Half a year passes like a moment.

Our baby boy is six months old today.

Half a year.

I thought I would have a whole book full of eloquent things to say about the passage of time, how amazing it’s been to see his personality emerge from small moments of recognition to something quite like a sense of humor, or even the fact that he’s learned to ignore us when we leave him with his Grammy because he knows we’re going away.

I was sure that I would talk more about his developing eating habits – the peas he tolerates and the sweet potatoes he can’t do without, or the funny look he gives me when he eats the apples that look just like the pears. I figured I’d share a laugh about the chomping face he does whenever he watches one of us take a bite of food.

But half a year…and I find myself nearly speechless.

The small bundle I could (just) hold in one arm has become a little person who laughs, stands, and is already half as tall as his GG and three times larger than he was at birth. He is funny, inquisitive, and so full of innocent joy that it breaks my heart to watch him even as it fills that same heart to the top.

six months

My sweet boy, who will very soon sleep in a bed all his own and have teeth and say words, and walk and run and one day call me “Mommy”…and then, one bittersweet day, just “Mom”.

But today he is still a baby, and today I will hold him and remember the wonder of our first moments together.

Happy half birthday, Arthur.

Photo Dec 18, 17 31 49

Don’t grow up too fast…

For all the writing I do, I don’t seem to have stopped in here recently. So brace yourselves kids, it may be a long one.

Arthur is already 4.5 months old. I blink my eyes and he’s growing out of clothes, rolling himself over, and jabbering with a smile on his face that I swear wasn’t there the last time we woke up. It’s amazing to watch his eyes light up, whether it’s first thing in the morning or when I walk in after a long day of work. He’s started reaching out too, and sometimes I think I’m going to cry all the tears because it melts my heart.

Other things have changed, of course. For one, he’s no longer interested in more than the most random nursing. He’s almost exclusively on a bottle, though yesterday he was rather insistent that he nurse (I think for comfort), so for 10 wonderful minutes we went back to the way we were before. He grips the bottle and pulls it to him, and when he watches us eat he mimics our chewing with an eager gleam in his eye. I don’t think this boy will have any problems eating food.

…which, we sort of tried already. I was adamant that we not introduce food of any kind until 6 months, but once he started waking up in the middle of the night and showing such an interest in food I decided that a little bit of oatmeal cereal wouldn’t be terrible for him. (I chose oatmeal over rice because of the constipation factor, even though the rice is otherwise milder.) I put a teaspoon in his 4-oz bottle and he drank it right down, so the other night we tried a slightly thicker mix that I spoon-fed him. He didn’t spit up…though that’s because he didn’t swallow any of it.

At first I thought it was because he just isn’t ready to guide food to the back of his mouth, but now that I’ve had some time I think it might be more that he was uncomfortable with the spoons we’re using. The little plastic feeding spoons are super cute (and cheap!) but they’re deeper than a traditional baby feeding spoon and the hard plastic can’t feel as good as rubber coating in his mouth. I’m going to pick up some different spoons this weekend and maybe try again. We’re also going to begin switching him over to sippy cups soon (using Avent’s awesome interchangeable caps), which will undoubtedly be fun.

***

Being a parent just astounds me more every day. Arthur’s personality shines through more and more, and it’s just amazing to watch him explore and comprehend his toys and observe the world around him. I’ve already decided that he’s probably going to be a southpaw, which everyone sort of goes with because Brian is and as he said, “mother’s intuition is usually right”. But it’s more than that – he favors his left hand when he’s lifting, chewing, or doing anything. It’s just one more part of this little person who is developing in front of my eyes. I thrive on moments when he just settles in to cuddle with me, moments that are happening more and more as we go but that will one day begin to dwindle until he inevitably argues that he isn’t a baby anymore.

We’re doing family portraits next weekend with Brian’s family, which we’re also using as a holiday card shoot. Yes, we’re those people. I love that we have the ability to chronicle his growth and the changes our family has gone through with regular photos, and I love even more that Arthur seems to really enjoy the camera. (Just like his mommy…) I’ll share once we have them, I’m so excited!

That’s it for now; back to my latte and articles and counting down the hours until I get to see Artie’s face light up again.

Time flies…

It’s amazing how fast babies change and grow. So, so much has happened and sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to keep up.

Portraits

We took Arthur for his three-month portraits a few weeks ago, and last week I dropped by to pick them up. Sweet holy mother of God, they are beautiful.

Isn't he gorgeous?

