Benjamin: Month 9

Ben-

Today you are 9 months old! It’s been a really crazy month and I kind of feel like I’ve been tapping my feet waiting for you to hit this number just because I think you have been 8 months for forever now. At the same time, a year is dangerously close and I am not ready. My last baby is scarcely a baby anymore.

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The biggest accomplishment of this month is mobility. You can get onto your hands and knees and rock and push yourself backwards all around the house. In the past few days you finally figured out how to use your arms to drag yourself forward and suddenly you are everywhere. You’ve also very nearly got pulling to stand figured out, despite severely lacking the safety awareness to stand alone for any duration of time, so I suspect next month will involve a lot of lumps and bumps.

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You’ve got the tip of a second tooth now and you are a champion eater. You love all savory food, though your enthusiasm for the sweet stuff isn’t particularly vigorous. You’d rather have chicken and green beans over peaches or strawberries any day of the week. You do love carrots a whole lot, though newly discovered puffs are definitely the absolute favorite. You also mastered a straw this week, which is the best because now you can drink water anywhere and I can resume forgetting to bring waters with me (listen. I can only remember so many things).

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You are very possibly the most adored baby that there has ever been. Even if we only take into account your younger older brother, who loves you more than air and Ritz crackers, which is a lot. People routinely stop us and tell us how cute you are. At baseball you are everyone’s baby and you will lunge to see your mom friends. To say you are doted on would be a vast understatement.

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Your likes this month include: mom, dad, Jacques-Imo, food, especially puffs, water, when William makes you laugh, seeing any of us after a period away, touching mom at every waking moment of your day, snuggling, your pacifier but mostly the pacifier leash that you chew on all day long, standing all the live long day.

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Your dislikes this month include: strawberries, being put down, seeing me from across the room but not being able to actually touch me, when you crawl backwards instead of forwards, sleeping without touching me, any food or snot on your face, but also having your face wiped and having your hair brushed.

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In two weeks, I’m going to work my last day for a while and stay home with you. It was a hard decision we came to, but part of why I decided to do it is because this is the last time I will be afforded this opportunity and it felt too precious to pass up. I am so excited to get this time with you and your brothers, to be “just” a mom and to be more present for and with you. I learned this week as I watched your brother blow out 6 birthday candles just how fleeting this time is and I am excited to get to savor it for a while.

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You bring so much joy into our lives each day, Ben. You wake up smiling and your smile could light up the sun. All of us feel so happy to have you, to get to know you and we are all so much happier with you here. I love you so very, very much my sweet Ben. I can’t wait to see what next month brings.

Love,
Mom

Elijah: Year 6

Eli-

Today you are 6 years old. Son. How. I could swear that it was just last year that you were born and we took you home. I could swear it was just last month that you learned to walk and talk and just last week that you started preschool. And somehow, here you are, nearly finished with kindergarten. And six. You need two hands to hold your age. My heart feels like it could burst.

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You have grown so much this year physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s hard to believe it’s only been a year since you turned five. You became a big brother again and you are just the best at it. You love Benjamin, but you are gentle and sweet with him and very protective. You love when he smiles at you and you were so entirely delighted the day he cut his first tooth, I will never forget it. You went to school and told EVERYONE that “your baby” had a tooth. I could’ve died.

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You are truly enthusiastic to a fault. Someone will tell you something, you will respond with a “cool!” or a “yea” and then you will tell them whatever exciting news you have, regardless of whether it makes any sense in the context of the previous statement because you are just. so. excited. You love things deeply and passionately and you have little regard for what others think, which is a quality I especially envy. I fear that this is also a quality that will be soon lost to the peer pressures of other little boys in your life, but for now, I’m savoring your uncensored excitement about things because it is perfect. You share in the excitement of others too and it is delightful.

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You are going through a bit of a boundary testing phase. I truly think that 6 might be the new 2, just with a lot more words. You are pushing back when we ask you to do things, not because you really want to be defiant, but you seem to want to see what will happen. You test out new words, often knowing they aren’t kind ones, to see if we will stop you. It’s like kindergarten opened up your world and you are looking to us to help you navigate all the new parts. It’s a privilege we could not be happier to have, though I’d really love to hear the word wiener a lot less. I’m just saying.

