Thursday, July 28, 2011

Six Hundred and Seven Days and A Bright Red Fish


Six hundred and seven days. That is how long it has been since your brother was born.

I have had to navigate my life without him and still so very much with him for that long. Before I start crying and can't get out what I want to write, I want you to know what an amazing and unimaginable salve to my heart you are.

You are not your brother. You are never expected to be anything but you. But I want you to know that for every hug and kiss I give to you, I hope that when you have sweet dreams and somehow are connecting with Matthew (and every thing in my gut tells me that somehow that is happening!), it would make Mama so happy if you would share some with him.

I remember daring God to heal my heart. I remember telling Him that He just couldn't do it without bringing Matthew back, and I doubted I was going to be anyone of that miraculous scope in this world.

Of course, He didn't bring Him back. And the hole is still and always will be there.

Instead, He blessed me with you. A type of healing for a wound that will always exist, but not scream out in agony day after day as it once did. You are the balm that soothes that wound. When I get overcome with all the should-have-beens and the it's-not-fairs, I pick you up and you smile at me with such a knowing smile, I SWEAR that God is telling me, "I know. I'm sorry. It's not what I had in mind for this world, but I promise, one day, it will all be ok. Until then, drink every precious thing of this little boy I've given to you in. He's special and he's purposed and one day, the veil will be lifted."

At least that's what I tell myself He's telling me. That's what I cling to.

Yesterday, we went out to lunch with Miss Sherry, Jack and Avery. Avery is only about a month and a few days shy younger than Matthew would be. It was precious and hard at the same time, watching this beautiful little spitfire shine! She made my heart happy--fiery but nurturing, spunky but readily giving hugs and kisses. I admit, it made me wonder about how your brother would be. You, as always, were so good. Sweet, snuggly and such a blessing. We went outside so that Jack could feed the turtles, and of course, the seagulls took everything he threw. There were turtles all over the place, and even a poor, disheveled duck! It was a pretty decent-sized pond, and Miss Sherry and I were talking about the what-ifs down the road.

What if we have another baby brother or sister? What if we could? What if we couldn't?

Do you know what came, out of NOWHERE, right over to where we were?


Out of the blue. Seriously. One single, bright red fish came right up to where we (and the turtles and the gulls and the duck!) were.

I know, I know...we can read just about anything into anything.

But Luke, I get such comfort out of those little winks from God. I looked at you and you smiled at me when I told you about the Red Fish.

Like you knew.

Mama loves you so much, Luke. You are a ham and have started doing some weird thing where you tuck your lower lip in your mouth, over your gums. It's funny, because Mama used to do the very.same.thing. Wish I could find pictures. You are also in the throes of teething and just finished a hearty portion of homemade rice and homemade applesauce.

I know people thought I wouldn't stick to either cloth diapers or making your food, but I have to tell you that I love, love, love both.

There are not too many things in this world that give me more pleasure than taking care of you.

As I said, you are never to be a replacement for your brother. His permanent mark and space in our family and our hearts doesn't need to be replaced. I wish it was filled with his chubby little cheeks and loooooong spindly legs running around with me here on earth, but either way, he is our Matthew today and forever. You are always, always, always the little brother of my miraculous gift from God, but that also makes you the answer to so many, many prayers.

And Samuel Luke, God Heard. He gave you to us to bring light back into our days.

Always know that at this very second in time, at 9:36 am, July 28, 2011, my heart is overcome with gratitude for you and Matthew.

Mama adores this smile!!!!!

Seriously, you are a mess. Rashy cheeks, applesauce you must have been storing in your cheeks dripping out, drooling all over...and yet, you are SO.SO.SO cute!

You crack me up with those faces!!!!!
Your lip thing. Must feel good on your gums!!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rocking Six Months!

So this is obviously a bit late, as he officially turned 6 months on July 4, but since our pediatrician in Maryland went on vacation a few months back, our checkups have been pushed back and so six month stats didn’t happen until last week. I didn’t post then, though I wrote, and so I am just adding a bit to what I had written last week.

