Monday, June 24, 2013

12 Weeks

Arlo is 12 weeks old today, which means I returned to work. I can't believe it, but I didn't shed a tear all day. It was actually kind of nice to get back into the swing of things and get a feel for what our new normal is going to be like around here. I'm not saying I didn't run out the door as fast as I could at 5:00 or anything, though. I couldn't wait to have my boy in my arms, where he belongs.

Sleepy at the cookout we hosted last Thursday.

Last night was rough. I was hoping to have a nice, chill evening at home, all of us just smooching and cuddling, but the universe had other plans. Arlo was crankier than ever, and he projectile vomited all over the place. That was a first for this household. Wow. And of course the couch caught most of it. He cried and cried and cried, so we called the on-call doctor, who told us not to worry unless he projectile vomited after his next feed. Fortunately, he didn't, but I worried all night and slept like total crap.

He's still pretty angry today, but Danny said he had lots of happy periods, too—so I'm trying not to fret too much. If he's not happy tomorrow, though, Danny said he's taking him to the doctor.

Anyway, Arlo's discovering that he can make his hands and feet do things at will; he has a little monkey guy that he likes to bring up to his mouth and gnaw on, and he kicks the hangy toys on the bouncy seat at Grammy's house. He stares and stares at the doodads on his jumperoo (which he's way too small for, but he looks so adorable just dangling there), and I can tell he's just itching to grab them.

Snuggling with his monkey guy. (No, I'm not stupid enough to let him sleep with that thing.)

He gives us at least a couple giggles every day (Is there a sweeter sound?), and he makes us laugh several times a day. This kid's gonna be hilarious, I'm telling you.

Cracking himself up in the jumperoo.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Last Day of Maternity Leave

I go back to work tomorrow.

It hurts to even type that sentence because, as much as I truly am ready to get back into the real world, these 3 months have been the greatest months of my entire life, hands down. They were stressful, sleep deprived, and crazy—but also rewarding, breathtaking, and so, so filled with love.

There are some things I want to document here, so, in the event that Danny and I are fortunate enough to bring home another baby someday, I can look back at what I've learned over these last 3 months. I'm not referring to what I've learned with regards to love and life and how amazing it is to be somebody's mommy, because I don't have the words for all that. I'm talking about maternity leave, in general.

Here are some things I'm glad I did—and hope to do again:
  • Wrote Arlo's birth story. I wrote down the details while everything was still fresh in my mind, and this piece of writing, along with the birth photos we had taken, is my treasure. It's not literary genius by any means, but it's heartfelt, and I look back on it often—and have yet to do so without crying. I'm so happy I captured the day in words (or tried to, anyway), and that we had Brittany Graham capture it in photos. There have been moments where I was at my wit's end, and reading Arlo's birth story is like grabbing myself by the shoulders and shaking some sense into myself; it's such a good reminder of how special that day was and of what a blessing Arlo is.
  • Wore pajamas frequently. Arlo doesn't care what I look like, so I wasn't about to waste time getting pretty every day. 
  • Took Arlo out and about. It doesn't take long to get stir-crazy, so I wasn't afraid to haul Arlo around, even if it meant being kind of embarrassed in public a few times. Babies cry.  

Here are some things I wish I'd known:
  • You're not going to get anything done. Seriously, forget about organizing the basement/closets/5 years' worth of photos. It's 100% not going to happen. If you're able to load the dishwasher and take a shower, consider it a successful day, and tell yourself how amazing you are. Maternity leave exists for a reason; newborns are a full-time job.  
  • Have an open house. Everybody's going to want to meet your little miracle, and that's wonderful. You'll be more grateful for your loved ones than ever before, but it's chaotic planning your days around visitors (e.g., "Okay, the baby has to be fed, changed, and happy; and we have to make sure the house is presentable and the dog's not full of piss and vinegar by X:00!"). Don't let thoughtful gestures become a source of stress. Consider having an open house one day a week for the first few weeks, rather than having a visitor every day.
  • Print photos every week. They're everywhere:  on the camera, on our phones, in friends' FB albums, etc. Print them every week or so, because finding them all, printing them all, and putting them all in order becomes really overwhelming really fast.
  • Take time for yourself. You'll go crazy if you don't. The baby will be fine if you leave him/her with Daddy for awhile and go take a walk or get your hair done. Needing some alone time doesn't make you a bad mommy or wife. It just makes you human.
  • Take time for your husband. Your baby's awesome beyond belief, but don't forget how awesome your husband is, too. As exciting as the topic is, maybe he wants to talk about something besides cloth diapers sometimes.
  • Don't rely on breastfeeding for weight loss. It obviously didn't work. Make sure the fridge is always stocked with easy, healthy food. 
  • Go to bed earlier. Who actually "naps when the baby naps?" Everybody says the dishes can wait, but that logic doesn't vibe well with a Type A personality. Use baby's naptime as get-things-done time, but go to bed earlier! There's no reason to stay up until midnight every night, trying to catch up on housework or your Facebook newsfeed.  
  • Enjoy every single second. Even when the baby is crying hysterically and your head is about to explode, squeeze that little miracle tight and kiss, kiss, kiss him/her. It's amazing how damn fast these months go by. One second, you're smelling your baby's skin for the first time, and the next second, you're making sure your breast pump is all packed and ready for work the next day—and you'll wish you had your screaming baby in your arms.
Last day of maternity leave. That's kinda how I feel, too, kid.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Citrus Lane Box #2

Our friend Mel gave us a Citrus Lane subscription when Arlo was born. It's one of those things like Birchbox, where a present is left on your doorstep once a month, only this box is filled with surprises tailored specifically to the age of the recipient's child. What an amazing gift! Next time somebody I really love has a baby, I'm totally buying them a 6 month subscription.

