Friday, January 31, 2014

Newborn Photos

I'd been putting off sharing these photos until everyone had received your birth announcement, and I think it's finally time! When you were just eight days old, we had a photographer named Jennifer come over and take pictures of you. She was very patient and gentle with you, and we were thrilled with the results of the session! Our package included the rights to eight photos. It was tough to choose our favorites, but I think we ended up with some really great ones!

{all photos by JK Riggs}

Luckily, we were able to include several of these photos on your birth announcement:

For Jennifer's take on the photo session (and a glimpse at a few more photos that we loved but didn't choose), please visit her blog post here.

It's so crazy to look back on these photos and see how much you've grown in just five short weeks!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Breastfeeding Sucks: A Happy Ending

Where we last left off, we had a plan to see a pediatric ENT to assess for a lip tie and possible tongue tie. In the meantime, I wondered why I was so absolutely hell-bent on getting you to breastfeed. I shouldn't say that. I was hell-bent on getting you to breastfeed better. You were breastfeeding and you had been since Day One, but it was inefficient, and we had to use a prosthetic basically in order to prevent you from causing me toe-curling pain. I knew you could do better, and I knew I could do better. Using the nipple shield and pumping had stretched out my nipples so that you had more to grab onto, and hopefully getting you clipped would give you a better mouth to work with. I just knew we could do this. And it was important to me. I felt like giving birth is the most womanly thing a gal can do - it's what we were designed for. And you know what? I couldn't do it. I needed surgery instead because I couldn't do the one thing I was designed to do. I felt like I owed it to you to breastfeed. I owed it to myself. What had once been a flexible plan in my mind had become our only option, and I would do whatever it took to get us there.

By week 3, I had pumped enough that we were able to get away from formula. I felt accomplished knowing that you were fed with 100% breast milk, and I think your tummy thanked me too because you instantly became less colicky!

By week 4, you stopped taking supplements. You just didn't need them anymore. Your feeding sessions still took about 45 minutes, but at least you weren't falling asleep anymore. By your one month check-up with Dr. Cooper, you were finally above your birth weight. It finally felt like we were heading in the right direction!

When you were 5 weeks old, we had your appointment with Dr. Bauer, a pediatric ENT. Your daddy took the morning off to come with us, and planned to work from home for the rest of the day in case we needed him. I was incredibly nervous. At one point, I started picking Chelsea hairs off of your daddy's sweater one by one just because I needed a fidget.

Between waiting for the nurse, waiting for the doctor, and the actual procedure, our visit took most of the morning. Dr. Bauer checked you out and confirmed Ann's diagnosis: a severe lip tie and somewhat of a posterior tongue tie, too. He said that clipping your labial frenulum should help you latch, and that clipping your lingual frenulum should help you swallow. We decided to go for it right there in the office. This part was so terrible to watch. First, they had to give you a shot in both frenula to numb the area and to stop it from bleeding so much once it was clipped. Watching a man I had just met stick a giant needle into my baby daughter's mouth was absolutely as awful as it sounds; but you were way more upset about the fact that there were so many fingers in your mouth. You screamed for a little while afterwards, and we blotted you with gauze. Once you started to drool a little, we knew the medication had started to work. We headed into another room where Dr. Bauer and his nurse clipped you. Watching them stick giant scissors into my baby daughter's mouth was again, absolutely as awful as it sounds; but you were way more upset about the very bright light that was shining in your face. Thank goodness you were swaddled; otherwise I think you would have wiggled right off the table!

Dr. Bauer asked me to breastfeed you immediately afterwards. He said it would soothe you, and it would also give us an indication of whether the procedure may have helped. It was our most magical feeding session ever. You latched perfectly. You ate for ten minutes on each side. You passed out. Amazing. Dr. Bauer told us this was a good sign, and sent us home.

I had some Baby Motrin that I gave you as soon as we got home, just in case things started to get painful (big mistake). You were an angel the rest of the day. You ate well without the shield, and you didn't seem to be in pain, just sleepy. I kind of felt bad that your daddy had stayed home with us! The next day was a different story. Your tummy was upset, apparently from the Motrin (which you're not supposed to give to babies younger than six months...oops), and I think we set a new record with dirty diapers. You were absolutely miserable, and I was absolutely miserable as a result. Additionally, I noticed that my blisters were back. During our half-asleep nighttime feedings, you had latched poorly and we were back to square one. I kept feeding you with my right breast with the nipple shield, and I pumped on the left since those blisters were worse. By that evening, we had both been in tears all day. Your daddy stayed up all night with you, just changing lots of diapers and holding you. By our 3am feeding, I was able to feed you with both sides with the nipple shield, but I was incredibly frustrated that we were using the nipple shield.

