Thursday, October 8, 2009

"just" missing him

I just miss my dad. I couldn’t say it outloud. I was crying too hard and the words were so inadequate. They stuck in my throat and seemed almost silly because they didn’t come close to describing the magnitude of my grief. Dan needed to know what was happening, why I was so upset. I very rarely cry, and then it’s usually only a few tears. For some reason, this time I was sobbing in that almost hyperventilating, couldn’t breath through my nose, unable to speak kind of way. “Is it just everything? Or did something happen?” No, there was no new bad news, no sudden catastrophe he needed to know about, no new development with the kids. “Just” the same old thing. I “just” miss my dad. Still. Almost three years later. The hardest part about someone dying is not the day or the week or the month that it happens. That time was surreal, dreamlike. There were things to take care of, people here to support us, flowers and meals and phone calls. The hardest part is the "rest of your life" part-- all the things they are absent for. The happy times when you want to share with them the news of lost teeth, scored goals, and being published in a textbook. And the difficult times when you are scared about the what the rheumatologist or the child psychiatrist is going to say. He would know just what to say to ease the fear. Even if he didn’t say anything, he would support me with a squeeze of my hand, a nod, his unwavering faith in me to handle any challenge that came my way. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. He is supposed to *be here*. I finally whispered between the sobs: I just miss my dad. And that’s such an understatement. It’s so deep and it’s *always* there.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

14 months


Dear Noah bear~

It’s hard to believe that you are now 14 ½ months old. I wish I had written to you more this summer, but life has been even crazier than usual.

You continue to bring us incredible joy. You are so full of love, energy, giggles, strength, and determination. You are astonishingly active—basically you never stop moving, and most of the time you are either running or climbing, trying to see just how high you can get. We have to keep all the dining room chairs pulled back away from the table, because you climb up there every chance you get. You giggle and dance and smile at us proudly (and a bit mischievously!) every time—it’s the same satisfaction you get when you sneak by the accidentally-left-open baby gate at the bottom of the stairs and get halfway up them before we catch you. I have a feeling you will always take great delight in pushing limits—not only the ones we impose, but also your own. I imagine you will be the most “extreme” of our children, and that you’ll be the one sky-surfing and climbing the highest of mountains. Already you have mastered using the dishwasher rack to climb onto the counter, and you tried to continue to climb into the cupboard by stepping on the drainer. Who knows how high you would have gotten if I hadn’t gotten in your way!

You also love music and dancing. When we’re driving in our new minivan and you hear the first notes of Margaritaville (Mariah’s favorite song) your face lights up, you begin to bounce up and down in your seat, kick your legs, and clap. At home we crank up Pandora and dance to the Laurie Berkner station, or slow dance to your “Music for Rest” cd from Kristy to get you down for a nap.

What’s really blowing me away lately is your ability to express yourself. Your verbal ability and language are exploding and you’re finally starting to sign! I’ve been so excited to get to this stage, when we can really communicate in this new way. You mimic our words, and have some of your own that you use consistently. My latest favorite is “dee-doo” which is your way of saying “thank you”. You say it so sweetly every time we hand you something (especially food)—and today you did the sign for “thank you” right along with it for the first time. You’ve also signed “more” (when Grammie was feeding you kiwi fruit) and “all done” (after eating in your highchair), though you haven’t done either sign very consistently yet. I’m really looking forward to you using “milk” and other signs to tell me exactly what you want.

You are loving animals now more than ever and get so excited when you see them. You’re starting to make animal sounds. “Dee-Dee”s say “eee-oww” and “Daw-dee”s say “woo woo”. Most animals that you see are “dee-dee”s by default, and at the zoo you make a lot of “eee-oww” sounds and wave at the animals gleefully.
You are really enjoying books and discovering new parts of the world. Every time you hear a plane you look up and point at the sky. At night you point out the moon (“moo”) and stars (“dow”). You also love to watch the birds, and eat tomatoes right off the vine.