Last month's box was awesome, but I never got around to sharing it with you, so I'll start off with this month's box, which is even more awesome. I wasn't expecting anything fun in the mail, so this really brightened my day. I was glad Arlo was napping when it arrived, so I didn't have to wait to tear into it.

How do the cats know, no matter where they are, that I've just brought a box into the house?

This month's theme is summer, so the goodies in the box are meant to "prepare you for a season of fun in the sun." Its contents include an iPlay sun protection hat, which is crazy because Danny and I tried to find one of these 2 days ago when we were out and about—to no avail; a Boon Odd Duck rubber ducky that's designed not to hold water, and therefore, won't collect mold; Episencial Soothing Cream that's made from minerals instead of chemicals; and Susan Brown's Foot Therapy Cream for Mama, which means somebody at Citrus Lane somehow knows that I could probably start a fire if I rubbed my feet together long enough.

Edgar's such a good sport.

What a great box of stuff! Can't wait to put everything to use. Be ready for some pictures of Arlo sporting that cute hat. Hello, summer!

Added 35 minutes after I originally published this post:

Edgar's still in the box, and the adorable hat is reversible!

Monday, June 17, 2013

11 Weeks

Arlo is 11 weeks old today, which means this is my last week of maternity leave. Fortunately, Danny's work schedule is crazy, so he'll get to stay home with Arlo 2 or 3 days a week. The other days, Arlo will be with my mother-in-law. I'm obviously glad he'll be in good hands, but just thinking of being away from him for ten hours a day, 5 days a week makes me sick. I'll be missing out on fifty hours of his life every week. Heartbreaking. (Don't even think of rolling over for the first time at Grammy's house, kid.)

Running errands with Mama.

Arlo's reflux is under control, he smiles a million times a day, he's just starting to giggle while he's awake, and he's getting really, really fun. The enjoyable times outweigh the hectic ones (There, I said it. Newborns are stressful.)—so it freakin' sucks that I'm going back to work next week. Danny'll be home with Arlo my first day back, so it'll blow, but I guess it could be worse.

Lovin' his play mat, despite not being able to reach anything quite yet.
Do you see that dimple?? Ridiculous.
Clearly scheming. 

Yesterday was Father's Day, and I loved spending the day with my boys. Naturally, our lost babies—and the people who are still awaiting their miracles—were on my mind, but overall, it was a really happy day for us. It was a good reminder (like I really needed a reminder) of how lucky Arlo is to have a dad like Danny—who'd do anything in the world for him—especially in a day and age where so many people, myself included, grow up without a daddy.

Also true.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go stare at my baby.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dear Arlo (By Danny)


Dear Arlo,

I’m not sure when or if you’ll ever read this, but I just wanted to write down a few things, partly for you but also partly so I can remember the little things that have happened over the last ten and a half weeks.

The day you were born, as well as the days leading up to your birth, were the most magical and wonderful times of our lives. Your mom went into labor with you while we were at Uncle Joe’s house for Easter Dinner. We already knew you were going to be an interesting boy, but Easter Dinner solidified our beliefs.

It took your mother and me a long time to have you. You see, you have brothers or sisters that should have been born on June 27th and October 29th, 2012, but God, Fate, the Universe, whatever you want to call it, had other plans. For whatever reason, those brothers or sisters weren’t meant for this world. After we lost your first sibling, we thought it was just bad luck. After the second loss we began to worry that we’d never be able to have you. There was an extremely terrifying moment when we thought we were going to lose you, too. I’ll spare you the details, but you might as well know that you should have had a twin. That twin, as it seems, wasn’t meant for this world, either.

We didn’t lose you, though; you hung on tight because you were determined to make us a family. I’ll never forget the ultrasound picture that was taken right after we thought we were losing you. You were just a little bean with tiny little arm and leg buds. In the picture it looked like you were waving or hanging on to something. I liked to joke that you fought the odds, kicking and screaming “I’m not done cooking!”, and holding on to your life to become the center of ours.

At two and a half months old, we can already see your personality emerging. Every day you get to see or experience something for the first time, and your mother and I can almost remember what it’s like to be filled with childlike amazement and wonder.

For the most part, you’re a happy boy. You smile a lot, and your first smile was after I gave you an Eskimo kiss. Your mom discovered that you love having your face touched and it almost always brings a smile to your face and makes you coo with happiness.

