Sunday, August 12, 2012

One Year Old!

August 8, 2012

My dear little Noah Atticus,

One year ago today, I was up late at the condo in Salt Lake City, writing you a letter about your miraculous arrival into the world.  You were snoozing beside me in your little basinet, all swaddled up in one of your linen blankets.  We barely knew each other at that point, and yet I didn’t believe it would be possible for me to love you any more.

Tonight, I am sitting on my bed in Denver, Colorado, thinking about the year that has passed.  You are snoozing in your crib in the other room, all sprawled out with your bum in the air.  You are my little pal these days—we’ve spent 364 days of the last year together—and though I didn’t dream it was possible then, I love you even more tonight than I did one year ago.

You have changed so much this year.  My scrunchy little newborn is now a rambunctious little toddler.  I feel so inadequate as I sit down to write letters like this to you—to attempt to capture in words what you are like, how you have grown and changed, and how I feel about you.  Writing usually comes very easily to me, but whenever I try to capture my feelings about you, every word feels insufficient and trite.  You are so much cuter and brighter and more unique than I could ever convey in words; just as my love for you is so much deeper and more complex and more all-encompassing than you will ever know. Yet, I have always believed that it is important to chronicle the fleeting moments in life, and so I will continue to try, as lame as my attempts may be.  Any record is better than no record, and I want to remember what you were like at the innocent and darling age of one.

You have been walking for about six weeks, and there is nothing I love more than your signature waddle—arms bent at the elbows and held up for balance, legs spread wide as you hurry from one toy to the next.  You have fat little feet that barely fit into shoes and a little potbelly that is always sticking out in front of you as you walk.  You weigh 24 pounds, which is 90th percentile for weight for your age, and I always tell you that you are “fat and delicious, fat and nutritious.”  Honestly, you are the perfect chubbiness and I love your cherub cheeks and roly-poly thighs. 

You are spunky, stubborn, and high-energy.  You aren’t afraid of anything, which sometimes gives your mother a heart attack.  You love the swimming pool, and you would walk right into it if I didn’t grab you at the edge.  When you are excited, you dive into fluffy pillows or plush stuffed animals, panting and burying your face, giggling with glee.  You love to play, and your dad is your favorite playmate.  When he says, “I’m gonna get you!” you immediately start grinning and running toward him.  (Apparently you don’t really understand what that phrase means, other than you know it’s a signal to play.)  You throw yourself into his arms and he wrestles you and steamrolls you.  I love watching the two of you together.

You love toy cars and trucks, and it cracks me up to see you on your hands-and-knees, pushing a little truck around the apartment going “Vroom!  Vroom!”  I never realized that a one-year-old would already be able to mimic the sound of a car!  And that’s not the only sound you mimic: you pretend to burp if Daddy belches, you fake cough if you hear one of us sneezing or coughing, and you imitate our laughter if we are chuckling about something (this is especially useful if you fall and bonk your head because if we laugh jollily, you forget to cry and instead laugh too.)  You even try to join in as I sing “Woah woah woah, Sweet Child of Mine” from the Guns N’ Roses classic.  Hilarious!  You make lots of sounds and noises but still don’t say many words.  You say “Mama” and “Dada” on occasion, but your favorite word right now is “No!” (Heaven help me.) You walk over to the toilet, put your little hand on the closed lid, and say “No!,” mimicking what I always say to you when you try to dip your hand in the water.  Sometimes you slowly lift the lid as you look at me innocently, as if to say, “What?  I’m not doing anything over here…” 

You are obsessed with drinks.  You love cups, glasses, and plastic water bottles, and you squawk demandingly whenever we are drinking something until you get a sip.  Maybe all babies are this way, but it seems to me like you have a unique fascination with water.  Lately, you’ve even loved sucking on ice cubes.  You are transitioning from your bottle to a sippy cup and from formula to milk.  To be honest, I am sad about it because my favorite times of the day are when I get to rock you and give you a bottle—that’s the only time when you slow down and let me snuggle you, so I am hesitant to give it up.  Fortunately, you are really starting to love books, and you will sometimes sit in my lap while I read you several stories in a row.  I hope this can become our new snuggle time after you give up your bottles.

