Eight months can go by in a flash. As an adult, each birthday seems to come more quickly than the one before, even though they are 12 months apart, every time. Couples are engaged for an average of one full year before their wedding. Pregnancy is (generally) 40 weeks, or about nine months. I’ve been working at my job for an eight month stretch ten times over, but it often seems like just yesterday that I started.
Despite its brevity, the past eight months have altered my life forever.
My daughters Autumn and Violet are eight months old. They have officially been living in this world longer than they were growing inside me as Bug and Sprout. They are reminders of just how much can be accomplished in eight months.
Since last December, they have learned to continuously breathe on their own. That first month at home filled with the randomly piercing alarms of the apnea monitors feels (THANK GOD) far, far away.
They have graduated from being nourished through an IV, to receiving breast milk through a tube, then nursing and drinking by bottle, and now eating some solid foods and slowly figuring out the sippy cup, even if half the water ends up on the floor.
They have quadrupled their body weight.
They have slept a lot, and in many places. They have slept in the NICU incubators, in the hospital nursery basinets, swaddled on our striped living room chairs, snuggled in bed with their mommies, sharing one crib in their nursery, and now in their own cribs, side-by-side.
They have begun their Jewish education. Autumn slept and Violet screamed through a lovely naming ceremony led by their Zayde at the synagogue where I grew up. Thanks to the first book from the PJ Library, Goodnight Sh’ma , the girls hear the Sh’ma every night before bed as part of their bedtime routine.
In the past eight months they have been given their first haircuts, college savings accounts, and the largest hand-made sweater collection I can imagine. The have been seen by more doctors than I have in my entire life.
Somehow they have caught up developmentally from their adjusted age of six and a half months, to doing all the things an eight month old does—crawling, standing with assistance, babbling, eating, waving. It seems that every day a new skill is learned and discoveries are made.
I know that as babies, we grow at a faster rate than any other time of life, but if they can be doing so much it makes me wonder what I can accomplish in eight months.
Looking back, the past eight months have taught me countless lessons. I now understand the value of getting one hour of uninterrupted sleep. I can eat an entire meal in five minutes or less. I can hold Violet while standing on one foot, my other foot rhythmically rocking Autumn in the bouncy seat, while placing a diapers.com order on my phone, and keeping my eye on the warming milk to make sure it does not overheat. I have learned that any shyness or anxiety I once had about what others might think disappears the minute I need to advocate for my children, call the health insurance company for the twentieth time (that week), or open up sealed boxes of stroller connectors and try them out in the middle of the Babies-R-Us because before purchasing, I need to know if they will actually work to link two umbrella strollers together and that said strollers will still fit through a doorway (they do not).
So what do the next eight months hold? What do I hope to accomplish by next April? For the girls, I want to give them lots of new experiences like music and swimming classes, museum visits, and trips to visit family. I want to be less anxious about messing up a naptime and more comfortable carting them both around by myself. Personally, I would like to do more creative stuff: finish my sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project, take another class at StoryStudio (the first one was great and inspired me to write this post), and play more cello concerts for A & V.
This is just a start and I’m sure new goals will emerge in the next eight months, but I am already inspired by my daughters—to learn more, grow more, open up more, dive in more, live more. So thank you Autumn and Violet, for making my life so much richer and pushing me further than anyone else would be able to do.