You giggle in your sleep and, as of ten minutes ago, when you’re awake. You love to do stretches and grunts… every time you wake from a deep sleep, you stretch with both arms over your head and let out some caveman-like noises. When we change your diaper, you make noises like a little horse.

When you’re startled, you throw both of your arms out to the sides (we’ve learned that this is called the Moro Reflex, and it’s one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen… and sometimes I startle you on purpose just so you’ll do it).

When we take you outside you love the feel of the breeze against your skin, the sun on your face, and the sounds of birds chirping. Sometimes you’ll let out a happy scream when something catches your attention. Little, everyday things that your mother and I take for granted and may even dismiss as trite are suddenly amazing when we get to see your reaction to them.

I’m not sure what else to tell you right now, except that if there was ever anything we did right, it was making you. I also don’t have much advice to give you yet, and quite honestly, I hate being given unsolicited advice. But I’m your Dad, so I do have a little fatherly advice. As you get older, it’ll be harder and harder to keep your sense of childlike wonder, to find joy and excitement in everyday occurrences. Find a way to let the world amaze you. Be childlike without being childish. If you ever feel like you’re becoming jaded, stay up all night and watch the sun rise.

I love you more than you can imagine,

Monday, June 10, 2013

10 Weeks

Arlo is 10 weeks old today, and we made it through our first week of Danny working. I have a newfound respect for stay-at-home moms. This is tough work. It's a damn good thing this boy is cute, let me tell you.

Does this really need a caption?

Arlo loves being outside. I'm not an outdoorsy person in the least, but I do enjoy sitting in the front yard with him, watching him take in the sound of the birds chirping, the way the wind feels between his outstretched fingers—things I stopped noticing so, so many years ago.

Relaxing in the setting sun.

I'm not wearing makeup, but I'm taking one for the team because this is too cute not to share.

I'm concerned about Arlo's sleep habits. I really have no idea when he's going to nap—or for how long. He also thinks 5 a.m. is a great time to get up for the day, which is no big deal right now but will seriously blow when I return to work in 2 weeks (ugh) and can't doze during his first nap. I have a feeling life is going to be pretty rough for a while once I'm working again—but I'll get to come home, exhausted, to this face:


So, how miserable could I be, really?

No, seriously:  OMG. (Also, mean Mama didn't cut his nails, which resulted in a pretty ugly scratch below his eye.) 

A random photo of Scooter and Arlo, just because.

Monday, June 3, 2013

9 Weeks

Arlo is 9 weeks old today, which means Danny returned to work. Boo. Other than that, not much has happened since last week—so I'll just leave you with a bunch of pictures.

They're trying to make my heart explode.

It's hard work sitting up in the Bumbo.

That face!

"Are you sure about this swaddle, Mom?"

I can't even find the words for this one. (I wish Yogi was ours.)

Kiss #100 billion from Mama

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Happy Two Months: A Letter to Arlo

Dear Arlo,

You're two months old today. How is that even possible? Already, your daddy and I can't even imagine life without you. Time is going by way too quickly, and I'm making a conscious effort to enjoy every moment with you—even the challenging ones.

Yes, my perfect, sweet, beautiful boy, there are challenging moments around here. I blame most of this on your reflux, which has caused damage to your esophagus. Your medicine is helping, but still, sometimes you just cry and cry—and skip all of your naps—because you're in so much pain. Not even staring at your curtains can console you when you get like this. Nothing can. I hate feeling so helpless, and it breaks my heart to know you're hurting.

But oh, Lord, there are happy times, too. Complete and utter joyfulness. Sometimes, all it takes to make you smile is for your daddy or me to smile at you. You grin and coo, and your voice is the sweetest sound we've ever heard. We're anxiously awaiting some giggles from you. You've done a few of them in your sleep, and we thought our hearts were going to burst.

I looked at the pictures we took of you when you turned one month old, and it's amazing how much you've changed. Most people have stopped commenting on how much you look like your daddy—and instead, comment that you're a good blend of both of us. This is my favorite thing to hear.

People also comment that you're one of the most beautiful babies they've ever seen. We've heard this from dozens of people, and maybe it's just something people say to a first-time mommy to be nice, but you're certainly the most gorgeous boy I've ever seen. There's something incredibly beautiful about you—and I'm not just referring to your perfect little face. I see something wise and otherworldly in your eyes. Your daddy thinks I'm insane when I say that, but a friend recently said that you're an old soul—so I think she was seeing what I see.

At your two-moth checkup, you weighed 12lb 3oz and were 22 1/2" long, which puts you in the 68th and 39th percentiles, respectively. Dr. Robbins was impressed with how strong your legs are. You can "stand" when you're leaning against our chests, which is apparently something most babies master around 4 months of age. Your daddy thinks you'll be a super early walker. Time will tell. You got some shots at this checkup, and when you cried, your daddy and I both did, too. We hated witnessing that stunned expression—and then such agony—on your face... but our own tears just reconfirmed what we already knew:  we love you.