Bumps and Bruises

Dear Love Bug,

This morning you were playing in the living room when you let out one of those wails that only half comes out because you start suffocating on your own cry. It means it’s bad, whatever it is. I rushed up from downstairs where I was doing laundry and scooped you up, but you were barely able to breathe you were crying so hard. I held you tight and asked what hurt and waited till you could get it out, but by then we’d already spotted the blood, and it was a gusher. 

Somehow you’d fallen into your box of Duplos and had scraped right through the ring finger cuticle on your right hand. I rushed you upstairs to the bathroom, where Daddy tried to clean it out with peroxide, but you kept letting out these bizarrely non-human yelps and wouldn’t let us get near your finger. So instead I dunked your whole arm under running water from the sink and let the water flow down your arm. You were highly unhappy about this but at least we were able to flush out the cut. 

Then we managed to get you dried off and somehow got a Band-Aid around your finger even though you kept screaming and insisting it should go on your foot. 

Eventually you calmed down enough to choke out, through sobs, that you wanted to watch Paw Patrol and of course that did the trick. 

When I looked down, my nightshirt was stained with splotches of blood as were your PJs. As far as I can remember, this is the first bloody trauma you’ve lived through (except, of course, The First Bloody Trauma, to which nothing will ever compare). 

Once we’d got you cleaned up and dressed, we headed out to a local community fair at which there were a couple of moon bounces. Once we’d encouraged you past the severe disappointment of not being able to partake in the one designated for children five and up, you happily bounced for a bit in the other one. When you decided you were ready to come out, I was directing you down the blow-up ramp to help you down to the pavement. You sat down hard and bounced, of course, right off and landed hard on your back. More wailing tears. Thankfully you’d managed to keep your head up so we avoided head trauma, but you banged up your elbow pretty decently. (And not even your balloon toy laser gun made the tears stop.)

At Lincoln’s second birthday party (happy birthday, Link!) this afternoon, you were perhaps the only kid that didn’t bite it on a protruding stone or a tree root–those state parks’ll git ya every time–but you did manage to spill an entire bottle of bubbles solution down your front and you got your first big ol’ mean splinter. Right in your palm. And oh the tears at getting it out! That one merited an M&M! 

So you’re a bit worse for wear today, but you survived–and you got a corn dog for your troubles at Famous Dave’s, which happens to be the first restaurant you ever went to. “Who’s Dave?” you asked. And we didn’t have an answer for you. 

Love you like crazy, kiddo,



Dear Love Bug,

It pushed 90 degrees yesterday (on Easter!) so I broke out your new, snazzy green-and-blue Osh Kosh sandals that I’d bought for you to wear this summer. You were instantly smitten, even though they’re a size 8T and about an inch too big still. Nevertheless, you managed to navigate the Big Playground just fine in them (admittedly with socks). 
In the afternoon, you played in the front yard for a good, long time, still wearing your sandals but this time without socks. Then we loaded you up in your wagon and walked all the way down to Grace Cafe and back for our sushi and tempura dinner. When we got back to the house, you sat on the bottom step, pulled off your sandals, and settled in to play. 

When I sat down to play with you, you said, “My toe hurts.” I took a look at where you pointed, and sure enough, there was a little blister just beneath and to the side of your right pinky toe. There was a tiny flap of skin from where it had opened. “Oh,” I said. “You have a blister.” I looked up, and the horror on your face was comically intense. “It’s ok,” I rushed to console you. “It’s just a blister. Mamma and Daddy get them all the time!” You burst into tears and wailed for approximately an hour straight. No attempt to mitigate your crying was at all effective. We tried applying Boo Boo Kitty, offering you a Paw Patrol Band-Aid, attempting to clean it with water, asking to kiss it. Nothing worked. You cried and cried and cried. Through tears and snot, you sniffled, “It hurts so much!”

And I believe it hurt. But boy does the melodrama start early. 

You refused to come to the dinner table, so we let you eat your PB&J (also a consolation) at your little table in the living room. We even let you have ice cream for dessert; you stopped crying just long enough to lick your bowl. 

After your bath, you finally allowed us to apply a Chase Band-Aid, but your gimp foot was the first thing you talked about this morning when you woke up. I pulled you out of your crib and went to set you down on the ground, but you retracted your feet and said you couldn’t walk because it hurt so much. When I started getting irritated and threatening, you capitulated and hobbled around on your heel. 

