Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day - The First

Henry could not be less impressed with Mother's Day.
What a difference a year makes.  I think this and feel this so often, but today seems like a good day to acknowledge that.  One year ago today I surprised my family by announcing that I was pregnant.  We weren’t sure we were going to announce it so early  - I was afraid to jinx it.  It didn’t seem real yet, and I was still wrapping my own head around how quickly everything turned around for us.  We were just figuring out how to navigate those early days of pregnancy and I was learning some tough lessons about how difficult it is to keep your mouth shut when you’re carrying around a secret as big as the world.

This morning I woke up to the sound of squealing, screeching and laughter coming over the monitor.  Todd and I lay in bed and giggled at how loud and enthusiastic that little stinker is at 5 in the morning.  Eventually everything went quiet again and we didn’t hear anything else  until  notably less jubilant sounds erupted over the monitor at shortly after 7.  I had asked Todd to be the one to get up with Henry this morning so that I could sleep in.  If there was any doubt about whether or not this guy is a daddy’s boy, it should be cast out with the proof that on the one day (since he was BORN) that I asked Todd to get up with him – the little bugger slept in with us.  (Also – 7 a.m. officially counts as sleeping in for us now).
I’m feeling very blessed.  We are so overwhelmed with love and support – we always have been.  Looking back it’s pretty clear that there were times when we were held up only by the love and prayers of those around us.  We are surrounded by beautiful people.  I’m so thankful for my own mom – for a million and one reasons that I can’t even begin to list.  For being the best mom I ever could have asked for (even though she was, truly, the meanest mom in the whole wide world),  and for teaching me about the kind of mom I want to be to my own children.  I am thankful for my sister – also a mother – without whom I would NEVER have survived my pregnancy and these first 5 months of mommyhood.  If I wasn’t googling it, I was emailing her with it and – even when I’ve felt like a failure, she’s propped me up and let me know that we are all okay.  I am thankful for my friends – every last one of them – near and far – who have offered support, advise, and a safe place to be at my highest and lowest moments during this pregnancy journey.  You guys?  You see?  We are so so blessed.

I have found myself on this – my first Mother’s Day – thinking most strongly of those who are still waiting to be moms.  I haven’t forgotten where I came from or how drastically my path shifted in such a short period of time.   I understand that this can be a tough day, and so I send out prayers for peace to all of those who still wait, who still struggle, who are still angry or depressed or clinging ferociously to hope.  My heart is with you.  I get it.

Happy Mother’s Day. <3

Monday, May 6, 2013

Dear Henry - Month 5

Dear Henry,

Happy 5 month birthday!

So, it’s finally spring time here!  The last month has been cold and snowy.  Maybe even more cold and snowy than it was when you were born – way back in December.  We even set records for snow just a couple of days ago (on May 2nd) so -- welcome to the world!  I promise it gets warmer!  Jeez.

We’ve spent a lot of time cooped up indoors, but we did manage to get you out for your first outdoor adventure on one of the few sunny/warmish days.  It was your first time in your stroller and you loved it!  We went for a walk.  We didn’t go very far because I wasn’t sure how much you were going to like it (and it was still kind of cold) but you did so good!  It completely wiped you out and you were ready for bed very early that night too.  I can’t wait until it’s actually nice outside consistently so we can take advantage of all that fresh air.  I’m excited about the weather finally warming up so I can show you how cool the world is and how fun it is to be outside (when it’s not snowing, sleeting, raining, freezing, or unbearably windy.  Yeah.  It’s been a long winter).

 You’ve grown so much in the last month.  I remember taking your 19 week picture and thinking about how much different I thought you looked from your 18 week picture.  How could you change so much in one week?!  You are grabbing hold of things more regularly now and sometimes without us even noticing.  It’s not uncommon for your hands to appear out of nowhere clutching your burp rag, blanket, or whatever else happened to be close by (including my hair - which is a frequent reminder of how badly I need a haircut).  You’re really learning how to use them and I think you’re enjoying learning about textures as well.  I tuck a pillow under you when I nurse you, and when I sit you up to burp after we’re done, you like to run your hands back and forth along the pillow letting your fingertips and nails scratch against it.  You also like to do this to my hands while you’re nursing and I have come away more than once with red welts from where you really dug in.  You’re still a tiny little dude, but those nails are fierce!

