Two years already!

June 2008, Henry at 23 months

Dear Sweet Baby Henry,

Is this the last time I get to call you that, now that you are a big two-year-old-boy? Your nurses tagged you with that title as soon as we named you, but I’m not sure if the laughing, mischievous toddler that you are today can will tolerate that much longer.

Henry’s hospital name tag

Holding you last night before bed, I was overwhelmed at how far you’ve come in just two years. I love to hear you say your name (Haan-reee!) so I asked, “Where’s Henry?” You foiled me on that one, by laughing, patting my arm and saying, “Right here, Mama!”

You sing with a repertoire ranging from “Twinkle, Twinkle” and “Wiggle, Wiggle” from music class to “ABCs” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” When you begin the spider song, you put your hands in spider position and then wait expectantly for the rest of us to follow your example before beginning the song.

When one of us sneezes, coughs or blows our nose, you interrupt whatever you are doing to say, “Blesh you, Mama!” Or Daddy or Wo-Wo. Your sweet voice makes us laugh as you earnestly repeat everything around you.

You are such an early bird! You wake up, usually before 6 a.m., and insist on going “d’stairs!” Then, nestled in one of our laps and reading books on the couch, you’ll yawn, rub your eyes and say, “TIRED!” (Us too, Henry, us too.) All this from the boy who slept through his first six months of life.

Henry, six weeks old

All of a sudden, you love to eat. The boy who once only ate frozen peas, blueberries and raisins now has a startling affinity for food and lots of it. Your list of favorites are wide ranging, too—pancakes, waffles, vanilla soy milk, black olives, pizza, broccoli, boiled eggs, applesauce, oh, and pork, of all things. Pork tenderloin, breakfast sausage from the local butcher, sliced ham—it disappears when we place it in front of you. You, like your brother, can’t get enough fruit, and you can eat as much of it, if not more, than he can.

After outgrowing a trinity of food allergies (milk, soy and egg), you’ve only been denied nuts and chocolate. Since Easter you’ve been well aware of “CHOCOLATE CANDY, PLEASE, HAVE SOME, WANT SOME, PLEASE, CANDY!” Just the possibility of chocolate inspired your longest sentence to date and guess what—you get to have some for the first time today. Life is good, Henry, and about to get even better.

You love to walk up and down the stairs by yourself, saying “I do it!” if anyone tries to carry you. You’re a skilled climber, and although you can swing your leg up over the rail of your crib, your contented personality seems to mean that you haven’t decided to climb out of it yet, THANK YOU, ALL THINGS HOLY. If we get even another week in the crib before you shimmy over the rail, I’ll owe something HYUGE in the cosmic sense.

Henry, 23 months

You broke my heart a little when you recently stopped calling banjos “banga-boes,” but calling your daily dose of yogurt and blueberries “gogurk and babies” makes my heart sing, and your insistence that applesauce is called “OSS” is fine with me.

When you were a newborn you sometimes got “accidentally” bumped by your brother. And when you began to play together, your brother often thought it was fair game to snatch your toys. I would whisper in your ear, “Henry, the first time you swat him, I will look the other way.” And look away I did, but now I sometimes have to rescue Will. Guess you really are a tough guy—one who is awfully cute when he says, oh-so-contritely, “Sorry, Wo-wo!”

I look at your sturdy body—your round toddler belly, the face smeared with blueberries and oatmeal, your impossibly long legs, your scratched and scuffed knees and the blue play dough under your fingernails—and wonder how any part of you could ever have been so delicate as to fail you. Visiting with one of your NICU nurses a few weeks ago, it took us both a minute or two to find your sole remaining badge of courage—the small white scar near your armpit, leftover from your chest tube so long ago. You were laughing as we turned you upside down and tickled you while looking for it.

Henry, 16 days old

Just recently I updated my notes on the computer for your teachers as you moved up to a new classroom in your child care center. I reread last year’s file in amazement—words like critically ill, respiratory distress, ventilator and preemie swam in front of my eyes and seemed entirely displaced on these notes about a perfectly healthy almost-two-year-old boy.

I deleted all of them.

Henry, 23 months old

Happy Birthday, Sweet Baby Henry. We love you!

And you are not going to believe how good chocolate is.

Love,

Mama

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34 Responses to “Two years already!”

  1. applecyder Says:

    Tears over here, Anna. That was so sweet. Happy Birthday, and almost as importantly, Happy Chocolate Day to you little Henry!

  2. nothingfancy1 Says:

    Incredibly sweet! Happy Birthday, sweet boy!

  3. The Lisa Show Says:

    Happy birthday, Henry!!