I just felt so defeated. Everything seemed so great immediately after the procedure - what had happened? I called Ann, who reminded me that this was not a quick fix. You had been eating a certain way since you were born, and it was up to me to teach you this new way now that you had the right tools to help get you there. You know, I had to implement this thing called motor learning. It's kind of what my entire career is based upon. Sigh.

So there I was, more stubborn than ever because I was going to make absolutely certain that this procedure wasn't for nothing! We worked on a home exercise program of sucking (you liked those) and stretches (you hated those). We started each feeding with the shield, and after about three minutes, I took it away. Sometimes it worked out, sometimes not so much. You started to catch on with the right, while the left was still inconsistent. Then you had a little setback where you just screamed and cried every time I would take it away. One time it was actually pretty funny, because you literally just yelled, "AHH!" as soon as you saw my nipple. Not a cry, just one loud shriek. I apologized for the fact that my nipple was apparently so terrifying.

Yesterday, five days after the clipping, you took both breasts without the nipple shield even being introduced at first. Then you did it with the next feeding. And the next one. And the next one. And by this morning, you even smiled when I offered you your meal. We haven't used the nipple shield in over 24 hours. I think we may have finally gotten the hang of this.

You know what else? The clipping had another positive effect: you're now able to stick out your tongue.


On January 28, 2014, Atlanta witnessed what has to be one of the worst traffic jams of all time anywhere ever. The cause? Two freeking inches of snow. There were many factors responsible for this catastrophe. Our government (state, city, and county) doesn't have a great system in place for such inclement weather. And why should they? The last time this happened was three years ago. It's hard to justify training people who can leave within three years, and spending publicly-funded resources to establish processes that could never (or at best rarely) be used. Additionally, we made a huge mistake and didn't cancel school. We realized that mistake, and let schools out at noon. Then most businesses closed at noon so that folks could pick up their kids, and the result was hundreds of thousands of people on the road at the same time. And finally, Georgians don't know how to drive in snow. And how are we supposed to learn when it snows like this once every three years?

It was a disaster. An avoidable disaster, but one that we would have had a really hard time avoiding. It started to snow at 11am. It was supposed to stop in a couple of hours and stay above 30 degrees, but instead it snowed until sundown and it dropped into the teens. You and I were going to go to the movies (to see Frozen, ironically!) but thankfully we decided to stay home. Your daddy left work early, and managed to get home an hour and a half later. He was insanely lucky. Most of our friends were on the road for three to five hours. A few were out for more than 12 hours. And some people had to abandon their cars and walk to shelter, be it a friend's house or a gas station. Kids were stuck at school, school buses were stuck on the road, and parents were stuck in between trying to figure out how to make sure their kids were safe. There were over 700 car accidents, one death, hundreds of injuries, and one woman gave birth on I-285. The streets looked like something out of The Walking Dead, even the interstates.

{via CNN}

But I don't want you to remember the horror stories. I want you to remember the stories of goodness and kindness that came out of such a terrible event. Atlanta may not know how to do winter, but we know how to do Southern Hospitality. For every terrible photo like the one above, there's another photo of folks helping their neighbors and total strangers, bringing them water, phone chargers, blankets, and hot chocolate. There are even photos of Chipper Jones rescuing people on his 4-wheeler.

{via Yahoo}

Some girl started a Facebook group that went viral and literally saved lives. The worst of times can bring out the best in people, and I want you to always remember that.

We spent most of your first snow day warm inside, but we did venture out for a few minutes so you could see what all the fuss was about. You hated it.

Chelsea was really eager to show you how much fun snow can be, but you just weren't having it!

Maybe you'll like snow a little better in 2017. And maybe Atlanta will be ready for that storm!

Early Milestones

Things are getting pretty fun with you, Miss Ellie. Playtime is becoming so much more than you just staring at a bunch of stuff in your activity center. You're actually starting to interact with it. For a neuro nerd like your mommy, there is nothing more exciting than watching you track objects, turn your head towards an auditory stimulus, and reach for a target that you've fixated on. You're also getting really good at tummy time, and you're finding your voice!

