lulu letters: month 3, part 2

Updated: Mar 15


Dear Lulu...


I've started writing a poem a day, in honor of you. Seems like all the writing I do these days is about and to you, but that makes sense. You are the center of my world.


Here is the first poem, written on New Year's Day:


year to remember

tuck down, away

world left in tatters

life kept at bay


year to remember

strange and off-key

walls built around us

no place to be


year to remember

fragile resolve

shifting and sifting

rhythms evolve


year to remember

ride the alright

fragmented slivers

look to the light


a year to remember

to honor and hold

deep in a pocket

beauty so bold


a year to remember

so foreign, so new

the year that joy saved us

the sweet joy of you

1.1


Happy New Year, my love.


As usual, you stayed up later than me last night. I crawled into bed around 9:30, while you continued to party with Papa, Mema, and Pops, all bug-eyed, just wanting to be where the action was, as per usual. Mema tried to bring you into your room and rock you to sleep, but you weren’t having it. When I said goodnight, you were sitting on your Mema’s lap, calm as could be, listening to all the lively conversation around you. (Between your Papa and your Pops, the conversation is always lively.) You had a tough time settling in for the night, which is unusual. You must have known it was a festive evening!


We seem to have a basic pattern for now, which is lovely. I love that you and your Papa have your nights together. In fact, he has put you to bed for the night since you were just a few weeks old! Some sense of comforting consistency. It also probably explains, at least in part, why you now greet me with the biggest smile in the morning: I’m your morning person! You end the day with Papa and begin the day with me. How beautiful is that? Still, I look forward to your bedtime shifting to earlier over time, so I can help with that, too. Read you stories, rub your back, sing to you…I started putting you in pjs in the evening. One small step, but it feels momentous.


Watching you with your Mema is magical. She sits with you and plays with you constantly, sitting you on your back on her lap and talking to you, speaking in her soft voice. You babble to her, smile at her, your eyes glowing in her presence. Last night I checked on the two of you in the nursery. I looked down at your intent face on the changing table, then up at her face bent over you. I saw her for the first time as a grandmother. Does that sound strange? She looked so wise and comforting and all-embracing, the most perfect grandmother imaginable. Of course you bask in your time with her – I would, too! I do, too.


And your Pops! He had you smiling so much the other day, doing a little jig in front of you and singing about “moving our arms.” You were enraptured! He is just as magical, talking to you softly, smiling, telling you how it is.


Do you know how lucky you are, little bean? My sweet angel face. That’s another nickname I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet: angel face.


I’ve been reflecting, of course, about this past year. You were our constant. You consumed our year. You were this year.



1.2


Last night you slept from 10:30-6. Bless you, child. The past two mornings have had some semblance of...a comforting routine? Your Papa is still sleeping after I put you back to sleep after an early morning feed. I make my lemon water and tea, sterilize bottles from the day before, think about dinner for the day, putz around a bit, and finally sit down to write for a few minutes.


Yesterday you slept on me for two hours in the afternoon. Maybe that’s our routine this month...I want to make the most of this precious time when I can smell and kiss your sweet little perfect fuzzy head and listen to you breathe. You still won’t let me stroke your arm, shooing me away with the tiniest shrug. “Mama, I’m sleeping!”


I don’t think I’ve specified your “hungry” sounds. You have three. One of the first signs is your breathing: those little huffs and puffs get closer together. The next sound usually begins as I start the process of lifting my shirt. It’s kind of like a baby horse – a short, shuddering “Neh-eh-eh, neh-eh-eh…” that rises in urgency. Your mouth ever-so-slightly turns up toward a smile, because you know what’s coming. This morphs into the third sound: an even more urgently shuddering “Oh-oh-oh” as I position you close to my boob, your mouth contorting in any and all ways to attach it to the bullseye. You know that you’re so close to it – literally and figuratively – and you can barely stand it any longer. “GIVE IT TO ME, MAMA!! I’M RIGHT HERE!!”


These hunger sounds are both variations on your hunger cry, which has shorter bursts of “Eh!” and “Ni!” It still surprises me sometimes. For example, last night, you were fussy after having six ounces of a pumped bottle, being changed, and having some quality skin-to-skin time because I knew you were so tired. We changed positions, I tried to entertain you...nothing but fuss. So, I finally gave you a boob, and you chugged away as if I had deprived you for far too long. Then, an hour later, you had two more ounces! You’re like a camel, storing for the long night ahead.


