Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Evan: 2 Months

Dear E,

Two months, just like that. It has come and gone in the blink of an eye (and a number of sleepless nights). You are well on your way out of newborn babyhood and into infancy. With each passing milestone (weight gain, smiles, coos, sleeping), there is this strange dichotomy of great joy and celebration coupled with grief. You are becoming a baby (yay!) but leaving behind your newborn days (boo!) It is disarming, this motherhood. I find myself longing, pining for days in which you sleep through the night or take less time to nurse. But when you do accomplish some new feat, I find myself oddly saddened by the loss of your youth. After all, you are my last baby and this is my last time to go through these delightful/hard/crazy/amazing phases. Sigh.

photo by the amazing Becky Fisher photography
Much of your short life has been shaped by the overwhelming stress of not gaining weight. For whatever reason, you don't gain as necessary just breastfeeding. This is my first time experiencing this, and it's really, really hard. It consumes my thoughts and my days. The emotional toll is exhausting, constantly watching the clock, watching the ounces, wondering if you're satisfied. The physical toll is beyond exhausting. I'm nursing and pumping around the clock. My body and my spirit are tired. I realize just how good I had it with Maddie and Sam, who though they had their own issues, weight gain was never one of them. And as silly as it sounds, I have to gospel myself through it all. I'm still a good mom if my baby doesn't gain weight. I'm still a good mom if I supplement with formula. I'm still a good mom if I can't keep up with the feedings. It's crazy the amount of pressure I put on myself.

 But then there's the joy. Oh, the joy.  Seeing your first smile. Hearing your first coo. Witnessing your first laugh as you giggled at your sister's high-pitched, affectionate tone. Drinking it all in. You, sweet boy, are mine, and how oh how I love you. There aren't enough words in the world, no adjectives to describe the tenderness and ferocity of my love for you. Here you are, just two months' new on this earth, and I would do anything for you.

Motherhood is a sleepless, thankless, overwhelming, yet heart-filling job. It brings me the greatest, most amazing joy yet drains the life right from me. It's like pregnancy never ends, and I pour and pour and pour my deepest, greatest, weightiest resources into you each and every day. The rewards are intangible: moments treasured deep in my heart, love that encompasses my chest and threatens to overtake my body, midnight snuggles and midday laughs. 

At two months, you have blue eyes. Big blues. We wonder if they'll stick around. Your dark hair is receding on top and coming in lighter underneath. You have long eyelashes. When you smile, it works its way vertically down your sweet little face. First, your eyes twinkle and light up, then your nose starts to crinkle, and lastly, the corners of your lips lift up in the most beautiful, tear-inducing smile. It never fails to delight me. :)

We've noticed your hand movement is more intentional, though far from perfect. You will throw an arm up while nursing, resting your outstretched hand on my chest. At night you reach for me with long arms and flailing fingers, inching your body closer and closer until at last you are nestled against me.

At many points in the past month I've tried to move you into the co-sleeper. And darn it, every time you happen to experience some weird reflux or crying fit. I can't just leave you there. I swipe you up into my arms and rescue you, bringing you back to the bed to snuggle in the crook of my arm or on my chest. For now, it's where you're most content. And it seems to work well. At seven weeks, you  were sleeping 7-hour stretches. You've maintained a pretty good record of 5-7 hour stretches until last night, when your first cold had you congested, and mad, mad, mad. Poor little guy.

And let's not forget to mention that you have found your voice. Your sweet, cooing, oohing, ah-gooing little voice that fills up the room and fills up my heart. Sometimes it's as if you are singing your own little song, in your own little world, and it sounds like heaven. Your Daddy seems to elicit the longest, loudest songs and it makes him very happy.

Evan Michael, we can't imagine our lives without you! It's been only about a year since you were conceived, yet it's unimaginable to think of life without you. You've definitely completed our little family. We're so glad you are here.



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Maddie: 76 Months

Dear Maddie Mae,

This month was jam-packed with Maddie goodness. We started off with your first violin recital. It was an absolute joy to see you pull off an A Major scale. You've been asking to play the violin since you were 3 1/2. We waited until your 6th birthday to surprise you with lessons. At first it was fun and exciting but quickly the daily practice turned monotonous and frustrating. With much consternation, we walked you through a few months of practice, practice, practice. And, it all paid off. You were amazing. That little bit of confidence gave you just the boost you needed, and now you're playing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" for anyone who will listen. :)

Also this month you found "Lizzie" the alligator lizard in our trash compactor. I can't imagine what it must have been like to open it up and see him/her? sitting there, all eleven inches of him. You SO wanted to keep him as a pet, but a quick google search and facebook inquiry let me know it was no easy task to keep such things alive. But for one brief afternoon, Lizzie lived in our butterfly home, entertaining us with his beautiful coloring, long tail, and calm demeanor. We let him go in our backyard and you and Sam watched as he quickly made his way along the fence. I absolutely love your enjoyment of God's creation and your fearlessness.

