Thursday, December 20, 2012

Our Adorable 5-Month-Old!

On December 18th Whit became 5 months old!!

I think I'll refer to the past month as "The month of many milestones." I can't count how many times I expressed that my baby is growing up too fast based on the many new things he started doing, or improving, this month.



Whit @ 5 months:

-Rolling over easily and often
-Started eating solid foods, and now LOVES it! He likes his cereal thick and eats mashed bananas, but choked when I introduced avocados. But I'm not giving up on real foods.
-Laughing! It is so much fun to watch Whit laugh, but so far he only laughs at random times so it's hard to guess what causes it and make him laugh. Maybe next month?
-Easily pulls toys or pacifier in and out of his mouth. This shows me that his hand/eye coordination as well as accomplishing a goal are getting better and better!
-Started teething! His first tooth erupted on the 18th! He handled it very well. His naps were half as long over the weekend and he was pretty fussy if we weren't holding him, but that only lasted for a couple of days. I've given him a couple doses of Tylenol over the last 4 days which he really likes :)
-We now swaddle him with his left arm out. He had been wriggling his hands up to his face during the night and it finally stopped startling him awake, so we deemed him ready to sleep with one arm out.
-Is taking 4 scheduled naps a day: 9:30-10:30 or 11, 11:30-1:00, 3:30-5, and 6-7 (he sometimes skips his last nap).
-Started going to bed at 8 instead of 10. He sleeps in until 8:00-9:00, and often doesn't need a feeding boost. He also started waking up talking to himself instead of crying. Yay  :)
-Has discovered his feet and likes to grab them.
-Found his thumb and often sucks it to fall asleep
-His hair is growing back. It is brown and so soft :) Finally Ben doesn't say he's bald anymore!

He kept his hands or tongue around his gums because he's teething, so I didn't get many smiling photos today. But here he is showing off some of his accomplishments!













Saturday, December 15, 2012

My two babies

Ben put Whit to bed around 8:00 pm tonight as always. I took a shower then laid in bed, enjoying the quiet and feeling exhausted from a long day. Ben was downstairs studying. Laying in bed was hard, because there always seems to be something more valuable for me to do with my time. I made over 30 items that were ordered from my store currently sitting in a pile on the floor- I should print out packing slips and prepare them for mailing. The missionaries and possibly a friend are coming to dinner tomorrow- I should pre-make brownies or clean the house. Ben wants me to take a professional picture of him before church since he'll be wearing a suit- I need to research the best lighting techniques for a head shot.

But, for some reason, I had an overwhelming urge to re-read my blog posts and journal entries about Eleanor. I chose to do that.

So this is a post about raising a beautiful, healthy child who makes me incredibly happy with the memory of our first child looming in my heart. It's a post I've been wanting to write for a while.

I wrote in one of my posts post-Eleanor, pre-Whit that I wanted a baby and didn't think it was fair to have to experience two pregnancies and deliveries for just one baby. Well, I loved my second pregnancy (even my second delivery), and now I do have the baby I'd wanted. But don't think that he replaces her in any way. I don't. She doesn't. Ben and I decided to move on as much as possible. Not to dwell on the past, but to enjoy our family now and look forward to a reunion in the future. We chose not to ever look at the pictures taken of El when she was delivered or from her funeral, and not to celebrate her birthday anymore (though of course we will talk about her and explain her to Whit when he is older.) But I want to take just one opportunity to set the record straight on how I feel and how this is impacting our lives. I don't want anyone to think I have pushed Eleanor aside.

On one hand, carrying a baby to term and raising him makes a pregnancy ending at 26 weeks seem so trivial. The logical side of me understands that 26 weeks is just a small portion of what it takes to get and raise a child! So, to all those who thought I was making too big a deal of things when we lost Eleanor, I sort of understand why you may have thought that. On the other hand, I know what it feels like to carry, love, and have hopes for a child who never came home with you. The emotional side of me is still heartbroken over what we went through. So try to imagine this quasi-realism I'm living in: missing and remembering one child I love but barely know and experienced so much with, while raising a child who feels like the other half of my soul. It's confusing!

My friend Jessica (whom I've mentioned before) delivered her fourth stillborn child this summer. She called a few weeks later asking what it was like to have experienced a stillbirth and a live birth. She wanted to know if I loved my children differently.

Yes.

I told her (and cried) that Eleanor feels like my guardian angel. Someone I could talk to for hours and ask for help. Someone I'm excited to do girlfriend things with- talk about books, get manicures, giggle. She is someone who knows me, someone I can trust who will always be there for me when I need it, and will wait patiently when I don't. But Whit is part of me. Part me. He is the other half of my soul- someone I know better than myself whom I would give my life for. Someone who makes my heart hurt when he cries. I've never felt more connected to a person in my life.

In short, Eleanor takes care of me and I take care of Whit. Eleanor seems like my future best friend, Whit is just a helpless baby who looks at me like I'm his entire world.

