Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy First Birthday!

Dear Alex,

This has been the best year of my life. You are such an amazing kid. I know my writing to you hasn't been as regular as I've wanted, but I've been too busy having fun with YOU! A year ago, you were a tiny thing with weight and nursing struggles and now you're a huge almost-toddler with screen and music obsessions. I find it weird that I don't have much to write - we've had a good time, you're growing and changing, I'm so happy to have you in my life.
I will mention some milestones, but beyond that, life continues to be busy and overall a good time.
You had your family birthday party at Bubba's house the Saturday before your actual birthday. You got lots of presents and first taste of ice cream cake. Great-great-aunts and uncles were there in addition to your regular family.
The day after your birthday, you cut your first tooth.
Your friends party was yesterday, the Sunday after your birthday. Kids to play with! More cake! Presents!
You are moments away from taking your first steps. You'll reach and/or pivot without going down, but for now you'd rather crawl and stand up or push something across the room than actually take those steps.  That's okay with me. You're a champion crawler and climber, so it works for you for now.
You still love love love music and TV/ computer/ phone screens. Whenever you hear music, you immediately turn to find the source. Lately you'll start bopping up and down with it too, which is adorable. 
You call anything you like 'da-da'. When you're upset, you'll say 'mama-mama'. Your favorite word is 'uh-oh'. You can sign milk but not much else. We're working on 'more' and 'all done'.
Sleep is still not your friend. You want to be eating at the same time, preferably in my or Daddy's arms. In the last few nights, we've seen a slight improvement because we've been filling you full to bursting of food before bed. You'll also reach out for the bottle (or me) and soothe yourself back down that way. Getting some sleep is feeling better than being sleep-deprived. Sometime soon we'll have to help you find some other ways to self soothe. Right now I'm counting it as a victory that you can find the bottle and not need me quite so much to get back to sleep.
You are a wonderful kid. I can't wait to see what these toddler years bring. (Hopefully not more banana-nachos. You offered me one of those a couple of weeks ago, and one was plenty.)
Love you to the Moon and back,

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Happy Half Birthday!

Dear Alex,

Today you turned 6 months. Nana, Gramma, and Papi came up and we went to a concert at the Eric Carle Museum. We came home and had cake and chocolate covered strawberries. (Well, you had Apple/Apricot baby food.)

You can sit up on your own most of the time and stand up if we help you balance.

You've just learned to roll from your back to belly but don't do it all the time.

Yesterday at the pool (at 6.5 months) you attempted to eat the toes of a 4-month-old you'd just met and pulled the hair of a 2-year-old and made him cry. (You were actually a bit of a bully.) You frequently, now, swat your hands toward other babies in either self-defense, greeting, or attack - I can't tell which.

Inquisitive is a good name for you. It best describes you all time time - you want to see everything that's going on. You're aware, alert, and observant.Right now, as I type, you're watching your Daddy stir his oatmeal and you're attempting to grab some - even though it's hot and you'll cry if you succeed. You often put the wrong end of the spoon in your mouth instead, but you think that tastes pretty good too.
You eat pretty much anything we put in front of you, whether it's edible or not. But really, you love food. (Daddy describes you as a goat because you'll eat anything). You want what WE are having. (Jarred baby food is just meh, but you see my scrambled eggs and it's all "GET IN MY MOUTH!") Your palate isn't so discerning yet. For example, you drink partially-thawed milk and ignore the chunks of ice. Everything must be touched. When we carry you around (and you loved to be carried), you reach your hand out to touch everything.

You hate having your face wiped. Your hands aren't that bad, but you cry most times we try to wash your face.

You sleep about half the night in your pack 'n' play by yourself, and then you wake up and cry, and we take you into our bed. You're still wearing your hip brace at night, which impedes your movement, but occasionally you'll flip yourself over in it but not be able to free your bottom shoulder, and cry. Once in a great while you'll sleep all night, but it's pretty rare. During the night (when you have the brace on) you sleep on your back with your hands either up near your face or straight out from your sides- you hog the bed! You like to be touching both of us, or at least me. I'm on your right, and Daddy's on your left.