When I dropped you off at daycare and stared in horror at Graham’s split-open bloody knee, he told us about how he fell off his new bike. In response, you whipped off your shoes and socks and offered to show everyone your boo-boo. 

All this for a blister. 

Back at home this evening, you requested a change of dressing to a Marshall Band-Aid. You were so pleased that you showed it off to Marshall (your new best friend) himself.

Love you like crazy, kiddo,




20 months

We’ve rounded the corner into the final third of your second year. This seems momentous, for some reason–more momentous even than hitting a  year and a half–and all of a sudden you seem to have sprouted into a little boy. You’re less roly poly and much more dexterous, your hair is fuller, your little face is becoming more defined. You just don’t quite look like a baby anymore.

And you know who you are: you’re “Eefan.” You refer to yourself nearly constantly in the third person, and you narrate your own life. “Eefan does X,” you say, or “Eefan doing Y.” Last week, Daddy texted me a conversation you had with him one morning after I’d left the house:

Daddy: Are you ready?
You: No.
Daddy: Time to go to Ms. Gina’s.
You: Eefan reading.

You point to yourself in pictures and cheerily call out your own name. If we ask you to whom something belongs, you’ll say “Eefan’s ball” or “Eefan’s book,” complete with the possessive S! You also talk to yourself a lot, especially in the mornings before I come into your room to pluck you from your crib or at night when you’re lulling yourself to sleep. Eefan is clearly your best friend, and I think that’s great.

Your self-awareness has expanded to your physical well-being, and your vocabulary is now allowing you to tell us if something’s bothering you. You’re beginning to use the word “hurt,” and you’re pretty good with identifying various body parts. Last week–I remember it was Tuesday morning–you woke up crying, which is unusual. Early in our morning routine, you said “boo boo kitty,” letting us know that something hurt. (You use this to mean “boo boo” rather than the cat-shaped ice pack we use when you have a boo boo.) “Where does it hurt?” I asked. You said, “belly.” I was surprised; I hadn’t actually ever heard you use that term before. I thought maybe you were hungry, so we offered you your usual cup of milk and Cheerios. You chugged the milk and left the Cheerios–a bit unusual but nothing we thought much about.

Later, as I was on my way to the dentist, I got a call from Daddy. You’d thrown up all over the back seat of his car on your way to daycare. I took a sick day and spent the day with you. You never threw up again, and by the time you woke up from a marathon nap, you seemed more or less back to normal. Seventy-two hours later, the stomach bug hit me, and by the time I was recovering after a full day spent completely helpless in the face of the most violent digestive illness I’ve ever experienced, Daddy got it. Repeat. All I could think was how thankful I was that Daddy and I hadn’t both gotten it at the same time; it was so debilitating, there was no way we’d have been able to take care of you. But by Sunday morning, we’d both bounced back to functioning if not normal.

And so that milestone, too, had passed: We got our first family stomach flu–not the last, I’m sure–and lived to tell the tale (although it was touch and go there for a while).

The milestones are coming nearly faster than I keep track of. On Monday, your 20th monthday on the dot, you tried out your new nap mat at daycare for the first time and took to it beautifully: no fussing, no rolling about, nothing. Apparently, you simply crawled in, put your head on the pillow and went to sleep. So now you’re napping on the floor like the big kids and you never even looked back at your Pack N Play.

Part of me is just a smidge sad, just slightly grieving the baby that was, the baby who needed me desperately. You’re so independent now, so aware of who you are and what you want; lately, that’s Daddy more than me (another blog post to come on that, perhaps), pancakes, cookies, tunnels, Elmo, downstairs and bubbles. Every once in a while, a book is thrown in there, too.

I’m so very, very proud of the little boy you’re becoming. But it’s also OK if Eefan wants to climb into my lap and be a baby for a little bit longer.


pretty mamma

18 months

One of my favorite of our recent exchanges, which are becoming more like mini conversations as you begin to string words together into half sentences:

I had taken you upstairs after dinner to brush your teeth, and you spotted my comb on the vanity counter.

You: “Hold it, hold it.” That’s your way of saying you’d like something, stat.

I grabbed the comb for you, and you ran it through your hair a couple of times. Then you ran it through mine a few times, took a good look at your handiwork and stated, “Pretty Mamma.”


Me: “Awww, thank you, Sweet Pea.”

