Thursday, January 30, 2014

9-Month Photos

Earlier this month—January 5th, to be exact—Brittany Graham of Brittany Graham Photography visited us for an in-home photo shoot. I wasn't entirely surprised when Arlo woke up mad as hell that morning. I think I've mentioned before that he stops smiling when there's money involved.

Brittany did a great job, though, considering her grumpy subject. The photos feel very real and natural, and they totally capture who Arlo is at this age—busy, independent, and too excited to explore his world to pose for a picture on his mama's lap.

So here you go—a morning in the life of 9-month-old Arlo:




Monday, January 27, 2014

40-43 Weeks

Arlo is 43 weeks old today, almost 10 months. Which is almost a year! Which is mindblowing.

At his 9-month check-up about 2 1/2 weeks ago, he was 22 pounds and 28". He's right on track for growth and development, but his dome is officially off the charts. When we asked Dr. Robbins if we should be concerned that our child's head is in the one hundred and first percentile, she responded, "No, it's most likely hereditary. One of you may have a large head." How diplomatic of her. I'm chuckling just thinking about it. It took everything I had not to say, "Not it!" My poor big-headed boys.

I'm in love with both of those noggins.

No major updates with regards to Arlo's development. He's just mastering all of his old tricks. He claps on command now, and he's definitely doing it to express joy 75% of the time. The other 25% of the time, he's just doing it to make noise. There's nothing this dude loves more than causing a ruckus.


He's still using furniture (or guitars, or walls, or whatever else can handle his weight) to support himself as he goes from point A to point B, but every now and then, he lets go of one piece of furniture as he maneuvers himself to another piece. He never takes actual steps while he does this, but he has no problem steadying himself without support for a couple seconds. He can already get anywhere he feels like going, so mama's ready for those first steps!

Steadying himself and making a bunch of noise. Double win!

He's developed a couple of habits—one adorable, one super strange. First, he enjoys contorting his body into odd positions in order to look under things, like furniture to find lost toys, or gates to see who's on the other side. Ridiculously cute, right?
I don't have a photo of the not-so-cute habit, and you should thank me. Apparently, Arlo's preparing for a famine, because he's become quite fond of storing food in his cheeks. Not just for a few minutes. For hours. For instance, last week, I met Arlo and Danny at The Little Gym during my lunch break, and my crazy child greeted me with a chicken smile. This piece of chicken survived the entire duration of Arlo's class. Every time he grinned or screamed, the class got a nice glimpse of said chicken. That wasn't embarrassing or anything. 

Blurry at The Little Gym

Speaking of The Little Gym, we signed up for a free class last week to help us decide whether or not we should enroll Arlo for the semester. It's been an exceptionally horrendous winter, and I hate that he's holed up inside all day. Also, he's rarely around other babies, so the interaction would be beneficial. However, he came down with a cold two days after the class, so I'm having reservations now. He's been kind of sheltered, and cold season may not be the right time to plunk him into a class with a bunch of other snotty, drooling babies. Plus, it's pretty expensive, and since hiring our nanny, Luda, we don't have much expendable income.
Onto Luda. We've had her for a month now, and we couldn't be happier with her. She loves Arlo, and I can't believe how he lights up when she arrives in the mornings. I never, ever worry about his welfare while I'm at work because I know he's in great hands. This peace of mind is well worth being broke over.  
Now, here comes the photo dump you were probably expecting:
He loves his pets.

I like to spy on him. It's so fun to watch him explore his little world all by himself.
Daddy bought him a cowboy hat.
He unraveled toilet paper and held up a piece of it triumphantly.

He looked cute.
He humored his mother and played dress-up. (Is there a secret to keeping a hat on a baby's head for more than 9 seconds? Do you have to glue it on?)

He wore the first thing Danny picked out for him on the day we found out that was a boy in my belly. (And don't mind that crusty hair. It's just a little bit of dried chewed-up cracker. No biggie.)

See it? I remember thinking it'd be a hundred years before we'd be able to put it on our little dude.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Rachel's Baby

When my sister, Rachel, was 20 weeks pregnant, she went in for her anatomy scan. It was the third week of December, and she was excited to learn the sex of her third baby, so she could share the fun news with family on Christmas. The ultrasound tech couldn't detect the baby's sex, though, and told my sister to come back mid-January—which was a huge bummer at the time. Unfortunately, things got dreadfully worse from there.