You are a bit of a Drama King.  When you are mad about something, you throw your head back and scream.  This type of behavior used to give me anxiety, but now it just makes me laugh.   Sometimes I can even tickle you and play with you to get you out of your fit.    I hope I can always keep a positive attitude and laugh about your drama and tantrums throughout the years.  (Not that you will ever have tantrums, right??)

Overall, I can tell that I have developed a lot more patience and perspective this year as I have mothered you.  It feels good to look back and to see that I have grown and changed for the better.  I have learned not to feel frustrated by some of the little things that used to really stress me out, like your lack of naps.  I have learned that I can’t control you, but I can control our schedule, and I can control the way that I react to your stubbornness.  After watching your natural sleep patterns and reading lots of books on the subject, I decided that naptime is from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., and if you wake up before the end of naptime, you can play in your crib or scream your head off, but either way, I’m not going to get you until naptime is over.  This has helped me to feel a lot less anxiety about your sleep schedule, and it has given me a couple of breaks during the day to read my scriptures, pick up the house, start dinner, and just have a little downtime.  I’ve found that when I am consistent, you often do sleep the entire time or just play quietly until I go to get you.  When I open the door, I clap and say, “What a good nap, Honey!  Thank you for not crying!”  and you look so thrilled and join in my clapping.  It is one of my favorite sights in the world—you standing up in your crib waiting for me, a big grin on your face and your little hands clapping in celebration of yourself.  You’ve also started sleeping in a little later in the morning, thank goodness.  I posted on my blog about my frustrations with your early-morning wake time (seriously 5:00 a.m. isn’t even morning yet), and several of my friends responded and said the only thing that had broken that habit for their spunky babies was to let them cry until it was actually morning.  I took their advice and decided that I wouldn’t go to you until 6:30 a.m., and as hard as it was to let you scream for a couple of mornings, you soon learned.  You now sleep until at least 6:30, sometimes 7:00, and you usually wake up happy.  I love it.  It makes the whole morning feel happier and more relaxed.  I know some people are against letting babies cry, and I will admit it is so difficult to do as a mother (my heart races and I feel like I might have an anxiety attack), but it is the only method that seems to work with your stubborn little nature.  Fortunately, you are smart and a very fast learner—you’ve never had to cry it out for more than three days before a bad habit is broken.  And when you are getting enough sleep, the whole family is happier.  This is what works for us, and it might not work for everyone, but I feel good about how I’ve learned to manage this stressful aspect of motherhood.  You are doing so well, and it feels good to know that I have helped you learn to be a decent sleeper.

I love being your mom.  I love that I get to spend every day with you and witness all of your new tricks and phases.  This past month has been my favorite of any of the months previous—you are so interactive now.  You started waving and clapping on demand, which makes me so excited because it means you are starting to understand me.  Out of the blue I’ll say, “Can you clap Noah?” without any demonstration at all, and you will look at me for a second and then start clapping.  I can’t believe you are starting to understand my words!!  It is my routine to blow you kisses at the door when I am leaving you in your room for a nap, and twice this week, you put your hand to your mouth and made the kissing noise when you saw me walking toward the door.  I hadn’t even done it first!  Could anything be sweeter?  You haven’t started giving hugs and kisses on demand yet, but I have a feeling you will start soon.  I can’t wait. 

You are starting to be able to play and explore a bit more independently.  It’s fun to let you wander the apartment to find “toys” such as a package of sponges from under the sink, or a large mixing spoon from the utensils drawer, or an empty toilet paper roll rescued from the trash can.  It cracks me up to see you walk back into your bedroom, and then back into the front room, and then back into your bedroom again, usually emerging with some random object that you’ve picked up along the way.  Back and forth, back and forth—sometimes for a half hour or more.  You are more entertained by a piece of wrapping paper than you are by any store-bought toy. I love watching you learn.  

I’ve noticed lately that you try to put things back where they belong.  When you accidentally unplug your white noise machine, and it stops making the noise that you love, you look at the plug pensively and then try to put it back into the socket.  You do the same thing with my earrings—you pull one out and suck on it, and then you try to stick it back in my ear.  Obviously you don’t have the hand-eye coordination to be successful at this yet, but frankly I’m impressed that you even try.  

