Saturday, February 2, 2008

Family Newsletter: Month One

My Beautiful Girls,
It's been one month since our family expanded and I've always loved the monthly recaps by Heather Armstrong for her daughter, and I thought I'd totally coopt it for us.

This month has been a huge change for all of us. M, when you were born, I fell more in love with Daddy as I watched him become a father. This month, I've fallen more in love with you as I've watched you become a big sister. You've adjusted well considering that mommy and daddy's attention has become divided and most of our time is spent trading Sissy back and forth and attending to her needs.

While you haven't had tantrums or any major outbursts regarding Sissy, you have become a little focused on writing the list of people to be invited to your birthday party (not until May). I don't know if that's in response to having missed a school friend's party earlier this month or that it's something over which you think you have power, but it's become a major focus for you. As is the keeping of lists and Mom and Dad spend a lot of time helping you sound out words or names or just spelling while you write. I think it's your way of being able to be with us while we attend to E.

Adjusting also meant that some of your baby dolls, especially those you've decided are just born have spent time in the NICU. I hope that this is a healthy way to process our first couple weeks of January and that, despite impossible circumstances, that daddy and I balanced everyone's needs to the best of our abilities. I think we must be doing something right because during one of our "shift" changes which we had to do at the hospital, I was walking out with you past a display of nursing and medical memorabilia. There was an old nursing doll that you pointed out to me. A woman walking behind us asked if you wanted to be a nurse. You answered, "No." She asked if you wanted to be a doctor or if you wanted to take care of people. You again answered, "No." When she asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, you answered, "A Mommy." I could have cried from pride because I know that all I want to do as I grow up is to be your and E's mommy.

You've been very helpful with Sissy and interested in all things about her: poop, why mommy has to make milk for Sissy, changing her outfit for the day, etc. We've talked a lot about various body functions and you've handled any jealously pretty well. In fact, when you see both mom and dad without Sissy or upon arriving home, your first question is, "Where's Sissy?" or "What's Sissy doing?"

Having E has made a big change in all our family activities and E, you could not have been more welcome. Mom and Dad have spent this month, holding you as much as possible and doing all that we can to ensure that we have the necessary tools to help you thrive. We've remarked to each other how it seems like you have been here forever. I think it's due to the fact that you've been in our hearts that long.

Daddy and I have loved getting to know you. Even before leaving me, you've proven to be a strong willed little girl (like your sister) when you denied the labor nurse any sort of reliable monitoring. We have the pictures of the scabs on your head where the internal monitor was attempted and after you arrived, you've continued to make your preferences known very clearly. One of the neonatalogists said that you would let us know when you were ready to eat, and that's held true for everything. We've learned your cues for eating, sleeping, gas (and there's a lot of it), and when you want to be alert and wiggling.

You've surprised me because you're not at all what I expected. With all the reading that Daddy and I did before you arrived, we had a picture of an entirely different baby. Once again, you've proven in this first month that the learning curve is just as steep for me as it will be for you, probably more so for me. You came out and were alert, wide-eyed, and ready to be engaged. You wiggle and wave your hands and feet and diapering is just an opportunity for you to bicycle your legs likes there's no tomorrow. While you don't protest in the same way that M did, your displeasure is expressed through what Daddy & I call the "spitting camel."

You're very expressive with your face, especially when you're sleeping. Since you were born, we've seen you smile (and show your dimples). I said to one of the NICU nurses that although I knew the smile was involuntary I liked to belive that it was intentional. She responded that she thought so too. You also sneer like Billy Idol (according to Daddy. I thought it was more an Elvis look), and have started to form the "O" mouth that M did for a short time.

I think all parents must wonder at how much they will love another child. M asked me this summer about it while we were on one of our Mommy & M trips to Mackinac Island. I told her that mommy's and daddy's hearts just get bigger, and it's true. When M was born, my heart grew from the love I have for her and from watching T become a father. When E was born, it was as if my heart, which I thought was at capacity from loving M, was -in reality -the two sizes too small black heart of the Grinch that grew three sizes larger from our new family.


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