The first week I could go to church after Eleanor was born our Relief Society lesson was on the spirit world. a new member of our ward (and currently a great friend of mine) told a story about a family from her old ward whose 8-month-old had choked on a Lego and died. I actually thought, I know how that mother feels. But at least she knew her baby. My pain is worse, I could never even hold Eleanor. Well, in retrospect, YEAH, RIGHT! What was I thinking? After Eleanor was born death became so real to me. I was terrified of losing Ben, or of him losing me. We would constantly talk about "What if" scenarios to make sure we would each be as prepared as possible. Now, no surprise, I'm trying not to let myself become convinced that I'll loose Whit too early. I can truly say I appreciate every moment with him- like I'm trying to soak in as much as possible "Just in case." Every thing I do is with his well-being and happiness in mind. I live for him! And if he died now I don't know how I would survive. Losing a child you already know and love, one you have held and rocked and nourished and sung to, would be a living hell. I suffered when I lost Eleanor, but not as badly as it would hurt to lose Whit. Not by a long shot.

And yes, I do feel guilty for saying that. But it's true.

It would be impossible not to love them differently, but I still love and think about Eleanor quite often. Having Whit hasn't really softened that blow much. He has made me so happy, but he doesn't take the pain away from my completely separate experience with her. In fact, when Whit and I pillow talk I can't tell him he's my favorite baby ever. I say he's my favorite baby boy. I've tried- the words just can't come out. When I do I try telling myself to be realistic and grow up, but my body won't let me. It feels like a betrayal to Eleanor, and I am physically incapable of doing that. I sang "You are my sunshine" to him for a while, but felt guilty every time. He will never be "my only sunshine." Ben eventually put my thoughts to words, and I haven't been able to choke those words out ever since. The melody is so familiar that it tries to come out, so I have to make up new lyrics after "You are my..." comes out of my lips.


So why the sudden rush to remember the past tonight? To re-read my words and see the pictures and delve into the emotions that have been hidden for so long?

It took five past blog posts to realize it: Today is the anniversary of Eleanor's due date.


But I'm not sad anymore.

In fact, a good friend is due with a baby girl (their first) in February and I'm planning her baby shower and giving her parenting advice. And I'm happy to do it!

Do you ever think "I just want the Second Coming to be here already!"? I do. That was my first thought when it was announced that the missionary age was being lowered, every natural disaster, and community crisis. To be honest, I think go on, world- get worse. BRING. IT. ON. Because that means the second coming is getting closer, and I am OH SO EXCITED for my family to be reunited! (I feel like a complete nut sometimes, but Jessica completely agreed with me on that!) I can't wait to teach Whit about Eleanor, and to eventually watch them interact with each other.

So, in closing, what it comes down to is that raising Whit makes me love Eleanor even more and anticipate our reunion with so much joy. If I love him so much, I'll be twice as complete when we are all together again!

Wow, so much to look forward to! I feel so, so lucky!

For now, this is how I imagine my children:






Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Merry Christmas from Mini Santa!

I have really looked forward to taking shots of my baby against Christmas lights since my sister-in-law posted gorgeous pictures of her baby girl in a wrapped box playing with lights last year. I bought the props for this photo shoot weeks ago (I even ordered a special red diaper for this!), and finally got around to taking and editing them!

Ben helped me a lot with this photo shoot. He distracted Whit while I cleared a space and set up, then helped  get Whit to smile and focus for the camera. He got frustrated after a while though, after I repeatedly promised, "Just one more!"

The thing is, though, that I cherish every extra shot. I just can't get enough of this little boy. I want to soak in every moment of him, and when I take pictures or video those become moments I get to keep forever. He is growing up right before my eyes, so, believe it or not, I pore over this blog re-watching, re-reading, and remembering all his milestones I've captured and recorded. Am I afraid he'll leave me soon, or that I'll wake up and forget everything about him? Not sure. But I am obsessed with soaking in every expression, gurgle, and yes, even cry. 

What can I say? I'm his mom, and I think he is absolutely perfect. 

















*****PHOTO SHOOT BLOOPERS*****

"Don't let go, Dad!"

Let's get a close-up of that:

"AhhhhhhhCHOO!"

 "Uh... Guys? A little help, please!"

 "I think I'll just take a little rest..."

 "Did I do that...?"

Ha! Isn't he the absolute BEST? I mean, EVER?????


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Baby Jee!



Our ward's primary was asked to be in charge of the Christmas party this year; literally a dream come true for our Primary president, a children's theater major. She organized an interactive nativity program, inviting every auxiliary to work on an assigned holiday hymn and sing that hymn at a specific point in the program. Her councilors designed multiple backdrops and set changes, and every primary child made a headband and shirt to help them resemble sheep. It was a big deal. 

