You’ve been in our arms for five whole months. It seems unreal. The first few months were a blur and now that things are easier, I made the rookie mistake of thinking time would slow down a little bit. (Hint: it doesn’t.)
There are so many things I’m looking forward to with you, but I’m also treasuring the stage that we are right now. You are sweet and full of smiles—they are big, gummy, open-mouth smiles that take up your whole face. You are such a happy little girl, unless you’re tired or hungry. You love observing the action around you, particularly your big brother, and you wiggle yourself around to get the best views.
Speaking of wiggling, you are a professional roller now, but only from back to front. As soon as I lay you down, you pull up your little legs and swing them to the side, rolling herself over using all your momentum. Zip, there you go. Unfortunately, even though you’ve rolled from front to back before, you seem to have forgotten so then you get mad that you’re stuck on your stomach. (Although as I’m writing this, I see you on the monitor rolling everywhere in your crib so maybe you do know how, but you just don’t want us to know? I caught you, girl.)
When you were a baby, you refused your pacifier. You’d spit it out immediately. Over the last couple of months though, you’ve become attached in a big way and there are times during the night when we have to go pop it back into your mouth while you’re half-asleep crying. You immediately go back to sleep and, thankfully, so do we.
I started feeding you some baby food as a trial a couple of weeks ago and you immediately gobbled it down like you were starving (you’re not as clearly evidenced by your adorable chubby thighs). So now I offer it to you once or twice a day (lunch and/or dinner) and you loveto eat. Girl after my own heart you are.
Summer hit hard and we’ve been struggling through high-90s already in May. I’ve been dressing you in as little as possible to try to keep you cool when we are out. But all that also means that pool season is here and you have the darlingest little bathing suit. Given how much you love to splash in the bath, I’m hoping you’ll also love the pool. I’ve yet to manage our maiden voyage with just me, you, and Henry.
We had your baby dedication at church on May 20th. Henry was most excited that he got to be up on the stage. We chose Zephaniah 3:17 for your dedication verse: “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save. He will rejoice over you with joy. He will calm you in his love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” And I pray that’s true for you throughout your life, Perrin. That you know God’s love in such a sweet way, calming and serenading while also strong and mighty. The juxtaposition of all His greatness in every marrow of your bones.
My darling, I’m so proud to be your mama. To show you the world, to guide you into it and through it. It’s such an overwhelming responsibility, but it’s equally an overwhelming joy. I’m so glad you’re mine.
I love you.
(You are sending me so many messages right here, but mostly, “Mom, make him stop.”)
Loves: your play mat, music & singing, being held upright, sitting in your bumbo, eating food, having people talk to you, cooing, your pacifier
Wears: 3-6m in clothes, size 2 diapers (size 3 overnight)
Sleeps: 8PM-8AM + 3 naps a day (two long ones and one shorter one in the late afternoon)
These days your smiles come easily and your opinions are strong. For the most part, you have become an easy baby, though evenings are still when you get crankiest. You are a good sleeper and you really prefer your room and bed over sleeping on the go, but you don’t always get that luxury with the warm weather and an older brother and playdates and walks to the park.
I have realized that time is going faster with you, my second child. It’s partly because I have less first-mom-syndrome and partly because my focus is split between two kids. You’re reaching milestones before I’ve even had a chance to think about them. With Henry, I was always aware of what would be coming next; soon he’ll roll over, soon he’ll laugh, soon he’ll sit up. With you, I’m so focused on each day that I barely realize time is passing and you’re either doing things already or will be soon. Because, see, you’re already four months old and it feels like I just pulled you up onto my chest in the hospital room.
When you turned three months old, you could start going to the daycare at the gym rather than coming with me in the carseat and stowing away in the corner while I worked out. It’s been an adjustment and most mornings there, you refuse sleep until about 10 minutes before I pick you up when you finally conk out in someone’s arms. Thankfully, so far you’ve been good about going down for a nap once we get home and getting back on track for the day. I love seeing your resilient little self and am thankful that you’re learning to be flexible.
We finally (finally!) have warm weather after a seemingly endless winter. We’ve been spending our afternoons at the park, on ice cream runs, having playdates, playing outside, and going for walks. Again, I’m thankful that you’re learning to be flexible because the fresh air is so good for all of us.