You: “Welcome.”

You’ve become very polite: You say “welcome” any time one of us says thank you. You also say “welcome” when you mean “thank you,” but the sentiment is there. We’re very proud of this new habit of yours. You’re also pretty good at remembering to say “peas” if you really, really want something.

Some other recent things that have absolutely floored me:

  • You can count to 20 (skipping a few numbers here and there, but still).
  • When you see the framed postcards of Verona as we’re traversing the stairwell, you say “Nonno’s.” I have no idea how you know this. It’s like you’re a sorcerer.
  • You can differentiate shapes and colors, and you’re getting to be a whiz at puzzles and shape sorting.
  • And this one made laugh: Tonight, we were looking at a board book about the beach, and I taught you “bathing suit.” You interpreted this as “Beebee’s soup.” Haha! Not quite the same thing.

You’re just getting over your nth illness of the calendar year, and we’re not even through March. This time, you were diagnosed with a sinus infection and pinkeye (shortly after I recovered from the same strange, goopy combination), and at least we’ve been able to treat them with actual effective medicines. The past few times it’s been “just another virus” and we’ve all had to suffer through it.

This past weekend, before the goop hit a fever pitch, you joined me at the salon for your first haircut. You sat on my lap, and Daddy distracted you with iPhone videos and cookies while Connie, my hairstylist, transformed your mullet–adorable as it may have been on you–into a decent style with a shape. You tolerated it until the clippers came out, and then you went ninja on her (also reserved for nail trimming and anti-pinkeye eye drop application). She maybe cut the front a bit too short for my taste, but it’ll grow back quickly, I know. Already, it looks way thicker to me. I’d like to avoid cutting your hair too frequently because I think toddlers with Beatles-esque mops are the cutest ever.

This weekend, we’ll be celebrating 19 months of YOU (along with 37–eek!–years of ME) and also bunnies and spring. We’re not really doing Easter this year, since Mimi’s working, so instead we’re going to go hunt eggs on a farm. The weather’s going to be sunny and spring like, and all of a sudden the world seems pretty again.


a toof

49 weeks

Way back in January, we were convinced you were teething. You began chomping on everything, and you were particularly fussy in short bursts that seemed to be mitigated by Hyland’s Baby Teething Tablets.

Six months later, you still had no teeth. So it’s completely defensible that recently I’ve been peering intently into your mouth on a daily basis, telling you to go “aaah” while you stare at me like I’m crazy. Yesterday evening, we were playing together before your bath and I noticed that your bottom gum looked slightly swollen on the left side. I contorted myself for a better look into your mouth, and I audibly gasped. There it was: a tiny slit in the top of your gum and the just-barely-visible picket-fence top of a mini tooth poking through.

I squealed and called for your Daddy. He came running because he thought something was wrong. And perhaps no one’s ever been so excited about a tooth before but it feels like a major milestone.

I ran my index finger over the spot and felt the petite zippered ridge of your very first tooth, making its way slowly but surely into what I know is going to be a stellar (and hopefully naturally straight, pretty please) smile.

I thought I’d be able to see more of it this morning–that it somehow would have grown substantially overnight–but no, it was pretty much the same. Maybe within a week’s time you’ll have an actual, fully there tooth?

Welcome to the world of the dent-ed, Munchkin!


what a long, strange week it’s been

35 weeks

I have started to post several times and abandoned it. I’m feeling out of sorts, and the more time I let go by, the more I feel like I need to write to make sure I don’t leave anything out.

This has been a strange week. When you’re old enough to read and understand this, the world will no longer really remember who Freddie Gray was. But they’ll talk about the Baltimore Riots of ’15, like they still talk about the Baltimore Riots of ’68. I hope, when they talk about the ones of ’15, they’ll talk about how they made a lasting, positive change in this city where you were born, the city I’ve grown to love. That is not the case with the riots of ’68; unfortunately, those always seem to be associated with the Beginning of the End, the line between how Baltimore used to be and how it now is, which is to say terribly divided: decaying on one end and overly gentrified on the other. I’m not sure it’s any different from any other city; it just seems much more, well, black and white.

I don’t want to get too much into this, because it’s depressing. But yesterday, when you fell blissfully asleep below your new bucket cap in your jogging stroller in the most glorious weather anyone could dream up, I took a look at you and thought that if I could capture the peace you clearly felt and somehow preserve it for you, I would. Of all the things I want for you–happiness and success and courage and honesty and compassion (I could go on and on)–what I want most is peace, a life unmarred by anxiety or animosity. Right now, I’m doing everything in my power to ensure you have that for the very, very short time that the world grants it to you.