Then, the greatest thing ever happened on Monday, January 27th (your Auntie Michelle's birthday!) had your first intentional smile. Babies have lot of spontaneous smiles...yours usually occur just as you're falling asleep. But on Monday, you were sitting in your bouncy seat as usual when all of a sudden you started interacting with it. You turned your head every time the bumblebee rattled. You turned your head the other way every time the music started playing. And then you started staring at the penguin. I mean STARING. And who can blame you? It's black and white and has a face...isn't that everything 5 week olds are supposed to love? You started waving your arms in the air, with your elbows extended and your fists clenched, still staring. Finally, you hit the penguin with your little hand. Your face lit up and you beamed. I think you were trying to reach for it, and once you successfully coordinated that movement, you were just psyched!

I know these things can often appear and then not appear again for a while, but then yesterday you smiled again! Daddy had just finished bath time with you, and he was tickling your cheeks while getting you dressed. This was your response:

Greatest. Thing. Ever.

Breastfeeding Sucks: A Painful Start

I didn't have much of a birth plan for you (and it was a good thing I didn't), but there was one plan I was set on: I was going to breastfeed for the first year of your life. Yes, breastfeeding has some wonderful benefits for babies, but my motivation was mostly selfish. I knew that breastfeeding would get me back to my usual self faster. More importantly, there's some research (though controversial) that breastfeeding can reduce the mom's risk of breast cancer. Given our extensive family history, I figured I should do everything within my power to decrease my risk! I told myself that it wasn't the end of the world if I couldn't do it (after all, I wasn't breastfed and I think I turned out fairly well), but I was going to give it my all before giving up.

Giving it "my all" turned out to be quite a lot.

Before you were born, I took a lactation class. I knew that although this was supposed to be a natural process, there was a great deal of skill involved and I wanted to learn as much about it as possible beforehand. As informative as the class was, it had some inevitable limitations. You see, I'm what we call a kinesthetic learner. I learn by doing. And there is absolutely no way to do that when pregnant! First of all, I had a giant belly in the way. Secondly, if a real baby had the rigidity of the baby dolls we were practicing with, I would get them to a pediatric PT stat. And to keep things PG, we used these things instead of actual breasts:

So yeah, I felt like a pro when it came to holding a plush boobie up to my chest and holding a baby doll up to that boobie. Then you were born, and I realized how unrealistic that setup was.

As soon as you got here, you had trouble latching. I had a lactation consultant see us every day that we were there, and it still got us nowhere. The first one seemed to be helpful, but at that point we hadn't practiced enough to determine where exactly we were having problems. The second one seemed busy and flustered. The third one spent a lot of time with us, but she was terrible. Instead of answering a couple of simple questions, she provided a great deal of tangental information (which is never well-received by someone who is still trying to come out of anesthesia), and handed me some formula and a nipple shield. WHAT LACTATION CONSULTANT GIVES A NEW MOM FORMULA?! AND WHAT THE HECK IS A NIPPLE SHIELD?! I had no idea what was going on, but I figured we'd keep trying and see what happened.

When we got home, I quickly learned that you having a poor latch meant me having a lot of pain. My nipples are pretty flat, so there wasn't much for you to grab onto, so your shallow suck left me with squished up nipples and eventually blisters. I decided to try that nipple shield. I had to google how to use it since no one taught me, and that was pretty much the worst thing ever. Everything that popped up kept talking about how horrible they were. They reduce milk supply! They cause nipple confusion! They should only be used under the constant direct supervision of a lactation consultant! Great. At this point, though, I was desperate. Even if you were using a nipple shield, at least you were still breastfeeding. So, I slapped that baby on and we got to work.

I noticed something almost immediately: even with the nipple shield, breastfeeding sure looked like an awful lot of work for you. You took frequent breaks, often just to catch your breath. Occasionally, you'd fall asleep at the breast. I initially assumed that this meant you were satisfied and sleepy, but as soon as I took you off, you screamed bloody murder. So I let you keep eating, but it was still inefficient. Feedings took up to 90 minutes, and you were demanding them every two hours. This combination made for a very tired baby and a very grumpy mommy.