Nursing is much calmer now. You used to do much more “angry eating,” pulling off and on, squirming around a lot. Now you’re pretty limp when you eat. And your little eating noises are just the best – happy “Mm-mm-mm” sounds every so often.


You’re exploding out of your clothes, already on the edge of 3-6 months. Every week I pack away more clothing that you wore, once, twice, maybe three times.


You have the tiniest forehead dimple when you’re making your “serious business” face (mostly when you’re eating).



1.3


You are my wild child. Yesterday you refused the bottle on multiple occasions, screaming bloody murder, pushing it away with your tongue and with your hands! That’s new. I finally had to submit and give you a boob. I hear you! I would want a boob, too! But sometimes these sore boobs need a break. I think you might have tongue tie, which would explain the vasospasm and pain for me, along with so many of your symptoms – crazy amounts of spit up, congestion, how you latch...Hoping we can manage just fine without a procedure, because, well, yikes.


But, yes, you are wild. Wild in many ways. You have such a fierce little spirit! I can tell that you get a little frustrated when you try to speak. It’s so hard to be a baby! So much to communicate, and you can’t. Wanting to move, but you can’t.


Mema calls you “Blinky” because of how you blink when she plays the game where she slowly gets closer and closer to your face. You get more excited as she gets closer, your eyes growing wider and wider, your huffy breathing get more and more rapid, your limbs ready for take-off. Are you trying to meet her halfway?


You really are a little bird with your fuzzy head and the way you push with your legs to “stand” when you’re on someone’s shoulder, your arms flapping like you’re ready for take-off.


Where would you like to fly, my little bird?



1.4


We all know when you’re pooping now. Your grunts are quite audible, and your round face turns a slight shade of red, especially your button nose and around your eyes. It’s the cutest and funniest thing, this tiny little angel face working so hard, shame-free.


You have less tongue action these past few weeks, which I believe means less acid reflux! Huzzah! We’ve shifted to 100% breastmilk, no longer needing to supplement with some formula in bottles. Yup, Mama is basically a cow, milk spurting and leaking if it has been awhile since the last feed. Your poop is also a healthy mustardy yellow. It was often greenish when we mixed in some formula. TMI? Apologies...this is our life now: observing your poop.


In other news, you used your feet to push your hips up off the changing table yesterday, scooching your lower half around. I no longer feel (as?) guilty about not doing a whole lot of tummy time...You’ll be fine. Parents decades ago didn’t stress about these things, and their kids turned out just fine. You’re just great.


I hold your feet in my hands and kiss the soles, and you wrap your toes around my face. I have never been as happy as I am then.



1.5


I love to stroke the delicate curls on the side of your head, to push them behind your ears.


You have the longest thumbnail – really the most elegant fingernails. And long fingers and toes, made for something that I can’t wait to witness in the future.


This new life together often feels bipolar. One minute I’m completely at a loss, at my wit’s end, teary and reaching out for help from your Papa because I just need a minute...and 20 seconds later, everything is the most amazing and miraculous and joyful it has ever been. You have this bipolarism, too – one minute happy as a clam, the next suddenly fussy or crying, the next smiling and cooing. It’s hilarious and draining.



1.6


Today’s adventure is trying this new Zen sleep sack I bought. I tried it after your 5 am feed, and you were fussy, but you soothed yourself to semi-restless sleep. IS THERE HOPE?! Every small victory is the greatest victory of my life.


Yesterday you slept on me for three naps in a row after the morning naps didn’t go well. I took advantage of the ability to have a lazy day of snuggling (and watching The Morning Show…) I had nothing else to do other than love you up, so I basked in it. You still had the worst “dream terrors” yet though! At one point, you cried so much – with real tears – that you quietly heaved for minutes afterward, so worked up and struggling to settle back down – and all in your sleep.


What do you dream about? What is so horrifying? I hold your head and kiss you and whisper “Shh..shh...it’s okay! I’m here!” but I feel so helpless. I want to rouse you out of the dream, but I don’t want to wake you, so I hope that you feel my love and comfort in your subconscious state.


You have the most beautiful almond-shaped eyes. We’re not sure where they came from – they’re not mine, and they’re not your Papa’s. They are breathtaking.


