*First of all, your Papa was sad that I didn’t mention him in the 10/24 entry last month. That was his birthday. Never forget it, okay? It’s a very special day. Hopefully he forgives your Mama’s useless brain.
Onto our second month together!
Your Moro reflex is slowly disappearing. It still jumps out now and then, but it’s one of the many things that I won’t notice is gone unless I write down that it existed.
You sleep the most soundly (and the longest during the day) on my chest. Oh – and your old man receding hairline continues to recede! I think you had less hair after your bath today, though I’m not sure where it goes…
We love bringing you on our bed in the mornings. Sometimes you fuss in your bassinet in the morning, can't seem to settle in, so I carry you between us on the bed, and you drift off peacefully. You just want to be with us.
Your alert face! I can’t stop looking at it. I fall more in love every day. This morning you just stared at me, all bright eyes, as if searching my face, or memorizing it. And you made some little sounds! The beginning of babbling has arrived earlier than expected. I can’t wait.
Today was better! Nurse, swing if needed – where you finally sleep for 20-30 minutes – then I hold you when you fuss and you fall asleep! Magical...and life-changing.
We went on a snowy walk to the library, you in the Lille baby carrier in your snuggly fuzzy bear suit, the little ears poking out the top and your face smushed into my chest. I kept checking your breathing because you were so still and silent.
We’re all learning each other slowly. It’s exhausting, but incredible.
Sometimes you sleep so peacefully, “like a little angel,” as your Papa says. You seem less fussy in general these days. Last night – the past few nights – you don’t seem to want to go to sleep, so I nurse you about every hour for a few hours and you finally settle in.
Your faces slay us. Pursed lips, bottom lip whimpering before you cry – sometimes you never get to the actual cry – quickly followed by a sleep smile. Your Mema laughed so hard the other night when you cried out angrily, then followed it with a huge sleep grin. I can’t remember the last time I saw her laugh so hard. Thank you for that.
Your eyes barely cross any more, and you’ve started to smile! Each morning, I give you a huge smile, and you smile back. There is nothing better. My milk lets down as that oxytocin flows.
Your cheeks are more kissable as they gain chunk! I used to just be able to give you little pecks, but now I can give full-on smooches. Watch out. Might need some lotion for those cheeks, chapped from so many kisses.
Your double chin and leg rolls...Did that happen overnight?! It’s tough to notice changes because I’m with you, well, all day, every day. Then I notice a change. Maybe some do happen overnight. Did you know that you sometimes grow up to an inch or so in one day? It’s true. Maybe that’s what some of the fuss is. It can’t be comfortable to stretch that much so quickly.
You seem more human now. I think you laughed for the first time, in your sleep. Seeing and hearing that? That’s joy, my love. That’s boundless joy on your Mama’s face.
Boy, you are a fighter! You fight sleep like no one I’ve ever seen! SQUAWK! Mema just experienced it for the first time. She was laughing at you – your pitiful face, pitiful squawks, quivering chin. Your face turns beet red, literally the color of a beet. It’s momentarily terrifying every time. “Breathe, baby, breathe!” And then you erupt like a geyser. Your Papa counts down when he sees it coming: “Three...two...one...There it is!”
As for me, all I do is eat so much it's absurd, use the bathroom, move from the couch to the nursing chair to the kitchen to make more food...That’s about it.
When you have a day like yesterday, I just want you to SLEEP. Mama needs a break. When you have a day like today, where you spend most of the day sleeping, I miss you.
Your head is perfectly round from some angles, and I think I detect a widow’s peak in your barely-there fuzz. You get that from me.
You are six weeks old and changing so much. For example, you started to drool a bit this week, and, this morning, you rolled from your back to your side (in your sleep, no less). Thrilling, I know. But it is! Every little shift is a thrill and a half. Plus, we don’t have a whole lot going on these days, especially with COVID. So you’re most of our excitement, and you’re who we socialize with the most. It’s getting more exciting as you grow more, well, social.