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Your likes at age 6 include: Pokemon, your brothers, your parents and your grandparents, Lego, Ninjago, Ninjago Lego, reading (especially Dr. Seuss), sports in general, playing with your dad, drawing, “creating” things (this usually ends terribly. You recently lost your cool because you just knew you could make a bow and arrow out of a paper plate and you felt that I was not assisting you enough. A paper plate bow and arrow), jumping in puddles, animals of any kind but especially Jacques-Imo, any sweet treat.

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Your dislikes at age 6 include: Writing, vegetables of any kind, meat of any kind except bacon, sausage and hot dogs, eating at restaurants except Red Lobster, things you perceive to be girlish (we’re working on this), waiting for anything, not being allowed to say the word wiener.

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I was recently at an event with you and your brothers and I was marveling at you. As I held Benjamin it was as though I could feel you when you were an infant, like the muscle memory was there, but then I could see this kid. This fully grown, not a toddler, not a preschooler, just a kid, kid, right in front of me and it seemed impossible. I must have blinked because here you are, a person unto yourself, and I don’t remember when we decided that was okay.

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The thing I like the most about you right now is how kind you are. When William gets in trouble, which is a lot, you are the first to try to get me to “give him a second chance.” When you get in trouble at school (usually for talking), you apologize the instant you see me, even though it’s not a big deal to me. You are kind to your friends even when they aren’t kind to you, which happens more than is fair. You have a big personality, but you have an even bigger heart and watching you give kindness to others, even just in your words, is the absolute greatest. I want you to lead a big life if it’s what you want, but the things that matter most to me is that you are happy and that you are kind.

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Mother’s Day is just a few days away and I told you recently that you specifically are what made me a mother. And it blew you mind. To you, I’ve always been a mom because I have been for your whole life. But I lived 29 years without you, waiting for you, for the day you would make me something new. You turned my whole entire world upside down in the greatest possible way and you made me into who I always knew I wanted to be. Without you, I truly don’t know who or how I’d be.

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Just yesterday you got into some of the biggest trouble of your life and after we had a long talk, I held your chin and made you look into my eyes while I told you that I loved you more than anything in the world. As the words came out, both you and I started to cry. I think it was a relief to you to know that despite the choice you’d made, nothing had changed. And I want you to know that now and forever. There is nothing you ever could do that will change how much I love you. I am your mother now and forever and the love I have for you can only grow, if that is even possible. It is my greatest privilege to be your mother and it’s not a job I take lightly. I am undeniably lucky to have and love you.

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Happy birthday my sweetest, oldest son. I love you more than words can ever begin to capture and I cannot wait to see what next year brings.

Love,
Mom

What a Difference 8 Months Make!

Nothing like a set of brothers to get smiles. Ben is not even remotely looking at me in this month’s picture. He only has eyes for his brothers.

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Benjamin: Month 8

Ben-

Today (fine yesterday. I remembered but frankly son, I was too tired because a certain son of mine never sleeps and I’m so chronically tired that functioning after 9pm is impossible, but I’m going to change the time stamp so it looks like I wrote it on time) you are 8 months old! Listen. 8 is awfully close to 12. I have some feelings.

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It’s been A Month. You had a virus with intermittent fevers for a week, followed by a pair of ear infections. This was on the heels of mumtiple bouts of inconsolable screaming, mostly at night, and frankly I’m sort of glad that month is over. It wasn’t kind to you and you shared your germs with all of us, so the rest of us didn’t enjoy it much either. You do seem to have turned a corner so hopefully you’re on the path to health.

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When you weren’t sick or screaming, you were your adorable, charming self. The other day you sat in the cart at Trader Joe’s like you’re a person and you were absolutely delighted. There were so many people to smile at! so many things to try to grab! It was the best for the world’s most social baby. You remind me very much of your biggest brother in that regard.

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Speaking of which, you continue to adore your brothers more than almost anything. They can get you to smile light years faster than I can. You love when they interact with you and they get so excited when you smile at them. I know it won’t always be like this so I’m trying to savor the pure love and adoration you guys all seem to share. Your smaller big brother is pretty much the worst at being gentle, so hopefully you’ll only remember the sweet parts. Not the parts where he tries to launch you out of things.

