Monday, April 30, 2007

4 months

Dear Gabriel,

This month you've been on a roll. Literally. First you rolled from your stomach onto your back while visiting your Bubbi and Saba in Florida. Since then, you've repeated the trick a couple of times. Then you rolled yourself from your back to your stomach while I was trying to change your diaper. You kicked your feet up, got yourself onto your side, then stretched out your legs quickly, and your momentum carried you over and onto your stomach. Frankly, you looked a little shocked at your new position. So was I. The other day I walked away from the couch where I'd laid you down, and came back to find half of your body hanging off of the edge. I guess that is why everyone warns you never to leave your baby unattended. Lesson noted.

This month has been full of new experiences for you. You got to spend quality time with each of your grandparents and your aunt for the first time in your short life, and you got to meet your uncle and cousins for the first time also. Your cousins loved you, of course, and kept fighting over who would be allowed to hold you and when. I suggested that you all take a bath together, and I've never seen them move faster. Your Bubbi and Aunt spent every night making you laugh out loud- big guffaws of laughter at their antics. Your Nonna spent her every available second making you smile and smothering you with kisses. You are so very loved, sweet boy.

You went to the beach for the first time, although you didn't actually touch the sand or the ocean. Baby steps, I say. You did go swimming in a pool with your Daddy, though, and based on your reaction, you might have been a fish in a past life. You oohed and ahhed at all the new sensations. You spent time barefoot in Florida, and stared for minutes on end at your toes. Your hands are even more fascinating. You had your first outing with your Daddy, and I left you at home for the first time. You also watched some of your first Red Sox games. Your Daddy will tell you that those were your most important milestones thus far.

To be fair, you also made me suffer through some of the worst nights of sleep we've had so far. After all that travel, whatever semblance of a schedule we had was completely lost, and for two weeks straight you progressively woke up more and more often, until you woke up every half-hour to forty-five minutes for two nights straight. It felt like having a newborn again, except that you never slept that little as a newborn! After those two nights, I put you into Baby Boot Camp, and you've been fabulous since. Baby Boot Camp is just a fancy name for a schedule, and you seem very grateful to be waking up, taking naps, and going to bed at a reasonable time. It took your Mommy a little while to learn that our loosy-goosy schedule wasn't working for you. Forgive me, I haven't done this before.

This month I discovered something new, though. Something I should have known all along. Something that I guess was rather obvious. I discovered that you love me and you need me. I'd assumed up until now that although you clearly like me, and of course you look to me for food, you found everyone to be pretty interchangeable. Thankfully, it turns out I'm wrong. You stop fussing instantly at the sound of my voice, as soon as I reach out my arms, before I've even picked you up. I lean down to give you kisses and you open your mouth wide to try and kiss me back. If I laugh at you, you laugh back, deeply. You smile at me all the time. You play peek a boo with me, and duck your head down as if you are playing shy. You are the cutest thing ever, and I wish I could bottle you up to keep you with me all the time.

I can't believe you've only been with us for four months, but I also can't believe that a quarter of a year has passed already. Wasn't I waiting for your arrival just yesterday? You are so. much. fun. Having you in our lives is pure unadulterated, unequivocal joy. I beg life to stand still so that I can burn these days into my memory.

I love you. Your Daddy loves you. We couldn't live without you.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

we hate germs

Gabe and I have our first colds today. I've been watching him like a hawk to see if he feels sick, but besides keeping me up all night whining, he seems fine. I, however, am coughing and have lost my voice, and my throat hurts and I feel generally achy. Now I feel like whining, especially about the fact that I got no sleep thanks to my little whiner.

I can't figure out what is going on with him and sleep. I'm assuming that last night's disaster was related to this cold, but we've had some bad nights lately. For a while we were on a great schedule where he would sleep a solid 6 or 7 hours (once 8 and a half!), wake up for 10 minutes to nurse, and then go back down for another 5 hours or so. But for the past week and a half, that schedule has been nonexistent. I'm lucky if I can get him to sleep 5 hours in the first stretch, and then it is 3 hour stretches after that. I feel like we are in the newborn days all over again.

