Lessons from a Facebook Fast

On July 31st, I made a decision to step away from Facebook for a month. On September 1st, today, I went back in to have a look around with fresh and rested eyes.

I confess, I did log in a couple of times in August: to create an event, check to see if there was any posts regarding a bit of neighborhood excitement, and once or twice to make sure that a photo had been shared. But it was fewer than five times total, and never for longer than necessary. I would consider the month-long separation a definite success.

Here are some things I learned from the experience:

1. I am a productive person capable of balancing my life and appropriately managing my time.

2. I am perfectly capable of falling down internet click holes all on my own, without using Facebook as my starting point, thank you very much.

3. My family deserves and appreciates my undivided attention.

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4. There are a lot of mountains on Facebook that maybe would be better off having stayed molehills.

5. I was surprised how rarely the temptation to log on actually arose. I credit my fortitude to God’s grace, because much of my previously Facebook-allotted time was spent reading scripture instead.

6. I didn’t miss anything important because people talk with me and inform me of what I need to know or the occasional funny thing to make me smile.

7. I am more optimistic and at peace about my own circumstances and the fate of the world having taken this time for introspection and separation from so much competing and unhealthy distraction.

8. It wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows. Sometimes I felt very lonely. Very isolated and distant. Though I reminded myself that those feelings don’t necessarily go away with constant online presence, just get pushed aside temporarily or change into different sorts of longings.

9. I think I may actually prefer the lonliness and isolation of real life to the lonliness and isolation hidden beneath the facade of connection presented by my Facebook feed.

10. I don’t want to fall back into social media addiction, so I plan to continue to limit my Facebook presence and interactions. And I feel pretty great about this decision.

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Show Yourself: A Birth Story

On Thursday, October 16, 2014, I hit my estimated due date for the first time ever. My third pregnancy had been a little tougher on this slightly older body, but nothing this mama couldn’t handle with a little yoga and occasional visits with an awesome chiropractor. The massage at 38 weeks was pretty awesome, too. I was feeling fine on my due date, so I took Andrew to a play group. Everyone there and Michael’s school drop-off and pick-up was surprised to still see me coming around. My response was that I had to keep doing things other than sit at home and take note of how I wasn’t in labor.

Well, I’d been having contractions for pretty much the entirety of my third trimester, some even seemed regular and a little more “real” during this last week. They’d pick up in the evenings, but by the time I would get into bed, I would pass out just fine until whenever the bladder woke me. Thursday night, however, it was more than the bladder. I woke with the occasional surge, noticing that there were even a few times when it happened and I didn’t also have to get up to pee. But I slept fine around it all, and by Friday morning, again, nothing too intense or regular.

James didn’t work on Friday, so we ran some errands in the morning and did some household chores in the afternoon. I baked brownies. Contractions were happening, and every few squeezes, one would come on that was a little more crampy, a little more intense, a little more real. Before dinner, they were coming on stronger, and I felt the urge to, get this… color something. So I poked around online for something small and complicated to color in with my gel pens. I printed two copies, and Michael colored one, too. I told him I was doing it because of baby, so he also made his a gift for baby. He even taped a dime on the back, so excited to give baby his first money.2014-10-19 001

My father-in-law and his girlfriend grabbed a fish fry for everyone for dinner, and as we ate and afterward, the squeezes kind of slowed down, but still felt like actual labor was actually happening. So I called my midwife to let her know we may be seeing her soon and continued to color my picture as James took the big boys to bed, explaining how the other grownups would be around in case Mom and Dad had to go have a baby while they slept.

After I finished my coloring, about 9:30pm, I went to bed to try and get some sleep. I woke fairly regularly, about every hour or so, and then about 1 or 2am, couldn’t really doze at all anymore. I breathed through as best as I could, trying not to wake James or Andrew, sleeping beside me by that point in bed. Just before 3am, I got up to go to the bathroom and had a few contractions during that process, difference was, I couldn’t just breathe through them anymore, my voice needed to carry me.

So at about 3:00, I told James we should probably get dressed and head over to the birth center. I had hoped to make it at home until morning enough to hug the other boys goodbye, but I really needed space to move and moan as well as the extra support from my birth team at that point. So I called the midwife again, and we agreed to meet up at the birth center and prepare “The Nest,” one of my preferred birthing suites.