You still love being outside, and it’s a surefire way to get you to calm down.  If you are ever extra fussy (which sometimes happens in the morning and often happens in the late afternoon), I just plop you in your stroller and we go for  a walk.  You are constantly on the lookout for dogs, and when you spot one, you make a little “woof” noise and start panting in excitement.  Our neighbor has a tiny dog named Delilah, and she sometimes jumps up and licks your face. You are bewildered by it, but you don’t seem to mind. It’s really funny because you two are the same height when she is standing on her hind legs—she’s your little pal.  You also still love the bathtub, and you always try to drink the water as it pours out of the faucet.  You squat down and stick your mouth underneath the powerful flow.  Too cute.

You are very good in the car, for the most part, which makes it easy to run errands and even to take little daytrips.  I realize how lucky I am that you seem to enjoy the car because a lot of babies scream from the moment they are put in the carseat to the moment they are out of it again.  Sometimes you are so quiet that I think you are asleep back there, but when I reach my hand back as I’m driving and dangle it in front of your face, you grab ahold of my fingers with your vice grip.  I love holding your pudgy little hand in mine.  This is one of those sweet, unplanned moments that make motherhood so beautiful.  Another one occurs whenever we get to our destination.  Inevitably, when I come around the side of the car to get you out, you seem genuinely surprised and delighted to see me outside the window.  You grin at me as if to say, “Hey, Mom!  How did you get out there?”  Melts my heart every time.

I post these letters that I write to you on a blog for our family and close friends to read.  Your birthparents and their families also read it, and sometimes I worry that I shouldn’t be totally truthful about what I am experiencing as a new mother.  If I admit that I am having a hard time, will they think that I am ungrateful for you?  If I reveal that I let you cry in order to sleep longer in the morning, will they disapprove?  And what weighs on my heart most heavily, especially lately, is a question that I’m sure plagues a lot of adoptive moms: If I gush about how much I love being your mother, will it make Katie’s heart ache?  Am I being insensitive to her when I express my joy? 

She has been having a hard time these past few weeks, Noah.  She misses you.  She can’t help but wonder sometimes, “What if?  What if we hadn’t made the decision to place Noah for adoption?”  I don’t want to make things harder for her by posting photos, videos, and cute stories—and yet I know she will be sad if I don’t post these things.  I know what she is feeling is probably very normal and expected for birthmoms—she feels grief sometimes because she loves you and wants to be with you—but I just don’t want to make her pain any worse by sharing my joy.  Sometimes I don’t know what to do.  I only share all of this with you because I want you to know how much she loves you.  It’s been a year since your placement, and she told me that she still thinks about you every single day.  Sometimes she feels peace with her decision; sometimes she feels regret; but always, always, she feels love for you.  We will always honor and love your birthparents for the amazing individuals that they are and the amazing decision they made in placing you with us.  You are so loved, Noah.  Perhaps more so than other children, your story, from the very beginning, has been full of Christ-like love.   

Noah, you are a remarkable little boy.  That’s right—a little boy, no longer a baby.  I think I expected your first birthday to make me sadder than it has, but as I look back on the past year, I don’t have any regrets and thus don’t have much sadness.  Was I perfect?  No.  Was it easy?  No.  Did I treasure every single moment of every day?  Probably not.  Could I have done better in a lot of areas?  Definitely.  But overall, you and I both grew and changed so much, and we both survived and even thrived in spite of the challenges.  I don’t yearn for the baby that you were—I rejoice in the little boy that you are and I look forward with excitement to the coming months and years that we will share together. 

Let’s try to enjoy every minute, okay?

Love you to the moon and back,

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful letter Rachel! Noah is really one of the most beautiful miracles :) I loved reading this. I think you really captured Noah at age 1. It will be fun to come back and read this again in 1 year.
    I know that you worry a lot about Katie, I hope that she can find peace in her decision and with herself. From what I have read on your blog she is an amazing young woman with so much promise and a bright future. I still pray for her when you mention that she is struggling.
    I am grateful that you share so much about Noah, I love reading it. Perhaps you and Katie need to talk about what she really wants as far as photos/videos, etc. are concerned - so that she can decide what is best for her.
    Thank you for your honesty.