A note to my daughter as she begins her second year


Dear Carolyn,

A few days ago, you had your first birthday. A year ago at this time, you weighed a meager 5 pounds, 7 ounces. You're now pushing 20 pounds. You were, and are, the most beautiful little girl in the whole world, and I -- and your mommy -- cannot begin to express how happy we are to have you. But then, here I go trying anyway.

When we brought you home, your days primarily consisted of sleeping, and your nights primarily consisted of waking up frequently. You have always been difficult to put down to sleep, but if that's the cost of having you be delightful and playful every minute you're awake, well, I guess I'll take it.

When mommy and I (okay, just mommy most of the time) put you to sleep after you were sleeping in your crib in your own room (which just so happens to be on the other side of the wall from our bed, with a door attaching our rooms), we would lay in our bed and typically watch the TV show Lost on DVD. Without commercials, the show is about 45 minutes long. It was rare that we'd make it through an entire episode without an interruption from you. (By the time you read this, will you think that DVDs are an ancient technology? Probably.)

Though you were tiny when you were born, you quickly grew. By your 3-month doctor's appointment, you were in the 40th percentile for height, and by 6 months you were in the 88th percentile. Of course, like mommy, you are tall, but slender. In fact, most people who know such things remark that you look just like mommy did when she was your age. You're a lucky gal.

You did have a few health scares. You were jaundiced when you were born, so you got a special blue light treatment in the hospital, where you were nearly naked, under an ultraviolet light nearly all day, and mostly screaming as loud as you could at the time; you've since developed stronger lungs, and consequently louder screams, but I must say these are pretty rare. There were a few weeks where you'd scream constantly for an hour or two at night, but this proved to be short-lived. When you were a little over 4 months old, you contracted a virus (probably given to you by me), and we had to use a nebulizer for a few days. No big deal - it cleared up pretty quickly. Of course, that didn't stop mommy from worrying herself sick. Don't worry, this is typical behavior from your mom.

You have always loved playing outside, and you've always hated having your fingernails clipped. You hated your infant car seat, but are just fine with the larger-sized one. You barely ever sleep in the car without a lot of coaxing. You have always smiled and laughed a lot, for both me and mommy. I don't know why, because mommy always tells me I'm not funny, but I know I'm funnier than she is.

For some time, you thought beer bottles and ceiling fans were the greatest things in the world. You're currently terrified of people you don't see every day. Your first word was "mom"... sort of. You love playing the guitar, and you actually play it better than mommy. You have three teeth, and a fourth that's ready to break through and keeps you chewing on your fingers all day long. Before you were born, I was convinced that you would have red hair like several of your cousins and aunts, but instead you've got your mommy's hair color.

You have shown a pretty amazing amount of intelligence for your age. You started talking pretty early, and have a pretty decent vocabulary at age one. You pretend to feed yourself and mommy and me with a bucket and shovel. You stack objects. You grab your coat and instruct us to put it on you through a series of grunts and coos when you want to go outside. You know exactly what "no" means, and will frequently say it before you do something you know you're not supposed to do. You also tend to say "no" when you mean "yes", only the intonation in your voice is slightly different. You shake your entire body when you want to convey an emphatic "yes". It's cute.

Mommy is a doctor. She graduated from medical school only a few days before you were born. She started her residency when you were 3 months old. It's been a hard year in that regard, because mommy sleeps at the hospital every 4th night. This means you and me are home by ourselves pretty frequently, which is fun in the daytime, and pretty stressful at night, though lately you've been sleeping through the night regularly, which makes things significantly easier. But as hard as it may have been for your dear old dad, I can't imagine how hard it's been for mommy to be away so often. I'm sure one day she'll make it all up.

We've captured a lot of your life on video, in pictures, and in words on this blog, but there are innumerable spontaneous moments that exist only in our memories. Words we didn't even know you knew. Funny dance moves. Surprise hugs and kisses, best of all. We'll continue recording as much as we can in case our memories fail us, which they will inevitably do one day.

Hopefully one day you'll read some of this stuff and realize that maybe your curmudgeonly old grump of a dad used to have a touch of a sense of humor before he became the squasher of all that is fun.

If every year from now on is as great as this first year with you has been, we'll all have had extraordinary lives.

Love,
Dad

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