What a Difference 23 Months Make!

We finally did a month on time! Woo! Go team. It helped that Will was healthy and happy today and it was Saturday, so we had all day to get it done. And I really love this picture because it captures his spirit perfectly. He has universally big emotions, and thankfully a lot of the time, the emotion is happiness. We just adore this kid.

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6 months and 1 day!
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1 year and 1 day!
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18 months and 1 day!
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19 months and 1 day!
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21 months and 2 days!
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22 months and 3 days!
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23 months and 1 day!
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William: Month 23

Will-

Today you are 23 months old. Please know that I’ve never told anyone that you are 23 months old because that’s the kind of age specificity that crazy people use. You are almost 2. Every time I say it my heart breaks a tiny bit because there it is, there’s the end of babyhood. It’s 1 month away.

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Unlike most months, I picked out pictures for this post before I wrote it (my computer had issues) and what I noticed was how many happy pictures we took this month. You were sick once for a few days and that was miserable, but otherwise, we had a great month. We had a ton of family time, which you (and I) love, we celebrated the 4th of July and we started a swim class (well, two swim classes, but that’s a long story).

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Your personality is changing more and more each day. You are becoming less persistently upset and much more independent. You still get frustrated when things don’t go the way you want them to or when you can’t have the exact thing you want, but you are so much slower to get upset. It is a relief, let me tell you. Your speech has improved a bit this month, which I think is helping, and you are receiving speech therapy now, and I think in a few weeks/months this is likely to improve even more.

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Your newest phrases are “I do it myself” and “Weenum (which is what you call yourself and it’s THE BEST) hurt” whenever you have even the slightest discomfort. If you report pain and I ask you where it is you’ll just look at me and go “On Weenum!” like that answers the question. While it’s not very helpful, I secretly hope you never learn how to say William because I think Weenum might be the cutest nickname ever.

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Your likes this month include: your brother, mom, dad, the kitties (much to their frustration), swimming (as long as you get to do what you want), cars, Toy Story, grandparents, Aunt Claire/Uncle Scott, Addie and baby Asher, Thomas the Tank Engine, rice and beans, and Mr. Potato Head.

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Your dislikes this month include: having restricted access to the ipad/phones, not being able to watch Toy Story all day every day, not being able to wear only Toy Story shirts, wearing shoes for almost any duration of time, when the kitties run away from you, wearing a diaper.

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I cannot believe you’re going to be 2. I mean, I can because you already are basically a professional 2 year old, but I can’t believe you’ve been here for almost 2 years. You are suddenly this big kid and you’re starting to engage even more with your brother and with Addie. You follow them everywhere and try so hard to do what they’re doing. Often this ends in disaster because you’re a tiny little bull in a china shop, but it’s always very cute before the big kids get frustrated with you.

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You are the sweetest, snuggliest little boy. You are excitable in the most delightful ways and you speak with exclamation points punctuating almost every word. You have big feelings and you are learning more and more how to tell us about them. You remind me so much of myself and the memories I have from when I was a preschool/elementary aged child and I can only hope that I’m giving you the same love and boundaries that my parents gave me to help me learn to manage the magnitude of my emotions. I know that as you transition from a baby to a toddler, like, full-fledged toddler, there will be a lot of bittersweet moments, but I’m just so excited to get to meet the kid you’re becoming. You are not always easy, but you are always, always worth the work.

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It would be impossible to tell you how much I love you because just like how you have big emotions, this is a big feeling for me. It defies explanation, but I will say that my favorite time of day is when you first get up because you want to snuggle on the couch and you just melt into me. And if you knew me 5 years ago you would understand how insane it is that I am actually enjoying anything at 6:15 in the morning. I know that someday you won’t want those snuggles, and so each day I savor those moments, just in case tomorrow is the day you’re too big for it.

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There is much on the horizon for you, my sweet boy. I’m so excited that I get to go along for the ride. We love you so very much and can’t wait to see what next month brings.

Love,
Mom

Willing the Way

I intended, as usual, to write this last week, but…life. There are a lot of things I want to write and well, they’ll all wait. Also, as usual. (Spoiler alert: we got a kitten!)

Two weeks ago, Will had the pediatric GI appointment we had waited almost 4 months for, and let me tell you, it was 100% worth the wait.

The GI we were seeing was someone my husband had worked with briefly at various points in his residency. After introducing herself to me, she told me that she knew J and that she was so glad he was back working at their hospital, and also, she remembered that during his residency I was having terrible headaches, and were they better? I had a good feeling from that moment on, because someone who remembers a detail like that and asks about it is the kind of physician I want on my team.