You've been to your first Pride Parade, in Northampton. (Papi and Gramma came too.)

Your eyes right now are mostly hazel (light brown/ green) with hints of blue/grey around the edges. YOur hair is a sort of strawberry-blonde color.

You LOVE people. You smile at most everyone, and occasionally still do that pretend-shy thing - hide your head from them for a moment, then look back at them smiling.

You say 'mmmmmmm!' to express displeasure. You can also say 'boo boo boo' and 'mamameeeee' and are beginning to make raspberries - very softly and not very often though. When you're happy you make the cutest little cooing sound. You're also starting to shriek - it's getting louder, and it's funny. Since birth, you've sort of gotten "huffy" first before you cried, and you still do - you start breathing really hard and fast then go "heh heh heh" for awhile to fuss before you get to a full-out cry. Lately you've changed that up once in awhile like it you fall and bump your head or wake suddenly out of a sound sleep - then it's just a blaring wail. But those get turned off as soon as you're picked up, cuddled, and (if you're not okay yet) nursed.

You've been sitting up for awhile now, and you're getting better at keeping your balance. you can even sometimes balance yourself with a hand if you tip over too far to one side. (You still toppled over backwards this morning and cried until you nursed, though, so you're not an expert yet.)

This past week, when Daddy's been on vacation, we've been looking for daycare providers for you, as I'm going back to work in a few months. We found two excellent ones - one that would teach you Spanish and one that will feed you wonderfully healthy, organic food & teach you yoga & about nature. We're leaning toward the healthy one, so if you are having trouble learning Spanish, you can blame it on this decision. We figure we'd rather have you liking veggies and caring for the environment than being bilingual by age 2.

You're starting to copy people now, and you can do "high five!" with Daddy. I'll blow a raspberry to you and you'll stick out your tongue. I'll say "Mummy" or "mamamama" and you'll go "mmm!!" In a happy way.

You like to drink out of our water bottles. You'll get water out of them by sucking, and not be able to swallow it all, so it dribbles down your front.

You've gotten over your intense dislike of the carseat (again) and have started playing and/ or falling asleep in it. When we get to our destination you're either fast asleep or wide awake but silent. I don't often hear your talking to yourself back there, but when I do, I love it. You don't really converse with me yet, even though I talk to you frequently.

You are a cute baby. No really, you are. We were at our friends' house (Connor's family - at his 1st birthday). Micah doesn't hold back his opinions, and he said that most of the time you tell people that they have a cute baby just to be polite, but YOU (Alex!) really ARE a cute baby! You get that a lot, actually. Women tear up and say that you make their uterus hurt because they want kids (or more kids) now that they've seen you. You get comments that you look like a little elf. In a good way.

The early intervention specialist said that we should practice putting objects in front of you and cover them with a cloth, but that just makes you lose interest. So, we're not sure if you get the object permanence thing yet - I'm thinking that you don't, because you cry as soon as I leave a room.

You're laughing more lately. Not a LOT, but much more than before. Usually it's because we're burbling on your belly, but last week it was because I was playing peekaboo with you with a big sheet. You LOVED it, but you haven't really liked peekaboo before or since.

You're 14 lbs, 2 oz and about 25 inches long. Your head comes above Daddy's knee and you feel heavier to pick up.

We're headed off to Oma and Granddad's for Memorial Day this weekend. Packing for you gets easier every time - no need to bring a swing or a ton of extra onesies this time. No pump, either, which is going to be nice!

You're getting fussy to nurse (again), so I'm going to sign off - it's not that long till your seven-month post, anyway. I'll get you caught up then if I've missed something.