Your brother adores you. His voice changes to a high-pitched, adorable, baby-gaga voice when he talks to you. And he gives constant updates on your response to him. “Mama, her eyes are open!” Mama, she’s looking around!” “She’s smiling at me, mama!” You are fascinated with him and always look around to see where he’s at. He will be your best protector and I am so excited to see the relationship between the two of you grow.
This next month will undoubtedly continue to bring more changes; you keep growing and discovering and learning new tricks. I love to see your personality shine and I’m so excited to continue to watch you grow. I’m savoring every moment, while also looking forward to new milestones: sitting up, crawling, climbing. I’m just soaking you in.
I am so grateful to have you in our family, Perrin. You bring joy to my heart and I will never be able to describe how much I love you. Some day I hope you will understand when you have children of your own, but for now, you have to trust that the love I have for you is just indescribable. It’s deep and wide and goes farther than you can see. As one of your books say, “You’ll never outgrow it. It stretches itself.”
Oh, my sweet, I love you so.
Taking these monthly photos is no easy chore and I’m usually sweaty by the time I’m done. I already know from experience with Henry that these photos are priceless and I’ll treasure them always so the effort is worth it. This month, Perrin was waaayyyy more interested in chewing on her hands or making duck faces than she was in smiling. And Henry was trying to do his own photoshoot so that made for some extra fun workaround.
Weighs: 13 pounds, 1 ounce
Height: 25.25 inches
Loves: your play mat, music & singing, being held upright, having people talk to you, cooing, your pacifier
Wears: 0-3m in clothes in a few, but going up to 3-6m now, size 2 diapers
Sleeps: 8PM-8AM + 3 naps a day (two long ones and one shorter one in the late afternoon)
Shortly after you were born, I read something that referred to the first few months of life with a newborn as the “100 days of darkness”. They’re hard, those 100 days. Keeping a tiny human alive, wild hormones and #allthefeels (anxiety, guilt, sadness, joy, pride, rage), the sleep deprivation, a healing, postpartum body that feels strange and foreign and saggy, the loneliness that hits at random times, but especially during the middle of the night, the mental wearing of dealing with colicky cries, the knowledge that your life has irrevocably changed and you have to figure out how you fit in this world again. Those first 100 days are hard.
But then it passes. The 100 days slip by in a haze and suddenly, one day, you realize you’re on the other side (or technically speaking, we are almost on the other side; I guess we are only 90-some days in right now but close enough). The tides shift. It becomes easier. It feels more doable. The bad days are fewer; the good days more numerous. We sleep again, full, restful nights of sleep. You smile at our crazy sounds. You coo in response to singing. You chew on your little fists in the most adorable, drooly way. You look around with smooth eye movements and are curious about everything you see. You become less fragile and more stable, holding your head upright and pushing yourself up on your hands. You become less fresh and more human.
It’s the most wonderful thing, making it through those hardest days. The best thing about a second child is that, even though it’s harder in many ways trying to juggle it all with multiple kids, as a parent, you also know it will become easier instead of just hoping that someday it won’t be so insurmountable. And with that thought in mind, I’ve been counting down to 3 months since a few moments after you were born. I knew it would be hard; I remembered it so well from when Henry was little. But I also knew it would become easier.
I’ve continued lugging you to the gym and you sleep in the carseat while I work out. Now that you’re three months old, you can start going to the gym daycare and I’m admittedly a little nervous about it. Henry will give me a full report, I’m sure.
He loves to go in before me to get you up from your naps. He turns off your sound machine, turns on the light, and goes over to your crib and starts talking to you. You love it. “Perriiiiinnnn. Hiiiii little Peanut. Did you sleeeeeep good? I think you did. Your mama is coming.” And you smile at him like he’s your hero.
You love laying on your play mat and kicking at the piano keyboard to make music and batting at the toys hanging overhead. Your little fists have become your favorite chew toy and they are constantly in your mouth.
You haven’t taken to your pacifier like Henry did. We use it occasionally to calm you down, particularly when you’re tired, but you have to be in just the right mood to actually suck on it and, even then, after a few minutes, you push it out with your tongue because you’ve had enough of it.