We spoke about William’s GI history- the severity of his reflux, that it’s still a problem (the kid still spits up from time to time and he’ll be 2 in August) and the very strange diarrhea he had the several times I dieted while nursing him.

As for the reflux, she said some kids just have persistent reflux and that we should continue with his medication and try weaning him from it at age 2. She’s not concerned about him staying on the medication as long as is needed, which was nice to hear. We’re basically just going to treat it until it’s gone.

The diarrhea was a major point of concern for her. Her first thought was potential food allergies and that he must have been allergic to one of the “whole” foods I was eating when I dropped the junk and upped my meat, fruit, veggie and nut intake. But she said there was another possibility- that it wasn’t a food allergy, but something called FPIES (Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome). It’s sort of like an allergy, but, different (helpful, no?). Foods are all made up of different proteins and kids with FPIES can only tolerate very specific amounts of those proteins and when that threshold is met and exceeded, they experience inflammation of the GI tract. For some kids it presents as SEVERE vomiting, for others, like Will, it is mild diarrhea and, wait for it, reflux symptoms.

To test this, we had to do a mess of blood work- both general blood counts and a ton of allergy tests. The GI felt strongly that it wasn’t a true allergy, but she had to test basically everything I ate while on those diets, to confirm. Will was…not fond of that. As expected, the blood work showed that Will does not have food allergies (yay!), so she diagnosed him with mild FPIES and said if he hasn’t already outgrown most of it, he will by the age of 5. We have a plan for identifying and testing foods, but it’s really not a huge deal. And this is not the most interesting part.

Will’s general blood tests showed several things that we weren’t expecting. He is rather significantly anemic, which was surprising to all of us. Most kids who are anemic at Will’s age are that way because they drink a ton of whole milk and don’t eat enough meat. Will drinks precisely no milk (and had been weaned for over a month at the time of his appointment) and eats meat several times a day, often at every meal. He also eats pouches with kale and spinach and I sneak spinach into his spaghetti sauce as well. There is absolutely no reason why he should be anemic and when he was tested at 9 months, his iron levels were totally normal, so this isn’t something that has been ongoing since infancy (which can happen to breastfed babies). So we’re doing more bloodwork (poor Will!) to find out more about why this is happening and how to best treat it.

But, that’s not the only thing that came back off. Several of Will’s blood cell counts were out of range, including several that relate to his immune function. We are still waiting to run more tests, but it is looking more like Will may have an immunodeficiency of some sort, which, hi, fits him to a tee. I was going to get his bloodwork done last week, but Will spiked yet another random high (holy shit high) fever and so I thought it would be better for him to get healthy first.

So that’s where we are now, waiting for Will to be healthy enough to run more tests and trying to put together all these remaining puzzle pieces. I realize that I sound legitimately insane, but I am just so pleased that someone has listened to us, has finally run the tests and that we’re actually getting somewhere. I have felt like I have been screaming for 22 months about all these things and no physician will take me seriously. They all want to wait until the next check up and see if he gets healthier or if he gains weight and on and on. My voice is hoarse from all that screaming, but I have finally found someone who is willing to listen and we might finally be able to find a way to help Will stay healthy long enough to start growing again and to maybe even lighten up his flair for the dramatic. I’m not holding my breath about that last part, but I can dream. And hope. I’m doing an awful lot of that. I think we’ve finally found our way.

Lip Service

One of the major reasons we decided to have tubes in Will’s ears, besides the constant infections, was the impact the chronic fluid was having on his hearing. And in a child Will’s age, any change in hearing has a significant impact on speech. I wasn’t concerned at first because Will has always been A TALKER. I attribute this to him being a kid who has always had wants, but regardless of why, this was his thing. He was a talker. Things changed at around 15 months.

He continued to learn and speak but while his receptive language and cognition grew, his articulation didn’t just not keep up, it got worse. Where it was cute to mispronounce things when he was tiny, it stopped being as cute when no one could understand him and subsequently he spent hours on the floor crying in frustration.

So after the tubes were placed we had his hearing rechecked and thankfully it had normalized, and so at the recommendation of a speech pathologist, we decided to give him time for his speech to catch up. I had high expectations because everyone talked about the speech explosion their kids had after tubes. But that just didn’t happen. Partially I think it’s because not hearing did not stop Will from talking like it does with some kids, so it wasn’t like we went from no words to hundreds. It was like we went from a lot of unintelligible words to a few more unintelligible words.

We waited 6 weeks. And I will say that it definitely got a little better- a few things got clearer and some of his new words are more intelligible. But his vocabulary is continuing to grow far beyond his articulation skills. And that creates just so much frustration for everyone.

