Wednesday, December 11, 2013

35 and 36 Weeks

Arlo is 36 weeks and 2 days old, and I need to get caught up around here. A lot has happened these last two weeks.
First and foremost, like I've said, my mother-in-law had a bad stroke on Thanksgiving, which has changed our lives immensely. She's still paralyzed on the left, but she's more or less "with it" mentally, which is a miracle in itself. The day after Thanksgiving, Danny and I hugged each other in the parking lot of the hospital, bawling hysterically because we were terrified she was wasn't going to live.
She'll be in a rehabilitation facility for at least a few more weeks, and we don't know where we'll proceed from there yet. It all depends on how much she improves. I should mention that she's an only child, Danny's dad died years ago, and Danny's an only child—so we're all she has. This means we probably won't be trying to make a baby brother or sister for Arlo any time soon.
How about a picture to break up a giant wall of text?
This whole nightmare has reminded us how lucky we are to have so many wonderful friends in our lives. My mother-in-law's neighbors cooked us the turkey she had in her fridge so it wouldn't go to waste. A dozen people dropped off dinner for us or watched Arlo while Danny and I went to the hospital or to work. I keep catching myself wondering what kind of terrible shit Danny and I must've done in our past lives to deserve catastrophe after catastrophe after catastrophe in this life, but our friends are proof that we must've done something so, so right, too.
Anyway, we hired a nanny, and she'll be starting this Friday. Arlo hasn't seen his Grammy in two weeks, and his little world has already been disturbed so much that Danny and I couldn't bear the thought of sending him to daycare yet. The nanny obviously costs more than daycare would have, but we'll feel better knowing he's in his own house, with his own toys and dog, receiving the one-on-one attention that he's used to. Eventually, we'll probably transition him to daycare, but we wanted to avoid too much change for him at once.       
Now, let's let some photos do the talking. My 30th birthday was five days after my mother-in-law's stroke, and our hearts were still heavy (they still are), but we did our best to celebrate.

Oh, that's what a person looks like after crying non-stop and not sleeping for 5 days.

We kept Arlo up to celebrate. He's was tired.

Arlo tried to eat my presents.
Let's see... Arlo had his first mini-cold, as well as his first boo-boo—courtesy of Scooter (but it was actually Danny's fault).
I kept trying to hide the boo-boo in pictures, but in retrospect, I wish I had a better photo of it. His left eye was a little bruised and scratched. (You can see it better in the candle-blowing photo above.)

He's still sprouting teeth like it's his job, and I don't even know what's going on in his mouth right now. I do know that he's always chewing on something, and he's already destroyed his crib rails.
Speaking of the crib, Danny and I are feeling confident enough that the reflux is gone that we ditched the bouncy seat, and Arlo is finally sleeping in his crib now, instead of in his bouncy seat in his crib. He wasn't too thrilled the first couple of nights, which made me wonder if his reflux was acting up, but his sleep is improving, so I guess he just didn't know what to do with all that space at first. Unfortunately, he enjoys sleeping flat on his face, which is unsettling, to say the least.
He's getting tired of crawling, so he's been "walking" with his hands and feet on the floor (you know, with his butt up in the air), and I can't even handle how hilarious it is. He's also mastered doing this to things:
Loves his Roomba.
He's become a pro at using his thumb and forefinger to guide food into his mouth, and he really loves that he can feed himself his own snacks. Danny and I love it, too, because it keeps him occupied while we eat. Needless to say, Scooter loves it, too—for other reasons. 

Lastly, we visited Santa, and my little elf couldn't have been more cooperative (which really wasn't a huge surprise).

Oh, and here's my favorite recent photo of Arlo:

Can't even tell you how much that smile does for me.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Happy Eight Months: A Letter to Arlo

Dear Arlo,

You're 8 months and 1 week old today, and you took off crawling just four days after I wrote you your last letter. We're not surprised you started crawling relatively early. You've always been so strong, so determined—even when you were in my belly. You love being able to get where you want to go, and already, crawling just isn't enough for you. Here and there, you'll take a few steps like a wobbly baby deer—hands and feet shuffling along on the floor, fat little butt up in the air—before eventually toppling over. It's the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. You can pull yourself up onto things, too, and we had to lower your crib so you wouldn't flip out of it and break that pretty little head of yours.