    On a slightly unrelated note, Anna, dude, your work just gets better and better. Those photos of him at 23 months? Stunning.

  4. Mary Says:

    Make a wish, Sweet Henry! Today is all about YOU!

  5. sdh Says:

    aww, i’m tearing up! happy birthday Henry! i bet you will LOVE chocolate, but if you don’t that’s ok, Rush doesn’t like it either. but if you love pork, you’re really going to love BACON. it’s even better than chocolate!

  6. Maggie Says:

    That is the sweetest! Happy Birthday Henry!

  7. laura Says:

    What a sweet post!

  8. Molly Says:

    Happy birthday, handsome boy! Welcome to the world of chocolate 🙂

  9. ktzap Says:

    He deserves LOTS of chocolate (but so do YOU!) Happy happy happy day! See you soon I hope!

  10. JenBun Says:

    Happy birthday, Henry!!!

    Mmm… chocolate……. *drool*

  11. Michelle Potter Says:

    That is so sweet! One day he’ll read this and smile! 🙂

  12. Rush Says:

    Henry!

    I can hardly wait for the day you get to read this post and all of our replies to see just how many fans you’ve had growing up. We’re proud of you.

    Happy Birthday!

  13. itsallabouthallie Says:

    Yeah! Your two Sweet Henry!! I always enjoyed my boys when they were two! it is such a great age of exploration!

    Happy Birthday Henry!!

  14. Christina Says:

    TWO? How did that happen?! I still think of him as being a sweet little guy. He is still sweet, but not so little. What a precious letter to him. Happy Birthday Sweet Baby Henry! (yes, you can still call him that! forever!)

  15. Toonsis Says:

    HAPPY 2ND BIRTHDAY Henry!
    Two small arms to hold you tight,
    Two small feet to run,
    Two small eyes full of love for you,
    One small son.

    Catch the moment and put it in your heart
    and never let it go.
    Save it for the years to come
    when he, too, will know.

    Thank you Anna for sharing him with us!

  16. Erinne Says:

    Oh my goodness I could cry. What a wonderful story about your Henry. You know we understand the allergies well. You have one strong and cute lil man on your hands.

    Happy Second Birthday to Henry!! 🙂

  17. Mike Says:

    My favorite part of this? you ooking the other way with him and will the first time and now having to protect will. henry and erin might just be made for each other afterall. Happy Birthday, Henry!

  18. carrievoris Says:

    Oh – what a wonderfully happy story! And the pictures – all of them are amazing, but the striped pants ones, the 2-year old ones – they are divine!
    The happiest of birthdays to you little Henry! And many, many more!

  19. Maria Says:

    Happy Birthday Henry!
    and yes, sweet baby Henry is still just fine in my book.
    Your letter to him is beautiful, and the photos capture him perfectly.
    What a difference a year (or two) makes!
    We love you Henry!

  20. abbey Says:

    Happy Birthday to your baby boy!
    I have a little NICU boy as well!!! Isn’t it so much fun to see them grow and see what they have overcome and how they have just become perfect (well, most of the time) little boys!!

  21. Sarah G now B Says:

    Yeah! Happy birthday, Henry! xo two fans in MA

  22. thelandofka Says:

    Awww..*sniff, sniff*

    Happy birthday to your little baby boy! Beautiful shots of him and love the letter.

    And the chocolate? Yeah, he’s gonna have a great day!

  23. Jess Says:

    He is so beautiful. I’m so glad that he is so healthy and that you were able to delete those words. I look forward to amazing photos of Henry’s first glorious taste of chocolate.

  24. Sara Says:

    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful boy with a beautiful (and wonderful) mama. Thank you for sharing the wonder of your children with all of us.

  25. B. Says:

    Happy Birthday Henry!

  26. Michelle Says:

    Happy Birthday to Henry! How did he like the chocolate? : )

  27. Katy Says:

    beautiful!

  28. Ashley Says:

    Happy Birthday dear Henry! what a beautiful boy you are.

    such a nice letter Anna 🙂

  29. Holly Says:

    Anna- How beautiful. I’ve been reading faithfully and never have a chance to post a comment. But this one made me stop and cry good tears. Happy Birthday Henry.

  30. Shannon Says:

    !!!!Yay for Henry!!!!

  31. Sheila Says:

    What a lovely tribute to a sweet boy. Happy 2 Henry!

  32. crista Says:

    Anna,
    I’m starting my day with big tears in my eyes. He’s such a special little guy.

  33. abby Says:

    Belated Happy Birthday, Henry! You are doing so amazingly well and are getting to be such a big little guy!

  34. arizaphale Says:

    What a fantastic post. I love,love love that 6 week old photo of him. He is a peach.

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