12 months/1 year

Look at my toddler. Waaaaaah!!! She’s not a baby anymore! I can’t believe how grown up and perfect my sweet girl is. She’s just a wonder!

It’s Ellen’s birthday today, and I’m feeling so many things. I am trying hard to focus on the joy and excitement of Ellen’s first birthday, but it is clouded by a lot of sadness.

Ellen is, in all likelihood, our last baby. And the arrival of her birthday is a reminder that there are so many “last firsts” already behind us. I’ll never get to feel my baby’s first kick or hear my baby’s first cry again. I’ll never get to experience first smiles, first laughs, first words, first rolling over, first sitting up…

Granted, I’ll also never have to deal with swaddles, and newborn sleep, and projectile newborn poops, and spitting up… So there’s always a silver lining!

Anyway, I’ve spent the last 2 days crying my eyes out. I’ve relived the memories of her due date through the day we met her. All the pain, all the joy, all the fear, all the excitement and anticipation… it’s like I was really transported back and I was there all over again.

But enough… I’ll probably cry more today and on Sunday when we have her party, but I don’t need to dwell on that in this post anymore. You get the point! Let’s look at Ellen and all her wonderful accomplishments!

Ellen’s vocabulary is growing constantly. She can say mama, dada, book, woohoo, whoa, uh-oh, duck, bottle, milk, cat, meow.. and today I thought I heard her say “Leah” when she was asking for the daycare teacher to pick her up. I’ll admit that only a mother’s ear would understand some of those words. But they totally count!

Ellen has begun standing unsupported, and is now making efforts to take her first step. She falls instantly every time she lifts a foot, but she is thrilled with herself and does not let the falling stop her from trying again.

As a matter of fact, Ellen will stand up over and over, giggling and shrieking with delight, as long as someone is watching and cheering her on. She’s a total ham, and loves the attention and the spotlight.

Her need for attention has escalated into desperate, unmanageable separation anxiety. She’s had some issues with it for a long time, but it has gotten out of control lately. Recent developments have included me having to abandon a night out with friends shortly after leaving home because of Ellen’s shenanigans, as well as her demanding to be held all day at daycare to the point where the teacher couldn’t do anything with the other kids. Ellen got one of the teachers, and the other 10 kids got the remaining teacher. The teacher’s muscles are literally sore today after Ellen pulled that particular shenanigan yesterday.

Definition of separation anxiety shenanigans: refusal to eat or sleep, and screaming endlessly (literally hours), sometimes so hard she vomits.

Ellen’s dramatics have led us to contact the behavioral health team at the pediatrician’s office. We will be meeting with them next week in conjunction with her 12 month checkup. We are hoping to get some coping strategies from them – either to help her cope, or to help us cope (or both!). Lewis was never this extreme with his separation anxiety. So we’re out of our depth and definitely need some help.

Other than that (major) hiccup, things are so, so good. As long as I’m home (ugh… the pressure!) everyone is happy! Ellen sleeps very well at night, usually 10-12 hours straight. Sometimes one wakeup. She has 5 teeth, working on a 6th. And her favorite foods are cheese, strawberries and pasta. She loves cow milk (I let her try a little bit before her birthday.. heh… don’t tell anyone!), and she’s adjusted to formula at naptimes really well. We are still breastfeeding when she wakes up and before bed, so we officially made it to a year! Hooray!

My body is making progress towards normal. Despite dropping to minimal breastfeeding, the scale has continued to inch down. I have been extra conscious of what I’ve been putting in my body and adjusting my eating to accommodate for fewer breastfeeding calories. I remember gaining weight back after stopping breastfeeding Lewis, and I don’t need to do that again this time!

As a result, I’ve been feeling pretty good physically. I can see a difference in my face shape and in the mama-pooch where my big old babies lived. I know I’ll never look exactly the same as I did before babies again, but I feel so optimistic that I’ll soon be able to recognize myself in the mirror and feel comfortable in my skin.

Life is pretty great, overall. We’re so proud of Ellen and the goofy, fun-filled, wonderful little person she is. She challenges us, she makes us feel every emotion under the sun, but her existence makes our lives better.

I can’t wait to update about her checkup next week, and about her party on Sunday. Happy birthday, Ellen! We love you!

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