Dear Penny: Happy First Birthday

Dear Penny,

I lived for 29 years before I knew you. 29 years as a daughter, sister, friend. 29 years learning and growing and trying to be a mostly good person… at least as much as a self-focused, immensely self-absorbed person can be.

29 years before you took your first breath.

The breath that changed everything. Turned my whole world on its axis. Suddenly and swiftly cut my entire life into two very distinct, very separate parts: before you, and after you. And I can barely even remember what it was like before. Not to say that my life prior to becoming your mother didn’t matter, or wasn’t important, of course it was. But it’s just memories and feelings, and you’re here, real, vibrant, and alive.

Your existence brings every moment of my life into sharper focus (aside from all the foggy, forgotten things that have been lost due to mom brain, that is.) I see the joy in our daily lives with so much more clarity, and I feel the sadnesses of the world much more heavily. It’s not an exaggeration to say that you have made me a better person. After 29 years of laziness, inaction, and lots of talk but little follow-through, you make me want to better our world. To implement change — in myself, in our lives together, in the world as a whole.

You opened my heart in a way I never knew was possible, and you cut the very ties that bound me to my selfish way of thinking.

Your birth changed me in the most incredible, most unpredictable, best possible way. I know, I know, it’s all just so cheesy. This next bit possibly being the worst offender. It’s ridiculous to say aloud, let alone type and chronicle forever in the hallowed halls of the internet. But you will come to learn very quickly (if you don’t already know) that your mama is one of the most ridiculous people you’ll ever meet. And I dunno, I just kind of… own it.

August 30th, 2017 was the day you were born, but it was the day I was reborn.

This has been the absolute best year of my entire life. Yes, it’s also been the craziest, most challenging, humbling, overwhelming, frustrating, all-in-all incredible year, but I wouldn’t trade a single second of it. Seeing you change, grow, learn… it’s the most beautiful thing, and I’ve had the extreme blessing of being able to witness almost every single second of it with you.

You are so, so, so incredibly loved. Happy birthday, baby.

 

 

Penny: Nine Months Old

Today you are NINE MONTHS OLD, Penelope Spencer!

I can’t believe we’re 3/4 of the way through your first year of life! Nine months just sounds so… monumental! It’s bittersweet, but that there really is no stopping you growing up, sweet pea. You weigh nineteen pounds, ten ounces and are 28.5″ long (75th and 84th percentiles!). You’re stretching out and starting to lose some of your sweet, squishy rolls. Thankfully, your delicious cheeks remain!

As my last humblebrag post detailed, you’ve reached some seriously incredible achievements this past month. This period between your 8-month and 9-month birthdays has honestly been jaw-dropping! You’re now crawling for-reals-for-reals, you’re pulling yourself up to standing, trying to cruise (!!), pushing yourself up from laying down, reaching for toys, trying to kill yourself by rolling off of every surface I try to change your diaper on… you’re just always on the move! Which certainly made trying to get these photos a bit of a challenge. This was my view most of the time:

My milk supply has gotten back to normal after the severe dip I struggled with last month, and you’re back to nursing & eating like a total champ. We’re working on self-feeding techniques — you’ve got your pincer grasp down, and even get your food into her mouth like a solid 75% percent of the time! You’re a meat-lover like your daddy right now. Protein!

Napping has gotten much longer and more predictable (when you’re at home, that is; it’s a total roll of the dice at daycare, lol). You’ve been giving us pretty solid 1.5 – 2 hour naps more often than not! You also do a very solid 11 – 12 hours overnight, so I’ve actually gotten to the point where I’m Googling “is my baby sleeping too much?”. I know some babies just need more sleep than others though, and that a lot of other parents would kill for a baby that sleeps as much as you do right now, lol. I’m chalking it up to the fact that your little brain is doing SO MUCH right now, and that it’ll probably lessen as you master all of these brand new skills.

It’s really fun to see you play with toys so much more purposefully and intently. Your current favorite toys are your Sit-to-Stand Walker and your Rock ‘n’ Glow Unicorn, and your favorite way to play with every other toy you own is to pull them out of your toy bins and throw them all across the living room, hehe.

You also finally (FINALLY!) seem to really like the dogs. And since you keep tossing your food down to them when you’re done eating, not to mention just straight up feeding them your teething crackers, they’re finally starting to really like you too. 😉

We love you so incredibly much, you funny, sweet, wonderful little thing, you!

Dear Penny: Our First Mother’s Day

Dear Penny,

Today is Mother’s Day. It’s a special day every year, of course, as we honor and celebrate the mothers in our lives. But as this one is my first as a mother myself, well, I think it goes without saying that Mother’s Day 2018 has a particular significance for you and me, kiddo.

I have had the extraordinary honor of being your mother for eight months, and simultaneously I can’t believe it’s already been so long — the time has utterly flown by! — and also that it’s only been so long, since it feels like you have been part of me for forever.

It’s a little bit strange to say that, actually, since I used to have a pretty difficult time picturing myself as a mother. I mean, I’ve always loved babies, and I love your cousins, and of course I love your fur-brothers. And your daddy and I knew we probably would want to have a (human) child someday, but when I really thought about me? As a mother? Someone’s actual, real-life mom?? I just couldn’t see it.