*Update: Feeling pretty good about this new Zen sack! Today we’re batting one – almost two – for two so far. You slept 50 minutes for your late morning nap. Your midday nap...well, you fussed and were in and out of light sleep for about 20 minutes before I tried the swing, where you lay drowsily for about half an hour before drifting off. Your eyes closed slower than I thought possible, maintaining tiny slits until they finally surrendered. One nap at a time...


Oh – another nickname we have for you: Butter Bean. I love that one. Your Papa came up with it, and I hear him greeting you with it (mostly when he gets you up from an unsuccessful crib nap). The glee in his voice is infinitely better than any gift he has ever given me. And your Papa gives very good gifts.



1.7


You got the hiccups with Mema AGAIN yesterday! This is becoming a habit. Is it because you get overexcited? You smile so big when you see her now. The growing recognition of special people is magical to witness.


As is you ever so slowly beginning to recognize that you have hands! Your grip is stronger, and you reached out to touch the book we were reading the other day.


Papa called you Coconut Head this morning. It’s the perfect nickname for your round fuzzy noggin.


Best moment of the day so far: We were in the car, you and I, driving home from our curbside grocery pickup. You got cranky...I could see your pathetic little crying face in the new mirror we installed in front of your car seat. (You do this new lip quivering thing that is absolutely heartbreaking.) Suddenly, you quieted down! What was playing? Show tunes. That’s right, m'dear. Call it coincidence, but methinks you somehow know that those songs are special. Though I’m worried that you’ll recognize Morning Joe’s voice more than songs, seeing as your Papa listens to him every single morning…


Among the things that continue to mystify me:

  1. Why you sometimes take catnaps and sleep for hours on end other times

  2. Why you sometimes sleep lightly and restlessly, stirred by the smallest of small sudden noises or touches, and other times completely pass out like a drunk, oblivious to any and all stimulation


1.9


You’re bringing your hands together more and more, sucking on your fists. Last night, you were mesmerized by my hands – tracked them, reached out and stroked them with your fists, held my thumb and pinky as I closed and opened my palm. I knew we had reached a new something.


Side note on your poops: You haven’t pooped during a changing in awhile! It feels a little safer overall. Thanks for working on that timing – we appreciate it. You still sometimes poop right after you’re all changed and re-dressed, but at least it’s not lethal in the projectile sense.


I was just paging through the postpartum section of Nurture, a book that I read during pregnancy and during your first month. It was affirming to see all that we have moved through already – all the considerations, all the research your Mama did on how and how often to pump, what to look out for with your poops (and those very early weeks when I was worried because you weren’t pooping), how to breastfeed you, how to bathe you, the “5 S’s” to soothe you...


Now you’re pretty soothable, and it’s no longer a complete mystery. Sometimes you’re fussy, and I’m not sure what exactly is going on. But we try different things, and eventually you either settle down (if it was gas or hunger or a dirty diaper), pass out (if it was sleepiness), or are suddenly all smiles (if, for example, you simply were ready to be in a new position). Those early days and weeks of trying to soothe you...praise BE that we’re past those days. There will be gads more, this I know, but so many victories already! It’s affirming.



1.10


Last night you slept from 8:30-5:30!! As usual, you started rustling around 4:30/5, but you weren’t really awake until 5:30. Miracle sleeping baby.


It's also a true testament to taking everything with a grain of salt: “Everyone” says “DON’T LET YOUR BABY GET OVERTIRED!!” Or all hell breaks loose, apparently. Girl, you are a social being. So, during Mema and Pops’ visit, you slept lightly in your swing as we watched Meet the Parents, because you didn’t want to go down for a nap after their arrival. (Even though I had just put you to sleep, you must have sensed their presence. “PEOPLE ARE HERE!!”) Then you were basically awake from 3-8:30 and pretty darn calm overall. You finally passed out at 8:30 and, again, slept until 5:30, then nursed and slept from 6:30-9! It was a beautiful morning indeed.


Now, you know, daytime naps are another situation. Ha. You’ve now been awake since 9 am, and I’ve resorted to the swing because you just refuse to stay asleep in your crib for more than two minutes. So...here we are, listening to you fuss and grunt yourself to sleep. Stop fighting it already! You’re so close, I can see it. Don’t worry: you won’t miss anything. Quiet day here on Lake Wobegon.


You are more and more interested in your hands, and it’s hilarious. I guess I don’t have to worry about entertaining you anymore! Just move one of your hands in front of your face, and you’re good to go for minutes on end. A beautiful reminder to appreciate the smallest of small.


