Well, the time is upon me. We are now into the final month’s countdown until our first baby is one year old. It’s less than 30 days away at this point. For me, there has been so much rejoicing over this. I am so grateful that Abi Kate has grown in health and knowledge over the course of the last year. I rejoice for the time that we’ve been given with her. I have truly loved every stage with her in this first year from late night nursing sessions as a newborn, hearing her giggle for the first time, watching her learn to sit up and crawl, and now hearing her sweet little voice as she speaks. I am thankful because I know there are many mothers whose hearts are shaken in this first year when babies aren’t growing or aren’t healthy. That said, it is still such a bittersweet time. It’s hard to let go of the moments of infancy, to know that those moments of helpless tenderness with her are now a thing of the past. We might get to repeat them again with another baby and Lord willing we will, but we will never repeat them with her. I definitely don’t think there’s anything magical about turning one that means she has suddenly become completely independent and will no longer exhibit attributes of a baby. She will still be a baby at age one. But I know that time is pushing her into being a toddler, and even though I’ve begged, time hasn’t shown me much mercy so far and I’m pretty sure it’s not going to show me any more in the coming year. We’ve started catching signs of her waning infancy….
We had a fantastic first Christmas as a family of three. We kept our old traditions and added several new ones, we got to experience being Santa instead of waiting for Santa, and over the holiday season I watched my baby grow a little bit older. It started a few weeks before Christmas. Abi Kate began babbling a lot (and quite loudly I might add) around 3 or 4 months old. This is not surprising. For one she’s a girl. Two, she’s my girl. And three, if you’ve ever been around my family you know that volume is necessary if you want to be heard! I try not to be one of those parents who reads into everything and marks something that was likely accidental as an accomplishment. I know that’s sort of silly, but I want to let her develop in her own time (and she’s proven so far that she will do things when she is ready). Because of this, as her vocabulary has started to develop I don’t consider her to have spoken or learned a new word until it’s consistent and used correctly or in context. I guess that sounds dumb, but babies babble sounds that are familiar to them repetitively. It’s developmentally appropriate and how they learn to vocalize, form words, and experiment with sounds. (I don’t think I’m ever going to shake the child development stuff….) She started babbling “mama” around 5 or 6 months. And as much as I wanted her to, I knew she wasn’t purposefully calling me. She’d say it at anything, at random times, and it wasn’t directed towards me. That said, it did sound really sweet and totally made me all mushy when I heard it. BUT… one night when she was 7 months, I got home extremely late from Alpha. It had been several hours since I'd seen her, I wasn't there for bedtime, etc. It was right before her first tooth had broken through and she woke up crying around 3 am. I went in to check on her and as soon as I leaned over her crib, she stopped crying, started kicking her feet and smiled and very clearly said, “Mama!” (As if I wasn’t completely worthless for her already-- I definitely was after this!) Right now, she says Mama, Dada, and No or no no a lot. She says “no” more. I’m not sure if I should be offended or concerned. ;) At the beginning of December, she started saying what I thought was Layla. It came out like a mixture between La la and leh lah. I mean, she does hear her name said reeeeaaallllyyy regularly in our home. Normally in the context of, “Layla! No! Layla, stop! Layla quit it!” But again, I thought, “No. She’s not saying her name.” Abi Kate must’ve perceived that I wasn’t convinced, but she started crawling over to Layla, patting her, and saying La la while she was petting her, when she saw her, and at no other times. Ok. You win, Abi Kate.
This is Layla. Don't let her fool you. She's a big ball of chaos. But we just can't seem to stop loving her.
Around this time she started trying to say Nora, too. Every morning when I get her up and she sees Nora in the living room, she waves and says, “Hey, Nora.” I can’t even start to spell how she says Nora phonetically, but it is cute.
This is Nora. She's as sweet as she looks. :)
Also, she says hey instead of hi. Thank you, southern living. :) It’s funny to me that her first words are the names of her dogs. I guess this is what happens when you’re an only child. I told Tommy all the time when she was first born that I couldn’t wait to hear what her little voice sounded like. Now I’ve heard it and her cute pronunciations and it is just precious. Even the “no”s are precious!
On Christmas Day we were at my parents’ house. Their dog Honey is Layla’s sister. Abi Kate has heard Honey’s name a lot, too (in the same context as Layla’s). I think there’s a pattern developing here in regards to our dogs’ behaviors…. We walked her over to go see Honey (because she just completely adores all dogs despite their behavior!). We were saying Honey’s name, and lo and behold a little voice, said, “Ha-nay”. Clearly, my child is from the South. She said this for the rest of the day every time she saw their dog, and after hearing it so many times, Tommy said it sounded like the Forest Gump version of “honey”. Fantastic.
This is Honey. In prison.
Since then, she’s started trying to mimic words that we say. That is when she’s in a talkative mood. She’s no puppet- ask her to say or do something, and she becomes totally mute. I think she might’ve received my stubborn gene… Oops! Either way, her newest vocal developments have proven to me that babyhood is beginning to leave.
We got her a walk and ride toy for Christmas. She’s been cruising all over the furniture, from couch to chair to ottoman to wall, etc for a month or two now. She is not ready to let go yet and will not stand by herself. I still don’t think she will walk until after her first birthday, but she did set off walking just fine by herself with her little dinosaur toy. I almost cried when she took those little steps on Christmas morning. I know it won’t be long until she suddenly decides to let go of the couch and take that first step on her own. (It’s wrong to push them down so they’ll stay in baby mode longer, right?!)
After the Christmas tornado hit our house, I went through all her old toys and packed away all the very baby ones that she doesn’t play with anymore to make room for her new toys. And then yesterday, we officially moved her to her big girl car seat. She looked more grown up sitting in that great big seat, and she loved it. I tried not to cry in the front seat.
It is amazing and sad all at the same time, watching her grow and talk and turn into the little person that God designed. I am so grateful that this is the child that God gave to us to raise. That He didn’t give her to someone else. I have always felt privileged to be a mother, blessed that God gave me that role. But I think being the mother to Abi Kate specifically has just sweetened the deal. I’ve found myself thinking on that more and more as we approach the anniversary of her birth. I know time will pass far more quickly than I’d like. So for the time being, I simply want to savor these days and moments with her. Don’t be surprised if you stop by and my laundry is piled up, my kitchen is a mess, and there’s toys all over the floor…. I’ve just been busy watching this baby grow.