Thursday, December 30, 2010

Three Months Old

Dear Larkin,

Yesterday, you turned three months old. I would have written this letter then, but we spent the entire afternoon snuggling and napping on the recliner. Your little body is going through so many changes right now, it’s just about worn you out. You are growing taller by the second. You’ve already gained eight inches in length, and doubled your birth weight. Everyone who meets you can’t believe you’re only three months old. You’re so long and solid and you have the most adorable little man face.



You are the most social, smiley baby I’ve ever seen. If you’re awake, you are cooing and laughing and looking around for someone to make eye contact with. You have the most beautiful smile – ear to ear and wide open and gummy. Every time you smile, I fall even deeper in love with you.

Cheeky little monkey!


You just recently discovered the most fascinating things in the world – your toes. We’ll be playing and you’ll catch sight of them and all the sudden I HAVE TO HAVE THEM I NEED TO TOUCH THEM OH MY GOD WHY ARE THEY SO FAR AWAY?!? You then bend over as far as your little round belly will allow and try to grab at them. When I try to straighten you for breathing purposes, you scream furiously.

Last night you started to fall asleep in my arms, so I took you to the bedroom to change your diaper and ready you for bed. I took off your drooled over onesie (I suspect teething is imminent) and just kissed all over your little warm belly and cheeks while you grinned at me sleepily. I relish moments like that, because I suspect it won’t be much longer before you’re far too busy to let mama snuggle with you much.

You adore your daddy. He’ll look up from his computer where he’s working, and catch you staring at him. Once you catch his eye, I have to be ready, because you squeal at top volume, throw your arms out and toss yourself backwards in excitement, leaving me scrambling to catch you before you fall.

'Helping' me do the laundry, and wearing your Daddy's shirt from when he was a baby


Today, I realized the dreaded tummy time is probably a thing of the past. You have proved yourself completely proficient at rolling from tummy to back, and do so the second I place you down. With the way you love to jump on everyone’s lap, I’m beginning to wonder if you won’t walk before you crawl.

Every day I wake up to your beautiful smile and wonder where that tiny baby went. When we snuggle now, you no longer fit squarely in my arms. You are a bundle of fun and personality, and I enjoy every minute. You are my most amazing miracle.

To the moon… and back,

Mommy

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Dear Larkin,

Merry Christmas, little man! You are the best Christmas gift Mommy and Daddy could ever ask for. This year with you has hands down been the best Christmas ever, even though you weren't overly impressed with the going-ons.

Still grumpy, even with all those presents!


You got mostly clothes (Sorry buddy. That was Mommy's special request!) and seemed very excited.

See? Super excited.


From Mommy and Daddy, you got a very sweet silver ID bracelet. Mommy needs to get your name engraved on it, but I still have a little time because even though it's SO tiny, it's still a bit big for you. Your cousins opened all their presents while you played with your wrapping paper, then you fell happily asleep in my arms.



Merry Christmas. I love you, baby.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Christmas Tree

Like pretty much every kid, I LOVED Christmas. My parents always spoiled us during the holidays. Although I hate to show what a manipulative child I was, I have to tell you my Santa Claus story. Around Christmas time when I was about five years old, I caught my dad sneaking in the back door carrying an art easel I had begged Santa for. My eyes lit up, and I asked “Who is that for?”

My dad is one of the smartest men I know, but he was no match for me at that moment. “Uhhh… it’s for your mom” he said, and dashed off. The wheels in my head started turning. My mom is no giant, but what was she going to do with a three foot Fisher Price art easel? Hmm…

Sure enough, on Christmas day, the easel showed up under the tree along with my other gifts from Santa. At the tender age of five, I discovered the truth about Santa. Bummer. But it quickly dawned on me that if I let on, “Santa” would no longer make stops to the Larkin house. So, like any deviant child, I kept my lips shut. I continued making my requests of Santa, and he kept the gifts coming. I think I was about 12 when my mom finally looked at me in exasperation and announced out of nowhere “THERE IS NO SANTA CLAUS.”