You are <almost> flipping over!  At first you could only do it if we put you on your belly and tucked one arm underneath you.  Then one afternoon I plopped you on the floor (on your back) and stepped back to take care of something and when I looked back at you - you had practically flipped all the way over all by yourself.  There was an infomercial on TV and you were very interested in learning more about that lawn trimmer.  I do hope that is a sign of how helpful you're going to be with the yardwork in the future!  

Nerdy like Daddy
You've also gotten squirmy in your crib. You've slowly but surely been scooting around so that we find you at a different angle than where we left you the night before. Lately you wake us up in the middle of the night as you kick the soother we having hanging on your crib side while you work on scootching all over. This morning you were laying in the exact opposite direction from where you were put to bed last night, with your soother music on, foot resting on the on/off button, and hands gripping the toy giraffe your dad hung from the crib railing the other day. You were having an early morning jam session. We walked in to big smiles, like you were just so happy that someone finally showed up to your party!

You’re still completely crazy about your daddy.  A couple weeks ago you had your 4 month check-up and they had to give you two shots.  You were furious.  We comforted you in the doctors office and then I took you home and you slept for 3 hours.  When you woke up, you were still pretty cranky and fussy.  Then your dad came home and you lit up like Christmas.  You don’t respond to anybody like you respond to your dad.  You smile and squeal and giggle at almost everything he does.  It’s truly a special relationship and I can’t wait to watch it evolve. 
Speaking of cranky - your temperament these days is...shall we say...mercurial.  To strangers I will describe you as a laid back, easygoing, good natured baby.  All your pictures (well, almost all) reflect this as well.  And I'm not saying that's not who you are because it definitely is.  You are my little ray of sunshine and your little voice lights up our whole worlds.  But man - you can flip that switch on a dime.  There is very little warning before those sweet smiles turn into gutteral screams.  You are probably just keeping us on our toes, making sure that we don't get too comfortable - and you're doing a good job at that.  It is during these times that we long for days when our communication is a little less confusing.  I don't know who you got this from - but some days you are a regular roller coaster ride!
Some bad things happened in the world during the last month and sometimes I wonder what kind of scary world you’re going to inherit.  I look at the world differently since you came along.  At one of our pre-natal visits, our doctor was joking with us how someday we would be somewhere and someone else would be just innocently occupying the same place – doing nothing but minding their own business – and we would look at that person and think about how much bodily damage we would do to them if they dared to hurt our child.  I haven’t had that exact moment yet, but every scary thing that happens in the world makes me think about how we would protect you.  I don’t think the scary stuff is going to go away – so if you have to deal with it, here’s the way I’d like you to look at it.

For every 1 awful person who hurts other people and makes the world a scarier place to live – there are thousands and thousands of people who are basically good.  And when something awful happens – those people all come together and rally around and show their beauty and their goodness in ways that help heal the human spirit and offer hope to the hopeless.  I feel like this makes the world just a little less scary.  It’s also okay to take a piece of advice from Mr. Rogers (who you may not ever know, but trust me, I grew up with him and he was full of good advice for kids) – and look for the helpers.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

There are always going to be people rushing towards the scary thing to make it better.  They want to help the people who need help and to figure out who the bad guys are and make sure they can’t hurt any more people.  Seeing and knowing that there are always going to be helpers also makes the world a little less scary.

Of course I’d rather that you didn’t have to think of the helpers.  I wish that you would never encounter a situation where you’d need to train your brain to find the positives.  I wish I could protect you from all the ways that the world is going to hurt you (and it will, and I’m sorry) – but I can’t, and honestly, even if I could, it would probably be doing you a huge disservice.  There’s a lot of positive growth and learned resilience that comes out of the ways that the world hurts you.  I guess the more important lesson here is that you don’t let it beat you down, you don’t let it defeat you, you don’t let it strip you of your values, your sense of humor, and your ability to see all the beauty and joy that also still exists, even in the middle of the really yucky times.  Don’t let anger and fear win out over love because in the end – love is always stronger.

I know that's pretty heavy stuff for a 5 month old.  I just want to make sure we always talk about the important stuff so that you always know where I stand.  In case you missed it, that is right behind you.  No worries.

Love and kisses all over,