’re comparing apples to oranges, this is what was going on when Owen was four months old. At that point, his sleep had gone from erratic to “good”, good being 5-7 hour stretches at night, which really, I suppose for his age was pretty good. But then he hit four months and his first sleep regression kicked in. I had to go back and look it up because I swear, I blocked it out. I recall being awake all the time, but it’s a distant, blurry memory stored away in a dusty corner of my mind with those puff painted sweatshirts of the early 90s. The four-month sleep regression sucked so very much. So very, VERY much.

With Ryan on the cusp of this regression (and from what I hear, all kids go through it in some way or another so we probably will not be skipping over it, no matter how much I wish it away), I’m starting to get a little anxious. Here’s the deal with Ryan: a bad night of sleep for him is going to bed around 6:30 p.m. and waking up once somewhere between 3 and 5 a.m., then going back to bed for a few hours. I know, right? And that’s a bad night! Last night he refused to stay up past 6 and I didn’t hear from him until 7:10 this morning. Part of me thinks we earned this after what we went through with Owen, truly.

You can see why I am dreaded his night sleep getting screwed up. Especially since this time around I have a toddler, and that means no napping during the day to catch up on missed sleep. Owen still takes about an hour and half long nap in the middle of the day, but Ryan cat naps about 40 minutes at a time, so there’s little overlap between the two. I cannot tell you how much more sane I feel this time around; how much healthier than I did at this point with Owen. Sleep deprivation took a huge toll on me last time and I just can’t psych myself up for another round of it.

He’s been a grump this past week, napping crappier than usual and fussing a bit more, so I really do think it’s coming soon. (Also, the drool and red cheeks are here. Yaaaaay, teething!)

So there you have it. My kid sleeps really awesome and he’s going to throw it all out the window because he needs to grow and learn and develop and stuff. Jeesh, kid.

Dear Ryan (Dear Little),

Before you were born, logically I knew I would fall in love with you instantly. Just like your brother. I knew this in my heart because how could I not? You are my baby. There was a small part of me that wondered, though, how I was going to love another child in the same capacity that I love your brother. How was I going to love you both enough?

That was a silly worry, Ryan, because from the moment you arrived you settled right into our hearts, and all was right with the world.

You fit right in to this silly family of yours. I feel like even though we are still getting to know you, you’ve been here all along. You are a great baby. Sure, you have moments of screaming and days where you will do anything in your power to elevate the level of suck, but mostly, you’re just so good.

You sleep — first and foremost — and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that. Your brother dragged us through the mud in the sleep department, so the fact that most days you refuse to keep your eyes open later than 7 p.m. and often sleep all the way until the 5 o’clock hour is both a foreign and a brilliant concept to me. I’m not naive enough to think this will last forever (unless you feel like skipping over the 4-month sleep regression. I’m TOTALLY ok with that), but it sure has made these first few months easier than they could have been. You also sleep through basically everything — the dog barking, me vacuuming directly under you, your brother’s constant noise. I suppose it’s a matter of survival. You have no choice but to live in this established chaos.

I know I’m biased here, being your mother and all, but you’re a really beautiful boy. You came into this world so quickly (they told me to stop pushing because you were coming so fast, the doctor didn’t have his gloves on yet), so you were never really squished from being pushed out. You have big, dark eyes that were never really that newborn blue and lashes so long that they get stuck in the crease of your eyelids.  As you grow you are beginning to get chunky, and I now see a resemblance to your brother I didn’t see earlier.

Your big, gummy smiles make my day. You are most happy on the changing table. Maybe you are grateful for all those clean diapers? It is there I get the best belly laughs from you, especially if I tickle your armpits. You’re a big fan of your playmat, are not resistant to a little tummy time, will tolerate the Bumbo seat for a short while, and you like to nap in your swing. Since you still spend a fair amount of the day napping, I’m in no rush to stop your swing naps.

You are champion efficient nurser, but very different than how Owen was. When you’re done, you’re done. No attaching yourself to my chest with vice grips for the entire day. At first I kept trying to feed you more, thinking you must not be getting enough. But no, I should have just trusted your ability to get what you need quickly and happily.

You love your brother, Owen, and the feeling is mutual. He always wants to be near you and covers you with hugs and kisses. You tolerate this quite well, and often return his affection with smiles and coos. He sings to you and asks you if you had a great sleep and when you cry, he tries to give you toys or rock you to make you feel better. I really hope you two remain the best of friends throughout your life.