Naps are finally getting better. Though you’ve been sleeping through the night since 7 weeks, naps were a constant struggle where you’d only sleep for 30-40 minutes and then wake up crying and couldn’t settle yourself back down. The last week or two have shown significant improvements though and you will sometimes nap over 2 hours now. Unfortunately, it’s not at the point of being guaranteed yet so I can only semi-plan things to do (clean the bathrooms, reply to emails, workout on the spin bike, schedule client calls, go play outside in the yard with Henry, etc.) with the knowledge that they might be interrupted. But we’re getting there, slowly but surely.
With your age and development, your personality is continuing to shine. You’re a fairly relaxed little baby now and you generally don’t fuss unless you’re tired, hungry, or overstimulated. In fact, I can always tell when you’re ready for your naps simply because you start to get fussy.
And so, my sweet girl, three months have passed and you have seamlessly inserted yourself into our family, making it nearly impossible to remember what it was like before you. We are whole. We are complete, the four of us. You were just who we were waiting for. You have been absolutely worth every tear shed, every sleepless moment, every throbbing headache, every doubtful terror.
Loving you has been such a pleasure. I am breathing in every moment with you and loving you more than I thought possible. You are my joy.
I love you.
Weighs: 12 pounds, 1 ounce
Loves: your play mat, music & singing, being held upright, having people talk to you, cooing
Wears: 0-3m in clothes, size 1 diapers (size 2 overnight)
Sleeps: 8PM-8AM + 4 naps a day (two long ones and two shorter ones in the late afternoon and evening)
I knew it would happen like this; the longer you’re here, the more I love you. The first weeks were hard—really hard—and there were times when I loved you, but didn’t really like you. Love is like cement though; malleable and a little sticky at first, but absolutely permanent once it sets. And it is long set by now, sweet girl.
You’ve started smiling and cooing and, as I predicted, your smile is beautiful. I’m just so excited to hear more and more of your voice and see your personality shine.
We moved you from sleeping in your rock-n-play to your crib at 7 weeks. I was really nervous about the transition, but, exactly like your brother back in the day, you swapped over without even seeming to notice. We also switched you from your weighted swaddle to a zip-up swaddle (because you kept getting your arms out of the swaddle) and that too went much smoother than I had thought. Sometimes the things I’m most nervous about are the easiest and the things I don’t even consider being an issue end up being the hardest.
You are my little gym buddy and I’ve been lugging you along to my HIIT classes since you were 2 weeks old. It’s conveniently timed during your nap so you mostly just sleep in your carseat though you occasionally need it to be rocked or jostled a bit. You’ll be able to go to the child care room once you’re three months old and I hope you’ll do okay with that. Your brother will be there too and I’m sure he’ll keep any eye on you.
Speaking of Henry, he’s grown to love you. When you were first born, he was very much uninterested and even dejectedly said once, “Ohhhh. She’s still here.” Now he loves to go with me to get you up and clambers up the side of your crib to lean over you and say, “Good morning, Perrin! Did you sleep good?” When you’re laying on the play mat, he constantly goes over to talk to you (right in your face, always!) and check on you. Just a few days ago, I was in the kitchen, you were on your play mat in the living room, and Henry was bouncing between the two, telling me, “Mama, I’m just going to check on Perrin.” He’s sweet and protective and all of that has happened in the last several weeks. Just a couple days ago, he wanted to help feed you your bottle and he also requested to take a picture with you, both were firsts for him. He will continue to be the best big brother and I can’t wait until you start laughing at his antics because it will just send him into high gear to make you so happy.
Sleep has become really good. At five weeks, you shocked us by going almost 9 hours one night (you slept from 10 PM to 6:45 AM!), but then you dropped back to consistently going 5-6 hour stretches, waking once a night, usually around 3:30. But at seven weeks old, you surprised us again and started sleeping all night (10 PM to 7:30 AM). You must be competitive because when I mentioned last month that your brother slept all night starting at 12 weeks, you kicked it into high gear to beat him. Thank you for that. (Though I still wake up around 3:30 AM to phantom crying in my head…and then I have trouble going back to sleep, thinking you’ll wake up any minute.) There were 4 nights of all-night stretches and I’m not sure if it’ll stick or if you’ll go back and forth between an all-nighter and a wake-up, but if you do wake up, once you’re fed, you go back to sleep.