It felt like it took forever to dress myself in between contractions, but between James and I, we managed to gather what I had packed and prepared, and we finally made it out the door. I had a few contractions in the car, and we even managed to beat our midwife to the birth center, where the parking lot seemed pretty packed for nearly 4am. Turns out, there was another family there with the other midwife. Later into my labor at the birth center, I felt a sisterhood connection to this other mother, who I never saw, but heard moaning through her pains as I did mine. I learned later that her baby boy was born just an hour after ours.

We brought in our things and settled in. My midwives took my vitals, and they set us up with some water to drink and filled up the tub. My pains were strong and persistent as I sat on my birth ball, used the bathroom, rocked with James, ate a little snack. Between contractions, James and I complained to each other about how early in the morning it was, how nice it would be to have a baby before breakfast, stuff like that. Then I got in the tub for awhile. Contractions spaced out again in the water, but the intensity continued. It felt so good to float.

After awhile, I got sick of the tub, so I got out and did a lot of laboring between the toilet and the bed. As glamorous as it was absolutely not, it felt pretty good just to sit in the bathroom. When I would lie on the bed, again, things would kind of space out. After another couple of hours of moving around between bed, bathroom, ball and James and back again, some heavy sobbing and some wise cracks and jokes, I decided that I needed to go back in the tub. So the midwives came in and warmed it back up. I stripped nude (instead of getting back into my wet bathing suit), which they all said was a good sign of the progress being made.

My water still hadn’t broken, and I hadn’t been checked for dilation at all, by my own preference. I thought about asking to have the water bag broken because I figured that would help baby move down faster, but I ultimately decided to trust my body, thinking it could also be kind of amazing if it didn’t. So I got back in the tub and labored some more. The contractions were rough and really, really crampy. Between surges, I would shift positions. At one point, I said to the baby, “Alright, show yourself!” I was starting to feel like things were taking forever. I think we checked the clock and it was not even 8am, so not so much forever as a couple of hours, really. But with how much the contractions were making me rock and moan, I really wanted them to be doing more than I felt like they were.

But again, as I got comfortable in the tub, they spaced out a little bit. However, they must have actually gotten even more intense during this time because after a little while in the tub, one of my moans must have sounded rather pushy, because without us even paging anyone, all three midwives came into the room with their gloves and various towels and tools ready to greet a newborn. This was surprising to me because I knew I wasn’t that close, though I kind of did try a little bearing down during that contraction they must’ve heard. That baby’s head still felt nowhere near the door where I knew he needed to be. At least not in my mind or from what I could tell, physically, down lower.

Well, all the midwives came in and took their seats around the tub. As a contraction ended and I began to wait (a super long time) for the next one to come, I looked up at these expectant faces, feeling very exposed and awkward. I said to them, “So… how’s it going?” in my most casual conversational tone. And hey, at least it broke the ice, and we all had a good laugh as someone said, “We’re doing good, how’s it going with you?”

Again, the pains spread out, and I felt like the panda bear at the zoo. I tried to fill the space with talk of breakfast and how nice it would be to have a baby soon, and my water cup got a couple of refills. But I was also very aware of how naked I was and how many contractions I wasn’t having while on display. Luckily, I had a very intuitive and considerate birth team, who quietly slipped back out of the room when it must have become apparent to them that six extra eyes on me weren’t exactly helping to move things along.

I kept shifting position in the tub. Kept returnting to hands and knees or just kneeling. I cried. I cried and laughed at the same time. I cried again. I let my body and emotions lead me. I rode along. I tried to surrender. It didn’t take too many more contractions during this stage for me to get to a point where my change in vocal tones was obvious even to my husband during an extra long and intense contraction. He paged the midwives back before that one even ended, knowing that they would probably be needed for real very soon.

I knew I was pushing a little by that point. But there was something preventing me from giving it my all. I was holding back. I knew it. I was hesitating. I think I was waiting to feel like I felt with Andrew. I was waiting for my body just to take over. I didn’t realize (or want to admit) that this baby needed more active participation. I didn’t like the feeling in my bottom when I tried bearing down. It felt, for lack of any better terms, too much in my butt. And the crazy part is that by this point, it wasn’t even painful to push or ride the contractions, I just didn’t like how it felt. It felt wrong. It felt strange. It felt impossible, like there was no way that pushing to my butt was ever going to get that baby to emerge properly.