I love you!
~Mummy (& Daddy)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Five months

Dear Alex,

Five months sounds like such a big baby! You're really still a peanut, though. You're about 12 pounds and 23 inches, which is on the extreme bottom of the growth curve. But you're alert and happy and otherwise pretty healthy.

You've rolled from your back to tummy once or twice at Oma & Granddad's, but not at all since then. You've been doing crunches to try to sit up but don't have the balance yet. You don't talk often, but when you do, it sometimes sounds like words (hi, hello, hey, mama) Your grip is strong when you decide to use it (usually on my skin!). When given a doll, you'll most likely go for the hair or head and try to put it in your mouth.

Sleep is sort of getting better - you'll go down more easily after you're changed into jammies & brace and read a story (and fed and swaddled), but you'll usually wake up a few hours later ready to nurse - fine, because you come into bed with us then, but then you're up to nurse a couple more times before morning. If I have to be up early, it's pretty rough! But it's nice having a bedtime routine now.

You hate baths. And showers. You scream like we're hurting you, even after you're out and being toweled off, and you look at us like "why did you DO that to me?!!" So you don't get baths very often.

We spent spring break week with Daddy's parents, and went into Boston and had fun with them. You ate solids much more than before, including half a banana (mashed up) and sweet potato. When you like what you're eating, and we're not giving you another bite fast enough, you yell and cry until we give you more! Mostly you get whatever we're eating that's safe for you to eat, mashed up.

Your brace is only on for "nights and naps" now - except you won't wear it for naps. If I try to put it on you, you'll wake up from your nap and not go back to sleep. So we're just doing nights for now. I hope it'll be okay in 2 months when we go back for your next visit!

Tomorrow we're seeing Daddy's parents for breakfast and my family for egg-coloring because this weekend is your first Easter! I doubt you'll be very impressed with the egg coloring, as there's not much eating involved with it, but I'm sure you'll like seeing your family and all the attention you get from them.

We have a couple of swim diapers and a rash guard T shirt for you for swimming/ summer if you're interested in going in the water. I have my doubts, but Daddy's going to try anyway.

This last month has been so wonderful with you. I look at you every day and am so thankful for you. You're so happy and cute and enjoyable! That doesn't erase the hurt from the years before you arrived, but it makes the payoff of having you so much sweeter than if you were a difficult baby!

I love you. We waited for you for a long time, and we're so glad you're finally here.
So much love,

Monday, March 5, 2012

Four months

Dear Alex,

I can't believe it's been four months since you were born. It seems like such a short amount of time - four months. But it feels like you've been here a lot longer than that. You've grown and changed so much since I first saw you as a tiny little thing in a yellow hat in the operating room!

Right now, you can roll from your tummy to your back and from your back to your side. Your eyes are changing from blue-grey to a rainbow - amber/green toward the pupil and dark blue-grey toward the whites of your eyes. Your hair is light brown with undertones of red. If you end up with green eyes and red hair I am going to be very surprised and very excited! More likely you'll have brown eyes and brown hair like me, though.

Your hip brace is able to be removed for several hours a day now, and that makes many things a lot easier. The car seat, for one. And holding you. Side-lying nursing with it is still awkward because you either have to lie flat on your back and turn your head or have one leg dangling up in the air.

You've started doing this pretend-shy thing with strangers (even Gramma & Papi) where you bury your face in my/ Daddy's shoulder for a moment then look back at the other people and smile really big. It's adorable and a total act. You're not a bit shy!

I like to see you interacting with other people. Your smile is just so cute. YOU are cute! I smile at you and you smile back. Sometimes you reach your hands out to me. Very often in the mornings you'll look toward where I am in the bed if I've gotten up and your Daddy's holding you. He says you "know where the milk comes from"!

Speaking of milk, nursing is going pretty well. You nurse often but still take a bottle when it's just too much touching for me, or I can't be there. Sleep is another issue, though - after doing great with sleep for almost 4 months, over the past week or so you've been waking up more and nursing more at night. This is normal, but it's still leaving me very tired in the mornings!

