Month One – October 7, 2011 through November 7, 2011

Dear Nora,

I would have liked to start these monthly letters to you in the first month of your life. But let’s face it, that first month was hard in so many ways. It was like crossing a river on a path of slippery stones, blindfolded. I have just now regained my footing and I am ready to record all of our little moments together. I am hoping that you, when you’re old enough, will understand that I couldn’t start writing to you until now.

Even though our first month as a family was hard, I wouldn’t lose that struggle for anything in the world. It was in those challenges that I first learned to listen to you and let you lead my decisions and actions. This was an important lesson for me, as a new mom to learn, and I am so glad that I learned it early on. I am guessing that I will have to learn and relearn this lesson continuously, so I hope that you will remind me when I forget.

In your first month, we went through a lot of changes together. We recovered from the birth, both of us at our own pace. Your smooshy little face filled out and you started to slowly gain weight. I healed my stitches and my body began to shift from a pregnant body to a non-pregnant body.

Together, we learned to breastfeed, with a lot of hard work. When you were born, you were borderline jaundiced, which meant you slept through most feedings. For the first two weeks, I fed you both breast milk and formula, then pumped after every feeding to jump-start my milk supply. There was a point when I thought that we wouldn’t make it, that I would have to pump for every feeding and feed you through a bottle. Luckily, during the second week, we somehow clicked and you began feeding like a pro. We stopped using formula, stopped pumping after every feeding and moved to exclusive breastfeeding. This was our biggest victory of the month.

We also learned to sleep, as a family. I learned to tell when you were sleepy and how to help you get to sleep, since you didn’t like going to sleep on your own. Luckily, you slept really well in your daddy’s arms and that’s where you slept the best.

During your first month, you had two visitors. Grandma Jean stayed with us for the first week of your life and helped us get our household settled. Since you came a week early, I hadn’t finished organizing the nursery or cleaning the house. Grandma Jean did all that for us, in between bouts of cuddling you when you slept. She was so happy to meet you and spend time with you in the first week. She even threatened to take you home to Nebraska with her, but we convinced her to leave you with us.

Grandpa Lolo visited at the end of your first month. By then, you were staying awake a little longer and he was able to play with you a little bit. He was also the first person to watch you alone, without either me or Daddy staying with you. He changed your diapers, fed you a bottle and kept you safe while Daddy and I went out. When we were out, Daddy and I just talked about you, of course.

Your first month with us, beautiful Nora, is one I will always treasure. It’s the month I landed in a new, strange country called Mama-Land, and started to learn its geography.

Month Two – November 8, 2011 through December 7, 2011

Nora, I am writing this half of the letter to two days before you turn two months old. You have been a part of my life now for long enough that I can only barely remember what it was like without you. We have spent the past eight and a half weeks getting to know each others rhythms and sounds. Each day, I am amazed at how much you grow and learn. Each day, you are a new person that I get to know.

This month, we spent a lot of time developing our routines. For your first month, it was really difficult to do the same (or similar) things each day, because your needs were different each day. Now, you are slowly settling into a routine.

You take three naps each day, one in the morning, one after lunch, and one in the late afternoon. These are the cornerstones of our day. Normally, Daddy helps you sleep in the morning by wearing you in his Balboa Baby sling. For your first and second afternoon naps, I wear you in either the Moby or the Ergo or I lie down with you in bed. Either way, I get to listen to you breathe as you sleep. I love these parts of our day.

In between naps, you are getting more and more independent. During your first six weeks, you only wanted to be held close to my body or Daddy’s body, even when you were awake. Now, you are spending more time facing out into the world, either by sitting up our arms or playing on one of your play mats. Your favorite play mat is jungle themed, with a koala bear and a butterfly hanging down in your reach. You like to punch these two animals with your hands while you sit beneath them. Each morning, you are excited to spend time on the mat and you fuss and wriggle until we put you down with your animal friends.

Another part of our routine is a weekly field trip. Together, we attend the Enlightened Mama New Mamas Group at Blooma. We have actually been going since you were two and a half weeks old, but you slept through most sessions. Now you are starting to stay awake during the class and we play together as we listen to people talk. Last week, you started to notice another baby sitting near you. By the time we’re done taking the classes, I bet you will make a friend or two.

This month, you learned how to smile. At first, you would only smile at me from the changing table. Now you smile in the morning when you wake up. You smile as you breastfeed. You smile when either Daddy or I smile back at you. You smile when we kiss your neck. I love trying to make you smile in any way that I can.

You had one visitor this month, Grandma Carol. She came up for Thanksgiving. She loved watching you smile and watching you breastfeed with me. She thought that she saw you gain more head control while she was here. She told me that she cannot wait to spend more time with you and help you discover the world. I think she’ll be a good partner in your adventures.

You also visited my work place for the first time. I showed you around to my colleagues and we attended the annual Velkommen Jul celebration, which is the start of the Christmas season. You missed the chapel service because you were hungry and then needed a diaper change. But, you got to sit with my work friends while we enjoyed traditional Scandinavian desserts. When I take you next year, you will get to try some of these desserts and participate more in the service. I can’t wait!

Nora, I am so thankful for this time we have together, just me and you. There may never be another time in our lives when we get to spend so much time alone together. I am so glad that I have this opportunity to get to know you and to get to provide a safe home for you. I am so lucky to be one of your guides to this wonderful world we live in together.