They had me try a reclining position in the tub, with my feet against the sides, completely spread open. They reminded me how to breathe and hold my breath to bear down and push through to my bottom. My midwife asked if I wanted her to check and make sure that I was fully dilated and all was a go, and I agreed. It was very painful in a way I don’t know that I want to remember or can really even describe. She invited me to feel for myself. And when I tried, I couldn’t really feel much of anything. Just that the baby’s head was too far away. “It’s too far away,” I said.

I changed positions because I didn’t like how I was feeling on my back with my knees spread so far apart. I got to my knees, leaning over the side where James sat cheering me on. I said many words about how strange it felt to push, how much I didn’t want to, begging for it to be over, for me to be done. Someone said, “Your baby will be in your arms before you know it,” and my response was, “Before I know it was too long ago already.”

Then there was the push. The strangest sensation I have ever felt in my life. It felt like birthing a baby, a head or a body or whatever. Something big and significant came out of me. But as it came out, there was a pop and a release. I’m sure my face was a mixture of confusion and horror, and I asked what just happened. Of course, it was the water finally breaking. Finally.

I’m not sure how fast it went then. I don’t know how many more contractions before I was feeling anxious and wrong again and needing something to change. Someone asked if I wanted to get out of the tub. That suggestion was easily the very best idea I had ever heard in my whole entire life, maybe even the history of the world. Yes. I absolutely needed to get out of the tub.

As I stood to get out of the tub, I had a huge contraction. I leaned over, pushed and squatted a little. The midwives moved around to the other side of the tub behind me, and in another contraction or two, I pushed out the most massive head that’s ever lived inside my body. They announced the head was out, and I said, “That was a big head.” Someone said that it wasn’t too big, just the perfect size. With the next push, the body burned its way out of me, too. And I reached down and lifted my baby up from the midwives’ hands. They helped me sit back on the bench in the tub, and I looked into that perfect little face. I touched his tiny hands and feet, made sure he was actually the boy I was told to expect.

I stood up again to get out of the tub for real, and everyone helped me get settled into the bed. I delivered the placenta, and my nether regions were assessed for damage. I decided to wait and see if I wanted a couple of stitches to repair a tear, got an ice pack to lie on, and we were left alone to rest and bond.

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We named him Daniel Reece, and called to tell our parents about him. He hadn’t been weighed or measured yet, but the midwives had a hunch he would be heavier than he looked based on how “sturdy” he felt. He was born at 8:51am. We had some cuddle time, he nursed a little bit, James took some picures and a call from work, and then the midwives came back in to measure him and check him over. I passed on the stitches. My bottom had been through quite enough for the time being.

His head was huge at 36cm around. (“See, I knew that was a big head!”) He weighed 8lbs 14oz, way bigger than my other babies (Michael was 7lbs 15oz and Andrew was 7lbs 2oz). He was 21 inches long. And perfect in every way.

Mike and Linda picked up a couple of omelettes for us on their way to bring the big brothers and meet the newest addition to our family. Those boys absolutely adore their little baby brother. They are helpful and empathetic, and Andrew is especially fascinated and so curious about that little brother. (“That his belly button penis?” he asked when he noticed the still fresh umbilical cord.)

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I am so proud of myself, my strong, supportive husband and my super big boys. I couldn’t be more grateful to my birth team and my family. This little guy was hard work, and I am truly blessed that my boys and I have been so cared for as I rest and heal and snuggle our new little miracle. As tough as this birth was, it was beautiful in its way, and I wouldn’t have changed a moment.

School Kid

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Tuesday morning, we sent our first born son off to full-day kindergarten. This is a huge deal in our house. Because aside from the two-hour, once-a-week Bible study class we’ve done, M has never before attended school. He has been hanging out with me or his dad every day for his whole life. He never even went to daycare.