I just cracked up, and told her I’d known that for the last 7 years. Evil. But even once Santa stopped visiting, I still loved Christmas. But it is a kid’s holiday. As I got older, it lost some of its shine, and became more of a rat race to find that perfect present (or, if you’re like me, as good of a present as possible an hour before the exchange!) or a scramble to help cook the meal. It got even more stressful after Jonathan and I got married. Although I love both my families, Christmas got real old when you were spreading it out over four or five gatherings.

But this year, everything is different. Christmas is for the kiddos, and this year we have one of our own! I know Larkin is only three months old, and this Christmas doesn’t mean anything more to him than any other day, but it means the world to me.

The main tradition in my family is our Christmas tree. Every year, Mom buys every member of the immediate family an ornament. Some people’s trees are literally works of art: visions dripping in gold and crystal, or following a fun theme. Our tree is a hodgepodge: collections of various favorite cartoon characters, ballet slippers, baseballs, college logos, sorority symbols, cats, dogs, horses, koalas, and music notes – whatever each family member was into that year. Occasion ornaments represent multiple baby’s first Christmases, the first holiday season for various newlyweds, and a memorial for a first Christmas after losing a dear family member. Saved homemade ornaments show the growth of several children’s hand prints from baby to toddler and into school age, and the development of tactile function as messy balls of glitter, cotton balls and pipe cleaners (a reindeer face!) segue way into lovely hand painted clay figures.

My baby's first ornament




Our tree may not be the most artfully decorated, but putting it up is an instant trip down memory lane. And this year, it was so fun to watch Larkin stare fascinated at the sparkling lights and shiny, colorful decorations. He even got his own baby’s first Christmas ornament!



Helping daddy pick the perfect branch




Everything is so much more brilliant and beautiful when you see it through a child’s eyes. I looked at my Jonathan as we were hanging decorations “Who knew we’d be playing Santa Claus this year?!?” I giggled. And it’s so true! Last Christmas, having a baby was the LAST thing on our mind. It’s been a wild year, but it’s been an amazing ride.

You're the best gift ever, little boy!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two Months Old

Dear little one,

Yesterday you turned two months old. You, my sweetheart, are truly no longer a newborn. Sometimes, if I am very quiet, I can actually feel the breeze as time rushes past. But I’ve been amazed at how much fun you make each new stage. Now, when we fall asleep together, I wake to find you staring at me. Once you realize my eyes are open, you break into a grin so big your face would break in two if it grew any more. And how can a mama not love that?



This month, you were diagnosed with reflux. It’s been a painful few weeks (for all of us!) but slowly the medicine is starting to help. I know it’s not my fault, but baby! I’m so sorry you’ve been in pain. It breaks my heart to see you hurt. I know it’s just the beginning, and I’ll see you face many aches and pains (both physical and emotional) during your life, but this first one is tearing my heart up. We are prayerful it will pass soon.

Before we found out we were expecting you, your daddy and I had planned to move far across town. Once we learned of your impending arrival, however, we decided to stay put living in the apartment attached to your Gaunie and Grandpa’s house. During my pregnancy, I was so grateful for that decision, because five months on bed rest would have been a lot tougher without our family to take care of us. But since you were born, I’m a trillion-fold more grateful. You are one blessed little boy – at any time, there is five adults in immediate residence, ready to attend to your every laugh, cry, and interest. I am so happy that you are growing up surrounded by so much love – even if I do have to pry you away from Gaunie, Grandpa and Nana sometimes (I frequently say I’m glad you are nursing, because otherwise I’d never get to see you!).

You aren’t much for schedules, which is okay these days since I’m not working and daddy is working at home (again, FULL TIME ATTENTION you lucky boy!). But we’ve come up with a rather nice loose schedule for our days. You get up and get a diaper change, then we go play with your fan club (G, G, and Nana). You love this time in the morning, and your giggles ring through their house. Then when you start fussing, we go back to our apartment to get you some breakfast. You usually fall asleep, and depending on our night, Mama naps with you. If we have any errands to run, we go do those when you wake up. If not, we play around the house. When he’s not too busy, Daddy joins in! Then it’s usually time for another nap. The weather has been beautiful, so after your nap, Mommy puts you in Baby K’tan (you HATE your stroller, so I bought us a wrap so I can wear you around) and we go for a long walk. You love taking walks. I point out all the animals we pass and we check out the flowers. I crunch the leaves that have already fallen and you just laugh and laugh.