Isn’t he gorgeous?

That’s not a stock photo, but let’s face it, it should be.

We’re planning to take him back for family photos in November (Christmas cards, y’all!), and we’ve even discussed his six-month portraits. Someone stop the train, I want off for awhile.

 

The Doctor

Last week was also our first non-planned visit to the doctor – I have a sinus and ear infection, which sadly (but obviously) passed to the kid. He was a trooper during his exam and has been a star patient for his thrice-daily doses of Amoxicillin. (Lucky kid gets the liquid; Mom was stuck with caplets. Adulthood sometimes blows.) Dare I say he likes it? At the very least, he isn’t allergic! I’ll chalk that up to a win.

Unfortunately, we’ve had some rough evenings while his poor little body fights off the infection. Extreme fussiness, sweating, and resistance to nursing have all been the norm for the last week. I checked in on him today from work and the Best Nanny In The World (TM) told me he’s having a stellar day so far. Here’s hoping that the worst of it has broken.

 

Feeding…

*le sigh*

I haven’t given up, even though Arthur only seems to want to nurse first thing in the morning and last thing at night. He takes the breast for short bursts during the day and evening, but before long (within 5 minutes) he starts crying for a bottle. It’s hard not to see this as a personal failure, even though I know A) I am definitely producing enough, and B) I can’t force the kid to nurse. He’s eating well, and that’s the important thing. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to build up a large supply by pumping so the amount of breast milk he’s been getting has gone way down.

I will not give up, even if I end up hand-expressing into a cup for the next eight months. I just want him to have some, even if he can’t (or won’t) EBF.

In the meantime, I have to admit I’m pretty excited for him to start trying real food! I already found an excellent food processor (which we need anyway to replace our old one that somehow never made it to the new house) and have a couple of books with puree recipes to get us through the first several months! Before long he’ll be eating my favorite stews…(okay, rein it in.)

 

Overnights

I know some parents who at nearly four months have never left their child with someone else overnight. Arthur has already stayed with my mom twice, and it looks like he’ll be back there for another overnight in a couple of weeks. I’m happy that we are close enough to our families (geographically and emotionally) that we have this as an option. Still, I miss him like crazy when he’s gone… If it didn’t make so much logistical sense to do it every once in awhile, I’d be tempted to keep him all to myself.

*just breathe…* It’s important for him to get used to sleeping at his grandparents’ houses.

 

Round and round the wheel turns…

Three Months

Arthur is three months old today.

Three months. A whole season – he was born just as spring blossomed into summer, and now we’re on the threshold of the new beginnings of fall.

I just wrote a post about how quickly the time goes by, but I couldn’t let this day go by without comment.

Fitting that when I walked into the office this morning there was a large box waiting for me. I’m fortunate to work with friends, or to be friends with my coworkers – however you like. Anyway, inside the box was an adorable jungle cross-stitch. You know the kind, with Arthur’s name and birth weight/date in the center and sweet animals surrounding it. It’s a perfect match for his nursery, and more importantly it’s such an expression of love and support. I have a special idea to repay the kindness, but she might read this so I’ll keep that close to the vest for now…

We’re taking Arthur for his three-month portraits on Saturday. I promise that I’ll try not to become one of those moms (though I won’t admit how many pictures I had to clear off my phone to update it today), but for the first year we will catalog these seasonal milestones with the help of a professional. Then it’ll be every year. Or every six months. Don’t pressure me.

(Maybe it’s selfish, but I’m especially excited that after Saturday I get to make photo books!)

Finally, a personal reflection on the last few months…

I am a woman with many faults. Some are simply too trivial to even acknowledge but a fair few are what I consider to be true character flaws. I tend to be unreasonable when I’m angry, whether or not my anger is justified or even properly directed. I try to do it all because I’m afraid of what people will think if I ask for help, then I reach a breaking point and rail against the people who love me the most for not stepping in sooner. (Basically, for not being mind readers.)

But Arthur has changed me already.

When I am tempted to raise my voice or give in to petty anger, I look down at his sweet face and remember that I want to do better for him. I want him to grow up in a household with love at its center from all sides. Anger is natural, but I want to show him that there is a right and a wrong way to be angry. When I am sad and tired and start to wonder why I try to do so much, I hear him laugh and know that I want us to have a fulfilling life – as individuals, and as a family.

I don’t get everything right. I still question and second-guess myself. Some nights I still cry, and some days I still let out angry words before I can stop myself.