I worried about and prayed for him as this week approached. I don’t remember my first day of kindergarten, but I do remember first grade. And I remember how being assigned a seat next to a boy in my class set me off crying. I’m sure it wasn’t only sitting next to a boy I didn’t want to sit near, but that all the emotion of such changes that come with starting school just spilled out of me at that precise moment. My first grade teacher knew exactly what to do and say to calm me down, like she could read my mind. I hoped for such care and kindness for my own boy as he began his journey through school. Because even if he doesn’t melt down this week or next, there may come a time when it just hits him like that, and I hope that his teachers will be the kind who get it.

Tuesday, he was nervous. The night before, he was both excited and scared. We tried not to talk too much about it because he’s kind of like his dad in that he doesn’t want to think too much about what worries him, especially if it’s unknown and out of his control. It was a fine line to walk, though, because like many five-year-olds, he also does better in new situations when he has some idea of what to expect. Because we ourselves didn’t know exactly what to expect, that part was a little harder.

So far, he loves school. And the adjustment has been pretty seamless for him so far. I can tell that there are some things he’s still working out about the new normal, though, because we’ve had a few tough times with him at home this week. And I expected that. The way he talks about school itself, though, I can see that he is enjoying himself there. After that first day, he’s happy to go there, happy to be there, and even a little not-so-happy to leave. He was not one of the kids who left class the last few days in tears. And I haven’t gotten any phone calls, yet, either. So that’s a bit of relief for me.

I, on the other hand, could never have prepared myself enough for this. This milestone of releasing my hold on my baby. I’ve been watching him grow into this amazing person. I’ve seen him get taller and stronger day by day. I’ve listened to his stories and participated in his games that have become more and more involved and elaborate. He is funny and kind and wild and wonderful. And even though building robots or pretending to be a thumper lion is not my personal idea of fun, it’s been so quiet around here without him asking me when I can come play, can I get his bike out, can we watch a movie.

But as much as I miss his presence and his energy around here, I know he’s right where he needs to be now. He is great with his little brother, but he needs to run around with kids his own speed and skill level. He’s eager to learn new things from someone that’s not me. I hate letting him go. It scares me that there will now be so many influences in his life that I can’t control and may never even know. And it’s hard for me to look back on our time at home together and believe that I always did my best, that I really prepared him for the world as much as I could have. I know I still have great influence here at home, but the dynamic has already began to shift, and I am continuing to hope and pray that he will do more good than bad, that he will show kindness and respect, and that he will be exposed to positive influences, encouragement and support.

The thing is, he’s already made me so very proud, and I can’t foresee any scenario in which he won’t always do just that.

Twelve Months

Dear Andrew,

One. Oh. My. Goodness. You are ONE.

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Yes. It will be redundant of me to say how fast this time has gone. I still think about your birth often. I think about you coming quick and surprising into our lives, into our family. And you have spent the year with us claiming your place in our hearts. Demanding to participate in everything and interact with everyone you see. And you get really, really dramatic when you can’t. You throw yourself on the floor, sometimes from a seated position, arching your back and knocking your head on the carpet. Sometimes you’ll collapse forward and roll around. And I’m sure these little baby tantrums are only going to get worse, but right now, they’re actually kind of adorable.
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You have gotten FAST. You’re not quite running, but your walk gets you where you need to be not long after you decide you need to be there. You still love being chased and as you run away, your mouth is wide open and smiley, and your voice is loud. A daring yell. You love this game. Especially when you get up to take off in the middle of a diaper change.

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You will kill me one day for posting this, but when we get that diaper off, you hop up with that mischievious twinkle in your eye, grab your junk and hobble off down the hallway as fast as your legs will go. Then you come back to the bedroom doorway to peek in at me again and laugh and laugh, holding your boy bits all the while and running away as soon as you’ve caught my eye. 

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This month, the weather has finally gotten nicer, and now that the ground is often dry and you so much more steady on your feet, I have let you out of the carrier and onto the ground. You go. You grin so wide, your eyes light up so brightly, and you are free to roam. And roam you do. You run, you carry things around, you trip and fall. You don’t mind. You get right back up again. You are fascinated and thrilled with the grass, the concrete, the sidewalk chalk, the rocks, the leaves and the dirt. You have learned that you don’t enjoy the taste of the latter few, the dirt being especially difficult to get out of your mouth when you realized how offensive it was. But you just can’t believe how amazing this wide world really is, how much there is to examine, and you babble and make sure to point it all out to me whenever you get the chance.