To keep this post from getting altogether bleak, I’ll talk about how spring has arrived, full blown, aflower and sneezy. The days are long and, for the most part, glorious. The sun gains strength every day, and all sorts of green babies are popping their heads up through the fresh, meaty dirt. You love sitting in the grass and ripping it up and battling me in an attempt to deliver it to your mouth. I like taking your socks off so you can wiggle your feet in it.

We’ve been making some major improvements to the back yard, and we’ve been spending quite a bit of time back there with you. The mosquitoes haven’t yet taken over, so it’s wonderful to sit and enjoy our immense maple tree and the white noise of the creek and our garden. It astounds me how much I’ve gotten done back there. Last fall, when you’d first joined us, I couldn’t even get my act together to water the plants, and they all promptly died. Just half a year later, I’m able to get major gardening and planting done with you keeping me company. Once, we dragged your corral out back and set it up with a blanket and a tarp beneath. Mostly, we plop you in a Fisher Price swing that our wonderfully thoughtful neighbor Martina gave you, a hand-me-down from her own kids who have outgrown it. Daddy attached it to the underside of the top deck, so you can swing out over the yard. You love it so much, you giggle and squeal with delight whenever we put you in it.

A few weekends ago (already!) when we’d just arrived on the very cusp of spring with a day that was bright and warm, we decided it was time for you to experience a larger body of water than your bathtub. Since even before you were born, I’ve been saying that I want you to be water savvy and swimming early. We opted not to do swim lessons, primarily because we don’t want to have somewhere to be at a certain time every weekend, but we wanted to get you into the pool as soon as the weather warmed up enough not to be torturous upon exiting the water. So we pulled all of our swim gear out of hiding, packed up towels and headed over to the beautiful, new Roger Carter Community Center in Ellicott City.

The indoor pool there is spectacular; it has a graduated (what they call “beach”) entry, it’s light and airy, and it offers family locker rooms along a corridor lined with changing tables. At $5/person per entry, it’s a no-brainer. We got you suited up in your Bummis Swimmi diaper, pulled on your adorable miniature trunks and threw you in. Just kidding. We waded in with you in our arms, and you took to the pool like, well, a fish to water. You LOVED it. You splashed and played and smiled and laughed the whole time. Your friend Claire, who’s just 10 days older than you, joined us with her mom and dad. You two didn’t pay much attention to each other, but at least you shared toys nicely.

We stayed in the water for 45 minutes, and if it had been up to you, you probably would’ve stayed longer. We can’t wait to go back with you; we’re thinking we might celebrate Mother’s Day by heading over there with Nonna.

Tomorrow, we have our second full Friday together, and what a treat it is to be able to take the time off work to be with you on a regular basis. I’m glad about the timing, too, since Daddy and I will be away from you overnight for the first time this weekend (riot allowing). Nonna gifted us an overnight stay in a B&B in the city for our birthdays, and we’re planning to go out to a fancy dinner and, perhaps best of all, sleep. And sleep in.

Nonna and Opa will be staying with you, so of course I’m not worried about your well-being. I’m a little worried about how much we’ll miss each other (me more than you, for sure), but this is a great thrown-into-the-deep-end test and good practice, if a slightly different scenario, for when we go to the beach with Nonna and Opa in June and to Italy in October. It’s a change of routine for all of us, and it’ll be interesting to see how we all cope.

You continue to love daycare, and daycare loves you back, mostly. The older kids there adore you, especially one little 2-year-old boy named Elliott. He waits by the front window for you to arrive, then rushes to your side and holds your hand while Daddy extracts you from the car seat. Ms. Gina, your daycare provider, is smitten. She loves you like you’re her own, and she sends us lots of photos of you while we’re at work. You get excited to see me when I come pick you up at the end of the day–even waving hello when I walk through the door–but you’re more than happy to be there, playing with your friends, all day. Recently, you’ve been ousted from your “youngest” spot by a 9-week-old baby girl. Nine weeks! I can’t even imagine. I’m so, so, so thankful that we were able to keep you at home until you were seven months old.