You get “bored” easily, want to be held in different ways, see the world around you from new perspectives, I suppose. You will be a mover, and it must be so hard not being able to move now! We love your stretches, which are like a caricature of stretches. One arm overhead, the other fist by your face, alternating arms over your head…You spend so much time stretching on your changing table after a deep sleep, like I imagine Rip Van Winkle emerged from his hibernation.
Everything is my favorite. Every expression – the “o” with your lips as you sleep, the lip smacks, the unearthly softness of your palms, seeing your hands rest on my boob or clasp my shirt or bra strap as you nurse, how you finally looked up at me as you nursed for the first time. “Yes, it’s ME! Your Mama! That boob is mine!” Your Papa’s right: you’re never calmer than when nursing. All rigidity goes limp. Unless you’re overtired and can’t settle yourself, or get frustrated by slower milk letdown at the end of the day. Then you scream as you try to latch and man-handle my poor nipples with your mouth. Ugh.
Other favorites? The curl of long hair on the top of your head, just where the bald fuzz turns to a “mullet” that you have going on now. Your little sounds – squeaks, whispers in your sleep...You haven’t cried out in sleep in a few days, but you’re sometimes pretty noisy! You sound like a little dinosaur, croaking and grunting. I think you’re fussing, and maybe you are, but then you go back to sleep for an hour and a half, as you did this morning. By the way, I got 8 ½ hours last night! WHAT?! Definitely needed after the previous two nights, so thank you.
Also, your feet. Incredible. As soft as your palms. Kissing the soles and rubbing them like worry stones. Your wide eyes. How now, in the morning, when I greet you with a huge smile, you usually give me a huge smile back.
Sometimes you squawk in your sleep. I think you’re awake, but I check on you and you’re sound asleep. Are you dreaming? What are you dreaming about?
Yesterday was the best day yet. You slept, you ate, you had content periods of awake time...and we repeated that all day long.
It’s so hard to not look at you for night feedings now that you smile!
Today was the worst day yet. Maybe...It sure felt like it. You slept for an hour in the morning, then every nap got progressively shorter until you just stopped sleeping from 6:30pm on. Your acid reflux was at a new record high. You were fussy and just looked uncomfortable. It is the absolute worst, and I have no idea how to help you. It’s exhausting for all three of us.
I heard you screaming bloody murder after I tried to go to bed at 9:30. I heard Papa “Shh...”ing you endlessly to no avail. I heard him finally go into the kitchen to make you a bottle. I heard you crying so hard you grew silent for seconds at a time, completely out of breath, choking on your wails.
Is there anything worse than that? I’m sure that holding an inconsolable you is beyond annoying. But hearing it, as your Mama, from the other room, was the most painful experience of my life. I had to stop myself from flying out of the bedroom to hold you: I wanted to give your Papa the chance to soothe you. You took one bottle at 9 and another few ounces at 10, which finally put you to sleep. Then he topped you off with an ounce of dream feed at 11.
I lay in bed, awake, until about 10:30, hearing phantom cries and “Shh…” I got out of bed and opened the bedroom door twice to make sure they weren’t real. Your cries haunted me. I dreamed that I left you somewhere and forgot you were there, returning hours later to you screaming, your face white as a ghost, sucked of life. It was awful.
Perhaps I needed that to remind me how fiercely I love you. Is it horrible that I question my attachment to you after days like we had yesterday? Does that make me a bad mother? I always thought – and everyone always told me, from a young age – that I’m a “natural mother.” I don’t always feel like one. Even after our incredibly long journey to you, our miracle child, I still often feel like I’m going through the motions. Are you eating well? Check. Are you sleeping enough? Check. Do you seem comfortable? Check. Have I eaten and showered in order to feel human? Check and check. These are successful days.
Yes, I bask in the wonder of you and in the wonder of this journey, but it’s also so hard. Yes, I know that these are precious early days, but I can’t wait until the sleeping and digestion troubles stabilize.
