Most nights she nestles in the warmth and comfort of my arms, finding her way to Sleepyland with each eager drink of mommy milk. Her breathing slows, her body relaxes, and her eyelids finally succumb to gravity and tiny baby dreams.

This is not one of those nights, however. She has been taking independent steps for weeks now, and her body wants to constantly be in motion, even at bedtime. It’s a struggle to get her to nurse, as she wants to sit up, look around, and basically do anything but lie there relaxed.

I’m getting impatient when she starts to arch her back to escape my arms this night. Looking upside down at the video monitor right across from us, she starts waving her left arm up and down in an exaggerated manner and proclaims, “Bye-bye! Bye-bye!” to the monitor, over and over. Except it comes out, loud and confident, more like a cross between “bye-bye” and “beh-beh.” A small difference, yes, but enough for my ear to discern a difference.

I give her a stern look and remind her, “You need to lay here and go to sleep, baby.”

More waving. More earnest “beh-beh!” to the video monitor.

Finally I crack, her cuteness winning out over my annoyance. My eyes soften and she notices instantly; she breaks out in a generous smile of her own and then starts laughing. Then giggling.

And I think about how far she’s come. She’s 11 months old; she’s no lump of a baby. She claps. She waves. She says a few words (mama, dada, more, bye-bye). She giggles with just a look from you. She eats table food like nobody’s business. She walks probably 75% of the time now and is becoming more confident with walking each day. She’s slowly morphing from baby to toddler right in front of our eyes. It’s an amazing transition to witness.

On the verge of her turning a year old, I find myself  thinking about how far we’ve come. Just 18 months ago, it was hard to envision such a scenario, that I’d be sitting there thinking about all of these wonderful milestones for this once-mythical child #2. That back then, we had no idea who she was — she didn’t even exist yet, and we didn’t know if she WOULD ever exist — but now she fits so flawlessly into our family.

I’m not really a believer in fate or destiny or the notion that “things happen for a reason.” But I do accept the fact that certain things, both good and bad, happened to lead me to this point. And those things led us to The Little Sis.

She’s one of us, the missing puzzle piece.


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