On a family trip to the beach, you were the one doing the entertaining, with your tan. strong body jumping in the cold Pacific. It is pure joy to see you in your element, enjoying this great green earth, unashamed to frolic and yell and throw yourself completely into your play. It's so refreshing. You are a marvel, Maddie Mae.

At one point a few weeks back, you were doing some Kindergarten worksheets when you exclaimed, "Homework is the BEST!!!" I made you repeat it, for a video, as I hope to play it over and over in the years to come, when you (and I) are complaining about the same responsibility. But the truth is, you love school, you excel in your subjects, and you just plain love homework. It sure makes things easy for me.

Probably my favorite moment from the month was witnessing the love of Christ pouring out through you. You truly are a friend to the friendless. Some folks recently moved here from out of state. Their oldest, a girl your age, is shy and wasn't so sure about the move or her ability to make friends in a new, strange place. Without any prompting from us, you reached out to her immediately, welcomed her in, and befriended her in your classic Maddie style. After just two days with you, your new friend's mom told me just what an impact you'd had on her girl. By reaching out in love and hospitality, you showed this sweet girl that she could indeed make new friends in this strange new place. As we shared this with you, both Daddy and I teared up. God has gifted you so perfectly for a ministry of love, welcome, and hospitality.

At six, you know far too many words to the song "trouble" by Taylor Swift. You've lost one tooth and are well on your way to losing number 2. You are kind and welcoming but also still a bit sassy and opinionated. You are a tremendous help with your baby brother and sometimes hard on your middle brother. You are sweet and funny and an absolute joy most of the time. We love you so much, lovely girl.



Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Sam: 50 Months

Dear Sam Sam,

Wow. This was quite a month. One night you were playing with friends, running around, laughing and having a great time. At bedtime, you started acting sick. You were worn out and I thought you might be coming down with a fever. I made a mental note to check on you before going to bed. Around midnight, I was nursing Evan when I remembered to check in. As soon as I entered your room, I could hear you breathing. Panting, heaving, wheezing. I placed my hand on your chest and your little heart was beating so, so fast. Plus, it felt like your chest was caving in with each breath, your ribs sucking in. I immediately grabbed your dad, who shared my grave concerns. While I called the pediatrician, Daddy got dressed. He rushed you to the ER, where the docs immediately started working on you, afraid that either your little heart would give out or they'd have to give you a tracheotomy. But PRAISE GOD you responded to the meds. The docs got things under control but wanted you transferred to Children's ICU for more careful monitoring.

After 3 long days, you were finally released. Our poor, sweet boy. You were such an amazing little patient. Every doctor, nurse, MA, etc. commented on your sweet, gentle, agreeable personality. You said "thank you" when the respiratory therapist gave you treatments. You climbed your hospital bed when the steroids started making you stir crazy. You took long naps in my arms. 

It was so brutal being away from you. With a brand new baby at home, I couldn't bring him into the ICU. I hated to stay too long and expose myself and Evan to the yucky stuff floating around the hospital. I was still nursing around the clock and couldn't stay overnight in the hospital. My heart just broke every time I had to leave. You begged me to stay and I would reassure you with my words, but on the inside it was tearing me apart.

You made a quick and miraculous recovery. The prayers of our community and the love of your Heavenly Father covered you with healing and support. There were moments, though, sweet boy. I fought with God some of those nights. I know what it's like to stay in the hospital, to be monitored, to be so sick and so dependent. I don't want that for you. 

But I still trust in a sovereign God. I trust that he has plan and purpose for you. Like I've had to trust since your very beginning, after that first ultrasound, through your speech are my boy but you were God's child first. He loves you with an everlasting love. He knows you more deeply and loves you more intensely than even your own Mama. And I have to trust that He is in control. Because I most definitely am not.

Once home from the hospital (and off those crazy-making steroids), you resumed your usual sweet, spunky, sneaky behavior. You melt our hearts with your kind and generous spirit. You test our patience with your candy stealing and sister teasing. 

You notice things. You are a lover of detail. When coloring a patch of grass on a coloring sheet, you carefully and methodically chose three different shades of green, holding them all at once in your hand as you colored in short, fast strokes. You spent the better part of an hour coloring in your chalk outline one afternoon, selecting colors carefully and blending them with your hand. 

This past week at the beach, I loved watching you dance and sing and kick up your heels as your Daddy flew a kite in the air. You were SO excited, cheering with everything in your being. The joy was bursting out of you. It was so beautiful.

Despite "giving up" naps a few months back, you grab regular naps throughout the week in the funniest of places...the couch, the bottom stair, in timeout at the table. It's good to know you're getting the rest you need, even if it is in funny places.

You continue to be a miracle, Sam Ben Joyce. We rejoice in your good health. We praise God for delivering you from your illness. We look forward to your future. You are such a special boy.