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You aren’t crawling yet because you are super devoted to sitting, but it’s on the horizon. You are great at pushing yourself backwards until you’re under things and you can pivot on your belly better than your brothers ever could. You aren’t stationary by any means, just alternatively mobile. All too soon you’ll be everywhere and none of us are quite ready.

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Your likes this month include: Mom, Dad, Elijah and Benjamin, bananas, carrots, peas, water from a sippy cup, baths, baths with your brothers, snuggles with mom, the exersaucer, tags, crinkle paper toys and music.

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Your dislikes this month include: being stuck in your car seat with no one to look at you, being put down if you can still see me, being set down for even a moment after 5pm, sleeping for more than 2 hours at a time and strawberries.

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It hasn’t been the most fun month and you and I have both been above average tired and cranky, but I see a light ahead (possibly through a tunnel of sleep training, for which I am pre-emptively sorry and also, kind of not). I’m hopeful that things will calm down soon and that we will have answers to the screaming fits that have plagued the past few weeks.

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People frequently ask me if we are going to have any more kids. I often give joking answers about us being tired or it being too loud, or the risk of it being a girl and ruining the streak, but the real answer is, we’re done because you completed our family. You were the final piece to our puzzle. You made our family complete and there’s no way to explain that except that it happened and I can feel it in my bones and in my heart. You were what we were waiting for all that time and now that you’re here, I can’t imagine adding another baby. You’re our end and you were worth the wait.

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No matter what, we love you so very much. We are all better and happier for having you in our lives. Happy 8 months, my sweet buddy. I love you and can’t wait to see what next month brings.

Love,
Mom

What a Difference 7 Months Make!

This month’s picture would have been 100 times better if I realized the autofocus was off more than 30 seconds before Ben ran out of steam for the whole process. But I do have like 25 super adorable but way too blurry to use pictures if we ever need them!

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Benjamin: Month 7

Ben-

Today you are 7 months old! Seven months! Weren’t you just born? It feels like you were just born.

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The big news this month, this week really, is that you can now sit independently. You still tip over a bit, but you can sit up and play for like 10 minutes at a time, especially if your brothers aren’t distracting you and making you turn your head (which then tends to make you topple). You aren’t crawling yet, but you are definitely realizing that movement would get you things and it’s not far off. I am not ready, son. This house is a giant infant death trap, so it’s probably fairer to say that the house isn’t ready and I’m not ready to make it ready.

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You had your first legitimate illness this month. You were fine at bedtime and woke up at 4am congested and sad. By 7 you had a fever. Your 6 month well check was scheduled for two days later, which was good because you had an ear infection and honestly, I never would’ve known. You were kind of sad, but you’re just delightful to the point that I didn’t think it was anything more than a virus. Oops. You seem to have recovered without any major events, though your tummy did NOT enjoy the antibiotics.

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Last week you got your very first tooth. You’d been not quite yourself for a few days, but I was still pretty surprised when I spotted it on Friday. Again, that sunny disposition has a way of making you seem to feel better than you apparently do.

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Your personality continues to shine. People come up to you ALL the time and you just grin and coo for them. I literally cannot go to the grocery store without being stopped on every aisle and you’re generally here for it. You love to smile, love when people smile back and would very much like to be the center of everyone’s attention. It works well in a crowd, though it’s not always so great at home when I have to care for your brothers and dad. You’re learning to cope, but there are some tears.

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We started solid foods this month and you’re a fan of most of them, but especially of water. You will cry if you see it until I give it to you. And then once I start helping you take sips, it cannot be stopped unless there’s something else to offer. It’s hilarious and silly. At least I don’t have to worry about your hydration.

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Your likes this month include: chewing on ANYTHING you can find, your brothers, your parents, any adult who will smile at you, grabbing the cat, the giraffe on your play mat, being tickled, getting kisses, when mom picks you up from daycare (this is my like too), bananas, sweet potatoes and water from a sippy cup (which you cannot do without assistance).

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Your dislikes this month include: pears, green beans, being left alone for even a moment, when I stop shoveling bananas into your mouth, sleeping in your own bed (sorry son, this is one of my likes) and when I take your water away.

