Thursday, March 31, 2011

Matthew's Birth Announcement

Lisa posted her little one's birth announcement. I thought it was a great idea to share it with bloggyland, so I am following suit :) I took the pictures when he was 9 and 10 days old :) It's crazy to me to think that he was *ever* that little, much less so recently.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hippo's 2 month checkup!

Hippo (as in Hungry Hungry...) had his 2 month checkup yesterday, at 9 weeks old. These numbers are *slightly* off because his appointment was a week late, but the net point is that he is humongous. He weighed in 13lbs, 10 ounces, and measured 23.5" in length, which was 90th percentile for weight and 75th percentile for height. He gains 1.5 to 2 ounces a day, so even if you back track and get to 13 pounds-ish a week earlier, that still puts him in the 75th percentile for weight. Bottom line, he's a giant.

He's ahead of the curve in weight, but he's also ahead of the curve in practically everything else! This chart shows the milestones he can and/or should meet.

Most 2 month olds can:
Vocalize: gurgle and coo
Follow objects across field of vision
Notice his hands
Hold head up for short periods  

About 50% of 2 month olds can
Smile, laugh
Hold head at 45-degree angle
Make smoother movements  

Advanced kids can:
Hold head steady
Bear weight on legs
Lift head and shoulders when lying on tummy (mini-pushup)

Matthew can do everything in blue. He smirks, but doesn't really smile or laugh yet. But he can do everything else on the two-month list.

Most *3* month olds can:
Recognizes your face and scent
Holds head steady
Visually tracks moving objects  

About half of 3 month olds can:
Squeal, gurgle, coo
Blow bubbles
Recognizes your voice
Does mini-pushup   

Advanced 3 month olds can:
Roll over, from tummy to back
Turn toward loud sounds
Can bring hands together, bat at toys

He can do those 3 month skills in blue too! He's trying to roll over but isn't close. But he wants to. He loves to mimic. It's so cute! And I love love LOVE his darling little coos.

Tonight, he did THE cutest thing. I wish we had it on video. My brother was leaving and waved goodbye to Matthew. Matthew sort of flailed his arm in Jeff's general direction. We thought it was cute, but coincidental. So Jeff waved again. Matthew responded the same way again. So he waved a third time. Matthew flailed back a third time. They did this exchange 5 times! And it wasn't just constant flailing on Matthew's part. It was responsive to Jeff.  It was SO stinking cute.

Anyway, that's our week. DH and I got away and had our first date night out this week while grandma babysat. It was wonderful to spend time together. Matthew is sleeping a tiny bit more at night, thankfully. He still feeds every 2 hours on the dot during the day, but he's stretching a few minutes at a time at night. I am grateful and I pray the trend continues.

Signing out with a few more pictures...
Sitting in his new :) He loves it.

Sitting in daddy's chair

Chilling in his stroller on a walk (he loves walks!) He put his own hands like this. CUTE!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

More Pictures!

There's not much new to say but I do have some new pictures!

These were taken on his 2 month birthday.

Lying in the arms of his daddy

This is one of his favorite looks--I think it's full of mischief

Lewis had to jump up and make sure everything was ok.

His Aunt T bought him a Bumbo--it arrived today so we took it for a test drive! He LOVES it. He still needs a little help with his head but as he gets stronger, I imagine he'll spend lots of time in his chair!

Sitting in daddy's chair

Thanks for all of your suggestions on sleep. We've already read (well, perused really because time and energy are so short) Babywise, No Cry Sleep Solution, and Happiest Baby on the Block, and we're working on Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. We've gleaned things from each one and tried different things, but just can't seem to find the fit that works for Matthew and our family. Hopefully the pediatrician will have some suggestions for us. He actually sleeps well and goes right back down after eating--it's just convincing him that he really won't starve if he doesn't eat every two hours that is the problem. When he wakes, he completes a full feeding so he really IS hungry--I just can't figure out why it's still so often. So, we'll keep trying different things and see if we can't get some more rest for all of us. Thanks for all of your suggestions.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Approaching 2 months

My little man will be two months old tomorrow! Can you believe it? I certainly can't!  (Funny story--his birthday is the 22nd, but 3 times now, I've said or acted like it's the 23rd. What's wrong with me that I can't remember my own son's birthday?)