This week has brought some warmer temperatures so we’ve spent afternoons outside, going on long walks to the park. I wear you in the Tula carrier and put Henry in the stroller and off we go. The bouncing of my walking puts you right to sleep. The fresh air has been good for all of us, especially since Henry got a cough last weekend and I’m trying desperately to keep you from picking it up.
As much as I’ve been counting down to 3 months, I’m also shocked at how fast time is actually going. I’m glad for it at this stage, but once we hit that magical time post newborn stage, I know I’m going to be like, “Stop. Now it’s time to slow down.” But it doesn’t. It never does. So I’m just soaking up the cuddles and the way you loop your arms around my neck when I carry you and your soft little cheek against mine when I rock you. You’re my favorite little girl and you always will be.
I love you to the moon and beyond, my sweet baby.
Weighs: 10 pounds, 2 ounces
Loves: your play mat, music, being held upright, having people talk to you
Wears: 0-3m in clothes, size 1 diapers
Sleeping: all night most of the time (!), with an occasional early-morning feed (usually sometime between 3:30-5); bedtime at 7 PM with a dreamfeed bottle at 10 PM and sleeps until 7:30 AM
It’s been a whole month, 31 days, since you were first placed in my arms, screaming like your world was ending. In a way, I guess it was. Everything that you knew, all the warm, cozy, whooshing sound of my womb, was instantly replaced with cold, naked, bright, and foreign. You were born in a whirlwind, one moment I was resting in the hospital bed and 5 minutes later, you were in my arms. You’ve been taking us for a roller coaster ride ever since.
I’d be lying if I said this past month has been easy. In some ways, I was more prepared for this stage than I ever was with Henry (because there’s nothing that can prepare you for that first time newborn experience), but in other ways, I realize I had blocked a lot of my memories of the first weeks with him because they were just so hard. So while I rest assured that I know it gets easier this time (I truly thought at one point with your brother that the rest of my life would be like that; I felt hopeless), I am also making it through one day at a time thinking, “Wait, you’re only 4 weeks old? How can we speed this up?” I know we will make it, but, girl, the making it is really hard sometimes.
I hear others saying they just want to slow time down and bottle up this newborn-ness and I’m over here like, “No thanks. Let’s move along, please.” And I’ve realized that it’s okay for me to feel that way. I felt so much guilt with Henry about the newborn stage and truly thought I wasn’t cut out to be a mother because of it. But then he got bigger and it got better and better and better and I realized that it’s okay for me to have a stage of my children’s lives that I’m not good at. I know I’m not good at having a newborn, but I also know that I am good at having a 4 month old. So I keep pushing on, doing the very best I can with you (rocking, bouncing, feeding, shushing, singing, burping, #allthenewbornthings) because I know my thriving days are coming. They are just up ahead.
One of the biggest struggles that I didn’t know how to prepare for is the balancing of two kids. Your brother is 3, very independent by your standards, but also very much needing me still for daily life. And you are 1 month so absolutely dependent for everything. Being so needed is both an honor and a weighted load. Some days I want to just crawl into bed and hide under the covers and hope that no one will find me. And then other days, I’m up and ready to tackle whatever hits us. I am constantly looking around at other parents with 2+ kids and saying, “Look at them. They’re doing it. If they can do it, we can too.” Because that comparison is my only encouragement on the hardest days. Seeing others thriving (or, at the very least, surviving) makes me feel like I can too.
Now, all of this talk is so heavy. I wish I could just talk about unicorns and rainbows and cuddles. But I feel the responsibility to be honest and so this is my honesty.
Amidst all of the difficulties of taking care of a baby, you must know, my darling, that you’re so loved. My struggles as a mother during this stage of your life are no reflection of you. I realized with Henry that I’m not that great during the first few months, but I hit my stride later on and then there’s no stopping me. And while I am so desperately looking forward to hitting that stride with you too, I am in the meantime, loving you with all that I have.
You are perfect. You are a miracle. And the fact that you are ours astonishes me. How did I get so lucky to not only get one child, but two? Not just Henry, but you too?
