A few weeks ago, we celebrated Elijah’s first birthday. Although I’ve shared plenty of pictures on here of our Sweet Boy, I wanted to spend this post sharing a little about who our Elijah is.
We call him Lij, Big, Elijah, and sometimes Sweet Boy. He has always been a mellow baby, and very content. When I was pregnant, he didn’t kick or move around very much compared to any of his siblings. He’s always happy to do his own thing: crawl around, eat anything he can find (more on that later), or play with anyone. I think he’s going to grow up to be a relatively quiet boy and eventually become the kind of person who, once he does open his mouth, has very wise words come out.
He’s also very strong. I’ll probably always remember turning around one morning, as I was preparing breakfast, to see one of our children (who shall remain nameless) standing on Elijah’s back. Just standing there like he was a step stool. I yelped, scolded, and got that kid off of Elijah as fast as I could, but Elijah just lay there mid army-crawl, looking up at me with an expression that said, “What’s the big deal?” He was fine, though the child on his back weighed more than twice as much as he did.
Elijah is happy to play with anyone who shows him interest. Abby will frequently entertain him while I’m in the kitchen. She’ll hug him, “tickle” him, and wrestle him, and he’s happy just to have the attention. Just about anyone we let pick him up will find a sweet, smily baby, who is, again, happy to interact no matter who you are. But when Elijah gets tired, he wants Mom. He’ll start crying if he sees me enter the room and he’ll army crawl quickly over to my feet. Just like his siblings, he’ll pop some fingers in his mouth (he prefers the pointer and middle finger of his left hand) grab on to my hair or his own, and become quiet and content once more.
But, Elijah LOVES his daddy. There’s a Frank Sinatra song called “I Only Have Eyes for You”, and, though I don’t actually know the whole song, that one line from the title pops into my head just about every time Lij spots Dan across a room. He’ll stare at him for so long until Dan finally comes over, gives him some attention and hold him. (Abby was the same way.) “Mom’s great when I’m tired, but there’s nobody like Dad!”
As far as food goes, Elijah has recently started to eat a lot. For months we couldn’t get him to eat solid food. Baby food of any flavor makes him gag. He won’t touch bananas. Avocado won’t stay down, and even if it could, we can’t get him to put it in his mouth anymore. The only toothless-friendly food Elijah likes are sweet potatoes, and he loves sweet potatoes. Of course, my one baby to skip the purees is also the slowest to get teeth. The day his molars come in will be a happy day, because Elijah will pretty much only eat what we’re eating. And he’ll only eat it if he gets to feed it to himself.
As we approached the one-year mark, Dan and I were DONE getting up at night, but Elijah wasn’t. We tried roughly a million approaches to get him to sleep better: night weaning, feeding right before bed, waking up to feed right before I went to bed, moving him out of our room, letting him cry, waking him up at preplanned times during the night to eat, and always, always, we just prayed that he’d stop getting us up. Finally, when the weather really got cold, we had to move him into Paul’s room because the room he was sleeping in didn’t have heat. Paul handled the transition surprisingly well (but he did keep asking for us to put Elijah in his crib with him, and could not understand why they had to sleep in separate beds. He also likes to give Elijah things to sleep with: blankets, stuffed animals, wooden tools, toy cars, books…). I gave up on “making” Elijah sleep through the night, and we all survived. Now we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel as he sleeps through the night more and more frequently (four out of the last six nights, not that I’m counting).
We feel truly blessed to have Elijah in our family. Every child is different. Every personality is unique. Elijah is our strong, quiet, content, friendly baby with only one major flaw. He. Eats. Everything. I know all babies do this. I know I have three others and I can’t watch him as closely as I did the others. But it’s not just that. This boy has a gift. He can find things even if we just picked everything up. He’ll sneak (yes, sneak!) things into his mouth and then hold very still whenever you look at him so you can’t tell he’s chewing (gumming?) it. Rocks, dirt, leaves, small toys, day-old food, pieces of carpet he tore out himself. This summer, the day before we went on a short beach-trip, Elijah got his hands on a small giraffe eraser. Lydia was the first to notice him coughing and ran to tell Mommy (Way to go Lids!). I quickly realized the problem was beyond me and sent her to get Dan, who was, thankfully, working from home that day. He came down and did everything you’re <em<supposed to do. But when Elijah started gasping for air and coughing up mucus and blood, we called 9-1-1.
After a long wait, the paramedics came, repeated everything Dan had already done, and reported to us that Elijah would need to take an ambulance to the hospital where he would probably need surgery. I pulled the mom card (what if he needs to eat?) to get to be the one to go with him, even though Dan wanted to go. Dan graciously stayed home with the rest of the kids and I made a scary trip to Mott’s Children’s Hospital. Lij had missed his nap and fell asleep in the ambulance, which was actually a very good thing, but made for a scary ride. As I was trying to pray, I remembered some words from earlier that week, that an Elder had prayed for Elijah during his baby dedication, “We do pray for his protection. We pray that the Evil One would not be permitted to harm him.” Those words encouraged me. If our elder has been led to pray that only a few days before, and if we had faithfully shared how God had answered our prayers in Elijah’s life, to tell that God really does hear and answer our prayers, surely God wouldn’t intend on taking him from us now.
I prayed that Elijah would cough up the toy he was choking on, and back at home, Lydia was frantically praying the same thing (and that we could still go on our beach trip) with Dan and the rest of the kids. Elijah did cough up the toy just two minutes before the ER team was planning to call in their back-up surgery team (because the first team was busy). After coughing it up, Lij started grabbing all of the medical equipment, trying to pop it into his mouth too, which gave the team a good laugh and caused no one to give me a hard time. Clearly this was a baby who never stops putting things in his mouth. (And yes, we did get to go on our beach trip.)
God has been kind to us in giving us Elijah, and in protecting that Little Stinker beyond what we can do ourselves. When Elijah was born, I had always thought of him as a special gift. Elijah means: the Lord is Yahweh. John, named after Dan’s Grampa, means: Yahweh is gracious. Grace. Gift. Elijah John, you are indeed a special gift to our family. We wouldn’t trade you for anything. There’s no on like you. You remind us, sometimes daily, that God does answer prayer in big and small ways. He has protected you already when we thought we might lose you twice. Happy first birthday, my Sweet Boy. And, please, please, give us a less eventful second year!