Letters to Jack: Month 9

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Hey there, Jack,

Gosh, it’s been such a busy month, I don’t know where to begin. Right now, you are napping, Dad and Charlie are out, so the house is nice and quiet. I’m not even sure what to do with myself.

I forgot to turn on the monitor, so I’m debating whether I should risk sneaking into your room. It only took three minutes for you to stop crying, which may be a sleep-training record for you.

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Sleep training has been rough – on you and me. We’re doing the whatever-it’s-called method where we do 20 minutes of soothing sleepy-routine stuff, then say goodbye (cue wailing) and return to comfort you after an increasing amount of time away.

We’ve seen improvement; the first few nights, you wouldn’t fall asleep for about 25-30 minutes. Now, it’s about half that.

Still, it’s been difficult on me. One night, when you showed no signs of calming down, I had to leave your Dad in charge and go for a walk. I texted my girlfriends that I was the worst parent ever because a)I couldn’t get you to sleep in the first place, and b)I couldn’t face your crying, even though it was a consequence of a decision I’d made as your parent. Isn’t that unfair?!

Sigh. I hope we’re doing the right thing. This parenting thing is hard, no matter how many times you do it.

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You may have been extra tired this afternoon because today was swim class. Charlie needs some practice in the pool, so we thought it would be fun to enroll both of you. I’m not sure you get a lot out of class, but I LOVE it. It’s basically an excuse to cuddle for 30 minutes. Either Dad or I bounce up and down in the water, and you lay your head on our shoulders and nuzzle.

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You are such a cuddly baby, Jack! Oh, I love it so much. You’re always resting your head on our shoulders or chests, or you crawl over to us if we’re lying on the carpet and burrow into us. You’re perfectly content to be held in my arms.

One of my favorite parts of the day is the early morning, when it’s just you and me awake. We snuggle on the couch, watch the sun rise, and I feed you a bottle. You often lock eyes with me and don’t look away. Ah, sweet bliss.

You’re not all sunshine and rainbows, however – you’re a biter. You take a chunk out of our shoulders or arms each time we pick you up. When you crawl to us, you inevitably sink your SEVEN teeth into our bellies, thighs, knees. Charlie screams and runs away if your mouth even touches his skin. Your doctor says this is normal teething behavior, but still, ouch!

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You also hate to be restrained. The changing table has become more difficult, and we can no longer put you in the bouncy chair or exersaucer. If your brother tries to hold you in place, the entire block knows it.

Nobody puts Jack in a corner, apparently.

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At your 9-month appointing this week, you weighed in at a slender 20 pounds. And at 19 inches around, your big, mostly-bald head (seriously, where is your hair, kid?) is still in the 99th percentile. Jeez. Come to think of it, maybe this is why you cuddle so much. You can’t keep your head up!

Your doctor said we need to give you more opportunities to feed yourself; you haven’t figured out the pincer grip, nor are you even close to using a sippy cup. You might be close to waving hello/goodbye, but right now you just look like a flapping bird. I can tell you want to walk, bad.

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Some other things I love about you right now:

• You’ve discovered the joy of sharing in laughter. When you hear Dad, Charlie and I laughing, you break out into a huge smile and start giggling with us. That just makes us laugh harder.

• In addition to your name, you understand “cat.” If I say the word, you look all around the floor for Baron and Thursday. (Now we have to work on, “No biting!”)

• You respond to music. When we sing, you often stop what you’re doing and just stare at our mouths, transfixed. You also like to sing drawn out vowels. Charlie often asks, “Jack, are you singing opera?!”

•We’ve started doing a call-and-response game in the car. You squeal, then I squeal, then you giggle, then you make another sound, I copy you, then you giggle. Our first verbal conversations!

• You love swinging doors. Open and closed. Open and closed. You’re also obsessed with door jams.

Oh, my Jack. I can’t believe you are nine months old. Our lives are so busy — I have to remind myself to take a moment and appreciate the magic of our family.

With you and Charlie, there really isn’t anything better in the world.

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