You have a bit of temper and you’re learning to throw little tantrums. You stomp your feet and squish up your face and yell—sometimes you flail your arms, or run away, or throw yourself on the ground. It makes life challenging at times, but I’m glad you feel safe expressing your full range of emotions. Plus all of that is overpowered by all your yummy lovingness. When I say goodbye you blow me kisses and when I ask for a snuggle you squeeze me tight. You are simply the sweetest and the most joyous little being we could ever hope to have, and I am so glad you joined our family.

There are so many things you do everyday that make me smile and warm my heart, I can’t possibly begin to list them all. I’m trying to capture some of it in these letters, in video clips and photographs, and to burn them into my memory—but it can be difficult to find the balance between capturing the moment and actually living in it... Your babyhood is slipping away and you are more boy-ish every minute. It’s hard for me knowing that you’re the last baby I’ll have, so your growing up is really bittersweet—but it brings me so much happiness to watch you grow, master new skills, and discover new things in the world that I welcome each new day and each new milestone.

Today is a really special day because we’re heading out to the coast (you’re buckled in your seat, so I finally have time to write, instead of constantly trying to chase you around and keep you safe!) The ocean is really important to me, and with all that’s been happening this year we haven’t been there enough. You haven’t seen it since you were only 3 months old. I can’t wait to watch you walk in the sand and splash in the water. I’ll dance with you as we smell the salty air and smile as you try to catch the seagulls and let the doggies lick your face. I love you completely—always and forever, no matter what.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ten months


Sugar Bear~

You are ten months old today, and you are an incredible mover and shaker. I’ve been meaning to write your nine month letter for a whole month now, but it has gotten so much harder to do things now that you are constantly on the move. You are so fast, and you hardly ever crawl anymore. You can stand up on your own in the middle of the room, take off and walk across the house. You can climb an entire flight of stairs, even steep ladders (like the lofts in L & M’s classrooms). I was so excited to take you to the park the other day and introduce you to the kiddie slide, but you were unimpressed. You walked right over to the big kid slide and climbed all the way to the top unassisted. You have no fear, no sense of danger. You are positively gleeful when you make it to the top and turn around proudly, teetering on the edge. So far, we have always been there to catch you-- except for one fall down the last couple of stairs that didn’t seem to phase you much. I worry that you are so strong and agile before being able to comprehend the danger of falling, and getting hurt. I guess that right there is one of the hardest parts of parenting-- understanding your child’s vulnerability more deeply than they do. Then learning to release the fear and allow them to live fully, resisting the temptation to hold them back and remove the element of risk.

These past two months with you have been about your increasing mobility and self expression. They’ve included lots of sunshine, exploring the outdoors (finally!), digging in the dirt, chewing on rocks, trips to the park, and your first bike rides (both on the small scooter bike, and in the double bike trailer). Your first word, fittingly, was “uh-oh”. You’re doing a lot of babbling, “Da”s and “Ma”s, but they don’t quite seem purposeful yet. Just these past couple days I’ve heard you say “Ow” as you walk towards the door and I wonder if you’re trying to say “Out!”. You adore our doggy and kitty, and any other animals we come across in our travels-- you like to chase them around and are slowly learning to pet them gently. Oh, and you’ve recently discovered your penis. The joys!

We’ve also been slowly introducing you to new foods. We started with carefully mushed up avocados, bananas, steamed carrots, roasted sweet potatoes (each mixed with breastmilk). On our busier days we give you jars of various organic fruits and veggies. Soon you worked up to some finger foods like steamed rice and Joe’s O’s. Now you like to eat your bananas and avocados whole and end up with them all over your face. I love to watch you try new tastes and the process of learning to feed yourself. Your little hands are learning to work in new ways, and I wonder at all the things they will do in your life.

More than anything, I love to kiss your belly and toes and just under your chin and hear you giggle. Your belly laughs are the best medicine in the universe. And when you sleep, I love to rub your soft cheeks and your silky golden hair and whisper to you about all the adventures we will have together. You are a gift from heaven and I absolutely adore you in every possible way.

Your ever-lovin’~

Thursday, February 26, 2009

8 months

Oh sweet, snuggly Noah bear~

The last time I wrote to you I got cut off and I kept meaning to get back to it, but it’s been a wild few weeks and now suddenly another month has gone by. You’re keeping us on our toes, mister!