We had your first pediatrician appointment when you were three days old. At this appointment, we found out that you had lost a good 10% of your body weight. It's normal to lose about 7-10%, but since you were at the high end of this range, Dr. Cooper asked us to come back later that week for a weight check. Four days later, you had only gained one ounce. This was a little concerning. Dr. Cooper explained to us that even though I was probably making enough milk, for some reason eating was really inefficient for you. This caused you to burn more calories than you were taking in, which is a great way for grown-ups to lose weight, but it's pretty awful for newborns. She asked us to supplement with formula, meaning that after each feeding, we needed to offer you an ounce or two in a bottle. Bottles are much easier to eat from, so this meant easy calories for you. I felt like I had let you down, but I was glad that we had a (hopefully) temporary solution to bring your weight up.

The next week, you had gained another two ounces. A few days later, another three ounces. Dr. Cooper cleared us from weight checks and told us to keep up the good work. But "the good work" meant supplementing with formula, something I did not want to do long-term. I felt as though we needed a bit more support, so I found a lactation consultant who made home visits. Her name was Ann Grider, and she reminded me of Mrs. Doubtfire.

Her demeanor was patient, warm, and gentle. She asked lots of great questions and really listened to my very detailed answers. I told her that though we were breastfeeding, I had two goals: I wanted to get off of the nipple shield completely and I wanted to wean off of formula supplements. She taught me a lot, and she had me try lots of different things with you. She also gave you a thorough examination, including weight checks after feeding to see just how much you were taking in (which was nice, because otherwise there's really no way for me to measure how much you're eating). Her exam included a thorough assessment of your oral anatomy. She informed me that you were severely lip-tied and possibly tongue-tied as well. This meant that the labial frenulum (that little strip of tissue that connects your upper lip to your gums) was really tight and the lingual frenulum (that little strip of tissue that connects your tongue to the floor of your mouth) was kind of tight, too. This was prohibiting you from getting a deep latch, and it also wasn't allowing you to swallow appropriately, which resulted in really inefficient eating. She recommended a pediatric ENT and suggested that we make an appointment to have this tissue clipped. In the meantime, she assured me that any breastfeeding is still breastfeeding, and reminded me that priority #1 is for you to thrive (gain weight).

I felt relieved to have a plan in place, but the pediatric ENT couldn't see us for several more weeks. In the meantime, we kept working at it. I tried to use the nipple shield less and less, but every time I went without it, that same pain returned. I eventually gave up and decided to use it for every feeding. It was like Ann said: at least you were breastfeeding.

This post has become quite lengthy and I'm only halfway there sooo I think I'll split this into two posts. Stay tuned for the exhilarating conclusion!

Monday, January 27, 2014

But No Duck Face

You entered this world during a time where social media was really first taking off. Yes, I suppose at this point we've had Facebook for ten years (and before that, a thing called MySpace that has since become extinct I'm sure), but it's really only become such a significant part of our culture recently. Did you know that there used to be a time when people would brush their teeth in the morning before checking their Facebook newsfeed? It's true! Social media is part of our routine because it's not only how we choose to communicate with one another, it's how we express ourselves. The quintessential mode of self-expression, of course, is the selfie - a term only recently introduced into our vernacular.

I think this video provides an interesting perspective on the selfie, and how this self-expression has the power to redefine our society's concept of beauty. I especially like how it talks about how we influence each other when it comes to our perception of beauty, and how mothers have a particularly significant responsibility when it comes to this.

I hope you'll see this when you're 13. And I hope that by that point, I've set a good example to show you that confidence is the most beautiful physical attribute any person can have. I promise not to comment on your appearance, knowing that even something I view as a compliment can come across as criticism to a sensitive tween. I also promise not to be critical of myself, knowing that you can mirror everything I say about my appearance. I won't even comment on this scar and the resulting pooch and the fact that my abs will never be the same, because even that is beautiful - it's proof that you grew inside me, and that makes me love it.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Your Mom is a Superhero

Ellie, your Mom is a Superhero.  I'll explain this a little further in a minute, but I want you to remember that for the rest of your life; even when you're 16 years old and you're convinced that she "just doesn't get you."  It doesn't matter.  Your Mom is a Superhero.

With that out of the way, and with this being my first post on this blog, I wanted to provide my version of your arrival into this crazy world.

It's kind of funny that the offspring of two very little people would end up being a rather large baby -- but you were.  We felt from very early on that you would be a bigger baby than most had expected, and those feelings were confirmed during the last few visits to the OB prior to your due date.  At the end of the day, it really didn't mean much other than your Mom and I knowing that we were going to have to be pretty flexible in planning for your birth.  The ultimate conclusion was that you were scheduled to be induced on December 20th at 5:30 a.m.