One saving grace this week: I finally discovered a secret weapon! I run my finger down your forehead and nose, and you close your eyes. It works most of the time. You always close your eyes when I do that, and it even put you to sleep once!
Praise be to the baby gods.
This morning, I held you on my shoulder after nursing, and you were so milk-drunk that your arm was draped all the way up to my shoulder. It was maybe the cutest thing you’ve ever done.
Last night you slept from 12 am -5:30 am. The irony is that I slept horribly. But it was miraculous, and it gave me hope.
In fact, we have a lot of hope these days. Pops said, “Just when you think you can’t take it anymore, something shifts.” In this case, the shift was us learning you and trying something new. We started giving you a half breastmilk/half formula (because I can’t keep up with pumping enough yet) bottle – 4 oz, which surprised us! – mid-day, giving my boobs more time to fill. So I feed you twice in the morning, then the bottle. Then two more afternoon feeds before a “happy hour” bottle around 5/5:30. Another feed after that, and another bottle, as you’ve been cluster feeding from about 5-9:30.
You’ve been much more content, less fussy, and sleeping better during the day. And you’re calmer in the evening, even though you still like to be awake and with us from about 6:30-9:30 so far. I don’t blame you. We’re pretty fun. Am I a bad parent for letting you “watch” TV from your swing? You turn back and forth from it. Nah. It’s all good. We tried the whole “no TV or radio after 5pm” with you, and it didn’t make much difference. So, here we are. One of these days we’ll start a bedtime routine that doesn’t involve the TV or swing, but, you know, you do what you have to do for sanity. And we all seem more sane these past few days.
In short, this shift is life-changing for all involved.
Your eyes look more like my eyes, the shape they were when I was a baby. And the color. I see me in you, finally. And your head is so perfectly round. It cracks up your Zia Leah, who says it’s the shape of my head.
Your eyelashes are getting longer. They’re still light – a sort of dark reddish blonde. They’re the most beautiful and delicate eyelashes I’ve ever seen.
But you smell like cheese. Okay, your neck smells like cheese. That spit up that erupts like a geyser at times (the other morning you full on projectiled on my face) gathers in your lack of neck. The neck folds.
Did I mention that your Papa said you look just like Danny DeVito? When we hold you up, your big round head rests on your shoulders. You have no neck. Minimal neck plus those neck rolls makes it very challenging to wash in there. And we try. How we try. You fight us like that caked cheesiness is the ring from Lord of the Rings. Your precious...The best time to get at it is after you’ve finished nursing and you’re on my chest, milk drunk, head rolled to one side. That’s when I see it – and smell it. But I never have a wipe, of course, so I remind myself to do it next time. And then, of course, I never remember, because if I don’t write it down, it’s lost forever. So I sit there, resting my cheek on your warm fuzzy, sweet-smelling head and ignore the wafts of cheese stench that blow my way.
You seem to be growing back some fuzz on the top of that head! I think that mullet will slowly even out. Not that it’s not entertaining – it most definitely is a crowd-pleaser. I just can’t wait to see how your hair grows in. Still banking on that blonde ‘fro like your Papa had…Your big round fuzzy bobble head bounces forward and backward as you headbutt into my chest, your eyes round as saucers.
You have grown exponentially cuter these past few days. True, we had a scare yesterday when you slipped out of your swing. Your Papa was terrified, but I knew you were fine. You’re resilient. You didn’t even cry! More startled than anything else, roused from sound sleep by the rug on your face. So, yes, perhaps that scare stimulated a fierce protective love. Not that it wasn’t there before...I’m not explaining this very well.
In short, you are so cute that I want to eat you. That’s apparently a real instinct! “Cute aggression”: the bizarre desire to squeeze something that we find overwhelmingly cute. Anyway, we’ve officially reached that point, so forgive all the kissing and nibbling and squeezing and stroking coming your way from here on out. (Your Zia Leah knows it well, so hopefully you don’t develop an aversion to it as she did over time...I’ll try to keep myself in check.)
