Friday, February 21, 2014

Two Months Old

This month has been really fun, and every day you amaze us more and more! You're sleeping less during the day and more at night, and you've spent your increased awake time being playful and (in my not so humble and very biased opinion) absolutely adorable.

Playtime has become, well, more like playtime. You love your bouncy seat, especially when it comes to staring at the little penguin. You're a tummy time rockstar (making your PT mama proud), even turning your head to sound when you're on your elbows! Your favorite thing to play with is your activity center, and you're getting really good at tracking and reaching for your birdies.

Not only have you become more interactive with your toys, you're also interacting more with people! You still love to have your hands touched, but now you also enjoy having your face touched, especially with kisses! It's been so fun to watch you become more and more playful every day.

You're moving a lot more, and not just when it comes to head control. Every time we go to change your diaper, you're such a wiggle worm!

It was a tough month for you in a lot of ways. You basically had oral surgery, you got your 2-month shots, and you had to deal with snow (twice). But you came out of it on top, and now you're eating like a champ and growing faster than I thought possible. You had some good times this month, too. You got to hang out with Daideo a couple of times so that Mommy and Daddy could have some date nights. You got to spend a lot of quality time with Mimi when we went on your first road trip to Gainesville.

You definitely still look more like your daddy...just a prettier version of him! Your hair is a little bit lighter than it was last month, and you still have the most beautiful blue eyes. Now that you're finally putting on some weight, you're growing some cheeks! Those pinch-able beauties are all Mommy.

We had a lot of fun during this month's photo shoot. It was just another excuse to play, obviously! And, of course, you provided us with a few outtakes.

We have some fun things planned for you throughout the next month, especially once Mommy is done with her test!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Magical Unicorns and Superpowers

I have a confession to make: sometimes I find myself feeling an intense amount of jealousy towards moms who had an easier delivery than I did. I know it's silly...irrational, even. You're here, you're healthy, and the end certainly justified the means. These feelings aren't so overwhelming that they impact my life, per se; they just cause me to make this face whenever I hear that some woman somewhere delivered in a more preferable manner than I did:

I didn't have a birth plan, and on some level I think I always knew it'd end with a C-section. That wasn't the problem. The C-section left me with a tough recovery that delayed our bonding, which left me with a very heavy amount of guilt. I mentally self-flagellated incessantly over the fact that I could not accomplish the one thing my body had been designed to do. After doing some reflecting, I think this sense of failure is what fueled my obsession with perfecting breastfeeding. I should have been able to push you out, and I should be able to feed you.

I'm going to teach you a very valuable lesson that is applicable to so many situations in life: "should" is a four-letter word.

Sure, there are certain expectations in life. You should go to school. You should be a good person. You should eat your vegetables. But most shoulds are figments of your imagination and, if you turn out to be anything like your mommy, the most rigid expectations will be the ones you set for yourself. This desire for perfection can lead one to strive toward something unattainable. This will inevitably cause disappointment in yourself or fear of disappointing others, which at times can be absolutely crippling.

{via Disney Wikia}

I was thinking about this jealousy today and this feeling that I "should" have been able to have a more desirable delivery. This led to a really inspiring conversation with some of my mom friends, and I gained some really great perspective that I wanted to share with you. The result of this conversation was that from the outside, everyone looks like they have a magical unicorn baby.

{via Spirit Halloween}

Or maybe they had a magical unicorn pregnancy. Or a magical unicorn delivery. But the truth is that nothing is ever as perfect as it seems to be. Even when things are great, they are also flawed. And every time I'm envious over someone's delivery, that same mom may be envious of my relatively easy pregnancy.

Throughout every phase of pregnancy and parenting, there are difficult aspects and fantastic aspects. For each trying moment, each baby also has a superpower.

{via Devermore}

Some babies sleep through the night almost immediately. Some babies are natural eaters who don't need any help breastfeeding. And oh my goodness the beautiful thick locks on some babies' heads! But, in my horribly biased opinion, you have the greatest superpower of them all: resilience.

We had trouble bonding at first because your mommy does not respond well to anesthesia or narcotics, but now we love each other more than I ever could have possibly imagined. You had trouble gaining weight at first, and now you have the cutest little tummy I've ever seen. Breastfeeding was a frustrating and inefficient process initially, and now you are an absolute champion eater. You love tummy time more than most babies I've seen, and I really think it's because you want the opportunity to work hard at yet another challenge. How very Gryffindor of you! (Which is funny, because neither of your parents would have been sorted into Gryffindor.)

