The Quarterback (cross-post)

This morning, I am emotionally drained. Arthur decided again that waking up before 6 am would be a fantastic way to welcome the morning. He was all smiles once he had some food in him, so I got him ready to go to Grammy’s for a fun day and sat down with him to wait. In the meantime, we watched last night’s episode of Glee, “The Quarterback”.

I can’t write about it again, but I did want to share: “The Quarterback” – a tribute

Even if you aren’t a Gleek, it was a phenomenal (and phenomenally sad) episode. Ryan Murphy and co truly captured the wide range of emotions we feel when somebody is suddenly taken from us.

Just…don’t watch it before work. Or without tissues. (Oops.)

 

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Small moment, huge joy

Sometimes all it takes to change my day is a moment.

Today, I walked in the door after a loooooong day at work. I’m a writer and social media manager, and the beginning of the government shutdown last week pushed my entire project roster for the last two weeks back in favor of shutdown coverage on our three Web sites. I feel good about it – I’m still writing, and now using that political science background I have – but it means that I am busting tail to get the rest of my scheduled work up by Friday so I can plan out the second half of the month.

So anyway, the door.

As I was unlocking the deadbolt I heard Brian talking to Arthur. They must have come into the kitchen to disengage the alarm so I wouldn’t have to. When I opened the door I was greeted by a cat, a man, and a baby. I set my stuff down as I went, and with arms empty I turned to Brian…

…and Arthur’s face lit up. 

I can’t possibly exaggerate his expression. The pure joy in his eyes and the huge grin on his face filled my heart and melted it all at once. I saw home, and I learned for the eight millionth time in 113 days that my heart has still not reached its growth limit.

He’s sleeping now with the stuffed dragon his Grandma and Grandpa bought for him at Disney World, and my world is complete.

As a bonus, here’s what our rock star looked like at his first large gathering, at only 12 days old.

My future's so bright, I gotta wear shades.

My future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.

So. Much. Joy.

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.

We all need to stick together.

Last night, Brian was telling me about his “friend” whose girlfriend had their first baby last week. Throughout the pregnancy and since the birth all I’ve been able to do is shake my head and feel so profoundly sad for the girlfriend – yes, she knows what kind of person she’s with, but when she got pregnant I imagine she thought he would step up and be a worthwhile partner. She’s been disappointed (or, I guess, would be disappointed if Brian had turned out that way). Yesterday I finally couldn’t take it anymore, so I spoke out on Facebook.

Last night's conversation

Last night’s conversation

I tried to say what I needed to say as diplomatically as possible. I really am grateful for Brian, and I really do feel sad for women who don’t have a real partner by their side. While my intent was to call out partners who aren’t acting right, though, the comment above opened up a whole new train of thought in my head.

“Um, so you know you just insulted every single mother on your friends list?” 

Like I responded, I didn’t intend to do that. Feeling sad for the single mothers certainly doesn’t equal feeling sorry for them. I was raised by a single mother, and I am still in awe of how she managed to juggle everything essential and still had the energy to participate in school events, ask about our days, and genuinely enjoy us. My mother loves my brother and me fiercely, generously and completely, like every single mother (and father) I know. She loves our spouses, and her grandchild, just as much. I am insanely proud of the woman she is, and I am sad for her.

The fact is, the vast majority of single parents don’t set out to be single parents. There are some outliers who choose single parenthood for their own reasons, but far more parents bring a child into the world and their partners slip out of the picture somewhere along the way. I’m not trying to lord over my fellow parental warriors when I say I’m sad for them. I don’t know what it’s like to be a single parent, but I know that it would be the greatest slap in the face to offer any single parent as condescending a sentiment as pity. Instead, they have my admiration. And my support, as does every parent who is making a legitimate effort to do their best, whatever their best may look like. If I pity anyone, it’s the partners who choose not to take an active role in bringing up the beautiful life they had a part in creating.

Parenthood is a unique and dynamic journey. Those who choose to take that path – biologically or otherwise – need to stick together.

Back to the grind

After nine weeks at home and eight weeks of near-24/7 Arthur time, this Monday morning I started back at work.

I didn’t have to set an alarm to wake up – in fact, I doubt I’ll need to set an alarm any time soon. Having a baby is basically giving birth to a snuggly, dynamic alarm clock that will wait until you’ve just achieved the most perfect state of unconsciousness to announce that he’s hungry/wet/really tired of being asleep and Mommy why won’t you play with me? (Okay, A doesn’t really play on his own just yet. Just bear with me.)

I took more time to get ready to walk out the door than I had in weeks. I put on a new dress, and heels, and jewelry, and I even did my makeup. I packed my bag, and a lunch, and gave our awesome nanny everything she would need for her quality time with le bebe, and then I ever-so-reluctantly walked out the door and left him.

What made it difficult was not the fact that I would be gone. He’s in the best possible hands that aren’t Mommy’s or Daddy’s, and I was actually looking forward to coming back to the office. I’ve left him for a few short spells in the last couple of weeks. No, what made it difficult was knowing that I would be giving a mid-morning feeding to a machine instead of to my little man. Instead of watching him drift off to sleep I will be staring at a lump of plastic and listening to its whirring instead of his breathing. I will be gone for more than 8 hours – not so much that I’m afraid he’ll forget me, but enough that he may wonder if I’m ever coming back.

Nine weeks…and it’s so surreal.

Now I’m near the end of my first week back in the office (three days in, two days out). It’s different in so many ways; not only am I still transitioning to being back in the work force, if only part-time, I am also getting used to a new job description. The office didn’t exist in a vacuum during my absence, and my return was orchestrated to make the best use of the staff on hand – which means, because of my time with the company, that I was best suited to take on different responsibilities entirely from what I was used to. It’ll take some time to really settle in to my new role, especially before I’m really used to being away from Arthur for these long stretches.

I will say, though, that walking in the door after a day at the office is, once again, my favorite part of the day.

Arthur will be two months old on Sunday – I can’t figure out where all the time has gone.