Yea, that totally worked out.

Lucky for us, my dear, you have two very stubborn parents who like to do things on their own time and their own way.  It appears that apple has not fallen from the tree.  Despite having your birth scheduled for the following day, you decided it was time to send your Mom into labor on December 19th at around 11:00 a.m.

Let's just say the process is nothing like you see in the movies.  I was at the office, and your Mom sent me a text that said something to the effect of: "I think my water broke, and I'm going into labor."  You know, no big deal.  The next logical step should be everybody panicking, running in circles, forgetting to grab bags that had already been packed, and rushing to the hospital, right?  Ha!

I gathered my things and rushed home to find your mother sitting at the kitchen table eating lunch, which she followed with a nice leisurely shower, shaving her legs, etc.  WHO DOES THAT?!?!

A superhero.

We went to the hospital with your Mom having obvious contractions, but an overall sunny disposition.  Upon checking, we were greeted by a nurse that I could only describe as a human version of 'Roz' from Monster, Inc.

The following is a list of things that this nurse found entertaining/funny:

Yep...that's it.

Ultimately, your Mom being in an overall good mood (in addition to other more scientific/objective measures) led this nurse to decide your Mom was not "sufficiently" in labor to be admitted.  Your Mom had me fooled, but what do I know?  I'm just an evil lawyer with enough knowledge of the practice of medicine to get myself in trouble.

We went home, and it looks like neither you or your Mom were in any mood to delay this process any further.  I went upstairs to change my clothes, only to find your mother doubled over in pain shortly thereafter.  Back to the hospital we go!

Nurse Sunshine was nowhere to be found, so I felt a little better about our chances this time around.  Of course, we were admitted.  Fast forward a few agonizing hours, and your Mom has had an anesthesiologist inject medication into the epidural space in her SPINE so that she doesn't tear my arm out of its socket because of pain during the delivery.  Let's just put that down as #42,038,406,323,628 on the list of things I'd like to do in my time on this planet.

Now that she was (allegedly) drugged up, it was time to push you into this world.  Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the pump that was supposed to push the aforementioned medication into your Mom was not working.  I'm honestly not sure how, but your Mom was able to push for 1.5 hours with very little medication to numb the pain.

Again.  Superhero.

After 1.5 hours of pushing, it became clear that you were not going to make your arrival the way we had initially planned.  Time for a Cesarean-section!

Ellie, you really don't like being told what to do.  Let's hope that ends soon, but I don't like my chances.

I was told to jump into scrubs while your Mom was sent to the operating room for the c-section.  Once I was "scrubbed in," I was instructed to wait about 15 minutes while the room was set up.  This meant a giant blue screen in front of your Mom's face, straps to hold down her arms, and a gaggle of medical professionals chatting it up while your Mom was cut open.

Once I was in there, I quickly realized that your Mom was not only conscious, but she was completing quotes from "The Princess Bride."  Yes.  Your Mom was quoting movies while her abdominal cavity was wide open for the world to see.  I'm fairly certain that's her super power.

My reaction was probably something like this:

The good thing was that this gave me peace of mind that she was just fine.  My focus was back to checking on my little girl.

After about 25 minutes in the operating room, you were pulled out of your Mom.  You were the most beautiful baby girl I had ever seen.  Looking back, I'm pretty sure I was giving your Mom the play-by-play of what was going on in those final moments, and I probably sounded (and looked) like a lunatic sports announcer that was jumping around the room as though his favorite team had just won the World Series.

To be honest, that's how I felt.  I had just won the World Series.

I went over to check on you and to cut the cord.  I couldn't believe how perfect you were with all your little fingers and toes.  8 pounds, 1 ounce.  19 inches long.  Completely perfect.

The moment you were all swaddled up and handed to me is something I will never forget.  You were looking around with these beautiful blue eyes, just taking it all in.  You weren't even crying...just content.

Your Mom, who was still being closed up, was completely exhausted.  At this point, she had been at it for at least 16 hours, but she had done it.  I finally had my two girls right there with me, and it was pure joy.