We're continuing to adjust to our new life. Things are just so much more difficult and different than I imagined they would be. I adore my son, but he's a little sinful person, full of personality and preferences and even annoyances. Even now, I can already see that while he's very sweet, he's very impatient and can be very stubborn. I think he got both of those traits from me. Every time I see glimpses of them, I just pray that he'll learn to get out from under their spell more quickly than his mommy has. It continues to amaze me that he can have so much personality at such a young age. It also tells me that I'm going to have my work cut out for me!

I'm learning to pray differently than I used to. Maybe it's different, and maybe it's just more. I've found that in the middle of the night when I'm at my wit's end because he's up for the 4th time, I spend time praying over each little inch of his body. I start at one end and go to the other and then back again. I pray that his feet will one day carry the good news to those who have not yet heard it. I  pray that his hands will be gentle, and strong, and capable, and used for service. I pray that he'll have ears to hear the Lord. I pray that his little mouth will grow to be one that speaks kindness, love, and truth into people's lives. I pray that his mind will be sharp, and focused on heavenly things. I pray that his heart will be tender. I pray that his eyes will see people as Jesus does. In praying those things, I also pray them for my husband and I. I want us to be the kind of people who model the kind of person we want him to be.  And I know for me, I have a long way to go in pretty much every department. It's a good thing that our kids start out as babies: it gives us time to make mistakes and changes before they're old enough to remember! So anyway, I try to focus on praying rather than on counting the minutes until he's done eating and I can go to sleep.

This is going to sound silly, but I've found that the biggest challenge with motherhood (aside from the insane sleep deprivation) is that I can't reason with him. I can't tell him that I know best and so he should eat or go to sleep or whatever. (Well, I can tell him these things, but it won't do either of us much good). I can't ask him why he's crying or tell him that if he just settles down, changing his diaper or putting his clothes on will go much more quickly and then his source of irritation will be over. I want to tell him that mommy knows what he needs and what is best for him so would he just comply, please? I know this may sound like a "duh!" moment--like, "Duh, Jen, of course you can't reason with a newborn!" but I guess I didn't realize how much I depend reason for communication (bear with me--I know THAT sounds stupid too but I can't explain it better, so just blame my sleep deprivation). As I sit there wrestling with him, trying to tell him that he'll have a much easier time eating and he'll get what he wants sooner if he just calms down, I wonder how many times God feels the exact same way with me. He's communicating, He knows what's best and what I need, but I'm just not getting it. I'd rather cry and arch my back and fight instead. This part of parenting is teaching me a lot about patience and creativity.  I have to be patient through the inability to communicate as I  normally would, and think creatively for new solutions. Thankfully God is patient with me, and is also persistent in trying to communicate with me when traditional methods fail, so I try to remember those things when it's 2:00am and I just want to cry because I'm so tired.

The biggest surprise has been the sleep deprivation. Honestly, this is my biggest area for struggle. The get up to pee every 2 hours part of pregnancy started really early for me, so I was already sleeping only in little spurts for a long time before he was born.  But he'll be two months old tomorrow, and he still only sleeps 3 hours at a time, maximum. I think I can count on two hands the amount of times he's slept longer than that. And 3 hours is if I'm lucky. Normally, it's two. I have lots of friends whose children were sleeping 5, 6, even 8 hours by this age and I'm so very jealous. I feel like I'm nearing the end of my ability to keep going at this pace. And I can't help but feel like I'm doing something wrong. Like there's something in my diet that makes my milk metabolize too quickly. Or something in my parenting style that's not helping him learn healthy sleep habits. Or something wrong with my capacity for patience that I feel like I can't keep doing this.  I guess that's my biggest prayer--for sleep, for all of us. I knew sleep deprivation would be a way of life--I guess I just didn't know it would be this prolonged. Really, Matthew is an easy baby in a lot of ways so if sleep is our biggest problem, I know I am blessed. But I still pray that relief is very near. Right now I feel like I operate on borrowed time--like if I do *anything* other than sleep when he's sleeping, I'll regret it later. That makes it really hard to tend to my marriage and other relationships, to want to do anything like go to church or even do the grocery shopping, or to keep up with my tasks around the house. I know I CAN let some of those things go for now, and I have, but some things (marriage, church, friendships!) I WANT to resume and I just feel like I can't, at least not the way I'd like to. I still think of EVERYTHING in terms of "could I be sleeping right now?" Like I said--I knew this would be life for a while, but I didn't realize it would be so long with such minimal improvement. I just feel overwhelmed in this area-it's hard to find a balance for things.