Lately I've been really enjoying you and happy with how you're growing (although I wish it wasn't going by so fast!) Playing with you is so much fun. You make cute noises and smile and try to nom on the toys. I'm trying to get you to learn to roll from your back to tummy, with or without the brace, but so far we've only gotten you to your side before you get stuck.

You are awesome and I am so, so, so happy you're part of my family!
Lots and lots of love,


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy Transfer Day!

Dear Alex,

I'm watching you across the room from me, asleep and swaddled in your swing. You're just adorable. But a year ago, I was lying at home in bed at this time, "recovering" from our third IVF transfer and wondering if this one would take. I'd already nicknamed you Flash and put your first picture on the fridge to encourage positive thinking.

We got bundled up and drove through the snow to the IVF lab about 30 minutes away, and I watched Whose Line is it Anyway? on Daddy's laptop after we'd checked in and changed into hospital gear. Your Daddy drew a clown nose on himself in green pen to make me laugh - we were doing everything we could to help me relax and laugh. I knit - I forget what, but most likely it was socks. I believe I promised all the nurses socks if it worked. All the medical staff were super friendly and nice, and everything went very smoothly. I got bundled up in warm blankets and wheeled into the procedure room. There were bright lights and several people. I remember thinking that I didn't really want to do this again, that it wasn't particularly comfortable or enjoyable but that if it worked it would be worth it. And that's what kept me breathing - the hope that it would work.

There was lots of lab/ administrative stuff, like having to check my name and birthdate several times over. The actual transfer was fast and "textbook". In the previous transfers I'd had a great view of the ultrasound screen, but I only got a peek this time at the flash on the screen as the embryo (you!) was ejected from the syringe and deposited in the middle of my uterus. After a short wait to let the lab check that the syringe was clear of embryos, I was wheeled back to the waiting area to rest for awhile before packing up. (I also remember getting up and using the bathroom before my time was up, as they made me drink a bunch of water to help with ultrasound visibility. I wasn't too worried about it "taking" or not just from getting up that once.)

I spent the rest of the day resting in bed or on the couch. And the rest of the week waiting and wondering and looking for symptoms.

I am so glad that you are finally here. You have been an amazing kid so far and I don't think you'll ever really know how happy I am to have you in my life.

It's been an awesome year!!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

3 months

Dear Alex,

You're adorable. And terrifying, now that you've learned how to roll over. We often just put you on the bed, and you'll entertain yourself and we don't have to worry about your safety . . . but that's changing. If we leave you on your tummy, there's a good chance you'll be on your back if we turn away for too long. So we need to watch out. I love that you can roll with your brace on - it reassures me that you can still hit all your milestones even though you've got this awful contraption strapped to your legs and waist.

You're make lots of little word-sounding noises. I've heard you "say" yeah, green, mommy, and ok. I know you're not actually talking yet, that these syllables just happen to sound like words, but I love them anyway. When I held up green and purple pants and asked you which one you'd like to wear and you said "geen!" it made me laugh so hard I had trouble getting you dressed!

You're also beginning to teethe. You try to eat your hands, and you drool. You had a screaming meltdown in Northampton at mom's circle the other day, I can only assume from teething pain, since I haven't heard you cry like that ever before, or since. Neither had anyone else in the group - they were so surprised you were crying! It lasted for about half an hour, during which I attempted to comfort you and pack up our stuff, thinking I would drive you down to the doctor's office and demand that they fix you (find something to make you more comfortable, like a pain reliever). Of course, as soon as I got your fleece on and you strapped into the carrier, you conked out fast asleep and I could rejoin the group. I was worried, but since you haven't done it again, I'm not as concerned.

