October 31, 2013

Livvy, 11 months.

Fall in Nashville started off slowly, grudgingly, but now the leaves can't seem to fall off the trees fast enough. And now my baby is 11 months old. Last Halloween, we took Tessa trick-or-treating bundled up as a bear and I was so pregnant. Livvy was bearing down on me, an anchor resting at the very bottom of my belly. I was still almost a month away from having her, but by then it felt like she might come any day. It's incredible to think how much has happened in a year's time, how my life has changed and how our family's changed since Livvy entered it. The footage flickers so quickly in my mind; it feels frantic. There has to have been so much I missed, so much I'll forget.

Here are some things to remember:

This past month in Livvyland was most notable in terms of her communication skills. She's not saying any words, not really, but she's getting so much better at communicating to me what she wants or doesn't want, and she's so pleased when I get it. Sometimes she emphatically shakes her head yes or no, and she more often seems to comprehend what I'm saying--whether I'm telling her, "No, don't touch that!" Or "I seriously love you so much I can't even stand it, you little piece of angelpie you." She took her first step this week, although I still think it'll be awhile before she's walking, as she doesn't seem to have the confidence to really go for it just yet. She is more "into everything" than ever before. I just ordered cabinet locks, since her favorite thing to do is open up the kitchen cabinets and take every last thing out. Everything still goes straight into her mouth, disgusting or not, and about 85 percent of the food I put in front of her she either drops off the side of her highchair, where the dog waits, or she chews and spits/drools it down the front of whatever outfit she's wearing. She is still nursing some. We are down to three times a day, which means she gets about four bottles of milk a day (usually a mix of cow, almond, and coconut milk). She loves her milk--all kinds--and in the bathtub she is the most darling, with her potbelly covered in suds.

She is the last baby I'll have. This family of ours is pretty maxed out. So while I was always tucking away Tessa's outgrown baby clothes and things for Baby No. 2, this time I'm dropping them off at Goodwill or stashing them for expectant friends. Of course, the very most sentimental things--mainly, the outfits that both girls have worn--I'm saving so I can pull them out decades from now and cry buckets over. In any case, knowing that Livvy is my last is bittersweet. I'm cherishing her milestones and her quiet, stunning moments that much more--having seen how fast time flew (and continues to fly) with Tessa.

Still, I fail at being Livvy's mom more often than I'd like. I think it was last week that I threw an ink pen against the wall when she wouldn't stop crying and marched upstairs like a child and threw her door open and said, "Please! Please, God.Why won't you nap?! You really, really need to nap. I need you to nap." Tessa "babysits" Livvy more often than I probably should let her, while I'm working or am elbows-deep in one of my compulsive, impulsive, and deeply involved home projects.

There are things that I do right as a mother, too. I kiss and hold and beam at her whenever she catches my eye. I rub lavender lotion on her knees--tough from so much crawling--and I rock her and nurse her until her eyes flutter closed, and I lay her in bed and cover her and tiptoe out of her room. I marvel over her. She is exquisite. Each of her smiles feels like a triumph to me. I love her, not perfectly, but truly. Next month she will be a year old.