DH is a wonderful daddy. I always knew he would be. I love to listen to him talk to Matthew, sing to him, play with him. Most every morning, DH takes Matthew out to do errands with him so I can get a couple hours of deep sleep, rather than that half-awake-listening-for-the-baby-sleep. It's such a gift for me, and it also blesses my heart as a mommy and wife to see them spending that time together. Hopefully, years from now I won't still need that sleep assistance, but I hope they'll still have times like that together that Matthew can remember.

Matthew is just a love. Around week 3-4, he started discovering his hands-looking at them, putting them in his mouth, touching them to each other, touching his face, moving them, clasping them--so cute to watch. Once, he caught glimpse of his feet and his eyes got huge, as if to say, "WHAT are THOSE!?" Week 5-ish, he started exploring his mouth. He makes the funniest faces. He sticks out his tongue over and over and over again like a little froggy. He'll make the taco shape with his tongue, too, or form a big O with his mouth. He smacks his lips and does fish-face.  It's so DARN cute. I love to watch him just explore what he can do. We've seen a couple of sort-of smiles--I hope we see the real thing, soon! With all this mouth-action, he's also started drooling--cute in its own way, but kind of gross, too ;)

Last week, he was sitting in his bouncer and he reached up and smacked the toys. At first, I thought it was incidental because he tends to flail, but the next day, he did it, very deliberately, while sitting in his carseat. That was fun to see. This week, he's just enjoying looking at things. I watch him just gaze at his surroundings-his mobile, pictures on the wall, whomever is holding him, etc. He loves to be sitting up too. He can hold his head up about 80% of the time and he can even turn it to look at things. His Aunt Tina bought him a seat--I can't wait for it to get here so he can sit up to his heart's content!

He also LOVES to be outside. LOVES it. DH says the great-outdoors is Matthew's drug. He can be fussy-fussy-fussy, and you take him outside and he's instantly mesmerized. This weekend we took a picnic in a park and all 3 of us lay on a blanket and just watched the world go by. It was perfect. I'm grateful we live in a climate where we can be outside pretty much a little bit of each day, all year round. Remind me that I said that when it's July and I'm grumpy about how hot it is!

Last week, we reached another milestone--he had his first cold. Thankfully, it was mild and went away quickly, but that was no fun!

DH took today off and we had a 3 day mini "stay-cation" (I hate that word!). We just stayed home, turned off our phones, and only went on the computer to play rummikub with each other. We went bowling, we went on a picnic, we had a lunch date outside near a lovely fountain, we did errands, we played games, we took walks, we napped, we worked in our garden--it was wonderful just to have some connect time with each other. We were both feeling a little frazzled and disconnected from each other, so the R&R time together did wonders for us. It was fun to enjoy our new little family in a little bit more than just survival mode.

Well, speaking of sleep, it's very late, and I need to be getting some. I'm sorry I go so long between updates, but hopefully he'll start sleeping better and I'll want to spend time doing something other than sleeping!

Oh, PS: His baby dedication will be April 17 at our church if you're in the area and you want to join us. Service starts at 9:00am.

PSS: His two month check up is next week and we need to have made our decisions about vaccinations by then. Please join us in prayers for wisdom--I didn't expect to struggle so much with this decision. (Disclaimer--I appreciate your prayers, but I'm not looking for opinions on vaccines right now--I'm having enough trouble sorting out my own thoughts! I do have lots of research and resources already.)

Anyway, goodnight! I will leave you with some pictures (c'mon, we all know that's why you're really here!)  ;)

All in green for St. Patty's Day!

Chillin with dad

We were on a walk. Matthew wanted to be held, and Lewis was tired of walking. So DH picked up Matthew and Lewis got to ride home.

Chubby Cheeks!

Close up!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lessons in Parenting

I'm beginning to think that parenting can be all about fear...if you let it.

First, you're afraid you won't get pregnant. And then you do, and you're afraid of miscarriage. Then you're afraid of birth defects. By the third trimester, you're afraid of cord accidents and problems with labor and delivery. Then, before you  know it, your little one is here, and you're afraid of everything and you just want to put them back inside where they can stay safe! And you're afraid you might lose your mind with sleep deprivation ;)

I am a fearful person in general. I always have been. I'm just a big fat chicken. I determined at the beginning of my pregnancy that I didn't want to be a fearful parent. And God brought me through my pregnancy, mostly without fear. There was some there, but nothing compared to what ought to have been there given my natural tendencies.