This is from today.

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I have watched this at least 5 times and I *think* he’s saying “I want Jacques Imo (the cat) in the box” but I really don’t know. Without context you would never in a million years understand him. He’s trying to say a 7 word sentence and it’s like verbal mush.

So tomorrow he has a speech evaluation. Several members of my family, who adore Will and only want what’s best for him, think we’re rushing things, but it’s hard to care for him right now. It’s hard for him to want things so badly, to think he’s telling us, and for us to have no idea what he’s saying. I feel terrible for him. I’m very hopeful that a short burst of therapy will help him get a few more consonants and learn to use his mouth properly (he doesn’t move his lips much).

I hope that this is the right thing for him and for our family and I hope that this, along with another recent Will health discovery (more on this later this week), will help us keep moving towards making Will a happier kid. He really deserves a break.

What a Difference 22 Months Make!

And 2 days late this month. This month it was a fever that had Will completely miserable to the point that he could barely be put down for even a moment and I just completely forgot. The night we were supposed to do it, I held him while he fell asleep sitting upright in my lap. The next night was similarly terrible and the picture was just a low priority. So, sorry Will. It’s not a reflection of my love for you. And also, the difference between 20 and 22 months is amazing and gives me all the feelings about my baby growing up.

1 day!
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6 months and 1 day!
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1 year and 1 day!
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13 months and 1 day!
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14 months and 1 day!
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15 months and 1 day!
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16 months and 1 day!
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17 months and 1 day!
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18 months and 1 day!
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19 months and 1 day!
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20 months and 1 day!
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21 months and 2 days!
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22 months and 3 days!
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William: Month 22

Will-

Today you are 22 months old. Lest you are worried, when people ask how old you are, I do not say 22 months. I either say 1 and a half or that you’ll be 2 in June. I’m only listing months here because that’s what I’ve always done. But regardless, I cannot believe how close you are to 2 years old. It just seems completely impossible.

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This month I accomplished the seemingly impossible- I weaned you. I went out of town on my birthday for 4 days and that was it. The last time you nursed was May 18th and while you have protested several times, including once today, but mostly it was about as smooth of a transition as I can possibly imagine it being. If we’re being perfectly honest, I equally love having my personal space back and also totally miss the connection we had. I miss our lazy mornings in bed and snuggly post-nap couch cuddles. I know it was time and that you’re fine and I’m fine, but I miss it and I know you do too. I’m not sure either of us are ready for you to be so grown.

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Your hearing is definitely markedly improved this month, though your speech continues to be a bit of a struggle. You have so many things you want to say and you think you’re saying them, but so much of it is unintelligible. At least once a day you just completely break down crying because we can’t understand you. It’s sad for you and sad for us. You have a speech therapy evaluation scheduled next week, so hopefully a few sessions of that will help. I know it’s all from the persistent fluid in your ears and that you will catch up and be fine, but we’ve given it 6 weeks now and it’s just not improving quite enough, so we are ready to help you be heard a little more clearly.

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This month took a major downward turn when you got hand, foot and mouth disease. It was going around your daycare (I believe everyone in your class got it) and you were sadly not spared. You managed to run a nearly 105 degree fever (with Motrin!) before the blisters showed up all over your poor feet and mouth. Your hands were mostly spared, but it was a full week before you could wear shoes again. I cannot say how glad I am to have that over with.

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Your likes this month include: Sheriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Rex, Elmo, Cookie Monster (who you call may-may…), mom, dad, Ijah, the cats, nursing (or you liked it, at least), playing on the iPad, veggie chips, pirate’s booty, pouches, having mom or dad sleep in your bed, chocolate milk, screaming as loudly as you can for no apparent reason, taking off all your clothes and your diaper (and usually peeing on the floor).

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Your dislikes this month include: hand, foot and mouth, sleeping alone, the bunny clock (that tells you when you can wake up for the day), weaning, sleeping past 5:30am, napping, when your parents can’t understand what you’re saying.

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We got a kitten this month and you are simply the sweetest with her. I mean, you completely terrify her because you do not possess the ability to be quiet, but you just look at her and go “awwwww” and gently rest your head on her. It’s just about the sweetest thing.

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And it’s really who you are. You are such a sweet little boy. You love to be snuggled and cuddled, especially on the couch. You just wiggle your little butt right into the crooks of our arms and it’s the best. You want us to sleep in your bed with you. You just, you’re a lover in a way your brother never was and it is really, really sweet.

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The fact that you’re nearly two years old is just practically mind boggling to me. You’re going to start preschool in a few months and before I know it you’ll be potty trained and speaking in paragraphs and I just can’t deal with it. The time has gone just so, so very fast and you’re grown right before my eyes. You are definitely still more petite than your peers, but I see you lengthening out all the time.