Especially since the Daycare Runny Nose has begun. A couple of weekends ago, you had an extremely cranky couple of days that marked the start of your third illness in four months. While it began with a fever, your temperature normalized quickly (we kept you home from daycare only for a day) but you’ve continued to have congestion and a slow but constant trickle from your nose. You seem to be improving over the past couple of days, now that it’s been fully two weeks that you’ve been dealing with it. I noticed the 9-week-old’s nose was running, too.

Here’s to a healthy ramp-up to summer!

This Week in Guppy Growth

It’s been well more than a week, so we’ve got quite a few new things going on …

  • You’ve begun to wave hello and goodbye, thanks in large part to daycare, where you watch the other kids come and go. It’s kind of a whole-arm flapping, but it gets the job done.
  • You’re still not crawling on all fours, except for maybe a few paces here and there. You prefer to be on your tummy and drag yourself about. That being said, I’ve watched you transition from sitting to all fours and just this morning, with the tiniest bit of help from me, you pulled yourself up to your knees from crawling and played with the activities on the top of your cube for several minutes, balancing yourself completely upright on your knees.
  • You “sing along” to some of your favorite songs, like “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” and “You Are My Sunshine.” You love to play Pat-a-Cake, clapping your hands, and This Little Piggy.
  • You’re babbling constantly. So far, you’ve mastered “baba,” “gaga” and “mama.” No real words yet, of course.
  • You got your first real boo-boo last weekend, when you rolled and flipped yourself out of the hammock we’d just set up out back. Luckily, you fell only a couple of inches; still you landed face first and got a huge, egg-shaped welt on your forehead. You cried, but I think you scared yourself more than it hurt. You’re such a tough cookie. (Daddy and I cried for you, don’t worry.)
  • Your solid-food repertoire is impressive. Recently, you’ve tasted (and liked): salmon, shrimp, hard-boiled egg, kiwi, cheese, pasta with ricotta, yogurt (you fiend) and, perhaps most exciting, Osem Bamba, an Israeli puff snack made from peanut flour. I had to buy it on Amazon (although Nonna found it later at Harris Teeter), but our intention with this is to ward off any nut allergies, per recent research.
  • No teeth yet. This doesn’t surprise me, as I didn’t get my teeth until quite late (around a year), but you’re drooling like crazy. We’ve started dressing you daily in bandana bibs.



sick guppy

27/28 weeks

Two weekends ago was one of the best ever: We took you to our beloved National Aquarium for the first time, followed by our second-only date night since you were born.

You were in wonderland at the aquarium (which, by the way, has a secret family room complete with screened-off compartments for nursing–brilliant!). You were mesmerized by the rainbow of graceful swimmers behind those huge glass panels, and you really focused and took it all in. It was crowded and noisy, and you spent quite a bit of time watching the people around you, too. By the time we took a break for lunch, you were overstimulated and exhausted. I turned you around in the Bjorn so you faced in and could rest your head on my chest, and within minutes, you had wandered off into your dreams. No doubt you were dreaming of your first out-of-utero snorkeling excursion!

That night, Nonna and Opa babysat so we could have an evening out to celebrate your Aunt Danielle’s birthday. It was the first time we’d ever skipped bedtime with you, and while it was a little heart wrenching (I ran straight to your room to kiss you goodnight when we got home), it was so nice to have an adult-oriented evening out with friends.

The next day (the first day of March), winter whipped us yet again with an icy, frigid mess in the form of frozen rain. We probably wouldn’t have gone out, but your Aunt Peggy had invited us for lunch, and since she lives five minutes from us, we figured it would be an opportunity to get you out of the house. While the world outside was enveloped in a treacherous sheet of ice, we ate warm soup and yummy sandwiches–and you joined us at the table (literally, as we’d forgotten the tray for your high chair), eating sweet potato and banana. It’s a good thing Peggy had an oilcloth on the table; you made a mess!

That evening, while we were playing in your room, you army crawled for the first time, pulling yourself forward on your elbows determinedly to reach a toy. So you’re officially on the move, and you’re surprisingly efficient at getting places without using your knees, so Daddy and I now have to work, quickly, at making the house safe for you.

On Monday night, I heard you cough for the first time ever; it was a sad, little noise. I didn’t think too much of it, especially since we had your six-month well visit scheduled for the following morning. Daddy and I both went with you, and we asked your pediatrician to listen to your lungs; she said they sounded clear. You got another round of shots that day (two plus an oral vaccine), and you took them like a champ.

