Letter to Bella: month nineteen

Dear Bella,

Another month has flown by, hurtling you closer and closer to big kid status. Every morning before I get you out of bed I stop to wonder: Which Bella will we have today - the roly-poly baby girl or the demanding I-kn0w-exactly-what-I-want big girl.

Though it has taken several months, I think I'm resolved to the fact that the baby girl is not long for this world. You will always be my baby, but you're growing up so fast. You can go up and down the stairs without holding onto anything, you jump with both feet off the floor, and you are full of curiosity and wonder - noticing small details that you used to overlook.

Your body looks more kid-like these days, too. You've thinned out and now weigh 23.2 lbs and stand 32 inches tall, putting you in the 25th percentile for weight and height. That makes you a small girl, but one whose face has become more angular and whose legs are longer. Your hair may be responsible for some of those inches and pounds - it's the biggest thing about you. I saw your shadow the other day and you looked just like a lollipop!

This month marked a sad, but exciting milestone in your life. You now sleep in a toddler bed! You finally decided that climbing out of the crib was fun, so to keep you safe, your Daddy and I converted your crib to a baby bed. Of course the transition wasn't smooth. The first few nights we tried to the stay-in-bed technique, but that traumatized everyone, so we switched to the "just shut the door and ignore the screams" technique.

The first few nights, you would immediately pop out of bed and move to the glider with a toy or stuffed animal, where you'd fall asleep. Your Daddy would sneak in before he went to bed and move you to the bed. It took about a week, but eventually you got used to the idea of a bed and began staying there. We tuck you in with your "babies" (a couple bears and a kitty), kiss you good night, and then shut the door behind us. I'm pretty amazed how quickly you went from screaming mess to serene sleeper!

But as if sleeping all by yourself in a toddler bed wasn't enough of a big-girl rite of passage - you've started showing an interest in potty training! As I noted in your last letter, you'd gotten in the habit of pooping in the tub. To combat that problem, your Daddy bought you a Dora potty ring that we now sit you on before you get in the tub. For the first week or so, you simply tolertated the ring because you were so excited to get in the tub.

However, one day you tinkled in it! We all clapped and danced and sang together - and though you had no clue what was so wonderful, you clapped and danced right along with us. Now you like to sit on the potty seat just because and often a tiny little stream of pee will come out. We don't think you'll be trained in the next few months, but we've definitely begun that journey.

These are the signals that we will soon have a full-fledged little girl on our hands - one with her own opinions and desires. I can already tell that you will be stubborn and demanding. But I can also tell that you will be sweet and compassionate. You can't stand to see someone cry and often try to comfort your brother or the other kids at daycare when they are upset. You love on your babies when they fall or after you've thrown them around.

You are an exciting, complicated little person. Every day, I am reminded how lucky we are to be your family and how much we'll learn by being in your life. As Christmas approaches and we watch you stare in awe at the wonders of the season, I will continue to count my blessings - of which you are one of the most spectacular.

Love, Mama


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