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I wish I had more to add this month, but between my being out of town and you being sick, it was kind of a whirlwind. We just absolutely adore you. You light up our lives and make every day more interesting. We love you so dearly and despite wanting time to screech to a halt, I just can’t wait to see the person you’re going to become.

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I love you to the ends of the earth and back. And I can’t wait to see what next month brings.

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Love,
Mom

Unfiltered

About three months ago, I realized that I was running low on the psych medication I’ve taken for 2.5 years for anxiety and PTSD. I had forgotten to ask for a refill at my physical in February, and my yearly appointment with the gynecologist wasn’t until late May. I could’ve called my doctor and begged, but when I noticed that I was low on medication, I also realized that things were good. I mean, life was normal level of stressful and challenging, but I was good within the stresses.

So I started a slow wean of the medication. I spoke with my husband at length before doing this and made a promise to him that if things took a turn once I was off, in any way, I would go back on without hesitation or complaint. The most important thing is being able to be here for my family, be present and be happy.

The first few weeks I felt a major difference. Much more so than I expected. Everything, good and bad, felt big. I almost cried at work when a coworker was sort of short with me. On the other end of the spectrum, on multiple occasions, my kids did something so cute or sweet that I literally burst into tears. But I realized that these were what unaltered feelings were and I would need to take some time to get used to them.

I think it should be clarified here, I never felt like things were dull or not significant when I was on the medication. I felt happy and sad while on it and never felt like I missed out on anything. But I also realize now that when I was taking it, I needed things to be dulled. I was not able to handle the full weight of these emotions and taking this medication was unquestionably the right decision for me at that time. I have zero regrets and would do it again if needed.

It’s been 2.5 months without any psych meds in my system and it feels…good. Mostly, I enjoy the convenience of not having to remember to take anything each day, which makes me sound super lazy, but, well, I am. And I am enjoying the brightness of unfiltered life at the moment. My promise to my husband remains. I have had anxiety and depression at multiple times in my life and I am not naive enough to believe that they won’t ever return. So I am keeping that car firmly behind the horse and enjoying where I am now while promising to be open to doing what it takes to allow me to be as present and pleasant as possible for my family and friends.

Gosh, it’s sure nice to be here right now.

Weaning In

So weaning.

I had this great idea several months ago when I booked a trip (which was for a continuing education class, not for fun, unfortunately) to wean Will while I was gone for 4 days. Will is able to go without nursing when I’m not around and never requests for it when it’s not readily available, so I assumed that he would be fine without me. And I figured it we could disrupt his routine altogether, that maybe when I returned, it could just stay disrupted, so to speak.

And for the most part, it was totally the right call. Will did well. He didn’t cry or complain about not nursing at his usual times of day.

The biggest issue while I was away was actually me. I stupidly forgot that oh hey, going from nursing 2-3 times a day to not nursing at all might be uncomfortable. And dear God, it really was. And of course this all happened on my own damn birthday because I am good at planning things. So, thankfully a quick trip to Target and a grocery store to buy a tight sports bra, a head of cabbage, some Sudafed and tea later, and things improved. Also, hot showers with a lot of hand expressing. Let’s just say that there’s a shower in New Mexico with the best immune system in the country.

I’m still dealing with the engorgement and clogged ducts and also weaning hormones (they are A THING), but it’s largely improving. And it’s now been a week without any nursing. Will asks at the normal times (wake up in the morning and after nap and before bed), and in the morning and evening he’s okay with the answer. But he is really struggling with post-nap nursing. This is my fault. I created this reliance on that nursing session. On Tuesdays and Thursdays (and some weekends) he would basically nurse himself back to sleep for an extra hour of his nap and I didn’t stop it because I loved it. But now he’s waking up still tired and won’t put himself back to sleep and then falls completely apart when I say no to nursing. On Tuesday he screamed, literally screamed, for 30 minutes. Today he just sadly whined for several minutes.

It’s not that I expected that it would be easy, but I sort of thought that after Monday and the first half of Tuesday were so easy that we were sort of in the clear. Obviously I was wrong. It could still be worse and for our ease, I am very grateful.

After the struggles I had not nursing Eli (Cliff’s notes: he wouldn’t latch, I pumped for a year and was a whiny bitch about it), being able to nurse Will for 21 months has been therapeutic for me in a lot of ways. Before Eli, I didn’t know if I could nurse a baby at all (as a result of having substantial breast surgery). And then when Eli wouldn’t latch, we really didn’t know if it was me or him. My supply sucked and we didn’t know if it was me or the pumping.

