Thursday, February 16, 2012

How's Mommy?

Early on I read in one of my books that the only body parts that don't change during pregnancy are your earlobes.  Life after baby is similarly transformative.  Saying "having a baby changes your life" isn't particularly original or profound.  But it's really true.  Really really true.

True, but hard to put into words, I'm finding.  There are lots of little examples.  I used to be a diehard believer in Monday pastor Sabbaths.  A little background: pastors take one day a week off, usually Monday or Friday.  Friday Sabbath people are go-getters.  They like to start their week off strong and get everything set and done as early as possible.  They work and plan ahead. Monday Sabbath people are either procrastinators, introverts or both.  Introverts like taking Monday off to recover from doing so much interacting with people on Sunday. Procrastinators know in their hearts that they can't possibly get their sermon done before Friday, so if it's really going to be a day off without any work at all, it's gotta be Monday.

I am both an introvert and a procrastinator.  Or, I was.  But I'm a Friday Sabbath person now. I still don't usually finish my sermon before Friday, but I've thought it through enough that writing on Friday only takes an hour or two.  I don't waste time very much any more.  There's just not a lot of time available to waste.  If I can be efficient with my work, I can spend more time making silly faces at my Walter. 

I'm happy.  Really happy.  This is also hard to put into words without just lapsing into cliches.  But between the endorphin explosion that is breastfeeding, the warm contentment of family life and the unmitigated joy of the first time my baby reached up and lovingly stroked my face (without poking me in the eye) I am pretty much swimming in happy.  It's hard to be this happy without being annoying.  Way back in the day I promised not to be obnoxious about my pregnancy on facebook.  But all I ever do these days is post lots of baby pictures and warm/fuzzy status updates.  It's not that I don't have bad days.  But winter is usually a really blue time for me, and I'm not feeling blue.  Being happy is making me happy (and a little insufferable, too.)

I'm also tired.  A few weeks ago I zoned out a bit while driving and stopped at a green light.  This being Wisconsin, the people behind me also slowed down and no one hit me.  Nary a horn was honked.  But it spooked me.  I want to be a safer driver now, not a sleepy driver.

Because I don't think I'm going to get more sleep any time soon, I've decided the answer is getting into good shape, getting healthy.  I joined the gym that's right next to Walt's day care and I have my first session with a personal trainer tomorrow.  I'm not sure what the personal trainer is going to do with me for an hour, since about 15 minutes of slow walking completely wore me out last week.  All those months of inactivity is not going to be easy or fast to remedy.

During my intake interview at the gym, the trainer asked me about goals and I found myself saying: "I want to get healthy before I have another baby." Another baby?  In that moment, it felt like a real goal.  In other moments, I remember the certainty I felt right after Walter was born: that it would be irresponsible to risk my life in this way again. Fortunately, exercise will be good for me regardless of my future reproductivity.  That decision is firmly on hold.

Walt inspects the Valentine chocolates
In the meantime, Mommy's doing well.  Busy, but good busy.  Stressed sometimes, but not drowning.  Tired, but hopeful and motivated and productive. Most of all: happy.  My work is challenging and a joy.  My baby makes noises like R2D2.  My husband brought home chocolates for Valentines Day.  My Audrey is coming to visit this weekend. My parents live close by.

Life is good! 

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Third Month of Walter

Dear Walter,

Walt and Snow, 11/09/11
Walt and Snow, 02/10/12
This morning I held you up to the window to see the new snow falling and thought about how we watched your first snow from the same window three months ago.  So much has changed! You hold your head up without any help from me, now.  I hold you with more confidence, too: I've gotten good practice!  You are bigger and stronger and more expressive than ever.  But, remember, even from the very beginning (and even before you were born!) you've always been expressive and funny.  You've had a wonderful Walter personality right from the start.

These days you express yourself with beautiful smiles, gorgeous giggles, and even big belly laughs when you're happy.  It's impossible not to smile when you smile and laugh when you laugh.  You are ticklish under your arms, on the back of your neck and on your belly.  We think your feet might be ticklish, too, but we're still keeping your toes covered most of the time in footie pajamas.  You are wearing 9 month sized clothes these days.

When you were very little, you slept, cried and ate most of the time.  You had two "sweet spots" each day: around 9 am and 5 pm were happy times for you, and we did a lot of learning and playing during those hours.  Now, instead of sweet spots, you are just plain sweet: most of your day is spent smiling, reaching, interacting and watching the world intently.  While you're very outgoing, you have quiet times, too.  You seem to appreciate the opportunity to just chill out now and then, leaning against me or your Daddy just being calm and relaxed.

You think Grandma Sue is very funny
You love to laugh at: "The Wheels on the Bus," especially the "beep beep beep" part, when we give you little squeezes under your arms with each "beep"; funny noises, like rolled r's and motor sounds; funny faces, especially when made by Grandma Sue or Grandma Albright; and kisses on your belly from your Daddy and kisses on your cheeks and neck from me.  Sometimes you giggle when I'm getting ready to feed you and you're happy and excited that you get to nurse.  You love to laugh and smile at people who you are just getting to know and like, especially all your friends at church and at daycare.

You are a snuggle bunny
You started daycare a little less than a month ago and you seem to love it there. You smile at the other babies, especially Taylor and Bella.  Ms. Donna is your main teacher and you are very fond of her.  You've also charmed all the other teachers who come in throughout the day to help Ms. Donna.  Every time we drop you off or pick you up we hear that you are such a happy, sweet baby.  When someone is cuddling you, you cuddle back, giving wonderful hugs.