By Thursday, though, when winter raged one last time and dumped another 6-8 inches of snow on us, your cough had erupted into something much nastier. Your fever had peaked at 102.5 (scary!), and we were plying you with Tylenol to keep it low. You were congested and miserable, your cough had become raspy and rattling and you were wheezing when you breathed. You woke multiple times a night because you couldn’t breathe, but you fought us with all your might when we approached with the saline nose drops and the snot sucker.

Nonna and I got you back in to the doctor’s on Friday, and your pediatrician prescribed a steroid inhaler, assuring us it was just in case things got worse (your fever was under control) because your lungs still sounded clear. Trying to find an aerochamber attachment and pediatric mask for this Albuterol inhaler on a Friday night (I won’t bore you with the details of the multiple phone calls to pharmacies, prescription carrier, insurance, durable medical equipment suppliers and so on) was akin to searching for the holy grail. On Saturday, I asked the pediatrician on call how other parents manage to do this, and he set us up with a nebulizer and a new prescription for the Albuterol liquid solution that works with the machine.

By Saturday afternoon, when nothing had gotten any better, we’d decided a nebulizer treatment was warranted. After a first failed attempt at getting you to sit still with the mask anywhere near your face, we figured out that plopping you in front of the TV while sitting in my lap kept you calm enough for me to hold the mask over your nose and mouth for the five minutes required for the treatment. And it did really seem to help.

But by Monday, our nights had become nightmares. You woke multiple times, screaming in what sounded like sheer agony. Nothing could calm you: not  picking you up and walking with you, not Tylenol, not gripe water, not saline nose drops and snot sucking (that only seemed to make things worse), not singing, not rocking, nothing. One night, you screamed for nearly an hour straight. Another night, I broke down and nursed you somewhere in the deepest depths of the middle of the night, something I haven’t done since you were a month old. None of us were getting any sleep, and your panicked screaming started to scare us.

Mimi and I took you back in to the doctor on Monday, and again she confirmed your lungs were clear. We were just going to have to wait this out, she said, and indicated that if you were battling RSV, as she suspected, it might be three to four weeks before you were completely rid of it. We just needed to stay the course.

Every day, we hoped that night would be better. Still, the screaming continued. I resolved to give it a few more days and then take you back in; the screaming wasn’t normal, and I was afraid something more serious was going on.

But then, just like that, things began to improve. On Thursday, you were looking and feeling significantly better. Your breathing had cleared, and the wheezing and raspy cough had dissipated. You were still waking up a couple of times at night, but when you did, your cry sounded much more like you. On Saturday morning, I looked over at the clock when I heard you cry for the first time, and I actually rubbed my eyes and looked at it again to make sure I was seeing it correctly: 6:45 a.m. You’d slept for almost 12 hours straight.

And so here we are, having lived through your first significant upper-respiratory infection (with Daddy and I now trying to fight it off ourselves). I can only imagine what’s to come once you start daycare in a couple of weeks (eek!). Our job is to try to keep you as healthy as possible–and when we can’t, to keep you as comfortable as possible. Those 10 nights or so were rough, and I can tell you now there’s absolutely nothing worse than listening to your baby scream and watching the minutes tick by on the nursery clock. But that, too, passes. May we never have to pull out that nebulizer again.

This Week in Guppy Growth

  • You are army crawling everywhere–and you’re so fast. You are highly motivated by your wooden activity block, your push toy, the cat condo and (strangely) the edges of your play mat and your rug upstairs (you like pulling them up). Also, you like swiveling yourself in full circles while on your tummy on the wooden floor.
  • You tried butternut squash for the first time and loved it. You also like honeydew, although perhaps not quite as much as cantaloupe.
  • We’ve officially lowered your crib mattress one notch.

asking uncomfortable questions

25 weeks

From the moment we knew you were in my belly, Daddy and I have focused all of our energies on keeping you safe. I spent those 10 months being extra-careful so that you could have the best possible chance of growing up strong and healthy. I washed all of my fruits and vegetables with a totally organic anti-pesticide rinse; I stopped drinking coffee and eating sushi; I took my steaks well done (blech) and my tuna chunk light; I downed prenatal vitamins religiously; and Daddy cleaned the kitty litters day in and day out so you wouldn’t be exposed to the germs that can grow there.