You have the widest range of faces. Sometimes your Papa tries to capture them as you sleep, a series of ten or more expressions floating like cirrus clouds across your face. Some of my favorites (okay, they’re all my favorites) are your furrowed little brow, the “O” shape you make with your mouth in your sleep, your sleep smiles, your sleep sucking, the little shuddering sigh that you do in your sleep as you settle into a milk coma (you do a lot of cute things in your sleep)...and that tongue hanging out. You’re smiling more, and you’re already trying to talk to us. I swear you say “Hi!” sometimes, and you make the most pathetic noise – a small yip-cry that reminds me of a puppy – when you’re hungry or tired or trying to poop.
You’re getting bigger, my love. Bigger and heavier and stronger, even though I still am not great about doing tummy time. We did that together, the three of us.
You know the whole, “You’ll love your baby like you’ve never loved anything?” I’ve officially reached that point. Again, not that I haven’t loved you until now! There’s just a new...ferocity?...to this love. I actually miss you when you sleep.
But keep sleeping! Last night you slept for a full half-hour between 6 pm and 9 pm, and it felt like hours. I think you just like to be with us in the evenings. We’ll eventually get a routine down. And, no, your bedtime will not be 9 pm. I’m aiming for 7 pm, so let’s hope you’re not a natural night owl like your Papa and your Zia Leah.
My love has exploded. It hurts. It’s too much to hold inside, the pressure needs to be popped like a balloon. This is the happiest I’ve felt yet. I guess it finally feels 100% real. You finally feel 100% real. It kind of hit me on Zia Leah’s birthday Zoom call. There we were, three of us with babies on our laps. I thought, “Oh, there’s Kait and her baby! And there’s Amanda and her baby! And there’s me and...my BABY?! Holy shit! I have a BABY?! I’m a MAMA?!” Probably sounds odd that it took me about two months to get here, but there it is.
You’re our baby. We made you. You came from us. And you’re ours for life. I had some fear that something would go wrong. I would see so many perfect babies and feel a strange pre-envy. “Maybe she’ll struggle...Maybe something will go wrong in the process…” But you are miraculously perfect. Absolutely perfect. And I thank the baby gods every single day for that.
By the way, I will never apologize for your Christmas outfits. There will be many this month. Yesterday we tried the first one, in honor of your Zia Leah’s birthday. She died. You looked just like a little elf – green elf onesie complete with fake button and black belt with candy cane tucked in, red and white striped pants, and a red and white striped elf hat tucked under your ears. The hat accentuated your round head. Every time I unswaddled you for early morning feedings, I busted a gut. Surprise!
We’re learning you. Learning when you’re hungry versus frustrated trying to poop versus just tired. More or less. Every step forward feels like a giant win.
Speaking of wins, I’m finally getting ahead with pumping!! I might actually freeze some today, which felt like a more long-time goal just a few days ago.
I actually looked up “How much should newborns sleep?” today, because you have been such a sleepy little bean the past few days! That’s another nickname we have for you: Little Bean.
I’m pretty sure I know your hunger cry from your tired cry from your “I have to poop, and I’m struggling” cry. Your hunger cry has short little cries and when you get close to my boob, you start shaking your head and going “Uh! Uh! Uh!” Or you explode with a sudden, piercing scream if you’re really hungry and want it NOW – as if it caught you completely off guard. Either way, your mouth opens wide, looking for my boob blindly, desperately. I hold the key.
Your poop cry is more fussy, and your tired cry is accompanied by sleep, red eyes, or other tired signs.
Your little breathing...You often sound like you just ran a marathon with your quiet, quick puffs.
When I touch you anywhere but your head as you nurse, you cringe. Your brow also furrows a bit sometimes. It’s serious business! I get it.
Your eyes close, as if to sleep, when I run my finger down your forehead and nose.