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Yesterday I was watching you while you sat on your play mat and it was just so strange. For your whole life, you’ve been on the ground. You’ve been dependent upon the floor or a person or a chair for support. And now, as if out of no where, you’re a person. You’re independent of the floor, the chair, the people. It sounds so silly, but I saw you, just you, for the first time. It was both the sweetest and the saddest because you’re not a tiny baby anymore. You’re growing and changing and becoming an independent person and that is a big deal. And as with every milestone, it feels so much bigger since you’re the last baby. Your babyhood is flying by and it’s harder than I imagined.

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It would be impossible for me to love you even the tiniest bit more than I already do. Even when you’re not delightful, you’re still just the sweetest buddy. You love to snuggle and to smile and to cuddle. You continue to love your brothers so much more than I ever imagined. Elijah has the flu right now and is quarantined to the office. You’ve scarcely seen him in two days, but the few times he has popped out, your whole face lit up. William loves you every bit as much, but he struggles with what “gentle” really means, though I know the two of you are going to be such buddies someday very soon.

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Another month has come and gone and I have done all I can to savor every moment of it. Babies don’t keep and I’m acutely aware of how fleeting this time is. I’m so lucky to get to spend so much of it with you. My sweet baby. I can’t believe our family got so lucky. Happy 7 months my sweet little boy. We love you so, so much and cannot wait to see what next month brings.

Love,
Mom

What a Difference 6 Months Make!

This may not be Ben’s most flattering pose, but it shows off his new sitting skill and who doesn’t like a few baby rolls?

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Benjamin: Month 6

Ben-

Today you are 6! Months! Old! Half a year. It hardly seems possible that we’ve already had you this long. That you’re now closer to 1 than to birth.

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I’m writing this with you sleeping on my chest, which is a pretty good snapshot of this month, honestly. Last week you had surgery, one that we have known you’d had to have since you were a few weeks old. The fasting part was deeply unpleasant with many moments where you looked at us like we were torturing you. We didn’t tell you that many babies routinely don’t eat between 2:45 and 6:45am. Most babies, really. I’m just saying.

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The surgery itself went fine. But the next night I woke up and saw a spot on my bed where you had been lying. It turned out that it was blood and you had been bleeding for a while at that point. We ended up in the ER for several hours, you were sedated and got a few more stitches, but not until after several more hours of bleeding. It was terrifying. I think often about how grateful I am that I noticed that spot in the bed and that you didn’t continue bleeding for hours without us knowing.

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You’re doing much better now, thankfully, but you’re anemic and every time I notice how pale your lips or palms of bottoms of your feel are, I want to cry a little. It was not an experience I’m likely to forget, but I’m relieved to know you won’t remember it. And hopefully we won’t ever have to do anything like this again.

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Other than surgery, this has been a pretty unremarkable month. You continue to roll a lot, you look like you want to crawl (which, no. You are a tiny infant.) and you’re starting to sit, though you show exactly zero regard for your personal safety and will throw yourself in any direction. You’re finally also rolling from your tummy to your back on occasion.

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Your likes this month include: your brothers, mom and Dad, the cat, snuggle naps, cosleeping, Motrin, rattles, nursing, pacifiers, toys you can gnaw on and anyone who will smile at you.

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Your dislikes include: medicine that is given through your nose, IVs, fasting, when your mother attempts to get you to sleep in your own room, when Mom leaves the room you’re in, being on your tummy when you’re over it.

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Your abundant love for your brothers continued this month. The day of your surgery when you were so uncomfortable your dad offered to pick your brothers up and take them out to dinner to keep the house quiet and calm so you could rest. On a whim I told him to bring them home instead and it was the first time all afternoon that you cracked a smile. Your whole face lights up for them and for your dad. It is my favorite thing in the world. It’s exactly what I hoped having you here would be like, probably even a little better, honestly.

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Things are going to progress quickly from here, I know. You’ll sit and then you’ll crawl and before I know it you’ll be pulling to stand and walking. I’m savoring each milestone and each moment with you because I know how precious and fleeting time is.

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People, strangers, often remark about how happy you are and they’re right. One of my deepest hopes is that you stay this way. That you continue to give your smile freely and frequently and you continue to radiate happiness just as you do now. You’re truly a delight and I can’t believe we ever lived without you. You enhance every part of my life just by being a part of it.

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Happy half a year, my sweet boy. I love you so very much and I can’t wait to see what next month brings.