You're starting to mimic actions and sounds, like if I show you how to do something, such as roll your toy truck across the floor, you'll be doing it yourself five seconds later; and if I say "aah" or "puh" or some other short "word," you'll occasionally say it back to me. My potty-mouth days are numbered, I'm afraid.

I don't even know how many teeth you have because you won't let me look at the top ones, but I think you have 9—six on the top and three on the bottom. We've been putting all those teeth to work by letting you try crunchier foods. You're able to use your thumb and forefinger to guide food into your mouth, and you clearly enjoy feeding yourself. Scooter loves that you've mastered this skill, too, and he sits next to your high chair while you eat, drooling like a maniac and waiting for you to drop something. You two are already partners in crime.

I know there was more I wanted to tell you this month, but Thanksgiving has eclipsed everything. Our whole world was turned upside down that morning, when your daddy walked into your grammy's house to discover she'd had a bad stroke. We were terrified that she wasn't going to be okay—that we were going to lose her, and you'd never get to hear, firsthand, that you mean the world to her—but 10 days have passed, and she's gotten a little better every day. She still completely paralyzed on her left side, and she has a lot of skills to relearn—but for the most part, her mind has come back to us. Only time will tell if she'll be able to hug you with both arms again, or walk, or eat solid food—but she's determined to improve. She tells us every day that you are her motivation. She wants to get better for you.

Grammy has a contagious infection, so you haven't been able to visit her in her rehab facility. She misses you terribly, and I swear you miss her, too. You've been unusually fussy and needy lately, and I know you're too young to know that anything major is going on, but I do think you're aware that your schedule has been changed. Of course you'd wonder why you aren't going to Grammy's house every day. It breaks my heart that she can't watch you while your daddy and I are at work anymore, but we hired a nanny yesterday, with the intent of keeping things as normal for you as possible for a while. She'll come to our house every day and give you her undivided, one-on-one attention. She's not Grammy, but I know she'll grow to adore you, too.

It's impossible not to fall in love with you, Arlo. The fact that you're so, so handsome is just the icing on the cake. Your personality is really starting to emerge, and you're smart, curious, strong-willed, and so happy. You might be the first baby in the history of the world to smile for your picture with Santa. It doesn't take much effort to get a laugh out of you, either. Earlier today, you were cracking up because one of the cats was wagging his tail. Once in a while, I can't even figure out why you're laughing, and I've decided that sometimes, you laugh just to laugh. You are inherently happy, and I can think of no better quality for a person to possess. You really are an inspiration.

We all love you so much,

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Grammy's Stroke

Thirty-two years ago, my mother-in-law didn't have enough money to take Baby Danny to have his pictures taken, so one of her neighbors brought over a sailor suit for him and hauled him to a department store to have his first and only professional baby photo taken.

Pardon the quality. It's a picture of a framed picture.

An 8x10 of this picture is still displayed in my mother-in-law's dining room, and it's her favorite picture in the world because it's a reminder that a little kindness goes a long way, and because, well, c'mon! Look at that cute kid and his crazy sailor suit!

When Arlo was born, my mother-in-law gave us the sailor suit--the original sailor suit that Danny wore in 1981 that she kept--and told us to try it on Arlo when he was around 8 months old or so. You can guess where this is going, so I'll just cut to the chase.

Behold! Arlo in his daddy's sailor suit! We couldn't wait to give my mother-in-law an 8x10 of her sweet boy in her other sweet boy's sailor suit. Little did we know that we'd be picking up her print and bringing it to her in a hospital bed.

My mother-in-law had a major stroke on Thanksgiving. She's still paralyzed on the left, but she's come a long way in a week. Five days ago, we were preparing to say our goodbyes, so the fact that she's able to hold a conversation now is a miracle in itself. We can't bring Arlo when we visit her because she has a bad infection--but her nightstand is filled with photos of her "big boy" because she says his smile makes her feel better.

I hate seeing that crazy, ambitious woman confined to a hospital bed, and it rips my heart out that she'll never be the same again. She certainly won't be taking care of Arlo anymore, but with a lot of luck and a lot of drive, maybe she can be close to who she was before the stroke took so much away from her. She said that one of Arlo's hugs is worth a thousand hours of physical therapy, so thank God we have him to keep her determined. He really is a miracle, that kid.