I lay here in bed with you cuddled right up to me fast asleep-- I can’t fit you on my chest anymore while I’m typing. You have your head on my shoulder, your hand on my chest, and your foot on my belly and you are snoozing away. You turned 8 months old yesterday and the day before that you took FOUR steps toward me in the kitchen. We knew it would happen early, but yikes! Your first official step was on Valentine’s Day (two weeks ago). That was also the first day that I read you a book and you didn’t just try to eat it, but actually enjoyed hearing the story and seeing the pictures. You patted at the pages and smiled and cooed. Last week you figured out how to climb all the way up the entire staircase without any help at all. You are simply amazing. Truly. You are quite the smiler and giggler these days. We dance and spin and I dip you upside down and you give me big belly laughs in return. This is one of the most glorious feelings in life, hearing your child’s laughter-- and seeing your child’s face simply light up just because you walk into the room. You’ve been making all of us so happy by sharing your joy with us every day. You are at the height of chubby bubbi baby yumminess-- 24 pounds now!-- and covered with rolls and dimples. I want to kiss on you constantly.

You had just broken your first two teeth last time I wrote and two more followed quickly-- so you basically got four at once. Now you’re working on your 5th (and probably more). Also, soon after you turned 7 months, you started to have some separation anxiety (just like your big brother did at the same age). You were no longer happy hanging out at my office playing in the waiting room while I treated patients, so we had to transition to you staying home with a nanny. You’ve now had days with Nicole, Breanne, and “SuperStar Sarah”. I really miss you when I’m at work, but you are enjoying them, they are spending quality time with you, and I’m doing my best to make up for our time away from each other when I get home.

You’re really enjoying games like peek-a-boo, “so big” and pattycake, and hearing us sing silly songs to you. You like dumping out all your toys from the toybasket and chewing on them or banging them around. Mariah and I took you to the Kennedy School soaking pool last Saturday and you loved it. You splashed and kicked and dipped your face in the water and were absolutely gleeful about it all. I can’t wait to take you back.

You have a very special bond with both your Grammie and your Daddy these days. I’ll let them tell you more about that, but you are always so happy to see them. You have this sweet way of holding on to the neckline of my shirt as I carry you on my hip that reminds me of a little monkey baby. Then when you see one of them you smile, squeal, and kick your legs, then shyly and sweetly squeeze my shirt a little tighter and bury your head into my chest like you’re hiding from them-- then quickly look back up at them with a great big grin. I never want to forget that-- and wonder if it will pass as quickly as that one week you could fall asleep on your own in the cradle, or those few days when you went everywhere with your tongue halfway out of your mouth off to the left side.

Sometimes it seems to be going by in a blur... despite the feeling that I can never really explain how magical it all is, I will continue to attempt to capture these everyday moments with you that mean so much. I hope you enjoy reading about it all someday, and I hope that by reading it again years from now, I will be able to remember the softness of your skin, the sweetness of your smell, and the sound of your laughter. I love you “after infinity”.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

7 months

Dear Noah~

Today you turned 7 months old. We are in the Minneapolis airport on a layover, heading home from Michigan. We went back there with Grammie four days ago to go to a celebration of life for Grandad’s cousin Paul. Paul was an amazing man, and the service was really incredible. It was obvious how many people loved him, and his spirit really shined through. We got to see lots of family there, and at the gathering at Pam’s house afterwards. You were so sweet the whole time-- very social and smiling at everyone. You especially loved your cousin Kenzie and kept trying to kiss her and pull her hair. I think she reminded you of Mariah (who is really missing you right now, as is Levi). We also got to stay at Selkirk Lake again with Great Grampa Bill and Great Gramma Lois. The lake was covered with ice and snow-- much different than when we were here in August. Grammie bought you a new parka at Meijer, on sale for $6.24-- she was very pleased-- and of course you looked absolutely darling in it (and of course I got a photo). We headed up to Mt. Pleasant for a night to see Great Gramma Lea and Great Grampa Walt. She thought you were a “perfect” little baby-- and was quite impressed by your strength as you did pull-up after pull-up on her walker. She complimented you in her unique way, calling you a “little smart-ass” ;) While we were there, Grammie’s cousin Buck and his wife Lori came to visit and meet you, along with her good friend Kam, and Gramma Lea’s neighbor Cliff. You smiled and loved on all of them-- and of course, you were a hit with each of them, too. While we were visiting, you kept crawling over to the ottoman and pulling yourself up. Then you would let go and stand for a second or two before falling on your bottom. Once, incredibly, you turned and took a step with only one hand barely touching the ottoman. Everyone thinks you’ll take off walking in a matter of weeks. Really, lovie, you don’t need to rush this walking thing. I keep trying to tell you, you’re too little. I’m not in any rush, and frankly, am not ready for toddlerhood just yet...