Whit was asked to be our Baby Jesus a few weeks in advance. I was thrilled! What a great rite-of-passage for a little boy! My main concern was how Whit would react on stage with strangers. According to Away In A Manger , upon waking the Little Lord Jesus no crying he makes, after all. My child... not so much. A friend of ours from my book club was cast as Mary, so I pawned Whit on her every chance I got. I even started to wear the same shirt without washing it with plans to wrap him in it during the performance so he would be comforted by my scent! Less than a week beforehand, however, the Primary President called to ask if Ben and I would take over as Joseph and Mary so the original Mary could play the piano. Suddenly my concern over Whit's behavior morphed into possibly messing up the event so many had worked hard on, and scrounging up some Biblical costumes. But at least we are well trained on how to comfort Baby Jesus, and he is the star, after all! 

The performance went as rehearsed (I think), and Whit was incredible in his debut! He was a little fussbucket in the wings while Mary was still with child, but immediately calmed down when he was given back to us and we emerged as a new family. As we introduced Baby Jesus to the crowd we heard multiple gasps and audible exclamations of his cuteness. I admit, I was a proud mamma. The second time we entered was after the primary children (sheep and shepherds) were on stage for a song. They stayed on stage while we coddled Baby Jesus, and heard many children say excitedly (and unscripted), "Look! Baby Jesus!" and after the curtain closed they rushed towards him eagerly asking to see and touch Baby Jesus. 

The children were so excited! Whit was wearing a white cloth diaper, had beautiful rosy cheeks and big blue eyes, was semi-wrapped in an unfinished piece of white muslin, was completely calm and angelic, and had been referred to as "Baby Jesus" during the entire performance, so I'm not surprised that the children were so serious and excited about meeting him. A member of the presidency summed up the experience well when saying to the Angel, "They know he isn't really Jesus, right?" Well, I'm not sure that all of them did! We were told by one father that his son, 2, yelled, "Baby Jee! Baby Jee!" every time Whit came on stage, and "Where Baby Jee go?" when he left. Another parent said their child cried when the curtain closed and he couldn't see the baby anymore. 

Children's spirits are so sensitive; so pure. It was incredibly humbling and heartwarming to be the mother of the baby who meant so much so these children. I welcomed them and held Whit for them so marvel at, and the power of their love for Jesus (not necessarily Whit- I do understand the difference) overwhelmed me. 

Needless to say, this Christmas season is unlike any other for me.  As I have prepared for Whit to represent Baby Jesus I have come to a new understanding of His birth and the love and responsibility His earthly parents must have had for him, and how much His heavenly parents must have missed and watched over him. I'm sort of ashamed to admit what a difference having a baby boy has made to my understanding of Christ's birth, but it has. Christ was born with an immense responsibility to teach the world the gospel and atone for our sins, but he was still born a helpless baby- like Whit. Whit is not perfect, but he is so dear to us. I now feel an incredible desire to honor my Savior as much as I want to raise my child righteously. 











Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Week of Firsts Videos

At Whit's 4-month appointment his pediatrician suggested we start feeding him solid foods. My jaw hit the floor. Solid food? That's for big babies-- my baby is still little. Right? Well, my little baby is now growing up. The same week he started solid foods he also laughed for the first time, started to sleep 8-8, and rolled over.  

Whit's first attempt at solid food: 11/20
Recently I've been called a "hippie mom." Kind of a lot. So I'm going with it. My goal is to not feed our baby processed food unless absolutely necessary, so his first real food was mashed fresh bananas. 




As you could see he wasn't really into it. I know consistency and patience are key when introducing new things, so we kept trying solid foods at my mom's house for Thanksgiving break over he next few days. My hope were low, but the very next day he seemed to love it! We fed him rice cereal with a different spoon, which made a huge difference. We deduced that our baby spoon at home had been uncomfortable across his gums, so now we feed him a mix of cereal and mashed bananas ever night. He slobbers it up like the Beast in the fancy dinner scene, but keeps opening his mouth for more! We have to feed him at night because it takes two of us to wrangle him. Ben usually holds him in a sitting position and keeps his hands away while I feed him. 

Whit laughing: 11/23/12
Whit laughed for the first time on my birthday, November 23.  We were in Columbia visiting my family for Thanksgiving. My mom was watching him in the morning while Ben ran an errand and I slept in. I said to her that afrernoon, "I've tried playing peek-a-boo, blowing on his tummy, and everything else people say babies love but I can't get him to laugh! This kid is made of stone!" Mom: "He laughed for me." "No he didn't. He squealed." "No, he laughed." "No he didn't." "OK, he didn't. But he really did." She showed me how to tickle under his neck and he really did laugh! It was amazing. "He laughed throughout the day, then not again for a few more days. This video is from him laughing at a restaurant. He still doesn't laugh often enough to see a pattern, but that's ok!

video

Whit rolling over: 11/27
For weeks Ben had been saying that Whit rolled over, but it was always when he was the only one around. Convenient.... Well, he finally rolled over for me and I got his second attempt on camera! (Thank you decent smart phone!)

video

Did you catch that? 3 new things in one week! Watch out, world: Whit is coming!