The next day, Rachel's OB called to tell her that her anatomy scan didn't go well. I was in an important work meeting, and I'll never forget my sister's text:  "It looks like baby has defects all through its body..." Nobody was sure what to think at that point, so we all tried to stay optimistic, and hoped that whatever was wrong with her baby could be fixed.

But it can't be. Before that anatomy scan, there was no reason to suspect that anything could be wrong with this active, kicking-up-a-storm baby, but two days later, Rachel's amniocentesis results revealed that her baby has an extra chromosome 18 on all of its cells. All of his cells—the test also revealed that her baby is a boy.

So, at 20 weeks pregnant—five months!—my sister and her husband, Greg, learned that their baby boy has trisomy 18, a rare and fatal chromosomal disorder. His defects are numerous and severe, and he has a 10% chance of being born alive—and if he's born alive, he'll only be here for a few moments before passing away.
Despite knowing these grim statistics, Rachel and Greg chose to continue the pregnancy. They're sharing their story, and they're celebrating their baby boy—his kicks, his ultrasound pictures, his presence—as long as they can. How amazing are they? They pray they're able to hold him and bond with him—even if just for a little while, and I'm hoping with everything I have that they're granted this opportunity. Lord knows they deserve it.
My heart hurts in a way I don't have words for, and it destroys me to think that the pain I'm feeling is a million times worse for Rachel and Greg. They are so, so strong—and Ryan Jedediah (his name means "strong willed, friends with God") couldn't have picked two better parents to love him.

Blowing bubbles at his last ultrasound.

His auntie loves him, too. Tremendously.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Happy 9 Months: A Letter to Arlo (By Danny)

Dear Arlo,

It's been nine months and one week since you were born. I can't even believe how fast time has been passing. Just yesterday, we were planning your nursery, or at least it seems that way. People always say things like "They grow up so fast!" or "Enjoy it while you can!" and it never makes sense until you start watching your son go from a fragile little newborn to a hard charging busy-bee in the blink of an eye.

You're getting very interactive now, and your mom and I love it when you stop what you're doing and crawl over to us as quickly as you can. Your little baby voice fills the house with joyful screams of "Boom-ba!", "Ah-kee-kee" (which we think means "Scooter"), and sometimes "Ah-Kai-Kai!", which usually happens when you're in your jumperoo and bouncing like a maniac. You love holding onto furniture and walking, and we don't think it'll be much longer until you're doing the real thing. You love when I toss you into the air or spin you around, and sometimes you even clap while I'm spinning you. You bring so much joy into our house, even when times are rough...and times sure are rough right now.

We've had a sad couple of months as a family. Grammy's stroke has really turned our world upside down. There aren't many days where I don't find myself thinking about how much she loves you and how hard it would be to lose her. There are even fewer days where I don't find myself getting a little teary-eyed at the thought of you not remembering Grammy as the healthy, energetic woman who loved to hold, snuggle, and play with you. Needless to say, it's a stressful time for your mom and me. I had a particularly hard day last week, and you crawled into my lap and smiled at me. That was all I needed. There's simply no greater feeling than the one I get when you look at me and smile, letting me know that you love and want your daddy right now.

Your first Christmas was especially rough for us. Grammy was stuck in the rehab center because she still has an infection (you haven't seen her in 5 weeks). You got your first real cold a few days before the holiday, and of course you've never been sicker than you were on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I was already sad because I had to work your first Christmas Eve and into the morning on Christmas Day. When I got home Christmas morning, you looked pitiful in your mommy's arms. There was nothing we wanted more than for you to be your happy, energetic self. Instead, you were leaking snot like a sieve and crying out in pain. There were a few moments when you livened up a little, but for the most part, you were miserable.

Still, even as sick as you were, you managed to make this otherwise sad time a little brighter. You gave me a huge smile as you sat in my lap and played with one of your presents. Later, as we were sitting in the living room trying to relax, you started clapping for the first time. Then, you stood up without steadying yourself against anything for a split second before toppling back down onto your butt. None of these things may sound amazing to you, but they were downright magical for us.