You are not a magical unicorn. I did not have a magical unicorn pregnancy, and I certainly did not have a magical unicorn delivery. But I wouldn't trade an ounce of your superpower for an infinitely better delivery. All of our imperfections together have made us perfect for each other, and I'm incredibly grateful for that.

So for those moms out there who think they should be able to breastfeed, says who? Pumping is a commendable labor of love, and science has created some pretty fabulous formula. If you're eight years old and still not riding a bike even though you feel like you should, says who? You'll get there in your own time, if you want to, that is. If you feel like you should go out with your friends when all you really want to do that day is curl up with a book, then you get your read on! It's our individuality that makes all of us special, and our shoulds that make us boring.

And sometimes, our quirks themselves can, in fact, be our superpowers.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Valentine's Day Vlog

Valentine's Day isn't usually a big deal in our family. We believe that love should be celebrated every day! But it is an excuse to play with arts and crafts, and that's one of Mommy's favorite things to do. I found a blog post on Pinterest that had a great idea for an art project that even babies could participate in. Best of all, it incorporated tummy time! An opportunity to be artsy while performing a functional exercise?! Obviously, your mommy was totally on board.

And here's the finished product that you gave to Daddy!

A few tips for those who are reading this and considering attempting this project at home: computer paper was a little too thin. Part of the card tore and, as you can see, it dried kind of wrinkly. Try poster board or a heavy cardstock instead. Also, be careful not to use too much paint.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snowpocalypse 2.0

I recently told you about your first snow, where we only got two inches but all of Atlanta shut down because everyone was on the road at the same time. I assumed our next snow would be a few years from now, but it turned out that this polar vortex wasn't done making noise yet! On Tuesday night, the freezing rain began and we were iced in. Wednesday was a pretty nasty day, but then Wednesday night, the sleet and ice turned into snow and we awoke Thursday morning to a beautiful blanket of white. The good news is that Atlanta anticipated the weather this time, so most of the metro area spent this snow day just like us: safe inside a warm home. Oh, except for when they were outside frolicking in the powder!

Once again, Chelsea was really excited and eager to play.

Our neighborhood looked like something out of a Christmas card.

Chelsea longed to herd the sledders, but we wouldn't let her.

Your daddy built your very first snowman: a snow dalek!

Afterwards, we warmed up by the fire.

You were exhausted from all the fun in the snow!

As I'm writing this, it's already melting. Til next time, Atlantarctica!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Your First Road Trip

This past weekend, we drove to Gainesville, Florida so that Mommy and Daddy could attend your auntie Jessica's wedding. There were many significant aspects to this weekend. First of all, Jessica is one of your mommy's very best friends. We first met during Panhellenic recruitment in 2004, and I was thrilled when our casual tent talk turned into a sisterly bond when we both ended up at Kappa Kappa Gamma. We had a lot of fun in college together. (I mean a lot. I kind of hope you don't have that much fun in college.)

The other reason this trip was important was because Gainesville is important. Not only was it my home for four glorious years, it's the city where your daddy and I met. Gainesville brings up a lot of sweet sentiments and nostalgia for our family (but mostly me). I first met your daddy at a mutual friend's birthday party in 2003. We became friends and a couple of years later, we started dating. Most of my friends didn't approve of him. They thought he wasn't as serious about me as I was about him, and that meant that he didn't deserve me. It's wonderful to have friends who care so passionately about you that they'll do anything to protect you, and your auntie Amanda was the leader of this movement. Jessica was the only one of my close friends who was on the other side of this argument. She's a very laid back gal, much more practical than your mommy is. She told me that if I wanted to go for it, then I should. Worst case scenario, I would get my heart broken and we'd deal with it then. But either way, I'd survive. The best part is that she didn't even gloat when she was right.

Jessica will kill me for posting this, but here we are at Mommy and Daddy's first date in 2005...

...and here she is as my bridesmaid six years later:

{image by H.Photography}

So this trip was a big deal. We got to celebrate one of my favorite people and her wonderful now-husband, and we got to show you a city that's so important in the story of our family. Not to mention it was your first road trip!

We arrived late Friday night, just in time to attend Jessica and Jordan's rehearsal dinner after-party at Swamp...which meant that you got to go to your first bar!

