Dear Nora,

As of Saturday, you are nine months old. Nine months! In fact, since you are now 39-1/2 weeks old, you have now lived longer on earth than when you were growing inside of me. I remember very distinctly on the moment that you were born, thinking to myself, “She is never going to be closer to me than she is right now. From now on, she will be growing away from me.” In some ways, this proved to be true. There’s a different kind of closeness that comes with living with an infant. There’s a complete obliteration of personal space. Even as “old” as you are, you crave closeness. You want to cuddle me, poke the inside of my mouth, pull on my skin. And yet, you also want to push away from me, spend time alone playing. So we dance back and forth between extreme closeness and subtle separation. And each day, you spend a little more time away from me.

That’s been especially true this month. For the first time ever, I spent two whole days away from you, on a trip to Wisconsin. It was really hard for me to go, because I missed you terribly. Plus, I was so worried about you and Daddy having enough breast milk to make it through two full days of feedings. I left on a Sunday afternoon and returned Tuesday afternoon. You and Daddy did great. You didn’t run out of food (thankfully) and you had a good time.

Also for the first time, you had a babysitter this month. Our friend Darci watched you for about 4 hours while I was at work and Daddy had a meeting. You guys had a great time together…you even took a good nap for her. Both Daddy and I were relieved that you handled the separation well.

This month, you’ve reached a few good developmental milestones. You are now confidently rolling back and forth between your back and front. There’s no cheating about it. You just roll and wiggle. It’s making diapering a bit more interesting, to say the least. You can also stand and hold onto something. Daddy’s been helping you practice with an ottoman. You can’t quite pull yourself up yet, but you can stand for a good minute or so on your own.

Your other two teeth made an appearance early this month, so you officially have four teeth. And then we had a nice long break from teething…until this weekend. Now you’re back to being miserable. Even today, you gnawed on your hand so much that you left little bite marks. I wish you liked the frozen teething rings a bit more.

You’re becoming a really social baby this month. Even though you’ve had your bouts of stranger danger and separation anxiety, you’ve been really interacting with other people. You’ve learned to wave, give high-fives, and shake hands. Waving is your favorite and you wave to pretty much everyone you see. You get really excited when they wave and you wave even more vigorously, with your mouth wide open. It’s pure joy for you to be seen and acknowledged by other people.

You’ve also been getting really good at mimicking sounds lately. You’ve been uttering things that are words, but that you clearly don’t know are words. You’ve repeated things like “No-no-no”, “Ma-ma-ma”, “da-da-da”, and “yuck.” Also, just this weekend, you repeated the word “toes” (or something very close to it), when Grandma Jean and I were saying it to you together. I’m pretty sure that you haven’t connected that these words mean something, though.

This month, you’ve been swimming in visits from your grandparents. In mid-June, your Grandpa Lolo came for a several day visit. During our visit, he played with you and took pictures. We went to Minnehaha Falls and hiked together. He actually visited on the week that you learned how to wave. Unfortunately, you seemed to wave at everyone but  him. He didn’t take it personally…I think.

Just this past week, you went on your second road trip to Lincoln, NE to visit Grandma Jean and Grandpa Marvin. Daddy and I learned that if we leave really early in the morning, you can handle the long car rides pretty well… which was a relief, since Lincoln is about eight hours away. Once we were there, you had a great time. You spent lots of time playing with Grandma Jean. You met your extended Nebraska family, including 3 week old Crosly. Throughout the whole trip, you met tons of people and seemed to really enjoy the extra attention. It was so nice to have two extra pairs of hands to share you with. Daddy and I even got to leave for a mini-date together while Grandma and Grandpa watched you.

Nora, it’s been such a wonderful month with you. Even in the hard times, the breaking teeth and the learning to separate, I feel so lucky that I get to be your mama. I am forever better because of it.