The funny thing about c-sections is that it's almost like it's God's last cruel joke to the pregnant mother.  She just finished this amazing process that took nine months, and all she wanted to do was hold you; but she couldn't.  On top of the fact that your Mom just had nineteen staples placed in her abdomen to hold her together, one of the side effects of the medication caused her to shake uncontrollably.  It was really quite bittersweet, because I had the honor of holding you for the first few hours of your life, only to see your Mom sitting across the room wishing she could do the very same thing.

Once the side effects wore off and your Mom was finally able to hold you tight, it finally sunk in that it was over.  You were here.  A part of our lives.

You're a little over a month old now, and I can honestly say that the luster of being your dad hasn't worn off one bit.  I see you getting bigger, making new faces, learning new things, and everything is just perfect.

But the best part of the whole thing is seeing you and your Mom interact and learn about one another.  You were inside of her for nine months, yet there's still so much for each of you to learn.  So whenever you're feeding, or your Mom is changing your diaper, or she's on the floor doing tummy time with you, all I can picture is your Mom wearing this long pink cape that is flowing with the wind.

Because your Mom is a Superhero.  Never forget that.

You're Awake, You're Awesome: Live Like It

Not only does this blog serve as a baby book for some of our greatest (and simplest) memories together, I also wanted to fill it with important advice for you. I've been trying to come up with pearls of wisdom along the way, and wouldn't you know it?! A kid went and said it all without even trying! So here's a bit of happiness from the internet:

I'll try to post gems like that as I come across them because I think it'll make this blog somewhat of a time capsule for you. I think that'll be fun - to go back and look at what life was like for the rest of the world, not just for us. After all, when mommy and daddy were your age there WAS NO INTERNET. Your folks are pretty old, huh?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pinterest Fail: Birth Photography

I've noticed a trend on Pinterest lately where people are sharing ideas for birth photography. Don't get me wrong, this is a beautiful concept. And I think if you hired a really talented professional, they could turn even my ugly hospital stay into a work of art. But what did we do? We tried to DIY.

The inspiration:

Aaaaand my version:

The angle is awkward, and I wish I could say that your coloring is due to jaundice buuuut that's my bad too.

Daddy also took a turn trying to capture some special first moments. The inspiration:

Aaaaand my version:

Am I even awake? What's happening?!

So, when it comes to our DIY birth photography, I feel very much like this:

I suppose if we had actually hired someone, the only photos I would have reeeeally wanted would have been of your daddy in the OR. I couldn't see him (or maybe I was forcing my eyes closed to avoid looking at that claustrophobia-inducing blue curtain) but I would have loved to see his reaction captured! He just sounded so excited and full of pure joy when you entered the world.

The good news is that we DID hire a newborn photographer! You had a photo shoot when you were only eight days old! We got the photos back last week, and they're absolutely amazing. I promise I'll post them on here once your friends and family have all received your birth announcements!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

One Month Old

Well, I'm a couple of days late on inevitable habit, I'm sure. Today, Mommy took a break from studying and you took a break from playing with your adorable woodland creatures activity center so that we could have a little photo shoot to commemorate the first month of your life.

And what a month it's been! The first couple of weeks were a doozy. Between my recovery and just trying to figure out how to be a mommy, there were definitely some tough moments. But you had so much patience and grace with us, and now we've really started to have some fun!

Your personality has started to emerge a bit, and you're showing us that you're very playful. You love having your hands touched, and you seem entranced when music plays. You even have a favorite toy already! There's this little bird on your activity center and your face just lights up every time it sings. You also seem to enjoy your elephant...

...even though you tried to eat him today.

You're getting into a good routine with sleeping and eating, and we're grateful for the small increase in sleep you've allowed us to have as a result! We're trying to just cherish every moment we have with you, especially because you're changing so much so fast. There are already cute things that you've outgrown (like the little "uh huh" noise you used to make when you were hungry). But this makes way for new cute things! Here are a few of our favorites:

  • When you're fussing but starting to calm down, you make this noise that sounds like "laaaaaa"
  • You always let out an audible "ahhh" sigh of relief after you sneeze
  • Sometimes you try to eat Daddy's nose
  • When you stretch, you reach your fist high up in the air triumphantly. This is especially entertaining when you're eating.
  • If someone blows in your face, you raise your eyebrows and bat your lashes

At one month, you look more like your daddy. You even make some of the same facial expressions that he does! You have a little bit of medium-brown hair and stormy blue-grey eyes.

