Big Ive turns 4 on April 10. It is always hard to imagine she has been with us for so short and so long at the same time. When these milestones come up I always think about how it feels like we never had a time without her. I know that’s not true, of course. But sometimes memories play tricks on you that way. Sometimes, I think, when we love people so much we forget a little bit that life existed before without them.
I think back and remember her birth. Remember that we were so lucky and blessed to even have had this baby. Remember that she came out a whopping 9lb 6oz, 21.5in at 41weeks 3days. Remember the crazy events that lead up to a scheduled c-section birth (she flipped breach at nearly 9.5lbs). Remember the worry when she didn’t cry right away, when they finally got her to it sounded like an engine starting up with small whimpers consistently growing to bigger and bigger until the relief of a great cry. Remember the shock of having a redhead (we love it, we just weren’t really expecting it).
I think back and remember her first year or so of life. The head-shaping helmet she wore for 3 months because of mild plageocephaly. Remember feeling guilty for not being able to enjoy her first 1.5 years so much because of the unplanned pregnancy of Little E. Remember the worry when the pediatrician said she didn’t have enough verbal words, and at the same time remember feeling defensive and maybe a little smug that she had so many signs. Remember how little she felt up until the day Little E was born. And then how completely huge she instantly became, when I wasn’t expecting it, when I didn’t know it would happen, after Little E was born. I remember how much this tiny toddler/big baby loved her baby sister, how much joy she had. Remember thinking that Big Ive should somehow look much bigger next to a newborn Little E. Remember how she used to click her tongue to make a kissing sound when she gave you a kiss (and once every very little while still does).
I think back and try to remember the third year of her life. And I don’t remember so much. Because I was a sleep deprived mother of 2 very young children (one a baby who didn’t sleep through the night until after 1 year of age and thought no solid foods were good until 8 months of age…). But, that’s ok. Because I know we had a good year. I remember traveling. Remember Big Ive sleeping in every place we traveled (Paris subway? check. Florence city streets? check. Beaches of Croatia? check. …). Remember starting to attend the Kindergarten in our village, attending Krabbelgruppe, so many walks around the village, times on the playground, picking flowers out in nature. Remember right at her 2nd birthday she decided she would really start to talk. And then 4 months later we threw her into the German-speaking Kindergarten and watched as her English language progress suddenly stopped for a few months. Just to pick right back up, but this time concurrently learning German. Remember when she started to remember things (like my parents house, and how it takes 2 airplanes to get there). Remember when she couldn’t hardly ride walk her Laufrad (balance bike).
I think back and remember her 4th year of life, the one she just completed, now starting on her 5th year. Remember that she spoke very little German at the beginning of the year, only to have it suddenly explode and she became a near-fluent 3 year old German speaker. Remember the times my heart swelled when she, out of the blue, says that God loves her and lives in her heart. Remember when she suddenly could out-run me on her Laufrad. Remember all the funny things her brain puts together and spills out her lips. Remember the wonderful feeling of a content child feeling safe and falling asleep in mom’s arms. Remember bringing her to my German classes and she responded to the teacher, talking about her bike. Remember when she ran up to our Landlord and hugged his legs outside of the Kindergarten one afternoon at pickup (and remember the look of shock and joy on his face). Remember her asking for her babysitters to come back to her house soon. Remember the look of her face when she tells you it takes 2 airplanes to get to Gampers’ house. Remember the heart-wrenching sadness she felt when LOML was apart from us and she told me she missed her daddy. Remember how much better and how willing she is of a helper with chores and me around the house. Remember how caring she is when I had a sore back, or was sick. Remember her ‘softing’ my hurts away. Remember her addiction to her pacifiers.
Walking to the beach in Croatia, July 2013.
Castle tour July 2013. Note the dinosaur in her hand and the over-thrilled expression.
Running in the fountain, when Uncle Robot and Tia were in Germany.
At the playground near my parent’s house.
I look forward to the future. I made the commitment to live in the today and not be sad about what is in the past, and I’ll continue to do that with you, looking forward to the many years to come of our lives together, watching you grow. You and me, we’ll keep living life in our little family, on our crazy adventure. I love you, Big Ive. You’ll always be my Big Ive-baby.