I hope you'll appreciate that photo when you're 21! We almost left you at the hotel with Mimi, who had driven up from South Florida just to see you, but going to Swamp was the only way the bride and groom could meet you that weekend, and I think they really appreciated it. You liked Swamp so much, we went back the next day to watch Florida beat up on Alabama in basketball!

We had to be careful not to pack anything with elephants on it, which was hard because you have a LOT of elephant things!

The wedding was later that day. We left you with Mimi, and Mommy and Daddy got to witness a beautiful ceremony. I'd never seen Jessica and Jordan look so happy!

I had a ball catching up with my other good friends from Kappa. The six of us were so close in college, and hanging out together felt just like old times!

We got back to the hotel to find you fast asleep with Mimi smiling in the chair next to you.

The next morning, we hit the road early and headed home. But first, you got to play with Mimi just a little more!

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice makes perfect: this is a phrase that you'll probably hear me say often. I apologize in advance if it gets annoying, but unfortunately for you, your mommy is a ballerina at heart. Not only that, but I've made a career for myself in neurorehab, which is all about motor learning. Basically, if you ever complain that something is hard, you're doomed to hear same response: just practice it. This will be true for doing homework, riding a bike, and learning an instrument, but it's also true when it comes to tasks that are emotionally or mentally difficult. They get easier with time and effort.

Leaving the house was particularly difficult when you were a newborn. For starters, we have the kind of carrier that snaps into a carseat or a stroller, and I wasn't allowed to lift said carrier while you were in it initially. I tried once when you were about four weeks old, and it made my incision hurt so I stopped. A little later, I tried again and it wasn't so bad, but then it hurt as soon as I got to the stairs. When you were about five and a half weeks old, I discovered that I could do it pain-free. And just like that, we were no longer under house arrest!

The only problem was that I was completely intimidated by the thought of leaving the house alone. Simply the logistics involved are totally overwhelming! I saw other moms do it with ease, and figured that they just must have gotten the hang of it over time. I assumed I would eventually, as well, and decided to make it Future Mommy's problem. I quickly abandoned my procrastination when I looked at a calendar. We had planned to attend your Auntie Jessica's wedding the first weekend of Florida! Suddenly, I realized we were working against a deadline. If we were going to go out of town, we needed to be able to conquer the grocery store first.

So we started to practice. Our first move was to take your Auntie Sara to the store with us. This way, I could use the ErgoBaby for the first time and have someone there to spot me just in case.

I brought your daddy's giant manly backpack diaper bag so we would have been prepared for the zombie apocalypse should it have hit us. Overall, our mission was successful. I was glad to have another person there, but mostly because it assured me that I could do it without them too. I also learned that one of the inconveniences of taking a new baby out into the world is the amount of stuff required! I started brainstorming ways to make this process more efficient.

Behold: the solution.

{via Skip*Hop}

This thing is smaller than an iPad, and it has a pocket for diapers, a container for wipes, and a little fold-out thingie that turns into a changing station. It fits in most of my purses and instantly turns them into diaper bags. Then, depending on how long we're going to be out for, I can also pack burp cloths, a change of clothes, etc. I know it's not much, but it made me feel a little more put together than I do with the giant backpack without leaving me unprepared.

Our next mission was to go shopping. After all, I had a wedding to go to and I had nothing to wear! I loaded up my "diaper bag," and we set out during one of your nap times. The result? You slept through the whole thing.

You were such an angel, I decided to try and push it. After all, practice isn't supposed to be easy! We went to a couple more stores just to run out the clock until naptime was over. When you started to stir, I took you into Trader Joe's and changed you in their bathroom. First public diaper change yay! You started to fall asleep again, and I figured we could make it home before feeding time. But that would be easy, and this was practice time. So, we got in the car and you had lunch.

First public feeding yay! Okay, maybe it doesn't count as a public feeding if it's inside the car with a nursing cover, but hey we were out of my comfort zone so I called it a win.

We headed home, and suddenly you were wide awake. I was concerned that you'd be fussy, given the amount of stimulation you must have had up until that point, but this was the look on your face:

We had survived. And then haircuts and doctor's appointments didn't seem like such a hassle to go to. Walking around the neighborhood was something I looked forward to, rather than dreaded. Everything got easier because we practiced.