After our walk, we usually do some tummy time (much to your displeasure) and play some more. Then Daddy cooks us dinner. G and G usually watch you at dinnertime so Mommy can actually eat with both hands. You often take a late nap (I’m trying to get rid of that late sleep, but you’re pretty stubborn about it!) and then it’s bath time.



After bath, we hang out with Daddy, who is done working for the day. Then we get you dressed for bed, say your prayers, and Mommy reads you a bedtime story. You eat dinner, and usually falls asleep in my arms. I love our days together.

We took our first family road trip this month. We went to G and G’s lake house in Horseshoe Bay. When you get older, you’ll find out your mommy is obsessed with the Texas hill country, so this won’t be our last trip up there! We had a beautiful visit. Me and daddy have been dying to see the house, but since I was on bed rest, this was our first time to visit. We spent most of the trip sitting out on the beautiful balcony and enjoying the fresh air. You had so much fun, and even gave me an amazing gift – one night you slept nine hours! Bless you, little boy!

This month also marked mine and daddy’s anniversary. We were married the week before Thanksgiving four years ago. It was a beautiful wedding, and having you here just made the date so much more special. Which is good, because we didn’t do much to celebrate other than relish our new family!

It all started here!


We also got to celebrate your first Thanksgiving. It was fun – we drove to Uncle Mike’s house, and spent it with daddy’s side of the family. It was the first time most of them really got to spend time with you, and they are just as in love with you as everyone else. You particularly enjoyed Uncle Mike. Every time he’d walk near you, you’d bust out in the biggest grin.

You are so much fun, and your personality is growing bigger every day. I love you so much.

To the moon… and back,

Mommy

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ladybugs

Copyright 2010 Tiffany Fetter Photography


Eight little ladybugs, and two biiiig junebugs! I could just kiss on them all day long.

Friday, November 5, 2010

First Photo Shoot

Last week, we had Larkin's first photo shoot. Tiffany Fetter came out to the house to capture our little man just two days before he turned a month old. Having Tiffany do the shoot was pretty special, because I've known her pretty much since I was Larkin's age. Our families have gone to church together, and her and my brother were in youth group together. She is a wonderful photographer, and was wonderfully patient! We had a particularly rough night the night before the shoot, and all of us were running on just a few hours sleep. She took all the time Larkin needed (we really waited a bit too long to get those perfect newborn photos, oops!) and waited patiently for two feedings and several time outs. She just published our proofs and I wanted to share a few.



















All Images Copyright Tiffany Fetter 2010


I don't know how we're going to choose!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween

For Halloween this year, Larkin was an Aggie football player. His grandpa was very proud!



We went to the church Trunk or Treat, and everyone enjoyed getting to peek in the stroller and check out how cute he looked! Afterward, we went over to Chris and Marki's house to take a photo with Larkin and Landen all decked out (Menley decided she was too grown up to trick or treat this year).



At the end of the night, we went home and put on the little Halloween onesie his 'Auntie' Amy bought him, and he crashed out on Mommy.





I was hoping to have a more elaborate costume, but he was just too little for most, and I didn't think to order one early enough to have it custom made. But next year, we'll come up with something super fun. Maybe we'll even dress up the whole family! But no matter. Larkin had fun, and looked cute as-is.

Friday, October 29, 2010

One Month Old

Sweet little man,

I am astounded that just one month ago, you weren’t even in our lives yet. I am amazed at how different the universe is now that you are in it. At just one month old, you are a bundle of fun and personality. You already have the sweetest little smirky grin that I just can’t get enough of.



Your favorite activities include sleeping on mama’s chest, bath time, and eating. It took us a little time to get the hang of nursing, but now you’re a champ! At first we had some concern because you kept losing weight. At your two week check up, you were down to 7 lbs, and had me very worried. Then, over the next week, you put on nearly two pounds, and we were in the clear! You’re still a lazy eater, so by the time you finish and I set the alarm for your next feeding, I usually have less than an hour to rest.

But oh my! How precious you are when you're sleeping!