He was 16 lbs., 6 oz., naked. Previously he’d been weighed with a clean diaper on, so this is probably the most accurate weight. That’s the 24th percentile for weight, though you would simply not believe it looking at those chubby thighs and his adorable baby cleavage. He was 26.5 inches long, which put him in the 46th percentile, and the new pediatrician said, “Your husband must be tall and skinny.” While we prefer “Long and Lean,” I told him that John was indeed and hopefully Luke is following that profile. His head circumference was 16.5, which is onl the 14th percentile, but growing on the same curve as it has been and since John’s head is small, perfectly fine.

We saw the new pediatrician. We like the new doctor’s office a lot. Bright, clean, friendly. Miss Dr. Sheth, but Dr. Solanki was very good. Very thorough and very compassionate when discussing Matthew. In fact, I was glad they were very interested in what had happened with Matthew, though they were unfamiliar (surprise, surprise) with vasa previa. The only thing that sort of stung a bit was when the doctor started giving me the typical ‘new baby’ spiel…you know, “Don’t shake the baby, don’t have things in his crib, don’t leave him unattended.”

I very gently interrupted him and told him that if he had to tell me those things for legal reasons, I completely understood and would listen respectfully. “However,” I said to him, ”Remember, I buried my baby son.” I assured him I was not necessarily going to need to be told to not leave the baby unattended. Bless his heart, he apologized and said, “Of course.”

We quickly moved on to more about Luke. The doctor was very impressed with his body tone and strength. He was pretty surprised at how Luke can basically stand on his own, though he obviously can’t balance and wobbles. We talked about his silly back crawling and the doctor said that babies often will do that, but rarely use that as their main mode of movement like Luke does. He goes ALL.OVER.THE.PLACE on his back with his head and legs!!!

His cradle crap seems to be doing ok, though the doctor thinks he may have some yeast rash in his neck rolls and on his cheeks (teething drool related) so we have some cream for that. Still wants me to see the dermatologist just to continue to manage. In fact, as I now type this, I've determined it's worse, and not better, so the doctor said to just go to the dermatologist asap!

We also discussed how Luke’s cradle crap seems to go crazy when I have milk. Not cheese, butter, ice cream or other dairy made products, but definitely noticeable rash occurs when I drink the milk from cereal or have a glass of chocolate milk. That’s about the only straight milk I ever have, and it’s pretty obvious there is a correlation. This doctor is pretty up on allergy issues and he said we’d definitely have to watch him as he got closer to a year and we introduced milk. Most likely, we’ll have his blood drawn to see if he is allergic, but in the meantime, the doctor said that as long as it isn’t much of a big deal, not to worry too much about elimination. Like I said, I am not a big milk drinker anyway, and since other dairy doesn’t bother him, I’ll just eat different breakfast things and that should be about all I’ll have to change.

This week he took a 2 hour and 40 minute nap. I couldn’t believe it. I kept checking to see if he was breathing. I know, morbid…but still, when you’ve been where I’ve been, can’t help it! He is sleeping through the night still, for at least 10 or more hours, but I still check on him at night too...just have to make sure he's ok.

We went to the beach and he loved it at first! We sat him in the sand and he grinned and laughed. Picked up a fistful of sand and was thrilled. Until he wobbled over and got a face full of sand. Then he looked at us all like we were a bunch of jerks for letting that happen! Not a big fan of the ocean just yet, but we’ll get there!!!! It was more the startle effect, I think…and he was tired. Right after that, my sister took him and they napped together and he was much happier!

He is such a happy and sweet little boy. Everyone always asks, “Is he always that happy?” and it’s such a blessing to say, “Yes, he is!” He’s definitely starting to get more demanding in his wants, as well as grabby and determined, but that’s ok! I love every second of his little personality coming out…even the feisty!

After all, he gets it honest!!

