Friday, May 13, 2011
Three weeks old, my darling. Yet it seems like you have been with us forever. You've come in softly, and quietly filled up all the empty spaces we never knew we had. Even an all-out wail is comforted easily in when your head nuzzles against my cheek. You seem so restful, so sweetly peaceful, that I wonder if you wonder what kind of nightmare of loud and crazy you've landed in! Our family is so different now than it was when your big brother Isaac was born six years ago. I wonder how that difference will shape you . . .
I kept trying not to think about your birth too much, because I knew counting contractions would drive me crazy. So it snuck up on me instead – I didn't expect you to be my earliest baby (three days before your due date.) Your daddy had been working a lot in Wyoming, even staying overnight. But I told him to be on alert at all times and to ALWAYS answer his phone. My labors have gotten shorter with each baby and I figured I would only labor with you 4-6 hours.
The Tuesday before you were born (at 4:21am on Wednesday) was normal. We went to the library. Abby went to her ballet class. Isaac had gymnastics. Daddy was working late in Wyoming so the kids and I ate Culver's for supper. Then I got them to bed and my friend Kirsten came over to visit from about 8-11pm. It took me until midnight to get to sleep (because I was so uncomfortable with my big belly!)
At 2am I woke up quite sore. It took me until 2:20 to decide to call your daddy (the contractions were still not regular). I told him to come and he started driving from Sundance, WY in a snowstorm in the middle of the night! Around 2:45 I called Grammie. She took me to the hospital and Papa stayed at the house with Isaac, Abby and Matthew.
I tottered into the emergency room, realizing that contractions were only about two minutes apart now and quite strong. I was worried that they wouldn't get the penicillin IV in soon enough AND that your daddy wouldn't make it in time! We got to the hospital shortly after 3am. Daddy finally arrived around 4am, right ahead of the doctor and just in time for me to enter transition! Then you were there – all 7 pounds, 11 ounces, 19.5 inches of perfection. I was so glad you actually WERE a girl and you were healthy and somehow it all seemed too good to be true. Your birth went so quickly it almost seemed like a dream.
We named you Elise Kathryn: “Consecrated to God” and “Pure”. “Elise” and “Bette” are both variations of “Elizabeth” so this was our attempt to honor your Grandma B. Kathryn is also her favorite girls name – the name your daddy would have been given if he was a girl! Your siblings like to call you Ellie, which is the perfect sweet nickname.
After taking a while to latch on for the very first time, you quickly became my best nurser ever! You are not as difficult to wake as some of your siblings have been and you know just what to do when it's time to eat. Much to Abby's delight, you also will take a bottle (so she is able to feed you) and a pacifier, both firsts among this little clan. You are truly not very fussy, but you did seem to be rooting around far more than was warranted by hunger. Instead of feeding you every forty minutes, I opted for the pacifier! You are quite content to suck away.
We had a lovely time at the hospital, you and I. I felt great physically (just tired, of course – you were my only middle of the night labor!), but it was wonderful to have two whole days to relax, watch HGTV and examine every inch of your precious body. Daddy was in and out as he shared childcare duties with Grammie. Your brothers and sister were so thrilled to meet you. It was precious to watch each of them hold you for the first time.
Now we're settled in at home. Daddy is still working a lot, so that is hard on Mommy. And just the sheer time commitment of nursing makes it hard for me to stay on top of the rest of life. But for your part, you've blended into our family so smoothly it seems impossible. I snuggle you and cuddle you every chance I get. But when I need you to, you've been quite happy to doze in the bouncy seat.
It is funny though, often the surest way to wake you up is to lay you down – you don't cry, you just wake up. Then if I want you to go to sleep, I just pick you up and cuddle you. Sometimes the transition from wake to sleep is instantaneous. At night though, you are sleeping in your own bed for about ten hours, interrupted only by two brief feedings.
Isaac loves to lay next to you and hug you and kiss you. Abby wants to feed you, hold you and dress you all the time. Matthew is always checking “Where's baby Ellie?” and he also says “Can I pet it?”, sweetly asking permission before stroking your hair! Daddy has already inaugurated the practice of playing the piano with you on his lap – he even wrote a song especially for you “You are my butterfly, soft as a lullaby.”
My sweet, sweet baby how I love you!
You are officially a big brother! Baby Elise was born April 13 and you are very taken with her! You seem to actually understand that she came out of my big belly. It was so precious to watch you hold her for the first time, and lean in to kiss her. You are always asking me “where's baby Ellie?” and you request frequently, “Can I pet it?” (yes, IT!) It has been hard for you too, though, to give up your baby status. You've definitely been misbehaving and overreacting more than normal, and while you have never been unkind to the baby, you have pushed your way onto my lap a time or two.