One of these days I’ll talk about things that are more exciting than your sleep, eating, and poop habits. But these first months are not a whole lot more some days…


By the way, today is my Nana’s birthday – Emmylou Wolff. Yes, your namesake. It's a very special day.



1.11


It’s 7 am, and you’re sleeping. We got up to feed at 5:15, and I put you back down around 6. I just heard you rustling, but now it’s quiet – which means you put yourself back to sleep. Incredible. Mama has been reading a lot about sleep lately, and she’s driving herself a little crazy, as per usual. But she’s leaning toward the Zen and doing her best to stay there!


Last night I swung a stuffed rattle in front of you, and you reached your little hands toward it – and even grabbed it! You started by spastically batting your fists toward it, then making contact, then unfurling your fingers to hold it for a few seconds. It was maybe your most miraculous moment so far. We’re entering endlessly fun phases as we witness your brain synapses connect before our very eyes. In the past few days, you’ve discovered your hands (though you don’t know what exactly they are at this point – or maybe that they even belong to you) and you’ve discovered that you can use those crazy things to reach out and grab things. Amazing.



1.12


You are the most precious and adorable human I’ve ever met. I will never believe that you grew inside me, that we made you (with some help from mind-blowing science), that you’re half me, half your Papa. You are a miracle. Absolutely perfect.


We’ve had some success with naps over the past few days – sans Dock-a-Tot and swaddle! Just the Zen sleep sack. The trend is that the morning nap is a go – lasting from 30-50 minutes. The midday nap usually ends up with you passed out in the swing for up to two hours. No guilt here. The next nap is hit or miss – yesterday you slept on me for a bit, today the same. Tonight we had a near-win, and I actually thought you might do an early evening nap in your crib. Joke was on me! I laughed silently as I listened to you gab to yourself in your crib, happy as a clam before the tide shifted to Fuss Mode.


Now you’re back in your swing, peaceful and content, listening to Parisian Cafe on Alexa. You’re so tired. I see it on your face, can recognize it now. But, you know, it’s evening, and you love to be with us in the evening. You must sense that it’s relaxation time, the time that me and your Papa spend together at the end of his workday. So, here we are together, you looking at me with a slightly glazed, happy expression, fighting the fatigue as you do like a champion in the ring.


I don’t think I told you that we looked up the meaning of your name. It’s a rare one, that’s for sure. Emmylou. All I can find is this: whole, entire, universal.


That pretty much sums you up, sweet one.



1.14


You’re still sleeping. How can this be?! You last fed at 7:30 pm, and Papa put you to bed at 10. Now it’s 7:16 am, and you’re still sleeping! That saline gel seemed to really help your night congestion. Where has that been all our lives?!


We ran into a few friends yesterday, on our cold winter walk. One of them is an anthropologist. After about five minutes of chatting, you started gabbing, trying to tell us that you were done with this and ready to go home. It was adorable, and kind of sad.


“It sounds like she’s making an ‘e’ sound,” said John. “Babies aren’t supposed to be able to make that sound until later.” Something about larynx development...I can’t quite remember. Point is, as he said with a small smile, “Looks like she’s advanced.” Half-joking, but half not.


We already know you’re brilliant.


Yesterday we read a few books, and you were significantly more engaged with them. You sat there quietly while I read several board books in a row, then half of a Steven Kellogg book! It was amazing. I read them before a nap, and you were drowsy and so quiet, looking at the pictures. In the evening, I tried a few more. You lost interest in Good Night, New York, but you apparently loved Goodnight, Moon! Why is that book so magical? I mean, I agree that it is, but what is it about it that makes it so? The simplicity, I suppose. The rhythm of the words, like a lullaby. You even reached out to touch the pages. This is an image I’ve dreamed of for most of my life, and now we’re living it together.


And now you just put yourself to sleep!! I put you down for your morning nap at 9am, and you gabbed in there for 20 minutes before finally falling asleep. Yesterday you had a good morning nap, but we had to resort to your swing for the second nap. I put you to sleep four times, but transferring you to the crib didn’t work any of the times. The last attempt, you literally fell asleep as soon as your head hit my shoulder. It was absolutely adorable.


Now I hear you fussing. Ha! Hey, I’ll take what I can get. Celebrate every tiny win, right?