We visited with some wonderful family this weekend in Baltimore to celebrate cousin Andi’s graduating as Nurse Extraordinaire from Hopkins. Listening to the commencement, I was just reminded of the blessing every.single.nurse and nurse tech we have come across has been to us. I hope my sweet, sweet friends in L&D at St. Mary’s know that there is not a single day I don’t think of my Matthew, and as such, think of the amazing care you gave to him every second you had him. Andi’s ceremony reminded me of how grateful I am that there is such an honorable and noble profession as nursing.

Luke had a great time with all the family—in fact, yesterday, he sort of wondered where the party was and why he wasn’t in the middle of it. He was such a good traveler, and I again am just grateful for his wonderful temperament!

Lots more going on—with one of the houses in MD, getting settled here, doctor’s visits (another visit to the dermatologist tomorrow, per the new pediatrician’s orders for this NEW rash on his body!) and an assortment of other things. This is already WAY longer than I planned anyway, so for now, I’ll end with fun pics of Luke. There are a lot, since it’s two weeks, so bear with the cuteness!!!!

It wasn't me!!!!
Napping with Auntie B at the beach!
Taste buds talk?????
Love, love, loves his cousin Andi!
She can even get him to fall asleep!
Baby Joey at cousin Andi's graduation!
He loved, loved, loved Skylar!
Watching The Duck Song on Youtube at dinner. He LOVES it!

Unsure at first about those bubbles!

First time he felt Uncle Paul's beard!
Thought these bubbles at the aquarium were COOL!
Luke is SUCH a lucky and loved little boy!! I love how all his cousins fawned over him!!!

Daddy bought Luke a penguin book at the National Aquarium. He loves it!
Luke LOVED cousin Skylar...her braces were fun!
Can't a guy get a little privacy with a pretty girl????
Oh yeah, my cousin is a babe
Wishing he got to go to the O's game with Daddy and Uncle Pat!

Luke had a great time with his Great Uncle Pat!
He also really dug his Great Uncle Paul's beard!!!!
"Will I grow a beard like that one day???"
Aunt Marilyn was so accomodating in letting him play with her hair!!!
Luke thought Aunt Marilyn was one cool chick!

I love the look on his Aunt Marilyn's face! Such love!!!

Cousin Allison has suuuuuch a comfy shoulder!

Working hard at play time! Poor boy, check out the to the dermatologist again! Life's tough being sensitive!

Cute, cute, cute, isn't he??????
I love this sweet little smile!!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Be It Ever So Humble....

..there's no place like Home.

One day, I'll get there. I have a lot on my mind about that, but strangely, (surprise, surprise) don't feel like sharing it. Maybe it's "Doing" Maryland by remote, via North Carolina that is keeping stuff rumbling around in my head instead of out in words.

Maybe it's the heat.

Good GRAVY, North Carolina!! I remember, I remember!!! You are ONE * HOT * STATE!

I can't even complain about it because I am the girl who always says, "I'd take hot, hot, hot over cold any day!!"

I still would, but man! Talk about testing that theory! It is hot here. Hot and humid. Super hot and super humid. Oy. Poor boy has even started to get some heat rash just because it's so darned hot!!!

Great pool and beach weather, though, and once we get things a bit more settled, we plan to attack!

So, for now...we've moved into the apartment we are going to live in until we get into base housing, which should be November or December and it is 'home'. We thought we had done a pretty decent job of paring things down before we left Maryland. Nothing like moving into a place that is about a quarter the size of what you were living in before to let you know that you STILL own TOO.MUCH.JUNK!

Just too much...I am again in purge mode, and hope to maintain this for the rest of my life. I am so aggravated with all the stuff I have, mainly because I don't have any place to put it, but more because I just feel so gluttonous. Seriously, it really is sinful how much stuff we have.

In my defense, I've not grown since 1975 or so, so I don't really outgrow much and tend to keep things that still fit. Ha ha...that said, soooo much does not fit me any more! I've long since lost all my pregnanc(ies) weight and yet, things don't fit in the same way--especially in the stomach and hips. Redistribution--total and outright redistribution.

Wouldn't trade it for anything.