And then I became pregnant with you, and suddenly it didn’t really matter whether or not I could envision it: this was happening. I was going to be responsible for an entire life. I was going to have a tiny human of my very own. I was going to be a MOM. (And honestly, I sometimes still can’t truly believe that I am one.)

Now, I’m a wordy person. I mean, clearly, right? I love words. I use them multitudinously and often. I’m the kind of gal who talks aloud to herself, sings along, and doodles words instead of pictures. I already think you may have gotten this from me, what with your love of babbling and already genius-level mastery of consonants. But honestly, when I try to come up with a way to express just how purely, deeply, and completely in love with you I am… words fail me.

I’ll try the best that I can, but I honestly don’t think I possess the words needed to adequately capture the sheer breadth and depth of my love for you. Everything about you is magic. All things are more fun now that you’re here. I live to watch you experience the world anew. I delight when you experience joy; my heart breaks when you’re sick or in pain.

People tell you that you can’t truly understand love until you become a mother yourself. Sure, sure, whatever, I thought. How pompous. After all, I had so much love in so many areas of my life, it was almost offensive to suggest that I didn’t, or couldn’t, understand what love is.

But, see, I don’t think anyone tells you that to diminish the love you already feel. It’s more like, they tell you in an attempt to prepare you. Because for me, having now had you, I can  say it does pretty much hold true. I love you more than I thought it was possible to love anything.

And I mean, it’s not like I suddenly loved any of the other people in my life — your dad, your Grampy & PoPo, your Aunt Jenny or your Uncle Ben, your cousins or Harry or Daxter or the rest of our family or any of my friends or any of the other truly wonderful, special people I am blessed to know — any less. In fact, just like The Grinch, my heart simply grew three sizes the second you entered my world. And it’s a love that’s just a little bit different with you.

I love you in a visceral, instinctual, part-of-me kind of way. I mean, what else explains how much I miss you — actually miss you — when you are asleep merely a floor beneath me?

The days are long but the years are short, they tell me. Well, we haven’t quite reached our first year yet, but I already know the second part of this statement to be true. I am confounded by how big you’ve grown, how much you’ve changed from the itty bitty little thing I held in my arms that very first night.

I know you won’t always be so little. I know you won’t always want to curl up in the crook of my arm, that you won’t always look around for me when you’re unsure of something, that your face won’t always light up simply by me walking into view. That’s why I’m so grateful that I’m able to document my motherhood journey here on this very blog, to help me remember it all. Even though just eight short months have passed, I know I have already forgotten so much. I strain to recall the sound of your first fierce little cry, the way I held my own breath until I heard it.

Having you has made me a better person. You make me care more deeply about the people in my life. You help me take notice of everything happening around us — to want to celebrate the goodness, mourn the sadness, get incensed over the senselessness in the world. You make me want to take action, to make an effort, to make a change so that this world becomes better for you.

 
And, of course, you make me appreciate my own mother — your PoPo — so, so, so much. I understand her sacrifices, her commitment, and her unconditional love better and more deeply everyday. And even though I know I rarely show it as much or as well as I should, I’m so grateful for her — and thankful for the relationship you’re able to have with her, too.

 
Penelope, thank you for making me a mother. Thank you for making me your mother. Motherhood is an emotional, incredible, wonderful, unpredictable, unbelievable, beautiful ride. I love you so much.

All my love, always,

Mommy

Dear Penny: Happy Due Date!

Dear Penny,

Happy due date, Princess! It’s hard to believe that you weren’t originally supposed to have joined us out here in the world until today — or possibly even later! Just thinking about not having had you around this entire time makes me want to cry — I fell in love with you so instantly, so completely. It’s like we’ve gotten three bonus weeks with you, and as cliche as it is to say, they really have been the best (most sleep-deprived, but best!) weeks of our life.

The circumstances surrounding having to bring you out early may have thrown us for a loop at the time, but getting to see you, hold you, hug you, and love you all this extra time has been the greatest gift your dad and I could’ve asked for. We feel like we’ve won the jackpot with you: you’ve adapted to life on the outside so well, and while each day is, of course, challenging in different ways (and while we know things could easily change, hehe), you are still such a good baby. You sleep like a pro through barking schnauzers and constant Scrubs reruns alike, you nurse easily and are growing like a fiend, and I never thought I’d be so happy talking about poop as much as I do these days (because you do that a little too well!)

I know I complained a lot while I was pregnant with you, but I can definitively say that every bout of nausea, every ache, and every pain was worth it. I would give up marinara sauce 1000 times over for you, that’s for sure. And while I haven’t completely forgotten about the pains of my pregnancy just yet, the pain of childbirth itself has already almost disappeared from memory (having been replaced by the pain of putting my retainer back in last night, after forgetting to wear it for an entire week. #mombrain). You’re just that awesome!

Suffice it to say, you’ve brought us so much joy in your three short weeks of life. I’m officially eating my words from when I used to say that I wouldn’t be one of those annoying moms who is overly obsessed with her baby and who posts nothing but baby photos, because, kiddo, I am so obnoxiously, annoyingly, absolutely, utterly obsessed with you.

Here’s to you, little one!

All my love,
Mom