In general, you're a happy, alert, sociable baby. You love playing with your baby gym and batting at the links and toys that dangle from it. As in, you'll play with it for extremely long stretches of time - like an hour. Iv'e never heard of a baby playing with one thing for that long! Yesterday morning you fell asleep playing with it. It was adorable. :)

This past weekend we visiting Daddy's parents out near Boston and went to the Museum of Science to see the Pompeii exhibit. I nursed you while walking around the exhibit, which is the weirdest place we'd breastfed to date. We also visited the infant area in the discovery center for a little while and you made friends with a 6-month-old who was already crawling. You weren't too interested in the exhibits and fell asleep pretty quickly after that.

Right now you are sleeping in your swing after sleeping all night and going to fitness training with me this morning. You went to a Toastmasters meeting with me last night and came up with me to do a Table Topics about weather. You and Daddy spent Tuesday night (Valentine's Day) together while I was at knitting group, and you both loved it.

I am so excited to see you continue to reach developmental milestones and grow and become your own person. It's sad too, that you don't really fit into your newborn outfits anymore, and that you're one of the oldest babies at the Beyond Birth group at the hospital, but we have you and you're happy and pretty healthy, and that's all that mattters.

You are so loved, munchkin. I'm looking forward to seeing what you'll do next!

Love love love,

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hip Brace

Dear Alex,
We've had quite the weekend. And I don't necessarily mean that it was all good. On Friday, your harness came off (yay!) and you got your Brace. You cried when the orthotist put it on you. Maybe it's only because you weren't wearing anything between The Brace and your skin, but it sounded much more like you HATED it and wanted out NOW. The fussiness has continued through now (Sunday night). There are definitely moments of smiling and cooing where you're happy and sociable, but much more often over the last two days, you've been fussing, wanting to nurse, or sleeping. (The last time I changed your diaper you were fussing until I took The Brace off. Then you were all smiles.) I've been really upset about The Brace too, since it's so much more in-your-face than the harness. We could very nearly ignore the harness. The Brace has to be removed and reapplied for every diaper change. It's much easier for people to pity you with The Brace - the harness was downright cute in comparison. I'm planning on dressing it up with some fabric soon, so it doesn't look so scary and medical.

It's nice to be able to have more clothing options, yes, and the freedom to get you 100% naked for a bath is nice, but I don't think the pros outweigh the cons in terms of practicalities. I just hope that it really helps your hips get fixed and that you'll be out of it as soon as possible.

There's some comfort in knowing that you won't have any memory of wearing the brace, that this will all just be stories we tell you when you're older.

Monday, January 9, 2012

2 months/ 9 weeks

Dear Alex,

It is crazy how cute you are. Right now you're (finally) asleep in your swing after a long and hard-fought battle to keep your eyes open. I just got finished pumping, and Daddy is in the bedroom, researching some problems I'm having with nursing. The last few days have been tough, as you are clearly anti-right-side nursing at the moment, but you're also sleeping like a champ most of the time, including usually through the night (5-6 hours at a stretch overnight sometimes).

You're smiling now. Not all the time, but definitely at me and at strangers (possibly not at Daddy, though. Hmm.) You will usually settle down more with me than if a stranger is holding you. You don't freak when someone else holds you, though, and that's a relief. You're awesome and everything, but I need my space and time to myself sometimes, too! I'm hoping that laughing is coming up soon.

Your first Christmas was a success. You had a red velvet dress that you wore on Christmas Eve to Aunt Peggy's house for Mom's family party and to Midnight Mass where we heard Bubba sing and got to sit in the cry room for the first time. We took pictures of you in your Christmas dress lying in the manger the Sunday school kids used in the Christmas pageant. (I think we emailed those pictures to you - if not they're on the Shutterfly site that I really hope will still exist when you're old enough to read this and want to see the pictures.) We hung up the stocking that Nana made for you that looks just like mine, and you sat in my lap on Christmas morning to open presents. For our first New Year's Eve together we stayed at home, watched the last two Harry Potter movies, and had ice cream milkshakes and sparkling cider. It was more fun than standing out in the cold for First Night Northampton or than driving home from a party at a friend's house over an hour away. It was just the three of us, and that made it perfect.