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And speaking of chalk and dirt, you will eat anything. You no longer appreciate it if we offer you food that is different from what’s on our own plates. You know when you’re missing out on something and you are not shy about letting us know that you’ve gotten wise. You love spaghetti and meatballs, lentils, chicken, olives, pickles, spinach dip, grapes, goulash, potato pancakes and more foods than I can remember to name.

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Awhile ago, we started to encourage you to sign a few simple words. Essentially, “more,” and “food,” and “please,” because the way you were asking for it was damaging our ears and hurting our brains with the decibel of your screaming. You combined the sign for “more” and “food,” I think, so you haven’t exactly mastered the signs we showed you, but at least we know what you mean when you take your index finger and point to the palm of your other hand. It means you want more. Usually food. Usually my food.

 

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You are such a helper. You want to stir pots of food on the stove. You press your face against the window of the oven when something is baking. You pull the towels down from their hanging places and rub them over the fronts of cabinets and across the floors. When Michael helps take the laundry out of the washer and hands it to me to put in the dryer, you reach out and grab some with your little hands, too, thrilled to be a part of the process. You put clothes (and occasionally trucks) in the hamper from the floor and remove clean clothes from the laundry basket. You even help pick up toys at night or outside when it’s time to go in. Sometimes you also take them back out again, but I know you mean well. 

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You always want to be part of the action. You find it hard to nap if there are people around or even in the car unless you are completely wiped. You’re just too excited to see what’s coming next. You are smiley and strong and completely in love with the world and the people around you. You’re lucky to have so many wonderful friends and family members in your life. And even though you are completely attached to your mommy still, you manage to give lots of love to lots of others. You like to be held at adult level, and as long as there is an adult around with a free arm, you will walk over and reach up. And not one of them so far has been able to look down at your big smiling face and outstretched hands and deny you that simple request.

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There’s usually some hugs in it for us, and you give really, really good ones.

Love,
Mama

Seven Months

Dear Andrew,

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Last week, you turned seven months old. It’s been quite the eventful month for you and for all of us. You took on the end of daylight savings time without much of a disruption, but a week later, we hauled you and your brother and all of our worldly possessions halfway across the country from our home in Virginia to make a fresh start in the land of your parents’ birth, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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I still have a lot to say for myself about this change, but as for you, you handled everything like a champ. You did pretty well on the long drive, even managing to tolerate the dark for a few hours without too much screaming. We had to make a lot of stops, and a trip that used to take your dad and me about 13 or 14 hours without any little boys along took us about 20 this time. But it wasn’t all you. And it wasn’t all your brother. Family road trips just take a little longer, and lucky for us, we will only have to do that drive again if we really, really want to. Because now that we’re in Wisconsin, vacations can be spent doing something other than coming to see your grandparents. And that was sort of part of the point of it all, really.

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You are incredibly observant. And I know that you’ve been a little confused over the last few days. You look around at our bedroom, which contains all the same furniture and artwork that we had back in Virginia, and you look at me or your daddy and you really seem to be working hard to reconcile the space with the people and the stuff. It was amazing to watch you figure out your new reality. By now, you seem to have embraced it while I, I am still getting there. 

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Your smiles help. You love being around your grandparents. I was worried that you’d continue to prefer only me, even as you had all these loving people reaching out to hold you close. And there are still times, especially evening times, when only one person will do. But you have made so many hearts so happy over the last several days with your openness, your curiosity and your loving and playful nature, including your own. I’ve enjoyed watching you explore these new places and these people that will be more in your life now that we’re closer to theirs.

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This month, you got your first tooth. I thought you were coming down with a cold or a stomach bug because you’d been fussy with a runny nose and some, shall we say different, diaper contents. But a couple of days later, I stuck my thumb in your mouth to keep you from yelling during M’s nap time and lo and behold, I felt that sharp little spot sticking through your gums. 