We went to the chiropractor yesterday. Your Papa isn’t sure about it, but I found it fascinating. She showed us some exercises to do, and you were calm as a cucumber the entire time. It was pretty miraculous. Mama wants to fix that flat side of your head, and your latch, and your acid reflux...all the things. Fingers crossed that this helps!
You slept until almost 6am this morning! I got seven hours of sleep in a row for the first time since you were born. It was miraculous. I had to get up and pump at 5, and then I couldn’t go back to sleep! I felt rested, and I wanted to make sure you were okay. Ha! It will probably hit me later, but until then, here I am, 7:30am in a quiet house, listening to instrumental Christmas music with my tea and lemon water and crossing off some to-dos in peace.
Do you blink? Zia Leah noticed that. Makes your gaze even more intense
Yesterday was our last night with Natalie. You will miss her, I know, as will we. What a luxury to have had her here from 10 pm - midnight – first three, then five times a week – for the past month. She’s part of our pod! We gave her a few Christmas gifts, and she brought some for us: I Love You Forever for you (one of my most favorite books, as I told her!), a bookmark for me (because she sees the books I breeze through as I nurse you), and a Bota box of wine for your Papa. Ha. She knows us so well. Your Papa gave her a watch that he found at the local thrift store, because she mentioned that she needs a watch for timing contractions, etc. I got her a daily positivity book and a journal to inspire writing about her adventures.
She’s our baby whisperer, “batting 1,000” as your Papa put it. Got you to sleep without much fuss every time. But I know we’ll be okay without her. The extreme fuss is over. Now we clearly know when you’re hungry versus tired versus gassy versus have a dirty diaper. Okay, okay, we mostly know. But we feel good about it, go through the steps that work 85% of the time. The other 15% you just want to be held or next to us, which is kind of the best. We prop you up on the green boppy thing between us on the couch, and you just look up at us. We’re a family, little one.
You are growing like a weed! A beautiful, chunky weed. Our little bean now has thighs that look more and more like turkey legs, a full-on hot-dog pack of neck rolls, and a belly that oozes out when you lie on our chests.
You look like a sumo wrestler in the bathtub. We did our first “big girl” bath the other day, sans-sling. It felt like such a milestone! And I swear you smiled a bit as I splashed water over you. Your little arms flew out a bit when I sat you in it, the remnants of our favorite Moro reflex, and your face seemed to say, “Huh...What’s this?...” But then you sat there, perfectly content, throughout as I washed off that cheese smell and sang Disney songs. I saw our future baths, singing away together, and joy washed over me.
Papa says your toes are the cutest part of you, and he’s not wrong there. They are the cutest, tiniest toes. Even they are expressive, as you spread them, curl them, wiggle them like your Papa does.
Sometimes you cry out your sleep. It starts with a wail, like a sad cat, and ends with a quivering lip before you drift back into your deep sleep. It makes us laugh so hard.
You’ve been kind of a night owl, awake on and off from about 6 pm - midnight...but the nights have been a gift and a half. This past week, you’ve slept until 4:30 am, 5:30 am, 6 am...Last night you kept poor Papa awake until 12:30 am, but then you slept until nearly 7 am!
Because I am who I am, I’m now researching how to help you with some kind of bedtime routine. We tried one for awhile, but you never stayed asleep, and it was, frankly, exhausting, so we’ve all been hanging together with a Christmas movie every evening. I know, I know – not an ideal baby routine. But, you know, we’re doing what we need to do right now. We’ll all get on track at some point.
Meanwhile, you put up with most of the chiropractic exercises, but you’re still not a fan of tummy time. We’ll keep trying!
A few days ago, Papa caught you lying on your play mat, one hand gripping a wooden ring on a hanging toy and your opposite leg kicking another hanging toy! Channeling Bruce Lee? He was so proud of you.
Today I remembered to make note of more hunger-isms of yours. When you’re feeling pretty calm about it, your breath shifts to short little puffs. As I move you toward my boob, your top leg kicks, and your mouth opens gently, like a little bird. The longer it takes, the more frantic you become.