Last week you went to yet another appointment for your hip at Shriner's. They put you into a MEDIUM sized harness, and I definitely wasn't ready to hear that you're medium-sized now. Aren't you supposed to be small and a peanut for a little while longer? It feels like you are growing so fast in these last few weeks! I'm hoping that at your next appointment, in two weeks, they'll put you into something less restrictive, that we can take off every now and then for a bath and easier diaper changes.

We put up the doorway jumper a couple of days ago, 2 months ahead of the recommended age. You looked so tiny in it the first time we put you in! You were flopping forward and we had to stuff towels in around you. But then we bought a "Hugga Bebe", which supports you all around, including behind your head, and that helped a lot. You fell asleep in it after that, since we were using it more as a swing than a jumper. That's definitely okay, we have a lot of time to play around with it in the upcoming months.

We have started using cloth diapers on you as of yesterday. The plan is to use disposables overnight and for travel until we run out of the thousand or so I got at the baby shower. I think we forgot to change you into disposables tonight, though, so I see a swing seat-washing in my future.

Last night my friend C, her husband N, and her 2 daughters came over to visit, as they were visiting friends and family on their trip back here from where they live in Singapore. E is 3 and R is 12 weeks, just a little bit older than you. If things had gone according to due dates, you'd be older than R since I was due a week earlier than C, but R came out at 35.5 weeks and you came out at 39.5 weeks. It doesn't really matter, as you're clearly two very different little girls anyway. You look much chunkier because of your harness. Holding R was definitely a different experience from holding you. She felt "squishier" and more fragile - no Velcro strap around her chest! Again, I will send pictures of you and R. I really hope that you and she will become friends as you get older, and not just tolerate each other because your moms are friends.

You come with me to the gym for personal training. The first time, I wore you in a sling, but the owner said that maybe that wasn't the best idea, so since then we've put you in an Exersaucer until you get crabby, then hand you off to whoever is around and willing to hold a baby for the rest of the session. Then I feed you (if the baby holder person hasn't fed you a bottle of expressed milk - sometimes you just can't wait till I'm done!), change, and we go home or on to run errands. It works pretty well because I don't have to worry about getting a babysitter for you, everyone at the gym gets to ooh and aah over how cute you are, and you get to know more people than just us parents and a babysitter.

Tomorrow is your two-month appointment at the doctor's. You'll be getting your first immunization shots, aside from the Hep B one I wasn't present for at the hospital. I'm not nervous, exactly. But I don't know what to expect with you and needles, and I don't know what side effects are normal and what I should worry about. We'll get through it together. I'm not too worried.

You continue to love your pacifier and the hair dryer. We haven't weaned off the nipple shield yet, but we've had some success feeding without it a couple of times. Your dad has finally relented and allowed small amounts of pink into your wardrobe (e.g. socks). You have a love/hate relationship with the car seat. As long as you have your pacifier in your mouth, all is good with the seat, but if you spit it falls out you sound like the world is ending until I can twist around to hold it back in your mouth.

Our third month together is looking good. I know that in a couple of months you won't be sleeping as well, so I'm enjoying it while it lasts. The nursing problems are going to work themselves out, or we'll get help with them. Either way, that'll get better too. I wish you'd just stay this little for a lot longer than you're going to, but I can't change that. Instead, I'm just enjoying every cuddle and trying to soak in as many images and memories of you at this age as I possibly can. It's still a thing of wonder that you're here at all, that after so much time wishing and hoping and trying to have a baby, we have you. You're just what I wanted, and having you as part of our family is exactly like I imagined having a baby would be like. (Crying and everything!)

I love you and wouldn't trade you for anything or any other baby. You are my girl and will be forever.

Love forever,
Your Mommy