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Dear Eisley

    Dear Eisley (six months)

    Dear Eisley,

    I missed writing you a letter last month. I’ve never missed a letter…

    Two other daughters got a letter every single month during their first year. You have four so far. I was right on pace. But now you are missing one. Whenever I create a book with these letters – if that ever happens – yours will only have 11 letters and for that, I’m sorry.

    It’s not that I forgot to write you a letter. I remembered multiple times over the past month… remember to write Eisley’s five month letter. The weeks are slipping by. She’ll be six months old soon. Write her letter ASAP.

    But it never happened.

    Today, I was tempted to write you two letters, just so the math would be right, but that seems a little disingenuous. Because this year is the kind of year where letters don’t get written. The kind of year where the house is too cramped and the future is uncertain. Where going back to work feels messy, and I don’t have time to blog or write letters or sort through the million pictures jamming up the memory on my phone. Where I feel a little bit anxious, a little bit tired, and not quite like myself.

    Someday I’ll look back on this year and simply see it as brief season of life – a hard season of good lessons learned in marriage and parenting and achieving dreams and shifting plans. I’ll always think, “The year Eisley was born was a really hard year.”

    But I want you to know the difficulty of this season has nothing to do with you. Of course, the sheer volume of three children has been an adjustment, but individually, you are a gem. I have a feeling this would have been a hard year, whether or not you were here with us. Even if we had waited another year to have a baby, I’m certain this season would still be difficult.

    But God knew about this season in advance, and He gave us you to be the bright spot in days that sometimes feel gray. You smiling. You laughing. You sleeping peacefully in your little pink sleep sack. You, with your fuzzy strawberry hair and your raspberry forehead. Your pudgy thighs and soft cheeks. The baby who tolerates her sisters’ antics and kicks the water in the bath tub with such vigor and glee. You.

    At the beginning of my pregnancy with you, I felt so nauseated and tired that for once in my life I started spending time relaxing… often curling up in bed with a book. Now you are here and the habit continues. Instead of reading, we curl up in bed together for your feedings. I escape the chores in the kitchen and the whining kids in the living room, and inhale your baby scent and kiss your forehead. With your sisters, I always saw breastfeeding as merely perfunctory, simply to provide the most healthy and affordable food for my child. But you have made me understand those tender paintings of mothers nursing their babies throughout the centuries. It took three children for me to see it as less of a burden and more of a bond.

    We didn’t decide your name until after you were born. The night before I went into labor with you, your dad and I went to dinner. We were discussing girl names and Eisley started rising to the top of our list. We had no idea you would be born just hours later. When you arrived, we settled on Eisley. It means cheerful. And that you are. My smiling, content baby. You are like a pleasant tune that drowns out chaos, sadness, anger, and frustration. Not only are you cheerful, but you bring good cheer to others. Most of all, to me.

    You are a gift, my child. This season might be a hard one. My patience is short. My margin is too thin. And you are missing a letter in your collection. But that doesn’t change the fact that you are my Eisley girl. You are the cheerful soul who brings so much love and light into my days.

    Love you forever,

    Mama

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    Eisley (5 months)

    Growing // Eisley has gone from our largest newborn (over 9 pounds!) to being our smallest infant. But she’s not actually small in the 85th percentile; she’s just a few ounces shy of Talitha’s weight at this age and a few POUNDS less than Zianne, who was super chubby. At five months and one week, Eisley was weighing in at 17 pounds, 11 ounces. She is still in 9 month clothing.
    Eating // We’ve given Eisley a spoonfuls of sweet potatoes and rice cereal a few times now. We aren’t doing solids consistently yet, just dabbling in them for fun.
    Sleeping // Eisley typically takes a long afternoon nap from 2-4pm (and sometimes even longer). However, she has started waking up early again. She is still sleeping in our room, and I usually hear her kicking in her bed by 6:30am. Thankfully, she is perfectly content to doze and suck her thumb for another hour or so, allowing me to have a quiet time and get Z ready for school before I feed her. 
    Doing // Eisley is officially sitting in her booster seat and rolling all over the floor. She smiles on command and seems to respond to her name. She is reaching and grabbing items selectively, and of course, chewing on any toy she can get her hands on. She can’t wait to sit on her own. She will crunch her little abs and try to sit up from a reclined position.
    Loving // Kicking water over the sides of the bathtub, being held by pretty much anyone, chewing on dolls, eating solids, snuggling with mom in bed for morning and nighttime feedings

    Dislikes // When she rolls over onto her stomach in her crib during nap time and wakes herself up

    Milestones // Retiring the Solly wrap, the play mat, and swaddles. Transitioning to a sleep sack. Rolling both directions with ease. 

    Nicknames // Pretty Lady, Eisley Girl

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    Dear Eisley (four months)

    Dear Eisley,

    When you were just three days old, we took you to church. It was Easter Sunday, and although my body was achy and exhausted and my milk was coming in, I wanted nothing more than to worship God for the new life we have in Christ while holding you – precious new life in my arms. During the service, still riding high on the lingering adrenaline of labor and delivery and completely enamored by your little newborn self , I thought, “We must have another baby. We need four babies for sure.”

    Over the next two months that feeling changed. Your older sisters starting showing some angst over having a new sibling around, we moved to a new house, you went through the normal newborn stage where you have to be held at all times. The 3am feedings wore me down. There were many tears in our house. I would joke that someone was always crying… sometimes you, sometimes your sisters, sometimes me. Suddenly, I wasn’t sure I could handle more kids. You were a good baby – actually eating and sleeping fairly well – but the sheer weight of having three kids under age four felt too heavy to bear.

    Things smoothed out in month three. We got settled in our new house, traveled a bit as a family, you were consistently sleeping through the night, and taking a bottle easily (after a short strike the months prior). Micah and I began having the conversation again — do we want a 4th child? “Eisley is sooooo sweet,” we’d exclaim as we stared at you sleeping in your crib. “She’s just the best little baby,” we’d whisper over you as you nursed in our bed. Of course, we want another baby just like you.

    Now we are in month four, and our conversation has shifted again. Maybe you should be our last baby, for exactly the same reasons we would entertain having another. You are so sweet. Smiley all day, sleepy all night. You laugh at our antics, endure the aggressive hugs of your sisters, and have adapted just fine to having a nanny and taking a bottle on the days mom has to go to work. You love to be held by dad and fed by mom. You are living up to your name, which means “cheerful.” Maybe we should stop on a good note. The best note really. Everyone says you have to have one hard baby. One that throws you for a loop. You are proving them wrong, sweet girl. You are happy and easy, just like your sisters. Why not stop now and show the world that having a difficult baby may be the norm, but there are beautiful exceptions to that rule.

    It takes a darling little baby to make us waffle like we do. On the one hand, the thought of having a fourth child as happy and chubby as you sounds like a dream. On the other hand, why don’t we just soak in your sweet baby days and then move on to the next stage of running, talking, potty-trained, school-aged children and experience the adventures that lie ahead for our quiver-full of little ladies? Only time will tell, and until it does, we will enjoy this season our baby Eisley-girl. You teach us to savor and yearn, which is what this life is all about anyway — savoring the moment with gratitude and joy while yearning for a Kingdom yet to come.

    All my love,

    Mama

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