You are eight months old! How is this happening? I feel like your little baby world is just exploding with growth and realization right now. You’ve learned to do so much in the last two months, moving irreversibly further away from your infancy.
I have to start by saying how much I love you. I can’t believe how delightful you are. In fact, your dad and I joked in December and January that your terrible sleeping habits were just God’s way of keeping us humble about you. Because besides that, you are perhaps the world’s most delightful baby. We set you down, and you play with your box o’ infant toys for almost an hour, happily scooting and reaching from one toy to another. You light up whenever you make eye contact with us…or almost anyone, and you absolutely beam at me when I come in to pick you up after sleep. You laugh easily. You give these hug-like cuddles that melt me. You are just so fun, and so, so good for all of us. We just all love you so much.
You are enormous, weighing in at over 20 pounds. At last measure, you weighed 8 pounds less than Elsa. We gave you your first haircut just before your dedication, because your cinnamon swirl was getting a little long in back; you had shaggies over your ears, and your hair was always hanging in your eyes, unless we severely side-swiped you. Yet, you still had short patches. It was getting a little Gollumy. So I gave you a little trim and inadvertently aged you 15 years. You went from baby to boy with a few snips of my scissors. The brown is turning to blonde, much like your siblings before you. I see your hair getting lighter at its roots.
Your eyes are the brightest blue. We moved you into your own room (which was the sad end to a long chapter of babies at our bedside), and I love it, when I sit in the rocker and nurse you, you turn your eyes to the window, and your eyes are these deep and bright pools of blue. I stare. I literally just sit there and stare while I hear your siblings tearing down the house just outside your bedroom door. Your cheeks are wide. Your face is a tiny bit squarish. You have rolls upon rolls upon rolls, cascading down your rib cage, overflowing your wrists onto your hands, your thighs are hammy and delicious. You wear twelve month clothes now, though you spend a lot of time in footie jammies, because your muffin top is real, and it is uncomfortable.
Your girth has made mobility a challenge. You have learned to sit up with ease, only occasionally tipping over for no reason. You *still* have not really rolled over yet, at least not on purpose. One afternoon, at the end of your seventh month, I was talking with Sarah Johannsen at the door, when I heard a big flomp on the wood floor by the fireplace. You had gone from belly to back. You were as surprised as I was. Only one other time, I found you flipped from belly to back in your crib. You were displeased. And stuck. It’s like we know you’re strong enough, but you just can’t get the coordination of it or something.
But despite the challenges of rolling, you are now, at the end of your eighth month, mobile. You’re not crawling, per se, but you slap your little chubby hands down on the floor, with one leg tucked under you that you push off of, one leg behind you, and you cover a surprising amount of ground this way. It reminds me a lot of how Zeke my dog used to drag himself across the carpet, honestly. You’re getting faster and faster in your efforts to chew on electrical chords, Owen’s treasures, toast crumbs from last Tuesday morning. stray coffee beans, all of the non-board books, and most disgustingly, the end of our broom. Basically anything that is not one of your toys. I live in constant fear that you will ingest a marble, or one of Owen’s legos. I am constantly telling your siblings to pick up every small thing from the floor. Probably an ER visit is in our future.
It’s just so clear that you want to be part of the action. To be able to run after Owen and Elsa. You move yourself across the floor to me and grin. You are always trying to pull yourself to standing, but at this point, it’s really more like kneeling. You particularly love dresser drawers, the dining room chairs, and the refrigerator drawer handle for this purpose. One of your very favorite things is holding onto our fingers and standing. You wobble and balance, falling to your butt if we let go, reaching out your hand for ours if we try to untangle our fingers. Right after we set up your crib, your dad put you in there, standing as you held onto the railing. You were so evidently proud to be upright, looking around at all of us like Look at me! I’m a part of things! I’m doing it! We joke that you may never truly crawl, just start walking around one of these days.
Just in the last couple of weeks, you’ve started to dance. The first time, I’m ?proud? to say, was to Pump Up the Jam. You sat in the middle of the kitchen floor, watching Elsa, Owen, and I dance like crazies around you, and you started wiggling your little torso, and moving your arms up and down. Now, you often do it when you’re sitting in your high chair, as we sing you the classics like This food is bananas! B-A-N-A-N-A-S! You smile, and start bouncing up and down, and doing your move, which your dad calls “lowering the roof (?)”
You ate your first solid foods at the beginning of your seventh month. I gave you some roasted squash puree. You sat tall and chubby in the bumbo, at the end of the dining room table. You ate the squash, and seemed to enjoy it, but more than that, you were just visibly excited to be eating with us. You squealed and squawked and squeaked and almost seemed hyper afterwards, really wiggly and happy. You’ve had these moments – your first foods, first time in the bouncy seat, first time in the saucer – where it’s like you know you’re getting bigger, doing something important. You get this look on your face that is so self-satisfied, like you’re so proud of yourself, and you smile at all of us as if to say, “Are you seeing this? I’m amazing!” It’s so cute, and I think just a part of who you are maybe – I picture you as an older kid who just always wants to be in the middle of things, part of things, involved in what’s going on.