In these past five and a half almost six months, we’ve been known to check the video monitor obsessively and even stand over your crib to make sure you’re still breathing. We’ve insisted on giving you as much breast milk as possible to help your growth and development. We’re so careful about strapping you into your car seat, your stroller, your high chair and your swing exactly right. And you’ve been vaccinated from the get-go: I got a Tdap vaccine when I was 36 weeks’ pregnant so you could benefit from some of my immunity. All four of your grandparents and Daddy got theirs, too, so there was no risk of the adults in your life passing along whooping cough. And we all got the flu shot as soon as it was available because you aren’t old enough to get your own. I think you’ve gotten more shots in your short life than I can count on both hands, and it’s all to be sure you stay healthy.

We know that this is our job–to keep you safe until the time that you can manage your own well being, and that’s still a very, very long way off.

What’s just around the corner, though, is your introduction to daycare. We’ve been so very, very blessed to be able to keep you home all this time, thanks to Nonna and Mimi, and if all goes according to plan, you won’t need to start daycare until you’re seven months old and we’re beyond flu season. You’ll be going to see Miss Gina full time, Monday-Friday, at her home; we chose it last May after multiple visits and about 1,000 questions asked. We liked her immediately; she is warm and open and adores children. We also liked the space she offers to the kids she cares for: It’s clean, well organized and bathed in natural light. And it doesn’t smell like a daycare center (yuck).

Her daycare is governed by the Maryland Department of Education, so she follows the same rules the schools do; the meals and snacks she offers conform to the Maryland Food Program, and she’s required to collect the same health inventory that schools must. Looking through the packet of information we received from Miss Gina the other day, we noticed an exemption clause in the health inventory related to vaccinations: “Exemptions … are permitted if the family has an objection based on their religious beliefs and practices.” There’s also an exemption for children who may have a medical reason that they cannot be vaccinated.

For some vaccines, that includes you. You’re just not old enough yet to be vaccinated. So you’ll rely on the other children at daycare to be vaccinated so that you are protected (what they call “herd immunity”) from some of the diseases you cannot yet be medically protected from: chicken pox, mumps, rubella and … measles. This is a touchy subject these days. This past winter, while we were counting your age in months on a single hand, the United States experienced its worst measles outbreak of the century.

Let me say right now that this blog’s intent is by no means political but archival. I’m simply keeping track of your world, measles and all, so that I’ll remember what to tell you when, some day, you ask me questions about what life was like when you were born. And part of that life is, unfortunately, navigating a new era in which many, many children are going unvaccinated. This scares the crap out of Daddy and me, as we work so hard to keep you safe.

So we have to ask questions, perhaps somewhat uncomfortable ones, of the other people who take care of you. Are there children at your daycare who are unvaccinated because of religious reasons? If so, we need to know. And what would we do then? (Thankfully, we don’t live in a state in which “personal beliefs”–other than religious ones–constitute a valid exemption from vaccination.)

We know your pediatrician requires patients to be vaccinated, but has she had to treat anyone recently for one of the diseases that you’re not yet vaccinated against? What about these religious beliefs that people can claim?

When you were born, the Ebola outbreak was the big story in the news, but let me tell you: Measles is way scarier. Still, somehow I think that if there were a vaccine for Ebola (or for AIDS, say), I bet the people who are so vehemently refusing to vaccinate their children against the more “traditional” diseases would be first in line to get their kids inoculated. Maybe in your lifetime …

As Daddy and I have fretted away (which we’ll never, ever outgrow) over these grownup concerns, you’ve focused your energies on major breakthroughs: trying banana (woohoo!), apple (meh) and parsnip (spit out and thrown on the floor); playing, for the few minutes you lasted before you completely passed out, with your friend Claire, just 11 days older than you; drinking from a cup; practicing standing; and bringing your knees up under you and using your forehead, of all things, to inch yourself forward. Crawling may be just around the corner.

You had a delightful first Valentine’s Day, which involved no fewer than three costume changes, a visit from your Aunt Audra and tons of cards and gifts showered upon you. Nonna treated you to a new Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit, the 6- to 9-month size in a lighter-weight fabric. You’re back to sleeping through the night without it, but it does seem to make a difference in your napping.

We love you so much, Love Bug. Wish I could put in words how big a love it is. Suffice it to say that it’s so big we’ll spend the rest of our lives making sure you’re safe–and happy.