Your dislikes include taking a poop, your car seat (with a passion. I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re going to be in that seat for a pretty long time, so you best get used to it.), and 10:15 a.m. I’m not joking about that. For some reason, if you’re not in my arms at that time you are miserable. I’ll often find myself asking, “Really, Ryan? What is the problem?”, only to look at the clock and think, “Oh, right. 10:15.” Of course, this is usually a time of day where we need to be doing something out of the house, so I’ve spent many a 10:15 listening to you wail pathetically from the back seat.

According to our home scale, today you weigh 15.6 pounds. You little chunker, you.

I’m so glad you’ve joined our family, Little. You are a joy to have around and we love you to the moon and back. I am so excited to watch you grow and learn!

I love you through and through.

Love,

Mama

- Guess who is sleeping all night long in his bed with no crying? This beautiful little beach boy, that’s who.
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He did cry at nap time the day following the silent return night, but that night he went right to sleep. And the night after that. And again last night. His pajamas are covered in reward stickers and everyone is is great spirits. Your suggestions about keeping the door open were spot on. It never bothered him to have it closed before, and I was keeping it closed so the baby wouldn’t wake him, but we have found that leaving it open even just a crack appeases him and makes him comfortable. Good advice, all! Hopefully this phase has passed and if it hasn’t, at least I know we can use that method again with success.

- It’s 52 degrees this morning. We have a family birthday pool party to attend at 4 p.m. Something tells me it’s not going to be the best day for a swim…

- Ryan woke up at 4 a.m. and since he’s been sleeping longer and longer, when he does wake he majorly chows down. Usually I have to pull him off halfway through and burp him to prevent a massive spit up situation, but it didn’t matter last night. Last night while burping him over my shoulder, he projectile spit up all over the both of us and into the cushions of the glider.

And into my underwear.

This would be bad enough, had it been the first time I had baby spit up in my underwear. Sadly, it was not.

You guys. I’m so impatient! I know. I KNOW. Babies come when they are ready to come. But the remaining 12 days till his due date seem endlessly far away.

At this point last time I was done. DONE. I had awful sciatica, everything was uncomfortable and Owen’s arrival five days before his due date was such a welcoming relief.

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38 weeks with Owen (left) vs. 38 weeks with Baby #2

Owen was born on a full moon. The theory about the moon bringing babies isn’t proven or anything, but some people say the gravitational pull does the same thing to your uterus as it does to the tides.

I don’t know if that’s true, but today is a full moon and nothing is happening. Not even a little.

I really shouldn’t complain. I’m comfortable. Seriously, aside from being a little off balance, I feel great. I have experienced prelabor, or false labor, whatever you want to call it, this time. I didn’t have that with Owen and each time I have a contraction (an hour of them the other day), I think this must be it. And then it’s not.

I should just sit back and enjoy this remaining time before being awake all night and having two in diapers. I should make the most of the 4th and the time left as our family of three.

But oh, how I’m ready. I just want him to be here! I want to hold him and smell his new baby smell and introduce him to Owen. I want my family to come and although I still don’t know if I’ll manage this labor without an epidural or not, I actually want to feel those contractions that symbolize his birth is eminent.

So I wait. Hopefully not too much longer…

This weekend the clouds parted and graced us with two days of sun, the first in a week. We celebrated by spending as much time outside as possible. Our front and back yards are two of Owen’s favorite places to play, but the beauty of where we live is within minutes our toes can be in the sand.

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We explored. We discovered rocks and shells and the feeling of sand falling between our fingers. We threw rocks in the ocean and chased seagulls. Yesterday, in an effort to combat Owen’s afternoon crankies, I grabbed a bucket, plopped our butts in the sand and spent an hour hiding and unearthing a pile of rocks of with him. We left with tangled hair and smelling of salt water. It was perfect.

It hit me this weekend that our time as a family of three is running short. With just over nine weeks until baby is due, I’m noticing more and more each day how big Owen is, how personable and funny and beautiful. I want to bottle the memories of these last weeks and carry them with me, always remembering what it was like to be a mommy to one amazing little boy.

I cannot wait to meet our new baby, to watch Owen become a brother, but still, right now, I want to hold on so very tightly.

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Brothers on the beach

I know that come July I won’t be able to imagine my life without my two boys. I know that our puzzle isn’t complete yet, and baby is one of the pieces we’ve been waiting for. I know that Owen won’t remember these days of just the two of us digging holes on the beach, but I will.

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I will, my little boy. And I will cherish them forever.

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