Oh my goodness, there are so many things I want to capture here. It’s endless! How much will you want to hear about? This is already quite the collection of letters – and we’re only in month two! You can just skim over these words. I know it’s a lot. Still, I hope you enjoy them at least half as much as I enjoy writing them to you.
Side note: apologies for the several times that my boob has squirted milk in your face. It’s a new development, and it can’t be pleasant. Good news is there’s plenty in stock!
Yesterday was a dream, my love. You had a nice long morning nap and content awake times mixed with great naps all day long. We had dinner with Mema and Pops, and you fell asleep after a bottle from Mema. She put you on their bed – without your sleeper pad thing – and you slept for half an hour! I heard you rustling and went in to check. You were lying there, wide-eyed, looking around you, probably wondering where the heck you were.
You visited with us for about 45 minutes. I played piano and sang carols as Mema held you close to me. You just stared at me. I couldn’t stop looking at you and laughing, just staring at me so intently. She brought you closer, and I kissed your hands and rubbed my cheeks against them as I played. My heart almost couldn’t take the preciousness of those moments.
You fell asleep on my chest after nursing at 7:30 pm and slept all the way – and stayed asleep when we got home! You slept until after I went to bed at 9:45, had a bottle at 11 with Papa, then slept until almost 6 am. WHAT. Who is this new baby?! She was in there all along, just had to adjust to the outside world, I suppose! This is now almost a week straight of bliss and you basically sleeping through the night. I don’t want to jinx it, but hallelujah!
Everything feels easier. Your Papa said last night, “I finally feel like I can do this.”
Side note: You’re busting out of your clothes. I put you in pjs that you hadn’t worn in about two weeks, maybe less. Last time you wore them, they were too big. Last night, you were sausaged into them. You have exploded.
Speaking of exploding – and forgive me for talking poop here – I was holding you by the Christmas tree last night, and I suddenly heard a splat. I looked down at a puddle and somehow knew that it wasn’t spit up...Yup. Your poop exploded out of the back of your diaper and was running down my pant leg.
You had your two-month pediatrician appointment today! Yay! You’re 22 ¾ inches long (66th percentile) and 12 pounds 4 ounces (83rd percentile). WOW. Not quite Wolff off-the-charts status yet, but you will be soon, I’m sure. Grow grow grow! As usual, our pediatrician allayed my fears and uncertainties – in this case, the slightly flat left side of your head (“It’s very minorly flat and will become perfectly round.”), your green poops (“Yup, normal.”), your napping (“Just wake her up if she sleeps more than 3-4 hours.”), and your late bedtime (“Try to start a routine whenever she normally goes to sleep now, and it will gradually shift earlier with time.”) All is well, of course. Your Mama and her fretting…
You did have to get a few vaccinations, and I’m so glad you won’t remember that. It was pretty traumatic for all involved. Three in a row your turkey leg thigh. Your burst into a piercing cry as soon as the first one hit, and it grew louder and more pathetic with the second two. You poor thing. I rocked you and nursed you, and you whimpered until you fell asleep. Now you’re sleeping peacefully, and I’m still trying to scrape my heart off the floor, where it formed a sad puddle seeing you like that.
Random fact of the day: Your hiccups aren’t nearly as prevalent as they were a few weeks ago. Yet one more thing I need to make note of so I don’t forget that it used to exist! They were the cutest hiccups, and they didn’t seem to bother you, but it’s a sign that your digestive system is regulating, so that’s happy.
Also happy? Your dimple! Oh my goodness, it is the cutest dimple I’ve ever seen. So dainty, like a pin prick on your upper left cheek when you smile. I hope it stays.
You’re two months old today. We have come so far this month and are slowly arriving at some sort of fragile stability. Your sleeping patterns are less taxing, and I rarely feel like such a crazy person. You're so much more alert, and you are officially a cherub baby. You want to communicate and move so badly. It will come, my love!
Happy birth anniversary, sweet Lulu.