Speaking of wins, we had our first real Tummy Time win yesterday. You hate Tummy Time. It’s like I’m subjecting you to the worst form of torture. But yesterday, I distracted you by placing a black and white stuffed rattle in front of you, and you lay there on your tummy, content, for about one whole minute! This is huge. It was a ray of light raining down, offering hope. Your head also looks a little more round to me – though I was the only one who notices the slight flat spots anyway.


And you’re sleeping again! What a magnificent day. We have definitely turned a corner. All of us are happier in general, less fussy and frustrated. Embracing the Zen has helped your Mama a lot, and when you cry (which is much more rare now), it’s obviously gas, a lightning-quick strike of hunger, or exhaustion.


You still do that crazy grunting thing on my shoulder, pushing up with your legs with all your might. I’ve learned that it’s usually poop, gas, or burps. (I’m so sorry it takes so much effort to get those air bubbles out!) If it’s not that, it’s you fighting sleep as you almost always do.


This entry is all over the place (maybe they all are), but I have to mention your love of Itsy Bitsy Spider. I sing that to you, running my fingers up your belly, “raining” them down from the top of your head, holding your hands and rocking you back and forth for “out came the sun and dried up all the rain”...and how you smile.


I can’t wait to hear you laugh!! I know that it will be the most heartwarming sound I’ve ever heard.



1.15


You’re three months old today! I feel like we’ve reached the point where we can stop talking weeks and move onto months, right? As in, “She’s 3 ½ months” versus “She’s 14 weeks.” No need to force people to do unnecessary math, right? No one wants that.


In the biggest and most momentous of news...you laughed for the first time yesterday (awake)!! It was the sweetest, funniest sound I’d ever heard. I caught it on video, thank goodness, because (of course) it’s the first night your Papa is away (visiting his Papa). Poor Papa… “I feel like I missed everything!”


We all agree: “It’s the best laugh ever.” It happened while Pops was blowing raspberries on your belly. It sounded like you were almost on the verge of crying – so many pent up emotions trying to bust out, slightly confused and jumbled and not sure where to go. Joy? Pain? I bet his mustache had something to do with it...Whatever it was, the laugh has freed itself, and we all can’t wait to inspire its next performance.


You and I are having an almost week-long "slumber party" with Mema and Pops while your Papa is away, and you're taking it like a champ. There were many changes in the sleeping situation last night, but it went as well as could be expected. Mema bought you a bassinet, and you slept in it next to me in their room downstairs. I didn’t bring your Dock-a-Tot, hoping to wean you out of that this week. Going cold turkey!


I’d never put you to bed before last night! How crazy is that?! I don’t count the first few weeks, as it wasn’t really “bedtime” – it was just “another feed to last you a few more hours.” Since then, your Papa has done the final feeding, and I’ve gone to bed between 9 and 10. Now that you’ve been sleeping through the night for the past few weeks, we have been very gradually shifting that late-night feed earlier – and you often don’t even want anything.


So, last night, I just went for it. We had a legitimate bedtime routine for the first time, you and I. We read When the Sun Rose before I nursed you, and it was one of our most precious moments yet. You are suddenly enthralled with books when I read to you, and it’s absolutely magical – looking at the pictures with wide, focused eyes, doing your little deep sigh from time to time. (That little sigh is just the best.)


I loved going to bed together. I suppose it felt like a true “Mama routine,” both of us in bed by 9:20.


The night was quite...restless. I heard you rustling around midnight, but you eventually drifted back to sleep. You rustled again for quite a while at 1:45 am, and I finally peeked in the bassinet to see you lying at a 45-degree angle. You had shimmied yourself with those kicking legs so that your head was nearly smushed against one side of the bassinet, and you had successfully Houdinied one arm out of both swaddles. It took us both a while to get back to sleep, but I didn’t hear you start rustling again until around 5:30! I could tell you needed some help settling, so I put you on the bed next to me, my hand on your chest, just like we used to do at home, and you settled back to sleep until 6:45.


In short, I got over six hours of sleep altogether, and you settled yourself in and out of sleep all night long. I call that a win-win.


Now you’re on your third successful nap of the day in your Zen sack! Incredible.



Are these boring to you? Are they boring to every other reader? Probably! Meh. That's fine. It's a rough documentation of our world these days, and memories are priceless. Especially for me, because my memory is complete shite.


Anyway, you are growing and changing so much, and I'm trying desperately to keep up with jotting down notes. It's challenging when every tiny happening feels momentous. But every one is momentous, because so many are first-timers! What a magical world. Thank you for bringing me into it with you, sweet Lulu.


Onto month four!