One Week Shy of a Year

Today marks the end of Julia’s 51st week with us. We’ve got Christmas and her first birthday party coming up soon and requiring some time and planning effort, so I figured I’d take a short break in between things and post a little update before all of the festivities.

Julia’s second check-up MRI results came back a couple of weeks ago and showed all good news: there are no new items of concern, and all of the LCH lesions on the previous MRI are either measurably smaller or show no growth. This progress means that she can switch to the maintenance phase of her treatment, which means a lot less chemo and a lot less Prednisone. She can finally settle back into a more normal sleep pattern (gradually, with interruptions every few weeks). Her next check-up MRI will be around March.

On a different but also happy note, she’s started to say “dad-dee!” in a manner which makes it obvious that she knows what she’s saying. Also, “bay-bee!” when she sees either herself or another baby. It’s awesome. However, she also says “dad-dee!” when we tell her to say “mommy,” which is a little less awesome. We’re still working on that, for Courtney’s sake. Julia: despite the downward trend in linguistic skills of the average American child, I don’t think you can get by in life with only two words.

Actually, make that three words. We’re teaching her to say “please” and use the circular-hand-on-chest ASL sign to match when she wants something. She can get “peez” out sometimes when she’s not in so much of a hurry that she’s squealing with delightful anticipation. I suppose, being totally honest, that “dad-dee,” “bay-bee,” and “peez” with a lot of pantomime might actually keep someone alive for a while in a crowd of observant people.

She’s also starting to eat more normal food and less formula and milk, and on a more regular schedule. We try to feed her basically what we eat when we eat it, focusing on the healthy stuff. We figure, if she doesn’t even know what ice cream or refined sugar is enough to ask for it or recognize it, why introduce stuff like that? She absolutely loves berries, kiwi, apples, and almost any fruit we put in front of her, along with many vegetables, salmon, and chicken. Her little chompy face is so adorable, it’s hard to make her stop—although, she has developed an “I’m finished” signal on her own, which consists of taking whatever food she still has piece-by-piece, leaning over the edge of her high chair, and testing whether gravity still works.

She’s still not quite walking, but really close. She crawls everywhere all the time, stands on whatever she can, cruises around with remarkable speed, and tries to climb the stairs whenever I accidentally leave the door open (or sometimes even bangs on the door until we open it so she can access them). She’s definitely all about motion.

It’s amazing that she’s almost a year old, but I wouldn’t say that it felt like it went by faster than it did. She is, as always, an absolute joy to be around.

First Thanksgiving

I have a lot to be thankful for, but right now, I’m focusing on a simple, special experience this morning. Courtney had a challenging night with Julia, who kept waking up at roughly 90-minute intervals because of Prednisone effects. Therefore, I took care of the sleep-averse child for the first couple of hours after I got up, to let Courtney sleep a bit longer.

Julia and I played with her toys for a while, climbed the stairs to my office a few times, discovered the “rattliness coefficient” of the new baby gate at the top of the stairs (calculated as [sound intensity per rattle / distance required to make one rattle], usually expressed for convenience in units of dB/mm), drove the “Julia boxcar” around upstairs at reckless speeds, investigated the contents of my trash can, performed some up-down exercises to maintain our respectively girlish and manly figures, and wrapped up with a hearty breakfast of Cheerios, raisins, and oatmeal, all of which she daintily scooped with her fingers into her waiting mouth. After all, what other way is a baby to eat? Certainly not with a spoon. Spoons are for sissies.

Normally, I don’t get to spend that much time in the morning with her because of work, but since today is Thanksgiving, that restriction doesn’t apply. Without a pressing list of tasks to get done, I was able to enjoy every minute. It’s an appropriate day for this. I am extremely thankful for Julia, for the bundle of happiness that she is, for the moments like this that I get to spend with her—moments that aren’t just experienced with distractions, but with focus and intentionality.

Julia, thank you for being my happiness spigot, and so much more. You’re amazing, and I’m beyond thankful to have you here.