Paloma,

Today you are eleven months old. I'm proud to say that I'm no longer afraid of twelve. I'm excited. I'm ready. And so are you.

You have made some of the biggest leaps, yet, this month and it has been so exciting.

The first happened precisely the day after you turned ten months old: You started babbling. Anyone who has a baby knows that ten months old is really, really late for babble and so anyone who has a baby knows that I was terrified. Not on the surface, no, but way deep down I was so scared you would never talk. I showed concern at your nine month wellness check and was assured that things were normal, but that's my job as your mother, my job is to worry.

These past months I've defended you and your silence. Because that's really what it was: SILENCE. You did nothing with your mouth, tongue, or voice. Nada. No raspberries, no bubbles, no blahblahblah. I said all along that as soon as you figured out walking you'd start talking. That there's only so much growing a baby can do at once and you chose mobility above all else. But ten months is a long time to wait to hear someone's voice.

Sure enough, you started walking with some confidence and every bit of baby babble came flowing the next day. It was as if you'd been storing up all the sounds and were just waiting for the right time to try them out.

Phew!

More than worry and defend, though, my job is to be your advocate. Yes, I was terrified on some level by your silence, but I was confident you'd come around, and whatever happened in between or here or there, I'd be there to figure it out with you. There are so many unknowns as your life's coil begins to unwind, and one day this month I realized that I'm here to witness and support it all - no matter how rough or smooth the road may be - and that we'll be just fine.



Another thing I've come to see this month is how much of a person you are, already. I mean, yes, DUH, but I don't know that every parent has that moment of realization so early on.

You have thoughts and feelings and opinions and when something gets in the way, you're pissed. And rightly so.

It takes a lot of effort on your part to get a short distance and so when some adult comes in and swoops you up in a blink, you're mad. I get that.

This is why, in part, I might not continue to share these letters I write to you after the twelfth. I'm not really writing anything new, anything that another mother doesn't already know, but that's not to say that what happens between us, day to day, isn't sacred, but this isn't just my experience, it's ours. I have made the choice to share it with others, but I don't know that you would choose the same, and so I've started to slowly wean you from the Internet.

I want to always treat you with the most respect that I know and so, in part, that means keeping your life to ourselves until you reach an age when you can publicly author your story. I just want you to know that the only reason I even began writing to you was due to similar honest writing by other women that has both inspired and comforted me - even before your birth - and I hope that by sharing our story here, month by month, I have done the same for someone else.



Perhaps, a bit of why I'm ready for month twelve is that we are planning a celebration of sorts. The weekend after your birthday we will be having family and friends over to help us mark a year of your life here on Earth. I wasn't so sure how I felt about planning an event for someone who won't remember it, but late one night I had a moment of inspiration when I suddenly felt the need to dedicate two godparents to you. And what better time than for your birthday?

It is hard to type out "first" before the word "birthday" because it is not your first birthday. It is your second birthday and that's exactly how it feels to me. You were born almost a year ago and as it draws closer, I'm more and more aware of how much time has gone by and the order of events that occurred.

Our baby shower was this month, a year ago, and I'm hoping all the same people that came to that come to help us celebrate your first year.

Then, all the other babies in our home birth group were born, one by one, more or less, sometimes on the same day!, and we waited and waited for you.

This is also the month I stopped working at the museum to take time - a month, in fact - to get ready for your arrival. The first few days of leave were so boring. And hard. I didn't know what to do with myself. But I slowly got used to the idea and cherished those last thirty days of you in my belly, just me and Papá in our bed. I barely remember how I kept busy, but I did. Looking back, taking a month off was one of the best things I did for me and you. It gave me plenty of time to meditate on your birth and be fully ready and willing to go into labor. It wasn't until we reached your due date that I really let go and told you it was time to come out. I loved being pregnant with you, but it couldn't go on forever.

We were in the bathtub, you and me, one night. I used to go in there late and slouch down into the water as low as I could go. Inevitably, you, in my belly, would still be sticking out of the water and in all the still quiet you'd squirm a bit. Sometimes I'd read, but most of the time I just sat with you; it was enough to keep me occupied. This is when I'd sing to you very softly so that only we could hear. I'd decided on Baby Beluga as the song to sing and it's done wonders to calm you on the outside in times of stress. And it was in the bath, late one night, when I told you it was time to come out and I made you the promise that I would hold you right here.

And I've held you ever since.



Happy Eleventh Monday.

Love,
Mama

Eleven