You like food. You don’t love to be spoon fed, but prefer little pieces to be put into your mouth like a little baby bird. You love chewing on cold cucumber rings. You love bananas. And oranges. And puffs. And applesauce. But you’ve eaten almost anything we put in front of you – pepper strips and roasted asparagus stalks to chew on, broccoli, oatmeal, eggs, blueberries, peas. We gave you a tiny piece of maple-syruped pancake once, and your face lit up like the sun.
From Christmas through much of February, you had a legit cold and cough. You still have just two teeth. But you pretty much gave up on sleep through much of December and January, choosing instead to get up every few hours like a newborn. You’d cry and wail and act visibly uncomfortable in your bassinet, your pack n play, your crib, our bed – we tried it all. We gave you tylenol. We let you sleep on your belly, in the boppy, on our chests. And still you didn’t sleep. We gave you gripe water, which seemed to help. But a couple weeks ago, I put you on your belly again (we’d run out of new ideas and started recycling old ones), and you slept. You slept through the night. And since, you’ve typically only gotten up once if at all, and it feels like a miracle. I nurse you, and you reach your little chubby hands up to hold my chin, or you curl your chubby fingers around my index finger. You get sleepy, and I lay you down in your crib, and you immediately throw your hands down to your sides and do a little body wiggle. It’s really funny. And then, I hear you squawk when you wake up, and you beam at me when you see me, and I pick you up, and you almost always rest your head on my shoulder for a quick hug, so still, before whipping your head up and craning your neck out of your room, trying to figure out what all the noise is out there (spoiler alert: it’s typically Owen singing Gangnam Style or dancing around like Gene Kelley).
You’re trying so hard to talk. I think of all three of my babies, you seem the most communicative. You look at us, and give this little pause, as though you’re trying to think of just the right word to say, and then you squawk or give your high-pitched bird squeal, this little happy yip!, or you tell us all about it with RaRaRas and Dadadas and Mamamas and most usually, Bababas. I’ve mentioned to many people, but you very rarely cry or wail. Instead, you talk to us BaBaBaBaBa in this displeased voice, lecturing us, really. You’ve recently been obsessed with making a clicking sound, not unlike a little South African baby…your clicks are loud, they echo through our house, and you look us in the eyes and click away, lighting up when we click back. For weeks, you clicked almost constantly. Now you’ve seemed to move on to this happy little panting sound. You do it when you’re excited, when Owen dances around you, when your dad walks through the door at night. With happy pants, you whip your head towards me and nurse with gusto now, making these somewhat panicked noises in the seconds it takes me to get ready. You are so expressive.
You seem to really love people. You are generous with your smiles. Especially towards dogs and other babies. You met Brooklyn the dog, and were so excited – wiggling and panting and pawing at her face, looking around at me with an expression of are you seeing this?! And babies. One night at small group, I had you on the floor next to little Tad Miller, who is just a couple months younger than you. You leaned towards him, using all of your might to wiggle closer to him, making happy squawking bird sounds, smiling hugely. I see it in you, a love of people, of interaction. I’m so eager to see what this looks like for you in the future.
Recently, we had your dedication at church. Your Grandpa Joe and Grandma Pam came all the way from Wisconsin. Your Grandma Karen and Grandpa Ron were there too, your cousin Ole and Auntie Julia and Uncle David. Our Minneapolis family – Sarah, Brad, Atticus, Deke, Lincoln, and Thea Belle Johannsen and Rachel, Darren, Archie, and Ollie – all joined us at church that morning (February 19). You were sleepy in your dad’s arms, eyes heavy, as we made promises about your belonging wholly to God, about surrendering all worldly claims on your life. I was struck, as I stood up there, about how different I felt making these promises than I did as a first time Mom, up there with Owen. I meant them then too, but it was all so new, so novel, to be the mom in front, holding a chubby baby boy. But now? Now I am in it. I am in this season, and I have learned and am learning what it means to love you kids with all of my being, and to make those promises now just somehow held more weight, more uncertainty.
I could say that I want nothing more than to keep you from harm forever, Lewis. But that’s not really true. Each night, as I sit down in the rocking chair to nurse you, I quietly rock as you hold my finger, and I pray about what I want most: that the Lord would call you to Himself. That you would see God as beautiful. That you would be one to tell stories and Truth that bring light to the dark corners of this world. I pray that you would know God and be known by Him and walk in his paths all the days of your life.
I love you, Lewis baby. More than I can say.
Things you love: baths. being naked. Playing with the forbidden fireplace candleholder. Ripping your siblings’ paper books. When your dad comes home. Being outside in the stroller. Standing. Being in your bouncy seat. Chewing on anything.
Things you hate: getting your diaper changed. Getting clothes put on. Getting teeth. And not much else. You’re actually really wonderful.