And then it worked until Will was 4 months and his reflux became such an issue and there were days where I wasn’t sure it would work. But it did. And it wasn’t anything I did, it wasn’t anything Will did. It was good fortune. Good fortune that I do not take for granted for even a second. We were able to have this incredible relationship for 21 months because we were lucky. And now it’s over.

It’s a good sort of sadness, almost like a graduation of sorts. We accomplished something together and now it’s time for both of us to move on. We are both going to be better for it. Hopefully these next few days/weeks of struggling will pass quickly and this will all fade into a happy memory for everyone.

What a Difference 21 Months Make

So, we are a day late on this. It was partially on purpose and partially not so much. On Monday, I picked Will up from daycare and brought him home. We had moved his bedroom stuff from the shared room with Eli back into his own room and he totally freaked out. I literally could not put him down, save for the bath that he wasn’t thrilled about, for the entire evening. I knew that taking the picture would result in a sad picture and a sad kid, so we waited. I had planned to do it earlier in the day, but that didn’t happen. So, 21 months and 2 days it is.

1 day!
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6 months and 1 day!
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1 year and 1 day!
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13 months and 1 day!
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14 months and 1 day!
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15 months and 1 day!
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18 months and 1 day!
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19 months and 1 day!
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20 months and 1 day!
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21 months and 2 days!
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William: Month 21

Will-

Today you are 21 months old. My mind boggles at how close you are to being 2 years old. I think in part it’s because of your size- you are super petite, but also because you’re my baby and babies aren’t almost 2. I looked at you this morning, clad only in your diaper, and for the first time in your whole life, you looked tall. Like overnight you grew these long, lean legs that looked remarkably like the legs of a little boy and not like the short little legs of my baby.

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This was a very busy month. We visited all your grandparents twice, which involved a lot of travel and you had your first (and hopefully only) surgery. Your demeanor continues to improve in general, which is great because a few months ago, the number of hours we spent in the car this month would’ve been nearly impossible to manage, but you were a total trooper.

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The ear tube experience was a lot for all of us. First you went with your dad for an audiogram that found that you had mild to moderate hearing loss in both ears, which was a big punch to my gut. The surgery itself was easy and quick, though the few days after were a lot tougher than I expected. Now that we’re almost two weeks out, you seem happier and you’re sleeping much better. I’m hopeful that this is a huge turning point for you and so far we are very pleased. It was a sort of easy decision, but at the same time, we worried it would be a lot of discomfort for no real improvement. I hope this was the right call.

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You continue to be extremely talkative, but as you’d expect of someone with hearing loss, you are very hard to understand. I can understand or decipher about 50% of what you say these days, people who don’t know you can get about 20%. We expect this to improve but I’m just glad it hasn’t slowed you down. If we’re being honest, I’m going to be kind of sad when you stop calling Elijah “I-yuh” and dinosaurs “dido-roars.” You have also not let poor hearing interfere with your singing. You sing the ABCs, you sing the Baby Bumblebee song and you sing Old MacDonald, kind of. All of these are the Will remixes, but they’re adorable nevertheless.

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Your likes this month include: your family, most especially your brother, music and singing, rice and beans, Thomas the Tank Engine, Dinosaur Train, dinosaurs in general, closing doors, naked baby time and doing things all by yourself.

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Your dislikes this month include: being told no, help, fruit that isn’t puréed, vegetables, being left out of anything and ear drops.

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In three days we are going to be finished nursing. I never planned to nurse this long in the first place and so I also never expected weaning to be so fraught with feelings. There are a lot of things I will not miss (mostly you trying to rip out my earrings or smacking me in the face repeatedly) but I will miss snuggling with you and feeling your body relax into mine. I will miss your little happy dance when I lay you on your side. I will miss the bond that nursing has given us and the ability to soothe you even in your least soothable moments. It has been quite a ride. But it’s time. For both of us. I’m going away for a few days this week and the time is right for a whole host of reasons.

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If I’m being honest, I don’t really want to go on this trip at all, but I’m trying to make sure I have time for my personal and professional life because I think ultimately it makes me a better parent. I will miss you in ways that don’t seem at all reasonable but I think that’s just the way it is with feelings. You are such a part of me, my tiny little sidekick, that the idea of 4 nights away from you feels almost impossible.

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There are a lot of changes on the horizon for both of us. I want to slow down time and savor these last few months before two, but time is cruel that way, so I will just have to make sure I get the most out of these precious moments, for both of us.

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I love you more than words can possibly explain. And I can’t wait to see what this month brings.

Love,
Mom