Thursday, January 28, 2010

One Year Old

Dear Charlotte,

What a year! I feel like we've been through way more than we possibly could have done in one year's time, and like we just left the hospital with you a few short weeks ago...all at the same time.

You've definitely made a spot for yourself in our family in the last year. You and Elizabeth are able to play together now, and it brings your Daddy and me so much joy to watch y'all chase each other or tickle each other and laugh, laugh, laugh. One of your favorite things to do is to fall on Elizabeth's tummy when she's laying on the floor and tickle her. You both think its so funny. I think you're going to be just as strong of a girl as she is. You have no issue holding your ground when she tries to take a toy away from you or make you do something you don't want to. No push-overs in our family!

Your extreme faces are probably one of the things that most characterize you. You're so animated! You can squnch your nose and eyes and mouth up one minute, and then have a huge grin with wide, bright eyes the next, and then be obviously pondering something as you frown the next. Nobody ever wonders how you're feeling.

As for your statistics, you learned to walk at about 10 1/2 months, you're working on cutting your 8th tooth right now, and you are starting to mimic some one syllable sounds now. (Elizabeth has so graciously taught you "noooo!", and you repeat it anytime she says it.)

The thing that has occupied most of our energy this year has been your mysterious health problems. You gain allergic sensitivity to everything we try to feed you. You eczema gets much worse, you get blood in your stools, and you start to loose weight. So, now, even at a year old, you're only on breast milk supplemented with an amino-acid based formula. I've been on a dairy-soy-corn-gluten free diet for the past several months, and you seem to do your best on that, although even that's not enough. We're seeing a pedi GI and a naturopathic doctor to try to sort it all out, but there doesn't seem to be an answer in sight any time soon. Through it all though, I am thankful that we have been able to keep focused on you, the person behind all these medical mysteries and the joy you bring, and not just the medical question marks.

There are so many things you do that warm my heart. You run up and give knee-hugs. You give long, relaxed chest-to-chest hugs. If we ask for kisses, you open your mouth really wide and place it right on top of our mouth. You move over to something that you know is off limits, look us square in the eye for a few seconds, and then walk away laughing saying "noh, noh, noh, noh, noh". You crack us up when you dance, with your knees bouncing and your rear end shaking. You get visibly excited when we start the bath water and do everything you can to lift your tiny leg up and climb into the tub yourself.

You are a joy to me. We've been through a lot together, and I feel a strong connection to you because of it all. Being your Mommy this year has taught me more than ever that there are things in this life that you can't control, and yet, it is possible to have joy in the midst of it all. Joy doesn't always mean smiles and giggles (although we certainly have an abundance of those at our house!), but something deeper. Something more permanent, more holy.

We named you Charlotte Gayle. Charlotte means strong woman, and Gayle means God's joy. I had a profound sense when you were in my tummy, 366 days ago, before we even knew you were a girl, that this was to be your name. Now I see that there couldn't have been anything more fitting. Strong and joy. That's just who you are. And we thank God for sharing the joy that is you with us.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Charlotte!


Monday, December 14, 2009


Today's mail brought with it some of the Christmas presents my husband had ordered for me. Its important to us that the kids participate in the planning and buying and wrapping for others, so the holiday is not just about them getting gifts, so he called Elizabeth into our bedroom to look at the presents...I believe, one of which is "from her".

So as they were coming out of the bedroom, I heard my husband tell her, "Remember Elizabeth, this is a secret. Don't tell Mommy." To which Elizabeth replied, "I won't Daddy...are they all books?"

And then she came out and whispered to me, "Mommy, don't tell anyone your secret!"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tonight I Sobbed

I just finished nursing Charlotte for what could very well be the last time. I might get into the details of all that in another post, but for right now, I just want to remember. My face is still wet with tears, and my heart aches in a way that I haven't felt in a long time. And since this is likely my last baby, and my last chance to nurse, right now, I just want to write it all down so I can remember.

I want to remember the way she scrunched up her nose and eyes and started fussing for my breast as soon as she sat on my lap. And the way she'd flap her arms impatiently while she waited for me to get ready.

I want to remember the way it felt to have one of her tiny hands on my ribcage and the other on top of my breast as she filled up. And the way she'd sometimes pat me while she nursed.

I want to remember the smell of her sweet, soft hair on my nose and mouth as I kissed her head when she'd sit up and nurse, her whole body curled up in the small space of my torso.

I want to always feel the weight of her body, resting limply in my arms and on my tummy.

I want to remember the way she'd suck and suck until she'd relax enough to *just* fall asleep, and then as the breast would fall out of her limp mouth, she'd frantically latch on again and start sucking...and how she'd do this over and over again, never wanting it to be over.

I get that. I get the feeling that something you love so much, that you find so comforting is being ripped from you. I get the feeling of wanting it to last forever. I get it, dear Charlotte. I'm right there with you tonight.

So tonight I sobbed while you nursed. I tried to explain to you that I love you and I've done my very best and I'm so sorry that its come to this. I tried to explain that I want you to be healthy, and so as much as this hurts me, this is what we have to do. I tried to explain that, tomorrow, when you taste that formula for the first time, its not because I've abandoned you but because I'm doing everything I can to nourish you. I tried to explain, and your big blue eyes locked with mine forever and told me that maybe you understand more than I know.

And that's it. Maybe we'll have another chance to do this again in a few weeks. Maybe not. And I wish I could say that I have a peace about that, that I'm fine with whatever happens. But I'm not there yet. I'm thankful for the nursing time we've had so far, and I'm thankful for modern science that can try to overcome some of nature's problems. But there's still a lot of grieving to be done. I'm angry (with whom? God?) that it was ripped away from us earlier than either of us was ready for. I'm scared about what the future holds for your health. I'm mourning the passing of this era in my own life (am I really old enough to be done nursing my children?)

So many things whirling around in my head and heart. All I know for sure is that I love you desperately. Desperately.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Desperate Times...

See these cute teeth? Well, there are more where they came from and its hard work getting them here!
Sometimes the "approved methods" know, like teething rings and wet washcloths...just don't cut it (pun intended).
So then I have to find my own creative ways of getting the job done.

This is my latest and greatest find.
What can I say??? Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

8 Months

Charlotte turned 8 months old yesterday, and she continues to grow so fast! She's mastered crawling and pulling up, and even does a bit of cruising here and there. She can pull up on anything - an empty laundry basket, your pant leg, or even the wall - and she's soooo proud of herself when she does.

Her mobility has us in official "redirection mode," constantly keeping an eye out for what big people things (or 3 year old things) that she's found that she shouldn't have. Elizabeth's in on the patrol too, as yesterday she exclaimed "Danger! Danger! Danger! Charlotte's in the bathroom without any company!"

I got permission from the GI doc to start her on fruits, so she now has bananas too. She's still a good eater, although when she's done, she's done, and there's usually very little warning. She'll eat and eat and eat, and then refuse any more. I suppose she's tolerating all her foods alright, but still has outbreaks that look like she's had cows milk (which I'm doing my darnedest to avoid), so I wonder if she's having a sensitivity to another food as well. Its really hard to pinpoint anything.

She has two teeth (the two front bottom ones) and constantly gnaws away at anything she can get in her mouth.

She thinks her big sister is SOOO funny. It warms my heart to see the two of them together. Elizabeth gets downright obnoxious trying to make her laugh. My husband and I find it to be annoying at times, but find it hard to calm Elizabeth when we see how amused Charlotte is by it.

So, all in all, we're still chuggin' along with lots of laughter and smiles, a little stress and a few tears, but lots and lots of joy.