In other big news, you finally cut your first tooth on Friday. I noticed it in the car as we drove home from Pam’s...

You’re crawling over to me and looking ready to nurse. I’ll write more soon.

I love you more than you’ll ever know!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

6 (and a half) months

Mr. Noah, my snuggle bear~

You are now 6 (and a half) months old, and I can’t hardly stand how much I love you. I know I keep saying it, but seriously, my heart is overflowing. Life is pretty busy these days, to say the least. I am totally scrambling to keep up, and lately am feeling further and further “behind” each day. I’m probably trying to do too much, and something’s got to give. But despite the feelings of stress and panic that take over sometimes, I couldn’t be happier when I hold you or see your smiling face. You are such an amazing light in my life.

Before I tell you all the reasons that you are incredible to me this month, let me start by saying that you don’t need to *do* anything for me to be proud of you. I just am. Because you are you, and that will *always* be enough. But damn! You’ve got some serious skills, dude! You are completely crawling already. Crossing rooms. But that’s not all. You are pulling yourself up to a stand! Easily! And then just hanging out there-- even letting go and standing one-handed. You then proceed to attempt to stand unassisted and fall on your butt, but still-- you’re only 6 months old for crying out loud. I keep trying to tell you that, but you’re still mad that you can’t walk yet...

And I’m sorry to say it, but honey, you’re fat. Seriously. Thunder thighs and cottage cheese dimply butt. Don’t be upset, really. It’s the best kind of baby chunkilicious fat. I can’t stop squeezing you and kissing you and wanting to just eat you up. The other day you weighed twenty-two pounds (with clothes on). You read that right. Twenty-two. I don’t think Levi weighed that much until he was a year old. You. are. huge.

And oh so stinkin’ cute. The smiles. The coos. The giggles. And now the pseudo-kisses. You look at me, your eyes light up, you grab fistfuls of my hair in each hand and pull my face as hard as you can toward you as you take my entire nose into your slobbery mouth. It hurts like hell, and it’s pretty gross, what with all that drool dripping down my face-- but it melts my heart. That’s motherhood for you. You probably won’t understand for a long, long, time.

I wish I could capture every detail, explain it better, remember it always. But for one, I’m too busy, and too tired, to write everyday. I’m trying to slow down. To savor it. To hold you as you sleep and soak in your smell, rub my cheeks against the silkyness of your golden hair, bury my face into your waddle...

Honestly, the postpartum time kind of kicks my ass. Physically, I’m a wreck. Mentally/emotionally, well, I could use a little work there, too. But you are so, so worth it.

You’re still coming to work with me, but those days are quickly coming to an end. By the time you turn 7 months, we’ll probably have another arrangement. You’re just getting so active and no longer content to hang out there playing quietly or sleeping peacefully-- you’re a mover and a shaker now,and you are ready for more interaction. I will really miss getting to smootch on you between patients.

I don’t think there’s ever been a baby as surrounded by love as you are. Your big brother and sister still can’t get enough of you, your Grammie comes to visit you as often as she can, and you’re the star of the show at my office. You’ll never be a stranger to the spotlight, or wanting for attention.

There’s so much more to tell you, but it will have to wait for now. It’s late and I’m pooped. But I couldn’t let another day go by without thanking you again for coming into my life. You are truly a gift from heaven.

I love you, sweetie boy.