As you get older, you may start to lose track of how wonderful everyday life can be, and sometimes it takes a child to remind you. Right now, you're experiencing things for the first time, like snow falling on a winter morning. You look on in amazement at the majesty of nature. One of your favorite pastimes is standing at the big picture window in our living room, just admiring what's out there. You coo and scream and laugh at the tiny miracles that happen every day. For just a moment, I can see the world through the eyes of a child, and I remember that there's still a lot to be grateful for.

Unfortunately, life isn't always going to be easy. There will be some rough spots in the road,  and adulthood has a way of making life feel less magical sometimes, but if you look hard enough and in the right places, you'll be reminded that there really is magic everywhere. This is what you do for us every day.

I love you so much,


Too busy to pose with his sticker, so Mr. Owl had to wear it this month.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

37, 38, and 39 Weeks

Arlo is 39 weeks and 2 days old, and there are a million things I want to mention here—which is no surprise since I haven't updated in three weeks.
We have a lot on our plates right now. There's my mother-in-law's stroke, of course. Suffice it to say that she isn't improving, and it's agonizing to see her in a nursing home bed, half-paralyzed and unable to comprehend the gravity of her situation. She still has a contagious infection, so she hasn't seen Arlo in five weeks—and I'm getting scared that he'll forget her.  
On top of that, my sister is living a nightmare that nobody should ever, ever have to experience—a situation that deserves its own post, so that'll be coming soon.
Now, let's talk about this guy:
Boob pillow.
He is busy. If he's awake, he's undoubtedly exploring the house, and he definitely makes it impossible for me to just park my butt on the couch all evening. Why is it that he can have fifty toys scattered around the house, and he inevitably goes after the one accessible non-toy (e.g., my phone charger, Scooter's toy, the remote, a shoe)? And why do I bother spending money on toys? He played with a red Solo Cup for a half-hour the other day.
He's a very independent boy. For example, a couple days ago, I spent two hours organizing and doing some things around the house, and he was perfectly content roaming around the gated-off living room the whole time, just entertaining himself. You are the greatest company, Arlo.    
A couple times, he's stood up without support for a nanosecond—but he spends the majority of his days pulling himself up while steadying himself with furniture, our legs, or the window sill. He loves looking out the window and babbling, especially when it's snowing.  
The first time I caught him doing this.

Sometimes, Scooter joins in the fun, except he doesn't babble.
The hundredth time I caught him doing this.
Arlo's back on schedule with regards to sleep. He makes it through the night again—and has been known to give us twelve solid hours. On a related note, a few times, he's fallen asleep in random spots, which is off-the-charts adorable.
These puffs are borrrring.
He's also started clapping, and I'm not sure if he's doing it to express joy, or if he just likes doing it, but I can't get enough of it.

He's just getting over a nasty cold that peaked in severity on Christmas Eve/Christmas morning. Of course. He was too miserable to enjoy his presents, so that was a major bummer. He was sick. Every ten minutes, he sneezed and shot snot out both nostrils. His eyes were watery, and he just looked pitiful. Danny and I only made him unwrap one of his presents, and we unwrapped the rest. Hello, anticlimactic 1st Christmas.
Books are for eating.
Poor sickie's only smile of the morning.
He acted less miserable (but just as snot ridden) in the evening, and he played a little.
Stacking cups FTW!
Another note about Christmas:  Arlo somehow choked on a piece of tape—I mean legitimately choked (i.e., stopped making noise and started changing color)—and Danny had to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on him. I don't remember the last time my heart pounded so hard. I'm getting a knot in my stomach just thinking about it. Horrifying. I'm so glad Danny knew exactly what he was doing. Go brush up on baby first aid. Go, go, go.  
Four days before Christmas, we made the long, long trek to Michigan to celebrate with my siblings and their kids. It was Scooter's first big road trip, and they were both such good boys.
Timing is everything.
Fortunately, Arlo wasn't sick yet for our mini-Christmas, so he did get to experience opening presents.
Sad this shitty, grainy picture is the only one we got.
He had no interest. Because duh, there were bows to chew on.
We rang in 2014 at home last night, and it was a more successful celebration than Christmas. Arlo was happy.
Making him sit still in a chair has become a joke.

Here's another one because I couldn't pick.

Despite everything, we all were. We all are. You know, overall.