But I am becoming a better version of myself, day by day.

It’s been a great three months, and the next three will be even better.

Next week, he’ll be 20.

Arthur will be 12 weeks old tomorrow. How is it that my small precious boy is already smiling, babbling, and trying like hell to sit himself up? How am I already starting to put away his 0-3 clothes (newborn rompers are way out) because his legs are so long that even the longest pants are shorts?

His teeth are also starting to come in. Now a bib is a constant part of his wardrobe, and his new-found fascination with his hands is as chew toys. He isn’t quite into teething rings yet – I think the cold confuses him – but he has an unending desire to chew.

Everything is in transition. Summer to fall, newborn to full-blown infant, preparing for movement and talking and Arthur’s first Christmas.

He's already so suave.

He’s already so suave.

 

Tomorrow he will be 12 weeks; next week, I swear he’ll be 20 and flying away. As excited as I am for each new development, I catch myself wishing that the seconds would pass by just a little slower, that I can eke out one more hour of every day to just be with my baby before he’s all grown. I count down the minutes at work and race home so I can see his face light up a few minutes sooner.

So tonight I’ll pack up his little clothes to make room for the next size, and pray that he just doesn’t grow up too fast.

From 0 to Baby – Arthur’s Birth Story

Monday, June 17 – yet another appointment

As I wrote on Father’s Day, by the time I hit 39 weeks I had become a regular fixture in my OB’s office. Rather than stick to our weekly appointment schedule or even a twice-weekly one, she wanted me to come in every other day for monitoring and checking. “Go ahead and make the next appointment,” she’d say, before repeating that she expected me to go “any time”.

Despite her refrain, though, things just weren’t happening. I was still only dilated to 3 cm after two weeks of appointments, and the only consistency in my contractions was that they never really went away. It felt like a particularly cruel form of torture to continue going into these visits only to be sent back home to wait it out.

June 17 started my second week of maternity leave, another source of frustration. Nine weeks seems (to our deprived sensibilities) like a vast length of time…until you spend the first week of it still swollen in pregnancy, willing your child to come out and feeling otherwise unable to do just about anything.

I talked to Brian before we saw the doctor and we decided to ask about induction. As much as I wanted to deliver naturally, by that moment I just wanted to deliver, period. I was sure, given that the baby was large and she was so sure I was ready to pop, that she would agree to that. However, she was adamant that because I hadn’t “technically” reached my due date that she wouldn’t do anything to speed up the process. I broke down sobbing in the exam room; her only comfort to me was that we could go back to twice-weekly appointments, since her efforts to “reassure” me with constant exams was not having the desired effect. I left the office tired and dejected, with an appointment for Thursday.

That afternoon I had a discussion with one of my friends in which I suggested that maybe Arthur would just decide not to arrive, that his uterine home was comfortable enough to grow to adulthood inside of me instead of with the rest of the world. I went to bed that night resolved not to get my hopes up any more – and to hound my OB for induction the second we made it to that point.

Tuesday, June 18 – 3:00 am

I didn’t hear a *pop* like some mothers do. I was asleep one moment, then it seemed I woke at the exact moment that a gush of amniotic fluid went out over my side of the bed. Thank goodness for that shower liner…

I tapped Brian on the shoulder: “Honey, I don’t mean to alarm you, but my water just broke.”

That got his attention. “What? W-what do I do?”

“A towel would be good for starters.”

I put in a message to the doctor on call; then, while we waited for her to call back we stripped the bed and called our parents. We got dressed, fed the cats and were out the door within half an hour. I was contracting, but nothing worse or more frequent than I had experienced thus far. We made it to UH – MacDonald by 4 am, and 20 minutes later we were settled into our labor & delivery room.

Angela was our admitting nurse, and she was fantastic. After my initial check showed I was still only dilated to 3 cm, Angela took a copy of our birth plan and went over each item. The first thing that 99% of people tell you about birth plans is to be prepared to throw them out the window, but I needn’t have worried – she immediately put the papers in my file and let the resident on duty know. Other than vital sign monitoring and occasional checks around shift changes, I was left to progress as I would.

Or, as it turned out, would not.

3:00 pm – Pitocin

By early afternoon I had only progressed 1 cm, from 3 to 4, and my contractions were still not much more than annoying. I walked, I waited, I even napped, but at 3 pm the OB on call told me that they would need to start me on a Pitocin drip to avoid being pushed into any more complicated corners as time went on. I had already used up half of my post-water-breaking time, and to let things go any longer would put us at risk for infection and C-section.