Baby mine, I have so much I want to remember. Like the way you tuck your little legs in when you lay on my chest. Your daddy calls that your frog legs. The way the top of your head smells when I hold you close. The way you and daddy look all snuggled together on the couch. How I’m constantly amazed at how tiny your feet are – and how huge they are – all at once!



And those feet are never still. Oh, how I laugh when I see you make those kicks and head butts and think “THAT’S what you were doing in there!” My ribs still remember all those moves!

I want to drink you in, and record every second. Yet I never want to step away from the moment long enough to take a picture or write a memory. So just know that for every photo and every word, there are a million more missing. Missing because I chose to spend the moment living rather than recording. So perhaps I’ll forget some things, but hopefully I’ll never look back and realize I remember everything, but I missed too much.

Sigh. I realize I’m not making much sense, but you’ll have to excuse me. I’m a little sleep deprived!

I still look at you, and can’t believe you're mine. I can’t believe your daddy and I created something so absolutely beautiful. You are a miracle. You are a wonder. You are a joy.

And I just can't get enough!


To the moon… and back,

Mommy

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

First Bath

Early on in my pregnancy, I longed to feel those first tiny movement of my baby. Well, Larkin never really gave me those. I went from waiting (im)patiently, to getting full-on internal beatings pretty quick! The coolest part was during my bath time. I've always been a bath person, loving to lounge in the tub for as long as possible. It quickly became apparent that Larkin enjoyed bath time as well!

One night, shortly after I had started feeling those baby kicks, I got in the tub. Almost immediately, Larkin began kicking like mad. Suddenly, the water in the very full tub was splashing over onto the floor. It took a minute to register with me that the baby's kicks were actually causing the tidal waves!

After that, every bath time was a time of mutual enjoyment between myself and baby. I'd just lay and float and dream, and he'd send shock waves through the water to let me know he was there, and safe and happy.

Last night, Larkin got his first bath at home. Although the nurses reported that he was utterly unimpressed with his baths in the hospital, he seemed to enjoy his little rinse down here. Daddy had to do the duty, because I was pretty nervous about handling such a tiny, slippery bundle!









I'm looking forward to REAL baths, but it was fun. Plus, is there anything better than the scent of a baby after a bath? After bath time, I gave Larkin a little baby massage, snuggled him up in his nightie, we read a book and said our prayers, then he fell fast asleep in his swing.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Coming Home!

After five days in the hospital, we finally got to bring Larkin home! Our stay was extended because we were struggling with my pain management following the c-section (I didn't respond well to the initial medication they gave me) and because Larkin had some jaundice.

Just a LITTLE bit yellow


I delivered at The Woman's Hospital of Texas, and the staff there was mostly fabulous. The nurses were wonderful, and attempted to be as un-intrusiveness as it is possible to be when someone is coming in every 30 minutes. Also, the food was surprisingly good. I thoroughly enjoyed have three yummy and complete meals a day served in bed! Of course, as soon as the food was dropped off, the baby would start fussing, so many of my meals were eaten over his head. I'm sure eating one-handed will be a pretty common occurrence from now on. As long as Larkin doesn't mind a few crumbs on his head now and then, we'll be fine!

We were situated in a private room even though I had forgotten to ask (I think my doctor had taken care of this for me) which was a serious blessing. Because of the private room, Jonathan was able to stay in the room with me around the clock, and I was able to keep Larkin in-room without worrying about disturbing anyone. And I wouldn't have made it without Jonathan. Although he was busy working to meet several deadlines and handle some serious professional drama, he was on point to help me get around through the surgery aches and pains (and severe swollen legs and feet - OUCH!), to play pillow origami as Larkin and I tried to get the hang of nursing, and a million other supports - including CHANGING EVERY SINGLE DIAPER! Talk about a great husband... and a seriously good daddy.

On Saturday, the nurses started talking about keeping him an extra day or two, and I nearly flipped out. I had spent five months in bed, trying to ensure my baby wouldn't have to spend any extra time in the hospital! But at the last minute, the pediatrician gave us the go ahead, and we got to take him home with us.


All that fit of his going home outfit.


Unimpressed.