We took Matthew to church this weekend. He was 5 weeks and 1 day old. Our pediatrician wanted us to wait until 8 weeks, after his shots. If it were up to me, I would wait until he was 16 before he could go out, and only then if everyone around him wore Haz-Mat suits. We needed to do an errand recently--I literally raced through the store as fast as I could. The baby was sound asleep, so it wasn't to keep him from fussing--it was to minimize his exposure to "other people." I realized I was becoming ridiculous, and governed by fear.  So, I decided that the things that he'd get his shots at 8 weeks for aren't things he'd catch at church or Target anyway, and we made the conscious decision to go to church on Sunday. I even let other folks hold him, which was also an exercise for me, because I wanted all of them to be screened by the CDC first (don't get me wrong, I love and trust my church family...but, those GERMS!).  But I don't want to be THAT mom! I want Matthew to grow up unafraid, and with parents who are unafraid. I want him to know that rich freedom and security that comes with life in Christ. I don't want him to struggle the way I do. So I made a choice to lay down my fear, to trust the Lord with his health, and we went out. And it was wonderful.

Today I think the Lord maybe is calling my bluff. Matthew has been out of sorts all day. It might be a growth spurt (I hope so) but his voice also sounds a little funny--hoarse, almost. My immediate response was to regret our decision on Sunday. I second guessed and mentally kicked myself. And then I realized that I was falling into the same trap, just after-the-fact, instead of before. I obviously have a lot to learn. And Matthew is sleeping peacefully now, so whatever it is/was can't be bothering himself too much.

Going to church was so wonderful because we got to show this little miracle to our dear church family who prayed us to this point over the last many years. He was held and loved on by so many people who have prayed for and loved him for years. We also got to hear a wonderful message on abiding in the Lord. I really needed to hear it. I mean, really. And the kicker is that it was given by a 23 or 24 year old guy-- I have so much to learn from him!

My mother in law asked me this week what our prayer requests are. I was ashamed to say that in recent weeks, my prayers have focused almost exclusively on, God, please make him sleep. God, please let him stay asleep. God, please let me sleep. Some prayer life, huh?

Life with a newborn has become about survival. And I don't want that, either. I feed him, cuddle him, put him down, and then race to clean the house or make the meals or do the laundry before he wakes up. Then when he's feeding, I try to balance the laptop on my lap and get caught up on computer related things. And I realized that I wasn't abiding in time with my son, either.  And with DH? Well, we're lucky right now if we're awake and in the same location at the same time these days. Guess I've got the same story in all my major relationships right now. I want change. I want the energy to exact that change.

So, I've begun just enjoying the time with my son. I gaze on him while he's eating. I cuddle him just because. I realize that all too soon, he's not going to want to spend all day in my arms. And even if I ever have another child, I won't have this same opportunity because big brother Matthew will be running around, wanting my attention, too. So, I've been taking it slow. The house is suffering, but thankfully those people who've been over enough to observe that have been gracious. I just look at my son and my breath catches in my chest. Have you ever just wanted to stop time? I feel like it's racing by, and I desperately want it to slow down--to stay this way forever, even. I love that when he's upset, I am of comfort to him. It's pretty incredible to be someone's safe place. My heart overflows.

DH and I steal moments together where we can. Thankfully, he is patient too, and we both know that this is just a season. We are so grateful we had 10 years of just us. It definitely makes this time easier.

But most importantly, I'm trying to envision myself like my son, in the arms of MY Father.  How wonderful it would be to spend all day in HIS arms. To lie peacefully without a care in the world. To let Him be my safe place.  It intrigues me that that has to be a discipline for me, rather than an M.O. Thank God that He is patient with me. So I'm trying to abide more, scurry less. More Mary, less Martha. I want to be the kind of woman whose relationship with the Lord is an example to her son, such that he grows up with a heart for the Word and for prayer like the young guy who gave the message on Sunday.

We were going to visit a dear friend this morning who had cancer. When DH and Matthew both woke up not feeling well, we rescheduled for later in the week. That friend passed away this afternoon. We are so sorry to lose her. We are grateful that we got to introduce her to Matthew a little over a week ago. She was one of his big prayer warrior champions. She knew how to abide in the Lord. She was a Mary, though she recognized that her natural leaning was to be a Martha. I learned much from her and I will miss her dearly.

I must go--baby will be up soon to eat and then we all need to go to bed. In the mean time, I'd appreciate your prayers that Matthew really is not getting sick, that DH doesn't get any sicker, and for Kay's dear family and loved ones as they grieve her loss.