Monday, January 05, 2009

Happy Birthday to You: 11 Months Old

Dear Anabella,

Last week you turned 11 months old. The day came and went quietly, nestled in between and over-powered by the bigger, splashier holidays that the month of December is famous for. In true Bella fashion, you sailed through the holidays with grace and contemplative good-spirit, for the most part, and it would have been easy to forget this significant 'monthday' if it weren't for my own obsession with documenting each one. This one is so significant because without any fanfare or dramatics, despite the festive season, you reached your 11th month and silently slipped into the last full month of your first full year. Just like that. Just like that your infancy is drawing to a close as you crawl carefully and curiously toward toddlerhood.

The month of December was full of excitement and amazing firsts, both thrilling and terrifying. Christmas is the obvious one. Your very first Christmas. It was so fun, wasn't it? As I told the many people who asked if I was excited for your first Christmas, "Yes - it feels like my first Christmas too." It totally did. We were lucky enough to celebrate not once, not twice, but three times and see almost your whole family. Everyone looked at the holiday through brand-new eyes this year - your big, round, hazel eyes.

You soaked in the sights, sounds and controlled chaos in your own, special, stand-offish fashion. Quietly taking it all in and waiting until you felt comfortable and secure before letting your guard down and opening yourself up. Although it took a few tries, once you grasped the concept of presents you decided that anything in shiny paper belonged to you and needed to be opened immediately. But like your mom, you took it slow, enjoying the unwrapping bit by bit instead of tearing into the gift and tossing it aside for another without even appreciating what was inside. A valuable and honourable trait that you possess even before the end of your first year and only one of the millions of things that makes you such an incredible person.

This month we also survived your first illness. The sudden onset of a high fever that made you miserable of course, and sent me into a fairly huge panic. I'd been dreading the first illness since the day your were born and as horrible as it was for all of us, it's almost a relief to have it under our belts. At least we know that we can survive it. That we can pull together and get you (and me) through it without too much overreaction and mayham. I still don't know what caused the illness because besides the fever, which reached as high as 39 degrees at one point, you had no other signs of being sick whatsoever, but I do thank my lucky stars for your father - who played it cool and kept us both as calm as possible -- and for Tylenol.

Finally, this month was all about communication. You are learning so fast now and it really sunk in this month that you can 'talk' to us using your own little language and a lot of hand signals. I sometimes back to your first smiles and how I thought that it simply couldn't get any better than that. A smile, a physical cue to show me with a little twitch of your face that you were in there, thinking, and that you felt joy. Imagine then how I feel today when you look right at me with your sparkling, glinting eyes, wave your chubby hand in my direction and say clearly and joyfully, "Hi!" Your first 'real' word. Excuse me while my heart explodes into a million shards of pure bliss.

You can also tap your fingers together at meal time, your sign-language way to ask for "more." You will say, "Rahrahrahrah," when you see the dog, your version of barking, and if I start singing Amy Winehouse's 'Rehab' you shake your little head, "No no no." By far your favourite communication trick, and mine, is to point at someone you love until they point back at you -- our family's special way to say "I love you!"

Well Little Girl, know this, I'm pointing at you every second of every day, whether you can see it or not.

I love you,


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