You are talking in full sentences with correct grammar all the time now. In fact, you are so careful of your grammar that some longer sentences are almost halting, “Can I . . . come with you . . . to the store?” as if you're afraid of using the wrong word! You definitely seem like a big boy now that you can talk so well. These fluent words also are allowing you to let out your inner bossiness – I often hear “NO, Isaac” or “That's my toy, Abby!” You seem to have an idea of just what everyone should or should not do. As long as they conform to your plan, you are one happy boy. It's when one of us has the gumption to interfere that you get crabby! I have observed that you are often the most content when the older two kids are not around – it's almost like they interfere too much with your idea of fun.
When you're immersed in play, it's not uncommon to find you wearing a backwards hat, Isaac's sunglasses, Abby's shoes, with a toy cell phone in hand, riding your little retro rocket (“car”). “I going to Wynaoming, Mom. See you! Be back tomorrow!” Or you'll push the buttons on your musical toys and spin wild circles around the living room. Or you'll be “cooking” in the playroom and start crying when the “meal” you're bringing upstairs to me falls off the plate. You are by far the most engaged with play of any child I've had.
Anything is fair game as a toy, however. I have to really watch what you get into! You love to stack cans and boxes on the pantry shelves, check out spray triggers on cleaning supplies, hide in the kitchen cupboards. Just today you used a spare computer fan and “plugged” the cord in to the heater vent in the wall. “I'm working,” you said.
By far, books are your favorite thing. You no longer sit for just board books, you love full length picture books – and several in a row. I honestly don't know how long you'd sit if I just kept reading. You can identify ALL the letters of the alphabet and often ask me to help you write them. Your very favorite books are alphabet based, “Chicka chicka boom boom” for example, or rhythmic.
I think you are a difficult and glorious child to parent! I love that you are so engaged, so full of life and interest in everything, so bright and precocious. But it is so difficult when your decisive will conflicts with what I am telling you to do – even “Sit down in your highchair” can become a massive battle if you decide you'd rather do something else. I also think I am a little nervous to teach a child who has taught himself the whole alphabet at two. And did I mention that you've started skipping naps – frequently? Oh, Matt-Matt, may God give me strength to do right by you. And may he give grace to cover when I fail.
Your baby sister is here and you are thrilled! The look on your face when you first held her was priceless! You pick her clothes almost every day and you've changed a number of diapers (even one dirty one!). Until her umbilical cord fell off you were asking me constantly “When can we give her a bath?”. You want to hold her several times a day and I often find you next to her, stroking her head and talking softly. Such a wonderful big sister!
We have taken a little time off reading lessons since Elise was born, but we jumped back in yesterday. You made it through half of “Not A Bed”, and today you read the other half. You read a “real book” so now you are an official reader at not-quite-four-and-a-half! So exciting! I have decided you will be in kindergarten next year even though you will not be five yet. I just can't see calling you “preschool” for another year – you are so bright and easy to teach!
This week is rehearsals for your ballet recital. I have to get you fully costumed and made up three times this week! You are beautiful and you look so OLD with your hair pulled back in a bun and your make-up on. Your costume is bright green and sparkly. I thought you might be nervous, but so far you have only been excited! You told me “I have the whole dance remembered in my head!” Many times lately you have been showing me ballet moves and I am truly impressed by your grace. (Especially since you fall out of your chair at least once at every meal!)
Daddy has been working in Wyoming – and gone a lot. He's almost never here for breakfast and probably at least three nights a week he doesn't get home until you're asleep. You have been so precious, “I really miss my daddy” and “I wish Daddy didn't go to Wyoming.” When he gets home you squeal “DADDY!” and run to hug him. The one upside is that lots of friends have been stepping in to help us out. You've gotten to spend time at lots of different people's houses and it's been very fun for you. For example, Grammie took you to a movie, Miss Danae dyed Easter eggs with you, and you played at the Fagreys' house for a whole day.
I've been trying very hard not to neglect you during this busy newborn season. You are definitely my lowest-maintenance child right now, but that doesn't mean you deserve any less attention. We've done some baking together and played dollies a couple of times. You even went with me to Elise's first doctor appointment and we read together for a long time in the waiting room. You've had a couple of “NO! Mama” moments that made me wonder if this transition is harder on you than you let on. But mostly you amaze me with how laid back you are. For instance, if you mess up a letter while you're writing something, you just scribble it out and move on. I admire that in you!