It’s not surprising, perhaps, but a little ironic that this – the item in my birth plan about which I was most adamant – was the point on which I would have to yield. Still, it was the least of all possible evils.

When they give you Pitocin, they start you on a 2 milliunit drip; then, the dosage increases by 2 up to 30 milliunits depending on how much help you need. It takes roughly 20 minutes for each dosage increase to take effect, then they monitor you for 30-60 minutes to check on your progress. Once I was hooked to the IV I wasn’t able to walk around freely anymore; instead, I was tethered to the fetal monitor so they could make sure the Pitocin wasn’t causing Arthur undue stress.

It didn’t take 20 minutes for the first dose to kick in. What were still only vaguely uncomfortable twinges up to that point suddenly took on an edge that had me closing my eyes and steeling myself through breathing. My primary visualization was of surfing – riding a wave to the crest and then sliding in to shore as the contraction eased. I was sure that 2 milliunits would do the trick, but when the doctor checked me I hadn’t progressed any further. Up to 4…

Then 6…

Then 8…

The Blurry Time – around 10:00 pm 

I’m hazy on the details between 8 and 12 milliunits. All I distinctly remember is Angela (back for the next night shift) telling me that the progress I had made (up to around 6 cm) wasn’t enough and that if she didn’t bump up the Pitocin drip soon that the doctors would be making some difficult decisions for me. I told her to do what she had to do.

The contractions melted into one another at this point. I would lean back, hoping to ease pressure only to make it twice as bad. Dr. Reider was there for the night shift, and he told me that Arthur was transverse – sunny side up – meaning that contractions would put much more pressure on my lower back than my front. Like mother, like son… He suggested that I sway between contractions (I was standing at this point) to try and get him to turn on his own, so for the next hour I did just that. I contracted…I swayed…I screamed.

(To the other mothers delivering that night, I’m sorry. I wasn’t really dying.)

Then, the magic words: “You’re complete, you can start pushing!”

11:40 pm – We’re so close to the wire; I was unaware of everything but the pushing. Every contraction I bore down for 3 or 4 10-second pushes. I stood in my own way for awhile, pushing hard and then pulling back at the last second out of fear that I would tear or just not be able to handle the pain. The minutes ticked down closer to Wednesday, and each time Dr. R told me that he could see the head, “one or two more pushes”, I tried just a little harder.

11:58 pm – I pushed three times. I took my legs down and breathed heavily. Dr. R suddenly bent back down and as he reached, I felt the urge to push again. One half-push later and in the next moment there was a beautiful, messy little baby lying on my chest.

Putting it all together 

Arthur was born at 11:58 pm June 18, 2013. He weighed 8 lb, 9 oz and measured 21 inches long. He has gorgeous blue eyes and came into the world already alert and curious.

Though my mom is convinced labor started the night before with some back pain, from water breaking to delivery I counted 21 hours. I was on Pitocin for eight hours, and pushed for just under one.

I delivered without pain medication. I had a single surface tear that the doctor was reluctant to even call first degree because of how slight it was.

The pediatric resident and nurses monitored Arthur in the L&D room for just over two hours, for “floppiness” and shallow breathing. He swallowed some of the copious amniotic fluid, and when the nurses suctioned him he responded quite well. We moved up to Postpartum at 3 am on June 19, 24 hours after our story began.

So much has happened since that most amazing day in our lives so far. While new parenthood makes regular updates somewhat difficult to accomplish, it’s full of even more wonderful (and frustrating) moments that I plan to share in this space.

Here goes the best journey of my life. 🙂

He’s here!

This post is a little belated; as I’m sure anybody with a newborn can understand, adjusting to sleep and feeding schedules (as well as having this beautiful new person to love!) complicates the search for blogging time.

At any rate, Arthur has arrived! I’m working on his birth story and will hopefully have it finished before he wakes up from his nap (famous last words), but for right now I can tell you I am just in awe. This baby boy who nested in my belly for the last nine months is finally here.

The new parents are learning – nighttime sleeping is still an adventure, and there are times it seems like all he wants to do is lay at the tap and eat until there’s nothing left (a good thing, in all), but we are also learning how amazing an addition to our family little Arthur is, and how quickly it’s possible to fall in deep and everlasting love with someone you’ve only just met.

Enough cliches for the moment; keep an eye out for the birth story!