Friday, October 13, 2017

Declan: One Year

My sweet little boy: Happy birthday! It's been one whole year since you joined our family and made our lives so much brighter.

Declan, you are an absolute joy. You smiled early in your life and simply haven’t stopped. I cannot get enough of your giggles and sweet happiness, and anyone who meets you comments on your cheerful disposition. I am so excited to watch your personality continue to grow.

Your abilities have already blown us away: You can say a few words with consistency (ball, dada, mama, more, cat, uh-oh, and maybe a couple others we haven’t picked up yet). You are starting to let go of your support to stand on your own, and the other day you took a couple steps. (I'm writing this a week late, and you're taking more steps each day!) You love putting objects into containers, and you understand that puzzle pieces belong in certain places. If we show you a trick or task (taking items out of a box, for example), you’ll copy us. You know that hats go on heads, but you can’t quite get the process to work yet.

Some of our favorite quirks: Your favorite toys are a little plastic egg from your kitchen and a specific yellow Lego piece that you always find and then carry around for hours. You regularly smuggle objects out of the house, and we only discover them once we're in the car. Tonight it was half an hour before we noticed you were holding your fork from dinner while we were at the fair down the street!

You also love being wherever Marshall is, watching his every move. You love to stand near Marshall’s bed and take his pillow off the bed in the morning while he takes his time waking up. But you're also showing plenty of frustration when Marshall won't let you play with "his" toys and when you keep getting objects swiped out of your hands because they aren't safe for you. Sorry, buddy. Soon, though.

You're in 18-month clothes, and the doctor this week informed us that you are in the 96th percentile for height! Wowza! Like your brother and daddy, though, you're pretty lean at only 75th percentile for weight. People say you look SO much like your brother, and while I of course can't deny the similarities, I also notice how much you are developing your own looks. Your eyes are much bluer, your features are quite distinct from Marshall's, and you have hair! You already got a hair cut from your aunt when we last saw them!

And that personality of yours--could it be any more fun? You are a total goofball, and you have so much fun exploring your small world. You get so proud when you try something new, make a loud noise, or get something to work (opening the oven door on your play kitchen, throwing a ball, setting an object on a table). You LOVE to listen to music and immediately start dancing and clapping when you hear a song (even soft, slow songs!). You're starting to point a lot, but we usually have no idea what you're pointing at. I am soaking up this age, but I also can't wait to see what comes next as you discover more around you.

You love food. You eat a LOT of it. You prefer finger foods to purees. When you're done eating, you throw food on the floor and/or lean so far over in your chair that we're worried you'll hurt yourself. You've recently learned to sign "more," and you generally make mealtime a delight!

Breastfeeding has been a bittersweet and humbling experience with you. This time around, I faced the challenge that I wish upon no mother: having to pump at work to supply milk for you while we were apart. Of course, the layers of stress about being away from you eight or nine hours a day combined with worry about how much milk I was pumping, how much milk to send to school for you, how to make sure I had enough “back up” supply in case it became necessary, and how to ensure you were growing and happy and healthy all weighed on me, and mostly on me alone. While your daddy did as much as he could--washing all the bottle and pump parts almost every night, encouraging me, and doing the actual feeding during the months he stayed home with you while I was already back at work--the reality is that breastfeeding and pumping are a woman’s work, and they are tough. Being away from you was heartbreaking, and I fought back a lot of tears when I had to pump instead of getting to feed you, but I hope I’ll find we’re stronger for it, somehow.

So I’ll take this little moment to pat myself on the back for all the times I pulled out my pump when I didn’t want to, for fighting through a few rounds of a serious aversion to the pump (imagine nails-on-a-chalkboard feeling for 15 minutes twice a day), for ensuring I ate and drank enough to keep my supply up. And I’ll also take this moment to acknowledge that I found pumping extremely difficult, even under the absolute best circumstances (supportive boss, private office with locking door, good milk supply). To all the mamas out there who have pumped in any circumstances, but especially in less-than-ideal situations, I am truly in awe of your tenacity and selflessness.

Well, to be honest, things could be better here. On the plus side, you nap pretty well. You generally go 60-90 minutes on the regular for each nap during the day. Nighttime sleep goes up and down, but you still wake up at least once per night, and I still usually feed you, mostly out of habit. Someday we'll work on that... The toughest part is that you often wake up suuuuuper early (4:30, 5:30...), and that's obviously a struggle. We have faith that soon enough you'll be sleeping as well as your big brother!

Declan, if we thought Marshall's first year went quickly, it was nothing compared to yours. These twelve months raced by, and we are in awe of how quickly you're becoming a toddler. You bring such joy to our family, and you make every moment a little more of an adventure as we watch you discover this world. Your beautiful smile, easygoing demeanor, snuggly morning moods, and innocent joy make us so thrilled to be your parents. Thank you for this perfect year, sweet boy.