As you can see, he wasn't very impressed with the whole "getting dressed" situation... especially since I had to dress and undress him a few times before I gave up on the too cute 'going home' outfit I had brought to the hospital. He may be 7 lb, 12 oz - but he is one long and lanky baby! Anyway, Daddy went to the cafe to grab us a quick lunch (I had the option of waiting for one last room service meal, but even the offer of one final meal in bed couldn't keep me in the hospital for one more second!) and Larkin had a brief nursing session to calm him from the drama of getting dressed.

Milk coma!


We made it out to the car, and spent several minutes trying to figure out how to get the car seat buckled up. Larkin just looked so precious and tiny in his car seat. It was so amazing to finally have a baby in the seat we installed with such dedication months ago.



Let me just say: SCARIEST CAR RIDE EVER. As scary as Houston traffic always is, it's brain damaging to try to maneuver it with such precious cargo. I'm not going to lie, I rode in the back seat with Larkin! Actually, it was pretty sweet. Daddy chauffeured us home, while Larkin held my finger tight and we both slept soundly the whole way home (we were officially worn out!)

Various family members were waiting to welcome us home. We visited for a short while before Larkin demanded a feeding, and then we all collapsed in utter exhaustion (FYI: a hospital is NOT a restful place!).

Cuddles with Mommy


Cuddles with Daddy


I am so glad to be home, and overjoyed to finally have a baby to fill out all the swing and crib and tiny baby clothes we've been collecting! We are still getting the hang of our new family dynamic, but Larkin already fits in completely. It's so cool to be a FAMILY.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Birth Videos

Here are a few videos Jonathan shot it the delivery room immediately following Larkin's birth. I'm so glad we had the camera handy, since I missed the first few minutes while the doctor completed my c-section. Plus, the sound of that sweet cry fills my heart! I never want to forget the details of that moment.

Immediately after birth
Getting measured and meeting Mommy
Hanging out with Mommy and Daddy
Greeting the world!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Beginning... A Birth Story

It was 10:30 on Monday night. I was just settling in, and preparing to lug my hugely pregnant self out to the driveway to hang out with Jonathan. We’d gotten in the habit of hanging out on nice evenings, planning and anticipating our upcoming life change. I was exactly 38 weeks along, so we knew our little man would be making his appearance any day, and we couldn’t be more excited.

38 weeks pregnant


I stopped for my sixty four thousandth trip of the day to the restroom, and exited with some confusion. Jonathan met me at the doorway and asked what was wrong.
“I think my water just broke.”
“You THINK? You don’t know??”
And I didn’t. I had no clue. (P.S. If you’ve never been involved in the birth process, it actually isn’t that crazy. The water breaking doesn’t happen like it does in the movies.) But I called my doctor, and he insisted we come to the hospital so they could run some tests.

We grabbed our bags, but felt pretty sure we’d be coming back home shortly. During the drive to the hospital, we laughed through quiet nerves, and hoped that our next trip would include a baby in the car seat. The walk through the hospital and up to L & D was tough on my body, especially after having been on bed rest for five months. But Larkin was finally taking it easy, and I’d had less contractions that week than I’d had since 20 weeks.

We got situated in a room, and the nurse ran a test for amniotic fluid. The first test was inconclusive. Jonathan rolled his eyes. The second test was inconclusive. I started to get sad, assuming we’d be going home that night. After taking the third test, the nurse smiled at us. “Your water broke. Your baby will be here in the next 24 hours.”

Here we go!


I stood up in panic, and my water chose that moment to seriously break. We were on the roller coaster! We called family, and requested they wait until later to come to the hospital. The doctor wanted to give me a few hours to see if labor would start spontaneously before he started Pitocin and we planned to get a few hours sleep before then.

At 4 am, Dr. Pinell came by with a hug. He examined me, and came back with the disappointing news that I was only dilated to 1 cm, with no effacement, and the baby hadn’t dropped at all. He warned us that we were probably in for a long journey, but since there is no telling what effect the Pitocin would have, we went ahead and summoned the family.