I've tried pumping and feeding him a bottle, and not pumping and breastfeeding him directly. I've tried putting him to sleep in his bassinet and then in his crib. I've tried a blanket, I've tried pajamas, and last night I tried layered pajamas in case he was cold. I've tried putting him to sleep early, and I've tried putting him to sleep late. He seems to do better when I put him to sleep later, and by later I mean around 11pm or midnight, but that seems so absurdly late, I worry that it can't be a good bedtime for him. At this point, I'm thinking that the problem is that his schedule is all over the place. So I think I'm going to pick something and stick with it for a while to see if his sleep improves.

It could also be the fact that we've been traveling all over the place, first to California, then to Florida, then my mom was here, and now she left. Maybe he is thrown off by the number of changes we've been undergoing. I'll let you know if I see any improvements.

In unrelated exciting news, Gabriel rolled over for the first time in Florida from his stomach to his back! It was such a surprise! Since then, he's done it 2 more times, both of them by accident. Then yesterday, he rolled over from back to front! It also looked like an accident, frankly, but I suppose that's how it always starts. He rolled himself onto his side, and then suddenly straightened his legs out and scooched himself forward and he ended up on his stomach. He looked up at me with this shocked look, as if asking, "what just happened here?"

This kid seriously wants to MOVE. It scares me a little, especially knowing that both Josh and I walked at 9 months. I'm planning on knocking him over if he starts trying to stand up. When I sit him in his bouncy seat, he spends a good amount of time trying to pull himself into a sitting position, so it looks like he is doing crunches in his seat. When I put him on his stomach, he flails about madly, trying to reach everything around him and can even get himself to move a few centimeters.

Just to show you that we actually do something besides sit here admiring this baby, Josh got a job. A real job. Which means that when he graduates from business school next month, he will have an actual paying job and I will no longer be supporting the whole family on my own. I am excited, to say the least. The best part of it is that this job was his first choice. Family friendly, interesting work, consulting (which he loves), but not much travel (which we both hate). So things around here are happy happy happy.

Also, now that I've convinced Gabe to nap, I'm able to read more books and I'd love recommendations. I am finishing up this book, and I recently read this book and this book. I loved them all. Suggestions?

I mean, I can't spend all day sitting around staring at this gorgeous face, although I'd like to.

Monday, April 09, 2007

3 months (very belated)

Dear Gabriel,

I'm very late in writing this month's letter, but I do have a good excuse. This month you took your first flight, and then your second flight, and then your third flight- all within three weeks. You visited your Nonna and Nonno in California while your Daddy went to Russia on a school trip, and then you visited your Bubbi and Saba in Florida for the holidays. It's a shame the airline won't give you a frequent flier number for traveling on my lap, because you'd be halfway to a free ticket by now.

I've also been avoiding thinking about this letter, because hitting three months old means that you are no longer considered a newborn. You're an infant now. I'm sure you'll laugh when you can read this, because the difference might seem silly to you. To me, though, it seems like night and day. My blobby, sweet, calm newborn is gone. In his place is a smiling, bubbly, chatty baby. A baby with rolls and dimples, a baby that doesn't have the jerky movements of a newborn, a baby that lights up when I walk into a room.

You laughed for the first time this month. You babble in response to my conversation. You prop yourself up on your arms and kick your feet during tummy time. You've found your hands and watch them intently for minutes on end. One day you could only stare up at your toys, the next day you could swat at them, and the next day you reached up and grabbed them. Watching you is like watching miracles take place. I can almost see your brain making new connections every day, and I am so grateful for this gift.

I guess that every mother thinks her baby is the most beautiful, wonderful, sweetest baby who ever graced the earth, and this mother is no different. I find you remarkable and marvelous and I smother you with kisses all day. I would think you would become annoyed at the attention, but instead you become very still and melt into my arms as I pepper you with tiny kisses. Your Nonna says that you almost deflate in my arms- you obviously recognize and enjoy the love. You've even started opening your mouth as I bend over you to give you a kiss or to press my cheek against yours. You will screech and giggle if I bend over slowly and hesitate before giving you a snuggle.

