Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nine Months Old

Dear Puddle,

I once read an interesting scientific theory proposed byDr. Ashley Montagu, a scientist and anthropologist. He theorized that humans actually have a gestational period of eighteen months – nine months in the womb and nine months outside. He compared human newborns to animals, and proposed that our babies are born “half-done” based on a physiological need before they have grown too large to vacate the mother’s body.  He states that while a newborn animal is born with some measure of self-sufficiency, humans obviously need complete tending and nurturing for this period of “exterogestation” and beyond.

It’s an interesting and very logical premise, and one by which, you are now officially a newborn! Congratulations on completing gestation, little man! You have truly reached an element of independence this month that blows this mama’s mind.

Photo courtesy of Max Dunlop
You are a crawling fool. You can dart across a room without a second’s hesitation. You frequently make it across the playroom in no time flat, even with a toy in one hand and another in your mouth. You have been keeping me running this month, young man. You love electronics, and the more off limits something is, the faster (it seems) you can crawl to it.

You especially love playing with your Gaunie's IPhone

A few days ago, you were playing in your crib while I stood beside you putting away laundry. You made a determined face, wrapped your fingers around the edge of the crib, and stood right up. We clapped, took photos, and I pulled you out so Daddy could lower the crib setting right away. You are pulling up on everything you can reach, and have even figured out how to walk your way around your crib.

Awhile back, you said “Hi!” three times in one day, all in perfect context. I got all excited about your first word and trumpeted it on Facebook – and you promptly refused to say it again. You are adding new sounds to your repertoire every day, though they don’t seem to be connected to anything yet – you just enjoy saying them. For instance, one of your favorite noises is to repeat “dadadadadadada”, but you haven’t seem to connect it to Daddy yet. You mostly enjoy laughing and saying it as loud as you can when I try to correct it to “mama”!

You’ve learned so much this month. You learned how to clap, give real kisses and give high fives. You’re starting to accept real foods some – you made me share my cup of chicken salad and my carrot salad from Chick Fil A today (my willingness to do so, by the way, should show you just how deep my love for you is).  You’re also eating more of everything. We’ve moved to solids twice a day and you’re still nursing like a champ.

Photo courtesy of Max Dunlop

Yes, you even rode a unicorn this month!
I can not believe how much I love you. My love grows as your personality grows. I am fascinated by this little person that you are becoming. It’s so strange that you were born to me, and created from mine and daddy’s DNA – but yet you are wholly your own person. And the coolest thing is, as you grow, so am I. I’m changing and growing into a mother… YOUR mother. Custom designed to do and be exactly what you need. Some people would shirk that concept, but I embrace it completely. I love how we are developing together.

I’ve truly enjoyed this time of exterogestation. You and I have been nearly inseparable. We play together, run errands together. You sleep curled up at my side and hang out in a wrap against my chest when we are out and about. It’s sometime exhausting to be so attached, but I’m thrilled with the beautiful bond we’ve developed. Plus, I know it won’t be long before I’ll be begging you to spend a second close by my side!

You amaze me to no end, little one. You are the coolest baby ever, and I love our time together. I am so very glad God gave me you.

Photo courtesy of Max Dunlop
To the moon… and back,


PS - I apologize that all of your photos this month were either taken by other people or by fuzzy camera phones. I'm sure we have a photo shoot in your near future!

PSS - We just got back from your new pediatrician's office. You now weigh 19 lbs and 7 oz and are almost 29 inches long. Big boy!

What Babies Dream

I was settling in with my crochet, enjoying the peace while Larkin slept solidly. All of the sudden, from the bedroom, he let out a frightened yelp. I threw down my crochet, and darted into the room. In the dim light, I could see him tossing a bit and whimpering but realized that he was still asleep. I yanked the barricading pillows out of the way with one hand, while reaching with the other to feel his cheek for fever. His head was cool, but he was obviously having a bad dream.

I laid down in bed beside him, and prepared to offer a nursing – his usual nighttime request. Before I could position myself, he turned to me. There, in the golden glow of the nightlight, he curled in tight beside me. He rolled until we were belly to belly, and rested his head on my chest. I wrapped my arm around him, and he reached out his small, soft, dry, warm hand and held on tight to my hand. I stroked the tiny dimples on his knuckles and he squeezed my fingers.

I leaned in and kissed his forehead, then buried my nose in his hair. The fine, puffy,  dandelion fluff of his hair tickled my nose. The sharp smell of his lemon organic shampoo mixed with the beachy scent of his sunscreen that never totally comes off in the bath, but it was all pushed aside for the decidedly little boy/baby head smell that is a perfume all his own.

I kissed his little head over and over, until the whimpers stopped and his little body relaxed. I rested my cheek on his head to double check for fever, and considered drifting off to sleep in the sweetness of the cuddles. Then he stiffened and cried out again, stopping short only when he reached out and realized he was still in my arms. My heart broke at the sadness of his fear and trembled with the power of our connection that just my presence was enough to offer such peace.

We laid like that for several minutes as he settled back into a peaceful sleep. I held him tight and wondered what he could possibly be seeing in his dreams to cause such discomfort. (Seriously though, what does such a precious child in such a sheltered environment have nightmares about? Weaning, maybe?) Eventually, he rolled away from me, and settled into his usual starfish position, sprawled across as much of our bed as he can possibly occupy. I slid out of bed, and came back out here to the living room – but I left my heart back in the bedroom, in Larkin’s safekeeping… just where it’s been since the first time he laid his head on my chest.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Heart on the Outside

I was laying by Larkin this afternoon, trying to nurse him to sleep. He kept shooting me a sleepy but mischievous smile and trying to flip over and crawl away. Little devil. I turned our little white noise machine from the rain to the heart beat setting, hoping the change in rhythm would calm him down. No go, but the noise brought back a memory.

