Year 01 | Week 27

Dear Kaylee,

You turned six months old this week and of course that meant another trip to the doctor’s office. Your feelings on the place seem to alternate from visit to visit. One time you’ll be all kinds of excited to be around all those people again, and to have a chance to play on the crinkly paper they lay out on the examination table, and to be able to flirt with your doctor, giving him those big ol’ smiles of yours. But then, the next time, you’re more subdued and suspicious. When is the terrible pinch of the immunization coming, your half-frown seems to wonder. And when can we get out of here?

This time, though, you were a happy camper. And that was good, because the office was like a madhouse that day and you and I did more waiting around than the doctors and nurses did examining. As the nurses and the doctor flitted from room to room, you and I had to keep ourselves busy for extended periods of time. We played with the toys I’d brought along, we read a book that was sitting on the countertop, and I let you have at the crinkly paper as long as you didn’t tear it or get it into your mouth. It didn’t take much to amuse you, and that made me feel quite lucky indeed.

Your height and weight remained in the top percentiles for your age, so your growth was no cause for concern. And your physical and intellectual development was nothing we needed to worry about either. So said the doctor as you grabbed intently and repeatedly for the stethoscope that hung round his neck. You were sitting up, and pulling back when someone tried to pull something away from you, and you held yourself steady when being held with very minimal support. The doctor didn’t get a chance to hear you babble much, but you did speak enough of your secret baby language to let him know that you were fine in that area, too.

The shots came last, as they always do, and you were as amazing in your handling of the pain as ever. In fact, you stopped screaming the moment I picked you up and stopped whimpering altogether within a few seconds. You were a tough cookie, much more like your mom in these situations than you were like me.

The weekend that followed your trip to the doc’s was spent mostly at home. Your mom was working a second job this week, to try and earn some extra money for bills, and that wore her out to the point where she came home sick to her stomach after her final shift on Saturday afternoon. She later passed the bug she’d picked up on to me, and that meant a weekend of sitting around the house and not doing much besides watching football on Sunday afternoon.

On Sunday evening, we let you take a stab at holding your bottle by yourself. I guess your mom had tried this with you once before, but I hadn’t been around to see it. She snapped one picture while you did it this time, so we’d have a little keepsake of the moment. And while you did struggle to hold the thing in place for longer than a few seconds, you did manage to hold it long enough to get yourself a little formula before dropping it and its weight.

I sometimes wonder whether we push you too hard to learn new things, whether we expect too much of you. But your mother assures me, and I come to realize myself, that we don’t really push you at all. We do everything we can to let you try new things when it appears you’re ready to try them, but we never try to force the issue. You’re just an amazing baby, who seems to pick things up rather quickly (at least as far as I can tell), and that’s something for me to marvel at, not something to feel guilty about.

Love, Dad

LettersE. Christopher Clark