My sweet little Luke is just doing so well. He has handled this move like a champ. Seriously, he is so good. In the past two days with the movers, he's kept himself occupied in his exersaucer or playmat for nice stretches that allowed me to work, and other times, was content to be carried around in the sling. That said, I have to admit that I have had a sore back and shoulders because to quote our good friend Dave, that boy is BUILT!

He is solid. He is still only about 16-16.5 lbs, which is about the 25th-30th%tile, but he is really very dense. I love it. His weight seems like it's been pretty static here, but that's ok. There is no doubt he is good and healthy.

He has been babbling more and more...mamamamamamama still, but not as much as babababababa and still no idea that it's MAMA that he's saying.

He loves the pool. Daddy takes him every day and he giggles and loves it. I have a little fishy for sure!

The biggest and most WONDERFUL development is that he has been SLEEPING!!!!! In nice, long chunks!!! Without crying. Without me doing much of anything but just putting him to sleep bed, telling him that I love him and walking out of the room. I have read every, every, ever sleep book out there...from complete NO cry solutions to Weissbluth's total extinction/cry-it-out and books on all sorts of the spectrum in between. I'd get so frustrated because Luke just didn't seem to fit the profile of ANY baby in ANY of those books. Not sleeping terribly, by any means, but not consistently. Not napping horribly, but not like he 'should' be. Just completely his own little deal going on, which is fine, but didn't really give me much straight sleep, and more, I felt like all of his little 'naplets' were interfering with good, solid nighttime sleep.

So, the one book I hadn't read was Ferber's. I guess I figured I already knew what it was about, based on "Meet The Parents", of all things, and I assumed it was just another CIO book.

I was wrong. He's more about graduated extinction, which does sometimes involve some fussing, but not hours on end until the baby finally collapses in exhaustion. His science is sound, and frankly, though I don't want Luke to cry or be upset, I realize that babies DO cry and get upset. Sometimes (often) over nothing.

So when he's fed, dry, happy and tired...but won't go to sleep and quickly turns into unhappy and really tired, I was willing to try anything. After 'meeting' my friend Tina and talking to her about a few hard nights, but then great sleep, I figured I'd at least read the one book I hadn't read. And I tried it.

And LUKE SLEEPS! In fact, he doesn't necessarily want me to rock him until he falls asleep. I was doing that and after following some of Ferber's recommendations, Luke got to the point where he just wanted to go to sleep...have me put him in his crib and let him be! Now, I put him down, and even if he starts to cry (which sometimes happens), literally, within 15 seconds of me leaving his room, he starts playing with his paci and puts himself to sleep!

For the last WEEK, he's gone to bed, was asleep by 9 (we've been later due to the move) and I haven't gotten up to feed him until at least 7 am. Even if he wakes, he puts himself back to sleep.

And miracle of all miracles, he NAPS! Today, he took a nap for an HOUR AND THIRTEEN MINUTES. He'd have slept more, but I had to wake him to go out (go figure!) for an appointment!

I have to say it (and no, I'm not in any way compensated for it!) but I am a believer in Ferber!!

He's into everything, reaching for all sorts of stuff. Rolling around all over the floor and scooting all over the room (on his back using his head and feet, of course!) and even tries that when I am changing his diaper, which is super fun...not! His little personality comes out more and more each day and he is so much fun! Though still mellow and easy, he certainly knows what he wants and is very vocal in telling you! Not with screaming, but with lots of humming and babbling! Sometimes, with his paci, he just sounds like Pee Wee Herman giggling! He cracks us up!

Time to take advantage of his sleeping! Here are some pictures from the week!

We got to visit with Auntie Nanci and the girls!! SUPER FUN!

I love this sweet boy and my sweet friend who prayed so much for him!!!
And then her SU-WHEEET daughter!!!!

This pool robe isn't quite what I thought Mommy had in mind....

Cute...getting ready for a fun day at the beach!

Look, toes!!! Tickle them!
Always has the old foot in the air!!!!
Beach Baby!
Checking the terrain out!
One cool dude!
Like Father, Like Son....
I love, love, love these precious little feet.
I love that he loves the beach also!!!
Toes sure do taste YUMMY!