Letter to Bella, month four

Dear Bella,

You’re sleeping soundly beside me right now, your long legs cocked up on a pillow, your mouth sucking on a phantom pacifier. Sometimes I just look at you and it shocks me what a big girl you are. Strangers assume you are as old as six months and are always so surprised to hear that you’re only just now hitting the four-month mark.

And hit it you have. Your squishy body has accomplished so much! When I lay you on your belly, you pop right up on those arms with a huge smile. I was beginning to worry because, while you are so strong, you’ve been having a hard time developing the coordination to roll over. Mainly that pesky elbow gets in your way.

So, to help you along, I’ll often tuck your elbow and over onto your back you go! Once you get there, your eyes grow big and you look at me as if to say, “What happened?” But then you giggle and enjoy finally getting off that tummy. You’re so squirmy on either your back or belly that no one expects you to remain in the same place for long.

I think the cutest part of you getting onto your back is that you can grab hold of your toes. Not all of them – just the big toe. You like to the index finger of one hand around it and then stick the index finger of the other hand in your mouth. In fact, anyone who has spent much time around you in the last few weeks knows this already because it’s your favorite position to be in.

Your feet aren’t the only objects you’ve learned to grab hold of. Anything that gets too near your hands will be caught and immediately brought toward your mouth. Unfortunately that coordination thing gets in your way again, so not much actually winds up in your mouth. It doesn’t matter that much until the pacifier gets involved. You’ll stick it into your eye over and over while straining to get it into your mouth. My hair is also up for grabs and I’m constantly fishing it out of your grubby little paws.

Your daddy and I try to convince you to leave things already in your mouth alone, but for some reason you don’t listen. Therefore, even when the pacifier is solidly in place, it doesn’t stay that way for long because you’ve grabbed it and are waving it in the air. You get so frustrated when you can’t pop it back in, but those Ricky Bella hands are your worst enemy.

You’re hitting your four-month milestones with a passion, especially when it comes to food. We haven’t given into your obvious desire for solids, but I have a feeling you’ll change our minds soon enough. As it is, you begin drooling and smacking your lips when you smell food or if someone has the gall to eat in front of you. I was snacking on grapes the other day and you started squawking at me with the most serious face. I had to put the grapes out of your line of vision to calm you down. I’m going to do my best to hold out for five months to offer you cereal or baby food, but you’re persistent so we’ll see.

We took you to the beach for your very first time this past weekend. I think you enjoyed the sound of the ocean, but the rest of the beach was too much for you. I think I’ve only seen you cry-cry once or twice, but the third time came when I tried to keep you out on the beach. You weren’t having it so we spent the rest of our weekend by the pool while Javi and Dad braved the waves.

But, all in all, I think what I love the most about this stage of your development is the way you laugh from your belly. All I have to do is lift you over my head, copy a sound you’ve made or simply make a funny face and you dissolve into giggles finished off with the most amazing belly laugh. You’re also learning to enjoy raspberries and will giggle uncontrollably when I blow them on your belly. No one can hear your laugh without laughing right back at you.

You’re shooting into toddlerhood at a remarkable pace despite our best efforts to keep you our baby. Your thick head of black newborn hair is slowly falling out to be replaced with reddish brown like mine. You’re busting out of 0-3 month clothes and you’ve dropped your last feeding of the night – often going 12 hours without a bottle.

When you wake up in the morning, I hear you cooing and babbling to yourself in the bassinet. But, that won’t last for much longer either because you like to sleep spread eagle. When your arms or legs hit the side of the bassinet, you grunt uncomfortably. I try to keep you warm and cozy by putting a blanket over you but you jerk your legs up as if it’s hot acid I’ve just poured on you.

You are no longer content to lay back and ignore the world around you. Instead, you crane your head when you hear any noise and have to keep your eyes on other kids if they come into your line of vision. You’re most engrossed in other babies and like to stare and smile at them — even if they don’t acknowledge you at all. Conversely, you seem a little disinterested in toddlers and older kids — unless they’re related to you because you could watch Javi, Matt or Ethan for hours.

One thing hasn’t changed. You still can’t fall asleep with anyone but me. Sometimes I get frustrated with your inability to get settled with anyone else, but then I see how your body relaxes once you’re in my arms and how I am so in tuned to you and my heart swells up.

Often if you’re napping near me, you’ll wake and seem worried, but then you’ll scan the room, see me and settle back into sleep. I thank Javier for my confidence and ability to relax as your mother. I didn’t realize until you came along just how nervous I was about getting it “right” when he was a baby — but there is no getting it right. There’s only loving your baby and trusting that love to see you through.

I thank you for giving me the opportunity to enjoy Mommyhood. This roller coaster ride has been one part frustration, one part fear, and a million parts worth it.

Love, Mama


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