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I have to tell you, I wasn’t ready for that. At all. Your brother seemed pretty excited for you, sticking his own finger in your mouth to feel the thing I was so surprised about, but me? I almost cried. You are just growing up so fast, and with everything going on in our lives, it’s been hard for me to stop you, or even just to stop and enjoy you. Don’t get me wrong, every new thing about you brings me so much pride and joy as your mother, it’s just that sometimes, I don’t know, I’m afraid it’s gone so fast I’ve missed something important.

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But maybe, it’s just that it’s never going to be enough for me. I will never get enough of your smiles, now with one tooth prominently poking up from your bottom gums. I will never hear enough of your baby giggles. I will never get enough of you pulling yourself up, losing your balance, and falling back onto your butt or to your hands and knees. Of your huge, open-mouth grins when you see me from far away and crawl determinedly in my general direction. Of you sitting on the floor watching your big brother. Laughing at him even when he’s not doing anything at all to try to entertain you, just out of the joy you have being close to him. Of your mimicking his lightsaber fighting moves where you hold one of his hand-made creations and wave it back and forth in your little fist. Of your hugs. Of your sweet cuddles, though somewhat rare, with your daddy. Of your babbling, or how your reach for our faces and pull us closer for kisses, Eskimo kisses or little raspberries on your chubby cheeks or neck. You do all these things, and my heart goes, “Do it again.” I want more. And still more. It will never be enough. 

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Love,
Mommy

Six Months

Dear Andrew,

A few days ago, you turned six months old. It happened to be the day of a big party we had for your daddy and big brother, so I didn’t really get a chance to sit down and write to you until today.

But boy do I have some stuff to say.

You crawl now. And fast. Hands and knees, baby! I turn around, and you’ve managed to get yourself all the way underneath the kitchen table to taste the cords lying on the floor there. You cruise right down the hallway to my bedroom, yelling the whole time because I didn’t come to you first. You can sit up without any help, and you can get into crawling position and back to sitting like it’s no big thing. You are already irritating your big brother with how easy it is for you to get into his things and subsequently get those things into your slobbery mouth. You’ve been on the move for awhile, now, I know. But this month, you’ve totally gotten serious about it.

You like to stand up. So much so that you have already gotten impatient with waiting for parental hands to help lift and stabilize you on your feet and have already used whatever you can find to try to get up, up, up. You will often be down on all fours, hands and knees, but decide it’s time to try again and get your feet underneath you instead. You still don’t quite have the strength, though, to push all the way up off your hands. It’s fun to watch you test your body’s limits, but my one question for you is, what’s the hurry?

You tried food for the first time this month. Sweet potatoes and bananas so far. You’re really excited about that stuff on the spoon, and you really seem to want to eat just like us, but we’re not so sure you’re body is quite ready. After a few nights of sweet potatoes, you were super hyper, you wouldn’t sleep when you usually do. So we started offering the food just in the afternoon, which seemed to help, though also seemed to tie you up, intestine-wise. So we took a little break from food to try again in a few weeks, when maybe your body will be better able to take on the new stuff.

It’s impossible to deny, you want to do what everyone else is doing, especially your big brother. I love how you watch him with such intense focus. I can see your thoughts in those moments of “when can I do that?” You’re mentally trying to figure out how to make your own body do those things, too. The best part is how happy it makes you even just to be on his radar. When he makes funny noises for you, plays with you, even going so far as a bit of light wrestling, you are just so obviously in heaven. It pretty much makes my heart explode.

When we’re in the car on our way to or from any of our various activities of play dates, you two in the back seat, if you’re actually awake, Michael usually finds a way to crack you up. He makes faces, says silly words, and you just laugh and laugh. I love your laugh. Your smile is easy and huge and adorable. And your laugh is full of unbridled joy. We have a long car trip coming up, so I hope that at least some part of that drive is full of M’s silliness and your adorable giggles.

Another reason I got a little behind this month writing to you is because we’ve been preparing ourselves and our home for a major relocation. It hurts my heart to have to leave the place where I first brought both my babies home, but I know that at least for you, as long as you have your momma near, the move will probably not even phase you. You’re still happiest when I’m nearby, and you and Daddy have had some time together to play and connect, and I’d love to see that happen more. I love having you in our family, and I know that all of us feel the same way. And one of the reasons we are moving next month is because of our family. So both you and your brother know all the love that surrounds you up close and personal.