In this first month, we’ve started establishing a routine. You eat every 2.5-3 hours during the day and, at night, you will go as long as 4.5 hours between eating. It seems like you’re sort of all in or all out as far as good nights go. Either you’ll eat and go right back to sleep at every feeding or you’ll eat and then struggle for an hour to fall back asleep. There’s no mediocre with you. And while I don’t try to compare you with your brother, I’m just here to tell you, he was a 12-hour sleeper by 12 weeks so, you know, if you’d like to be competitive about it, I’m on board.
You are a good eater now that I gave up breastfeeding and instead pump and give you bottles. The first few weeks we struggled with a lot of things. Sometimes you’d eat like a champion and then sometimes you’d fight the entire time. It was exhausting and draining in a way I can’t even describe, made even more so with another child to also take care of. Somehow you gained a lot of weight though and you were already a pound over your birth weight by 2 weeks. You are now 8 pounds, 7 ounces!
Your cheeks are getting chunkier (oh, the sweetest little cheeks to kiss!) and you’re slowly starting to fill out those twiggy little legs and arms. I hope you get little rolls soon. You’re still in newborn clothes, but I know in the next month, you’ll be advancing to a new wardrobe.
Just like you have good and bad nights, you also have good and bad days. The good days are so wonderful. They are the breath of fresh air that I need. The bad days are no fun, but I am constantly reminding myself that you are so new to this world and it’s totally normal for you to be overwhelmed so I’m trying to give myself the same grace that I give you. We will conquer this vast world together, my child.
You’re growing and changing and I’m checking off the dates on the calendar just as quickly as they come, but I’m also trying to lock away some of the little memories that I love, like the way you stretch your arms overhead and arch your back when I unwrap your swaddle. Your little eyes squeeze shut and you scrunch your forehead into little wrinkles and squeak as you reach. I love how you tuck your knees up into your chest and snuggle your head under my chin when you’re falling asleep. I love how peaceful you are when you’re sleeping. I’m convinced that sleeping babies are God’s way of saying, “You’ve got this.”
My darling girl, I am so grateful I get to be your mama. I am excitedly looking forward to all of our adventures together, especially knowing ours will be so different than the ones I have with your brother. Knowing I have gotten two unique gifts makes me want to cry with gratitude. I longed for you my whole life. And now to have you…it’s the most overwhelming challenge and wonderful adventure that I’ll ever face.
I love you, baby girl. I love you more than you’ll ever know.
Weighs: 8 pounds, 7 ounces
Loves: not a whole lot right now except eating and being bounced
Wears: Newborn in clothes, size newborn diapers
Sleeping: Just starting sleeping 4 (occasionally 4.5) hour stretches at night; we’re all happy about it
Taking pictures is not for the faint of heart; there was a lot of this going on the whole time, with Henry also insisting on taking his own photos.
This past year has brought so many new milestones for you and this next year will bring your biggest one yet, your new role of big brother. You love to feel my belly to see if your little sister is kicking and when I asked you a few weeks ago what you want for your birthday, you said, “My baby sister.” I know getting a sibling will bring many new responsibilities and challenges, but I am so excited to watch you love her and teach her and guide her. She will be the luckiest little girl to have you in her corner.
It is a little bittersweet for me to see age two come to an end. This past year has been the most fun yet and my only hope is that three will be even better because, so far in your life, just when I thought it couldn’t get better, it always has. It’s hard to recap a whole year worth of childhood in one letter but I’ll do my best.
Before your second birthday, we ditched your pacifier during the daytime, limiting it only to the crib. This year, we got rid of it completely. You were very attached to it and we expected it to be a huge deal, but somehow, you completely surprised us. I think due to teething (molars?), you kept biting through the pacifiers and I was finally tired of buying new ones so when you bit through the last one, we tossed it out and told you that we didn’t have any more. You tried to negotiate a trip to Target to get another one, but I told you no and that was the end of it. You asked for it one more time later than night at bed, but never asked again and have been fine without it ever since.