When we pick you up from daycare you are very happy to see us: you give a big smile and do a little excited shimmy with your whole body.  We are very happy to see you, too.   We miss you during the day and look forward to our evening times together.  We sing and read to you, feed you and cuddle you.  You go to bed around 8 pm.  You were having trouble sleeping for awhile because you had a couple of bad colds and coughs this month.  Last night you slept for 6 and half hours straight, nursed, and then slept for three hours more.  We are hoping that is your new sleeping pattern!  You are starting to feel better after your cold, which is a big relief to all of us.

Sad face!
When you're sad, you cry very loudly and earnestly, with lots of tears and a very sad or angry expression on your face. Sometimes before you start crying you stick out your lower lip, which is very cute, but it's our cue that you're going to cry so we try to hurry up and comfort you when we see it.  You cry when you're very hungry and the food isn't getting to you quickly enough.  You cry when you're very sleepy and you don't want to fall asleep.  You cry when Daddy and I are eating dinner and you want us to pick you up and pay attention to you.  Sometimes you cry when you first wake up, but not always.  You don't cry as much as you used to, and it usually doesn't last very long.  We are getting better at figuring out what you want when you're crying, and you are also getting good at letting us know what you want in other ways, through other sounds and expressions you make with your hands and face.

When you rub your eyes, we know you're getting sleepy.  When you say "goo," you're usually hungry.  When you want us to pick you up, you make eye contact with us and smile, staying very still and quiet until we come to pick you up, and then you do your happy shimmy.  When you want to chew on something (we think you are probably starting to get your first teeth) you grab our hands, bring them up to your mouth and bite down with all your might.  It hurts a little, but not as much as it's going to when those teeth come through!

Nursing makes you sleepy! 
One of my favorite things you do is hold my hand while you nurse.   Nursing helps you relax, and you like to fold your hands together over your belly in a very contented way, or you stroke my arm with your hand, or put your hand on mine and give a gentle squeeze.  It's a special time for you and me, both.  It still doesn't always work perfectly--sometimes the milk is too much, too fast--but when it does work, it's pretty perfect.

You like toys you can bite on and hold onto easily.  You like burp cloths and your Minky (a monkey head attached to a little blanket ... you're holding it in the picture to the left.) because you like rubbing the soft cloth on your face and chewing on it, too.  Hank the Dog also likes your toys.  He loves and is very protective of you, and he loves to groom you, licking your face, head, toes and ears.  You put up with this admirably.

Dates to remember:

**January 8, the day you were baptized into the family of God.  I got to be both your pastor and your Mommy at your baptism, which made me very happy.  Your Grandma Sue and Grandpa Paul made a book of pictures and recorded their voices reading the story of your baptism.
Baptism Day with Grandma and Grandpa Albright (and Daddy)
**The week of your baptism your Grandma and Grandpa Albright visited from Philadelphia.  Grandma taught you how to find your toes, grab your toys and start pulling yourself up while holding our fingers.  She gave you baths, taught us how to clip your fingernails (they get very long, very fast! And sharp!), and she made you laugh and laugh and laugh.  Grandpa was very good at rocking you to sleep and making you smile.  They love you and miss you and can't wait to see you again!
**January 17 was Mommy's 31st birthday and January 18 was your first day at daycare.  It was a special time for Mommy and Daddy because we remembered that, a year ago at that time, you were conceived and started your amazing journey of growing and getting ready to be born.
You and Grandpa Paul are very cute
**January 22 was your 3 month birthday, which we celebrated with Grandma Sue and Grandpa Paul at their house in Johnson Creek.  We celebrated Grandpa's birthday on February 3, which was also a special date for Mommy and Daddy because it's the one year anniversary of finding out we were going to have a baby ... you!  We also celebrated that Grandma Sue and Grandpa Paul sold their house in Chicago and are living just 2 hours away, now.  They love to visit and love you very much.  Grandpa says his shoulder feels very empty when you're not there.
Soul brothers and Soul sisters
**January 28 you got to meet your soul brother, Bennett, for the first time.  Bennett was born the same week as you and baptized the same day as you.  Bennett's mom, Heidi, and I are soul sisters; we've been friends since we were 12 years old and met at LOMC, a Lutheran summer camp.  Bennett's mom is a Pastor Mommy, too.

This is the story of how we begin to remember
The changes in you this month are significant but subtle--each day we notice something new.  One day you started squeaking when you were happy.  Another day you woke up and looked much taller than when you went to sleep.  You recognize favorite songs and stories, now.  I've been singing you the Paul Simon song, "African Skies" since you were born.  The chorus (Ta oomba oomba oomba whoa-oh-oh) has always calmed you when you're crying.  Now, when I start to sing it, you smile.  You recognize it.  It makes me think of the part of the song that goes like this: "This is the story of how we begin to remember. This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein."  Even though you won't remember being 3 months old, you are, in a way, beginning to remember.  You know you are loved, you know you love music and stories, you know your family and your friends.  You are writing your story every day.

Ta oomba oomba,

Thursday, February 2, 2012

You're so cute when you're angry

Walter has a cough.  It makes me worried and sad, but it's also kind of adorable.  I feel guilty just typing that, but it's true.  He adds a small commentary sound at the end of each coughing fit. Like this:

Cough cough cough cough Aggh! (indignant)
Cough cough cough cough sigh (resigned)
Cough cough cough cough MNEAH! (really indignant)

You get the idea.  It's ridiculously cute. And impressive, I think.  He's got no teeth and no words but a huge personality that he seems to figure out new ways to communicate each day. I'm proud of my little meeper.  Communicating with squeaks and other sound effects is a fine family tradition. 

Everything Walter does is cute.  The juxtaposition of big, real, expressive feelings and a tiny baby face is inherently cute. But the coughing ... not cute enough.  I'd like for that to stop soon.  This morning when I left for work he was wailing.  Sick and miserable.  I would trade those adorable coughing commentaries for a healthy baby any day.

Get better, little Walter.  *meep!*