So keep laughing and squealing and talking yourself to sleep. Let me eat your belly, your fingers, your toes, and I’m sure my heart will heal from having to leave this place of ours. Because we’ve got so many good memories to make where we’re going. We’ve got this great opportunity for a fresh start full of love and laughter and new adventures. I’m so glad we have you with us. We are truly blessed, and I hope you feel that way, too.

Love,
Mommy

Three Months

Dear Andrew,

How has three months managed to pass so quickly? The day after I posted your two-month update, you came out with a full on baby laugh. Michael didn’t give me one of those until he was about twice your age. I was thrilled and surprised. It made me light up all day long.

You are just the happiest little thing I’ve ever seen. Sure, you have your moments when things just aren’t quite right, but most of the time, when you’re awake, you smile and chatter and coo. You love to watch your brother bounce off the walls. This month, you seem to be more aware that he is one of the bigger people in the house who’s here to take care of you and make you smile. Sometimes, you give him bigger smiles than I’ve gotten after spending countless minutes making crazy faces and idiotic sounds at you for little more than a smirk.

You have discovered your hands for real this month. Your daddy and I have watched you examine your little fists with furrowed brow, like, wow, I didn’t know they could do thatI You’ll clasp your hands together over your chest and just feel them there, one hand pulling on the fingers of the other, then changing it up, like there’s nothing more important at that moment than trying to figure out how those little appendages operate.

Your hands are such a comfort to you that sometimes, another surprise to this mommy, they’re just what you need in order to drift off to dreamland. I think part of the reason that these parents were a little nervous about doing the whole baby thing again was because the baby we’d been through couldn’t really sleep without nursing, rocking, bouncing or some other parental intervention for quite a lot of months. Perhaps even years, it’s all a blur, really.

But you, you constantly amaze me. You’re happy lying on the floor or in the bouncer. You’ll suck on your thumb, fingers, fist or a blanket and be perfectly content to let your big eyes just absorb the happenings around you until they just get too heavy to take in any more. You’re equally happy in my arms or snug in a wrap. Usually, though, if I have you wrapped up on me, movement is absolutely necessary. That’s pretty much non negotiable.

You love baths so much that you scream every time one comes to an end. But after I towel you off and lie you down, you look up at me and smile as I moisturize your skin. I sing silly little songs and rub the oil into your arms and legs and belly. Sometimes you laugh and kick your legs and flap your hands around. I can’t help picking you up to cuddle and inhale your sweet clean baby smell.

You enjoyed the fireworks for the Fourth. The noise didn’t phase you one bit, and your eyes followed every light. You’re getting very strong. You like to stand up and your head barely wobbles anymore. You often dig your heels in during diaper changes to lift your bottom up and scoot yourself out of range of the diaper. We may have to invest in easier diapers because of this. You just seem to want to move. You see your brother and your arms and legs start going and going. You can’t wait to run and jump and play like that. On the other hand, your daddy and I totally can.

You’re getting big like crazy. No more newborn clothes for your long frame. You’re even getting close to outgrowing the 3-month sizes already. I hate to even admit that I’ve occasionally looked at the tag of an outfit about the right size and it’s had a 9 in it. What?! I tell myself that those clothes run small, and I’d better just put you in it now so that you have some time to enjoy it because M barely wore it before he outgrew it, too, and he was growing at a snail’s pace compared to you. And maybe some of those outfits do run on the small side. Part of it is you, though, changing constantly, getting heavier and longer as I hold you and cuddle you, as you stretch and sleep.

You are becoming quite conversational. Your focus is amazing and your definitely expanding your repertoire of vowel sounds. There have even been a few gurgles and “g” sounds thrown into the mix, lately, too. Your eyes and face are so expressive. Sometimes, I can hear those sounds coming to a crescendo of anxiety, if I’m doing something out of your sight, so I’ll come closer to you to give a little more attention to you, and immediately, I see your face relax. The look in your eyes when I come into view is the reason I’m here. Your smile and laugh are addictive, I can’t help dropping everything sometimes just to see if I can make you giggle, even if those chuckles give you a major case of hiccups (which they do almost every time). I feel like the luckiest person on earth when I’m on the receiving end of those smiles, that dimple, that most pure look of love in your eyes.

I love you so much,
Mommy