We're excited to see you grow over the next month!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Groundhog Day

There's this Adam Sandler movie called 50 First Dates where he plays some guy trying to woo Drew Barrymore status post brain injury. Drew's character is left with some severe deficits, namely that she is unable to form new memories since the accident. She wakes up every morning with a clean slate, then goes about her day, then the memories from that day vanish throughout the night, and she wakes up with a clean slate again. It's horribly unrealistic from a neurological standpoint, but it's a sweet movie nonetheless. One particular scene in that movie has really resonated with me these last few weeks. Adam Sandler's character is trying to convince Drew Barrymore's character's family to try something new in an attempt to aide her recovery. The family is hesitant initially, so Adam Sandler says something to the effect of "worst case scenario, we've only lost one day."

That's what it's like having a newborn. Except it's not even a passes by in windows of 3-4 hours.

Some more background information: I read this book and I have this app that corresponds to it and it gives me this little schedule for you. Eat at 7:00AM, play at 7:30, nap at 8:00, eat again at 9:00, and so on. And it's that simple, right? Just follow that little schedule and everything will be fine. That schedule LIES. And, I mean, how could it not? Every kid is different! You are a unique individual, and what works for you may not work for other babies and vice versa. Not only that, but what works during one 3-hour shift may not work during another. Sometimes we stick to a really great schedule! You eat like a champ, you're all smiles and enjoying that little bit of tummy time, and then you're out like a light. At those times, you're an absolute angel.

Then, there are other times where it doesn't go so well.

Oh, someday you're going to be so mad at me for including that photo! But it's necessary because there's an important lesson here. Those tough moments seem infinite at the time, but they're fleeting; and what's more, you get a fresh start once they pass.

One thing you'll learn about your mommy is that I'm a huge perfectionist. It's why I have a doctorate degree from a wonderful school, and it's why I'm studying for a big test that will make me a specialist in my field. It motivates me to work hard at what I'm passionate about, but it also makes me horribly critical of myself. So when you don't go down for a nap so easily, and you're forcibly feeding yourself until you spit up and then you scream because you're hungry all over again, and you're just plain over tummy time, I question my competency as a mother. I wonder just how much I've done wrong, and just how much I've screwed you up as a result. But once I bring myself back from Crazytown and start thinking logically again, I remember that I'll get a fresh start in a few hours. And it's during those hours that I KNOW I'm doing something right.

And the best part about it is that, unlike Drew Barrymore's character in that movie, you CAN form new memories. You won't remember these moments specifically, but they're certainly contributing to your development. Those little victories for both of us add up to something really wonderful. This applies to so much more than raising a newborn, and I hope you'll find this advice useful throughout your life: savor those little victories but, more importantly, savor the failures too because that's what keeps us humble. This is probably the most important lesson you've taught me thus far. That, and to not be self-conscious about how many photos there are of me on the Internet right now with no make-up on.

When you have a bad day, or a bad three-hour block of time, don't beat yourself up. The next morning, you'll wake up to "I Got You Babe" on the radio all over again, and you'll earn yourself a mulligan.

At the Beginning with You

As I'm writing this, you're approaching four weeks on this planet. I figure that means it's time for a little highlights reel, don't you think?

The first week was pretty rough for your mommy. I couldn't do nearly as much for you as I wanted to, but Daddy was an amazing relief pitcher and stepped up whenever I needed him to. You had lost a lot of weight since you were born, which is normal, but you weren't gaining it back as quickly as you should. This meant very frequent visits with Dr. Cooper to get your weight checked. I'll talk more about our journey with breastfeeding later, but for now I'll just say that we were off to a rocky start with eating.

You started to get the hang of it, though, and by the end of your second week, we were getting into a routine. Daddy went back to work, and we enjoyed having some girl time. Over the next couple of weeks, we really bonded. You've started to smile more, and you're even playful! It's so much fun to watch your personality start to emerge. You haven't made it out of the house much yet (since I'm still not allowed to carry the carrier with you in it), but you've already done so much in just a few short weeks!

You celebrated your first Christmas...

...and your first New Year's Eve (we made it until 11:30...and then 2:00...and then 4:00...)

You had lots of good times with Mommy and Daddy...

...and with some new friends, too!

You showed off a bunch of awesome outfits (and accessories).

And, of course, you've had lots of snuggles with your best friend Chelsea.

We can't wait to see what kind of adventures you'll have in the next few weeks!