Now the problems begin. I was offered an epidural, but wanted to wait at least until my contractions started before I got it. However, the Pitocin required the baby to be monitored constantly, which meant I had to lay flat on my back. This is NOT a comfortable position when you’re 9 months pregnant! Between pregnancy pains and the discomfort of my usual backaches, I was in excruciating pain – even though I hadn’t had a single real contraction since they’d started monitoring me. The nurses had to fuss at me because I kept making excuses to get up to try and relieve the pain and was messing up their monitoring. They finally talked me into accepting a dose of pain medication so I could relax.

Waiting...


The pain meds let me get my first bit of sleep all night, but they wore off quickly. Larkin had started showing signs of distress after each tiny contraction, and they needed continuous monitoring, so I agreed to the epidural. This ended up complicating matters further, because they had to keep increasing the dosage in order to try and help my back. Shortly after the epidural was inserted, I was 100% dead weight from the waist down (a typical epidural is supposed to leave you with some feeling and control) and STILL having stabbing pains in my upper back.

The complete numbness was psychologically stressful. I spent the next several hours in a state of panic – convincing myself that I’d never feel my legs again. Then Larkin’s distress started increasing. Now I was panicking for myself and my precious little one. I had spent my entire pregnancy trying to keep him healthy and growing, and now I was terrified of losing him at the last second.

The doctor came back to examine me again. After 14 hours on Pitocin, I was only at 3 cm, barely effaced, and the baby hadn’t dropped at all. My contractions were irregular, and each one was sending the boy further into distress. Dr. Pinell took my hand, and said what I’d been dreading since those lines turned pink:
“We’re going to have to consider a c-section.”

I agreed, and everyone split off in a million directions to prepare for surgery. Jonathan climbed into his surgery suit, my mom kissed me and promised prayers, then they wheeled me out into the blindingly bright hallway. I was scared but heart stoppingly excited, knowing I would meet my son in a matter of minutes.

I was wheeled into surgery while Jonathan waited in the hallway. They moved me onto the table and began prepping me. I was shaking so violently that the anesthesiologist held my hand in sympathy and rushed the others to let Jonathan come in. Once he came in, he sat on a stool by my head and I gripped his hand for all I was worth. The surgery proceeded, but my eyes were locked on Jonathan. I just felt like as long as he was there, everything would be okay.



I won’t go into details about the surgery, I’ll just say it was way more painful than I was expecting, considering I’d been completely numb from the chest down for hours. But just when I thought I couldn’t bear it for another second, I heard the sweetest sound in the world. The doctor lifted Larkin’s tiny body over the surgical sheet, and said… something. I don’t know. I don’t care. I saw my baby, and in that baby was my whole world. Everything else stopped, and it was just me and him and Jonathan. And everything was perfect. Seriously. Stars aligned, galaxies moved, heaven sang. It was well and truly amazing.

Seriously, tell me he isn't beautiful!


And then – he was gone. They whisked my boy away to be measured and weighed and blah blah blah. (I will insert for the record that he was 7 lbs, 12 oz and 21 inches long. He received an almost perfect 9.9 on his APGAR test and was born with dark blue eyes, blonde hair, and almost no eyelashes and eyebrows. He was truly gorgeous, a fact exclaimed at by all the nurses, second only to the doctor laughing at the size of his enormous feet. He was none the worse for wear from his distress, which had been due to the umbilical cord being wrapped around his leg. Poor little guy. He was trying to join the party, but he was just all tangled up!)

All I knew was that I was HERE and my baby was over THERE and that SUCKED. I called to Jonathan (who was busy filming the moment) to ask what Larkin looked like, and (bless his heart) he lied through his teeth and told me he looked like both of us (the boy is positively a clone of his daddy). So I just laid my head back and waited. I just breathed in the sounds of his beautiful cry – and it was beautiful - the most precious indignant mewling you’ve ever heard.

And then he was in my arms. And we studied each other, and I whispered hello. “You are so beautiful”, I said to my son. I laid there as long as they allowed, holding him, and marveling over this miracle in my arms. Suddenly, my life made sense. Every good thing, every bad thing, every tiny detail – they all made sense, and they were all OKAY - because they had brought me there. To that moment, with that man and that baby. And everything was okay, and new, and beautiful.





My son was here. He was safe, and healthy, and beautiful, and he fit in my arms perfectly. My life had begun.