Your daddy was away from you for two long weeks while he went on his school trip to Russia, and it was terrible for the three of us to have to be apart. I worried that perhaps you would forget who he was, but the second he picked us up at the airport, your little face lit up and you began your stream of chatter. You love your daddy, and trust me sweet boy, the feeling is mutual. He can't get enough of you.

I saw one of my childhood friends while we were in California, and she is pregnant with her first child. She asked me whether all this was worth it, whether I liked being a mother. I paused for a moment to answer, and felt my eyes fill with tears. I understood in that second what everyone tried to tell me when I was pregnant, that what awaited her was this magical, amazing thing that couldn't be put into words. I can't wait for her to discover it too.

My life was wonderful before, but this life is incomparable. You've made your father and me so happy. Our days are filled with laughter. Thank you for being you, sweet boy.

We love you,

Sunday, April 08, 2007

parenting is a humbling experience

I have this thing about babies without shoes or socks. It bugs me. It's a little weird, I know. I'm fine with babies or toddlers barefoot in parks, I'm certainly okay with them barefoot at home or in your yard. When I see babies or toddlers running around Target or the grocery store barefoot, though, or running around in restaurants barefoot, it makes me cringe. Josh finds this endlessly amusing, and is quick to point out any children in the vicinity without socks, just to hear my diatribe on the subject.

This means, of course, that poor Gabriel gets very little sockless time to hang out. In fact,
we were in Florida this week and he became mesmerized by the sight of his toes while we sat outside in the sun. You see, he'd never really seen them before except during changes or baths. He is seriously toe-deprived.

Anyway, we were flying back from our visit with Josh's parents for Passover in Florida. The plane started its initial boarding, and I realized that I'd better change his diaper quickly before we got on the plane without a changing table. I rushed him into the family restroom at the Tampa airport and left Josh with the stroller and the food we'd bought for the flight. I pulled off the bottom of Gabriel's pajamas and unsnapped his diaper and started wiping quickly. I looked to my right to grab the clean diaper and realized that my hands were getting wet. Yup, he started peeing. All over me, all over himself, all over the wall and changing table, including the toy I'd handed him to entertain him during the diaper change. I pulled the dirty diaper out from under him to cover the stream of pee, and heard another horrifying sound.

He pooped. All over me, all over his clothes, and all over the changing table. I took one look at the mess, and pulled out my cell phone to tell Josh to book it over to the bathroom because I needed another pair of hands. In the meantime, the poop was spreading slowly underneath Gabe and across the table. Josh didn't answer, of course, so cursing wildly, I started the slow process of mopping up the mess.

I peeled off Gabe's socks, his onesie, his outfit, I took off the changing pad, recovered the table with paper towels, one-handed I wiped Gabe down and put him back down on the semi-clean table. I scrambled to get the clean diaper on him before he gave me another little present, and then I realized that over the loudspeaker they were announcing the final boarding call for our flight.

There I was, baby only semi-clean, clad only in a diaper, with a hand full of dirty pooped and peed on clothes, with only a diaper bag and a blanket with me, and the emergency change of clothes sitting in the basket underneath the stroller at the gate with Josh.

So I picked up my semi-clean, semi-naked baby, and wrapped the dirty clothes in a paper towel, and ran out of the bathroom and over to the gate, where they were ominously announcing over the loudspeaker that this was REALLY the last boarding call for flight 1861.

And then I boarded the plane. With my naked, dirty baby. All the way down the aisle until our seat. Wrapped in only a blanket, while several people exclaimed out loud when I walked by that my baby was naked. They couldn't smell him, so they didn't know he was also relatively unclean.

All I can say about the whole experience, is that I will never look askance at the barefoot babies again. I have learned my lesson. And a bit of humility in the process, too.