I was 23 weeks pregnant, and we were back in the hospital. My contractions had increased again, until they were coming every couple of minutes. I called my doctor and he ordered me in to L&D for monitoring. It was midnight, so our fears were compounded by sleepiness. The nurse made small talk while she hooked me to an IV for fluids, and strapped me to the monitors. She flipped a switch and the sound of Larkin’s heartbeat filled the quiet room.

She checked me for amniotic fluid and dilation (both happy negatives) and we sat and watched the green beeping lines as the machine tracked the rise and fall of my contractions. Jonathan paced and watched a muted DIY decorating show on the little TV as the nurse patted my hand and encouraged me to rest and relax while we waited for the doctor to come check things out. As she stood up to leave, she switched off the speakers that were broadcasting the baby’s heart beat into the room.

“NO!” I said. She looked back, and understood what I meant exactly. That sound was the only link I had to my impossibly pre-term and in distress baby. I couldn’t yet feel his kicks and squirms.  I couldn’t hold him and kiss him. That sound was the only sign I had that he was doing okay in there. His heartbeat wasn’t going to keep me from resting – it was the only thing that would allow me to rest at all.

She switched the speakers back on, and I lay back on the hospital bed. I listed to the whoosh of fluids and the patter of a tiny heart. I closed my eyes and thought how he was hearing my heartbeat the same way I was listening to his, and hoped it was offering him similar comfort.

I spent many hours throughout my pregnancy being monitored in L&D. The nurses on the floor came to remember my request to always leave those speakers on. I, of course, no longer get to listen to the sound of his heartbeat (I guess I could put my ear to his chest, but that would require him to sit still, which isn’t going to happen any time soon). Instead, I get to watch the frenetic movements of an obviously healthy little boy.

It’s intimidating to be a parent. The second that baby is born, you realize that you now have to spend the rest of your life with your heart wandering outside of your body. It’s an excruciatingly vulnerable feeling. I know that my emotional well being is forever entangled in this little pioneer.
Yes. Yes, you are.
Daily, I make decisions for my son. I chose where he goes, what he eats. I make choices that impact his afternoon and choices that will impact his entire life. From who I chose as his pediatrician to whether he is ready to play on the tile floor (update – he thinks he is, but his forehead may disagree). It’s intimidating. Every day, I pray for wisdom, that I may make wise and informed decisions. Decisions that I (and Larkin) will hopefully never regret.

That being said (I don’t have a smooth transition here, so I’ll just move on along to the next thing that is circling my sleepy little mama brain), I thought I’d make an update on my little firecracker. He’s been making developmental leaps like crazy. In the last week since I wrote his May update, he’s learned to sit up by himself (from laying down), has almost got crawling down pat, has learned to clap (SO.CUTE!) and has learned to give ‘real’ kisses (actual puckering, not just open mouthed slobbers).

Yeah, I got here by myself. Ain't no thang.

I see something I shouldn't be getting into. Let's go check it out!
 He has also continued developing that little spitfire personality. He has turned into quite the drama king, and has a whole new range of facial expressions to express his displeasure (in case his shrieks and bellows don’t clue you in). 

He's actually howling. I've always preferred vampires, but he may be the cutest werewolf ever.
Lucky for him, they are all pretty cute, although the hollering is wearing thin. Stay tuned for videos! He’s quite a character, this little boy of mine!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bed Rest: An Anniversary of a Bad Day

One year ago yesterday, I went on bed rest. It’s so strange because it seems like that was ten years ago. I don’t know why the date is so firmly planted in my mind, I’m horrible about anniversaries. But it was easily one of the worst days of my life. I was watching the clock, timing contractions that were only a few minutes apart, but barely painful – because my 20 week old baby wasn’t big enough to cause me much pain. He also would not have been big enough to survive.

Monitors and medicines. Tears and prayers. Fear and uncertainty.

We spent some time in the hospital being monitored, then sent home with bed rest instructions and a prescription to help control the contractions. In all honesty, there was nothing much they could do. I called work, and checked out indefinitely. I settled in to our bed, and stayed there for most of the next seventeen weeks.

When I started my bed rest, I couldn’t yet feel the baby moving. Within a few weeks, I was able to lay back and watch my belly jump from the pressure of tiny kicks. Every day, I played music to the baby. I would chat with him, tell him how much I loved him.

I felt so guilty throughout those months. I hated my body for not adequately protecting my baby, for not effectively performing its primary purpose. But as the weeks went on, and we moved from impossibility to viability and then to safety – I made my peace.

I have a hard time looking back on my pregnancy. The bleeding in the beginning that caused such a scare. The elevated test results that had us hearing words like “option to terminate” and “possibility to abort”. The contractions as my body tried to bring Larkin into this world too soon. The stressful and unpleasant birth ending in an emergency surgery.

So instead, I focus on those days when I would lay in bed and whisper to my unborn baby. When I would tell him of all the fun things we would do, if he would just be patient. When I would pray out loud so that both he and God could hear of my love and pleas for protection. When I would listen to the rain and dream of the day I would watch my son splash in puddles and chase frogs. When I would look out at the sunshine and would miss the world – but know that my work was being done right where I was.

What a year it’s been! 365 days since my last day behind an office computer. 365 of growing - then raising - my little monster. Sometimes I miss the quiet of those days. I don’t get much downtime anymore. But what a blessing that we got those months to get to know each other before he even arrived!