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Love,
Mom

What a Difference 5 Months Make

This month was peak Ben for his picture. He really is this happy most of the time.

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Benjamin: Month 5

Ben-

Today you are 5 months old! The four months prior to this one crawled by at a very reasonable pace, but this month absolutely flew. It felt like you went from barely 4 months to 5 months in the blink of an eye. Suddenly we’re so close to half a year old and soon you’ll be a grown up. I am sad that you are already so big.

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You continue to be just completely delightful during the day and especially around other people. You are almost unbelievably social and personable. People comment all the time about your disposition. At daycare, every teacher tells me how you’re their favorite. At your brothers’ schools, all the teachers and parents fuss over you because you are so sweet. Your brothers are perhaps the most taken with you. Elijah has figured out how to make you laugh by reciting a silly line from Wild Kratts and it is THE BEST. William loves to hold your hand whenever you will let him and will remind me all day long that you are SO cute (as if I could forget). William refers to you as his baby and it pretty much renders me a melted puddle of my former self it’s so sweet.

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This month was your first Chanukah and Christmas and New Years. You won’t remember any of it, of course, but you got big doses of fun with different branches of your family. We traveled two weekends in a row, visiting all of your grandparents and great grandparents, all your aunts and uncles and a majority of your cousins. You had a great time, though we were all happy to be home by the end of it.

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It’s a good thing that you’re so cute because you are also the absolute very worst sleeper on the earth. There have been nights where you have been up more than 4 times between 9pm and 7am. There was a night where you cried for 3 straight hours leading into bedtime. This won’t mean much to you now, but someday when you’re a new parent I’m going to tell you about the worst phrase any person has ever spoken to me, which I heard from your pediatrician, who, after discussing your evening screaming sessions diagnosed you this month with something called “late onset colic.” Thankfully you have come, somewhat, out of it now. You scream less and I’m more able to comfort you than I used to be, but son, it was not great.

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Your likes this month include: blankets, nursing, sucking your thumb, pacifiers, chewing on toys, rolling onto your tummy, your brothers, mom/dad/grandparents (especially your Nana, who you just had the best time with over Chanukah), the cat if you can grab a giant handful of his fur, the swing and when anyone talks to you.

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Your dislikes this month include: sleeping, being tired, especially if I then try to get you to go to sleep, evenings in general sometimes, when your thumb/pacifier/blanket falls out of your mouth, when you roll onto your tummy because you can’t roll back yet.

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You learned to roll this month and it hit me hard that it was the last time I’ll get to mark that event. I also went through your clothes to move you from 3 month to 6 month stuff and my heart broke a little bit. I won’t ever get to have another baby in those 3 month sized clothes and oof, it’s harder than I thought. I am 100% fulfilled and content with our family, with you as our end cap, but you’re also growing so fast and no matter how I try to grasp every last molecule of this time and hold onto it, it slips through my fingers again and again. I’m not ready for you to be able to sit up like a grown person. I’m not ready for you to be mobile (for several reasons). I’m not ready for you to eat food. I’m just not ready for you to not be a tiny baby. Because you are my last tiny baby. And I can feel time pushing us forward no matter what I do.

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When I look at our family now, I know we are done. We are this perfect group of 5 people who belong to one another. Even on our worst days, there is so much love in this house that it’s almost unbelievable. The love your brothers have for you is reflected in how much you adore them. I could not imagine being happier than I am to have you because you are the perfect end to our family’s story.

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Sometimes at 2 in the morning when I am deeply frustrated with you for not sleeping, I’ll just hold you and study your face. It helps me to relax and remember how small you are (and how not intentional your terrible sleeping is because I’m not my most patient at 2am). I feel like I know every inch of your face. Your round cheeks and your sweet tiny chin. Your unfairly long eyelashes and your sweet little nose. I can find bits of Elijah (your chin) and bits of William (those puffy eyes that I love so much) and bits of your dad (the apple cheeks) and bits of me (my nose!). You are the greatest blend of all of us that I could ever imagine, as though your little face brings the other 4 of us together.

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I love you beyond what words can possibly hope to convey and I hope you know that we all feel this same way. We are so glad to have you, Benjamin. Happy 5 months, my sweet baby boy. I love you deeply and cannot wait to see what next month brings.

Love,
Mom