And just like that, you’re almost a year old

Dear Millie,

Whenever people ask me how old you are, I always say something far younger than what you actually are. “Oh, she’s 3 months!” It’s not purposeful, it’s just that I can’t believe how old you are already. We are nearing your first birthday, and right now I keep remembering you being in my belly a year ago while I anxiously anticipated your arrival. Millie, the end of my pregnancy with you was scary for a few weeks—we had an ultrasound scan to check your size that was misread, and in misreading it, the doctor told me and your dada that he “could no longer tell us that something is not wrong with you.” There was the fear that you had a skeletal problem—that your legs and arms weren’t developing how they should. Your life flashed before my eyes, but it was different than what I first pictured. I changed everything in my head in the matter of an instant, and I knew I would find you the best doctors and do anything and everything to offer you the best life possible. The day I heard that scary news was October 10, 2016, a mere six weeks before you were born. I cradled my stomach and told you it was going to be ok, that I loved you fiercely no matter what and would take care of you. The doctor that read that ultrasound was wrong, you did not have a skeletal problem, but I remember that feeling so vividly, and when this day passed during your month eleven, I felt so much relief over how well you’re doing now!

Month 11 has been filled with such fun, as you are moments away from walking and you no longer have that infant look. I miss it, but now when I look at photos of you, I see a small child. Your toothy grin lights up a room, and speaking of which, you must be sprouting every tooth at the same time, because this is the first time I’ve really seen you fuss over teething. Your little teeth are cute but SHARP, and you’ve attempted to relieve your teething pain by either biting my shoulder while I’m holding you or worse, biting me while I’m nursing you. I can assure you that the latter is incredibly painful and I swear you know you shouldn’t be doing it, but sometimes you can’t help yourself. You actually look up at me and smirk after you bite me, and while I want to be mad, I find it difficult.

The doctors believe you have a lot of food allergies, so we had to get you tested for some of the most common ones this month. You used to rarely cry during tests, even blood draws or being held down and poked and prodded. This month, you are OVER IT. And Millie, I get it. I am over it for you. I want for you to be done with every doctor and every test. I want for you to be able to just play, eat and live the carefree life any 11-month-old should have. You really didn’t like getting the allergy testing done, as your eyes welled up with tears and you cried, the look you gave me hurt me so much. Your dad and I hate to see you in pain, but I always repeat to you that we have to do this to take care of you. I mostly hope you will forget this all, but if you do remember it, I hope what you remember is how strong you were and how much I always wanted to take any and all pain away for you.

We found out you are severely allergic to quite a few foods—namely eggs, milk, wheat, and shellfish. You are so reactive that they gave us epi pens in case you go into anaphylaxis. I pray that day never comes, and as we now continue to be followed by an allergist, there is still the hope that you may grow out of some of these. Your grandma (my mom) has severe food allergies, so I am well-versed in how careful you must be, but I must say it will be hard as a kid when someone offers you a Goldfish at the playground and you can’t have it. Life-threatening food allergies are terrifying, and right now I still am able to control where you are, what you eat, and who offers you what, but as you become more independent and mobile, that will change, and with that we will have to watch you closely. But in the scheme of all the other possibilities of what could have been wrong with you, this is actually great news!

This month we took you to Asheville, North Carolina, for a fall family vacation. I desperately wanted to see fall leaves and feel a cool breeze and you, of course, were down for whatever. You got to meet the captain of the airplane and sit in the pilot’s seat (which you loved) and you think when a plane takes off and lands, it’s the funniest thing ever. I think your ears plugged up a bit, but you didn’t cry, you just kept pointing at your ear. Of course, I tried to feed you during take off and landing, but you felt like looking out the window instead. I constantly have plans, but you have your own plans as well, and you aren’t about to change them for me. You loved the cool mountain air, you squealed with delight when the wind blew in your face, and your sensitive little cheeks turned rosy red from windburn. Taking you on vacation is so enjoyable to experience everything new through your eyes, even if it’s a bit exhausting for us! You discovered leaves on trees and point at them nonstop. When we let you crawl on the ground, you would find a big leaf and carry it around with you everywhere you went. You love nature and animals, and whenever we show you a new animal, your entire body tenses and you tighten your fists with glee. I love seeing how much you love nature and animals. I will attempt to buy more plants for the house, but I have the opposite of a green thumb, and for that I apologize.

You’re very independent now, completely content playing by yourself and exploring everywhere you go. For all the health problems you’ve had, your vision is not one of them. You find every minute speck of dirt on the ground and point at it. I feel like it’s your way of showing me that I don’t keep the house clean enough, but I’m doing the best that I can! You alternate between a determined crawl and a hilarious butt scoot, and you almost always have a toy in your hand. Often it’s what I call your “sword,” which is the long end piece of your play mat that you like tearing off and taking with you. You’ve already taken a few steps, and before I know it, I’m going to turn around and you’ll be walking.

I am planning your first birthday party right now, and I honestly can’t believe you will be one! I remember my life before you and I won’t lie and pretend there aren’t days that I miss being carefree, but life with you fills me with so much joy, love and pride that I could not want it any other way. You are the most wonderful thing that’s ever happened to me, Millie, and I continue to promise to love you, but also try not to smother you with all this love and protection I have.

Love,

Mama

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