Knowing your sister is coming at the end of this year, we had a few things we knew we needed/wanted to do: get rid of your pacifier (done), move you to a big boy bed/room to free up the nursery, and potty train you. A few months ago, I started working on your new room. The guest room got a makeover with new paint and a full clean out. We got rid of the full size bed in there and bought you a twin bed. I had so much fun taking some of the items you already had and adding to them to turn your new room into a more grown up room for you. When the room was done, you immediately asked to sleep in your “big boy bed” and, though I was nervous about it, I let you take a nap in there that day. You were given strict instructions to stay in the bed and, in the same manner as the pacifier situation, you breezed through the transition without any problem. You went to sleep on your own and stayed in bed even when you woke up early from your nap, just reading books until I came to get you. That night you wanted to sleep in there again so we tried it and, same! You’ve been in your new room ever since. You’re so proud of it.
Knowing we were 2 for 3 in successes for what we had thought would be challenges, we approached potty training just 2 weeks ago with some hesitation (as least, I did!). I can’t say that you’ve been 100% successful, but you’ve also done far better than I expected you to do and you’re so proud of yourself (as you should be). By the second day, you were telling us when you needed to go (some of the time; the rest of the time was by your “potty watch” timer going off) and by a week in, you started having dry diapers overnight. We continue to try to be consistent with it and are so proud of how great you’re doing!
When you turned two, you were hardly talking, saying only a few words (I think we counted maybe 4?). Our pediatrician, though not worried, advised that we meet with a speech therapist just to get some tips. So this past January, we had our first meeting with a speech therapist. It took a few weeks for you to get comfortable with her and then you just started bursting with words. Your perfectionist tendencies were in full view as I watched you become confident enough to try and, as soon as you knew you could do it, you didn’t stop talking. After just 6 months of twice monthly sessions, you were able to graduate, something we were told rarely happens that quickly. You are armed with a plethora words and are constantly surprising us with your funny phrases (like, “You got it, mama!” when asked to go pick up your toys and “Oh, dear me.” when you drop something). Just last week your friend came over and you were so excited you started jumping and shouting, “I am jumping for joy!” You like using big words like enormous and exhausted. It has been so fun to hear your brain in action and watch your imagination explode.
You still love books and I suspect and hope that you always will. We try to vary our lineup by going to the library a lot and I’m so looking forward to our second year of doing our Christmas book advent calendar. You have many of your books memorized so sometimes you will “read” to us and the way you get some complex pages correct word-for-word blows my mind.
You are 100% boy when it comes to things with wheels. You are obsessed with vehicles: trains, construction trucks (bulldozers, dump trucks, excavators, cement mixers, etc.), garbage trucks, fire trucks, farming equipment (tractors, combines, 4-wheelers, skid-steer loaders), and semis (which you love to count on the interstate from your bedroom window). Your daddy took you on a train ride one Saturday while I had a wedding and we all got to ride the Hawkeye train a few weeks back. You think all trains are the Hawkeye train now and they are all “going to Iowa City!” Grandpa and Grandma’s farm continues to be your favorite place to hang out. You got to ride in the combine this fall and you always beg tractor rides out of Grandpa. If it’s too cold to be outside on the real equipment, you make yourself at home with all the toy tractors and wagons that are inside. It seems like you never have enough time there and you are always sad to leave, no matter how many hours you have spent playing.
Henry, I cannot imagine our lives without you. You have brought more joy and laughter to us than we ever dreamed. I think I imagined that parenting would just be this big challenge (and some days it is!), but I never imagined that parenting would be such a joy and a privilege. Your personality continues to shine and I’m so proud of who you are. We know that we are leaders by example and, though that weighted responsibility is terrifying, we hope to continue to guide you to love others, seek out the lonely, and be respectful, gentle, patient, and kind towards all of humanity. You will never fail if you love God and love others, that I promise you. Your life has purpose beyond our wildest dreams and I am so excited to watch you grow into the plans God has for you.
Being your mama has been my highest achievement of honor. I love so very, very much, my child.
Happy birthday, beautiful boy.
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Loves: dairy products, “toast” (french toast bites), Puppy (your stuffed best friend), reading books, playing outside, anything with wheels, technology of any kind, “typing emails” which consists of using a keyboard, singing songs and listening to music, and painting
Wears: 2T and 3T in clothes (you are skinny and tall so it’s a challenge with pants!)