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6 months

Almost a week ago now, Elena turned 6 months old.  What?????  This time in our lives is so precious, yet so fleeting.  I wish I could extend it somehow, but instead I’ll have to settle for savoring every single moment.

One of the reasons I keep this blog going is to document the development of my children.  This blog serves as my virtual baby book in that way.  I use it to track milestones, growth, and cute stories I’ll enjoy reading when the days of small children are over for me.  I am glad to have this place to record all of those things, even if I don’t get a chance to do so as often as I’d like.

As I was looking back over my blog recently, I realized there are some very important things I have failed to document.  These are things I know I will never forget, but know I should record anyway.

I want to remember Elena’s skin, velvety against my lips.  The way her satiny hair swishes behind her as she takes her bath.  The way that same hair felt like down in the days after her birth.

I want to remember the way her giant smile fills her whole face the moment she sees me in the morning.  The way she giggles when she sees her brother.  And the smiles she gives her Daddy when he is sitting across the room.

I want to remember her tiny hands, and the way they curl around my finger.  The way her little legs feel squishy, even though there isn’t much to them!

I want to remember how Liam scrunches up his entire face when he laughs.  And how it takes so little to see that laugh.

I want to remember his sheer wonder at things most adults find ordinary.

I want to remember how he takes a different collection of toys to bed with him each night, and will not part with them.  Last night it was his sunglasses, his iPod, and his drumstick.  Usually a book is included in the mix.

I know there are more, so many more.  I’m going to try to include these simple, sweet moments in my updates as well as the milestones going forward.

Speaking of milestones, Elena is sitting!  She also has become quite the grabber – she will snatch anything she can, including our skin!  She rolls in both directions, and she scoots around on her belly.

Liam is doing more speaking in sentences.  He is also counting to ten and can almost say his ABC’s.

It seems they both learn something new everyday!  Now if only I could find the time to blog everyday, I know I would so appreciate it in about 10 years!

Liam

Liam will be 2.5 years old on July 1, and Elena will be 5 months on June 25.  Both are hard to believe, but right now I’m having the most trouble accepting that my baby boy is so close to being 2.5!  It’s crazy how much he has changed this year.  He still looked so much like a baby at 2.

Here were his 2 year pictures.  Granted, the were taken a few weeks before he actually turned 2, but look at that baby face!

http://www.donnaharrisphotography.com/

Here is a picture I took exactly 1 week ago. (Ignore that his shirt doesn’t fit with this scene – this was not a planned photo shoot.  We were just scouting out a park!)

Liam in Field (1 of 1)

What a difference!

He has all of a sudden become quite talkative.  He is constantly talking and telling us things, and I would say we understand most of what he says now.  He still loves he drums and the guitar – I cannot decide which he prefers overall, though right now he seems to be on a drum kick.  He has this drum with drumsticks, and he beats on that thing from morning until night.  If his drumsticks aren’t handy, he will use whatever he has in his hands as a drum:  silverware, toys, his hands, etc.  He likes to tap the side of his car seat to the music in the car, too.  He can even identify drums and the guitar as songs come on the radio, and if he hears a song that does not have drums in it, he is prompt to let us know he wants a different song, because that one doesn’t have drums.  I mentioned this to his teacher at daycare, and she said it is quite impressive that he can identify instruments on a song.  I asked her if all 2 year olds have the interest in drums and guitar he does, or if it’s something I should watch as a potential natural talent for him, and she said definitely watch it, because it isn’t something that naturally draws all of them.  This piano playing mama likes the sound of that!  Of course, I will be thrilled no matter what his talents are, and I will do my best to help him nurture them.  That’s one of my jobs as his parent, after all!

Liam is also really into baseball, which makes Daddy happy.  He gets excited when it’s on tv, and of all the dress-up item available in his classroom, he chose to wear a baseball jersey yesterday.  He usually doesn’t dress up at all – he is very attached to his own clothes and very specific in what he wants to wear, especially when it comes to shoes!  He has been in his current classroom almost 6 months now, and only recently has decided dressing up in play clothes can be fun.

He is also developing quite the memory.  Last week-end I took him to the store with me, and I told him if he sat in the cart and didn’t throw fits, I would get him a milkshake.  We probably spent an hour in the store, but when we left, he quickly reminded me of my promise – he wanted that milkshake!  Of course, I got him one.

In addition to tracking milestones, I also want to try to remember the little funny things he does.  He makes us laugh often and, sadly, by the time I sit down to blog, I have often forgotten things, and I hate that!  I do remember one story, which I will share now.

Last Saturday, we went to visit Nathan’s family for Father’s Day week-end.  On the way there, I was asking Liam the animal sounds, and then I decided to throw in “What does Daddy say?” to be silly.  He thought about it for a minute, and his response was “uhhhh, sleep!”  That gave us a good laugh, since it is pretty accurate.  Daddy is usually the one telling him to go back to bed as he gets up through the night, since I am the one who has to feed Elena when she gets hungry at night (which thankfully isn’t often!).

Elena

Elena - Cream & purple (1 of 1) Elena B&W (1 of 1) Elena floral romper (1 of 1)

Elena is becoming quite the expert at rolling from her back to her tummy!  She will almost always roll after a few minutes of laying on her back.  Sometimes she wants put back on her back since she can’t get back there herself.  Other times, she focuses on her other new skill – scooting!  She can move several inches forward at a time.  She will stick her butt in the air and get this little determined look on her face, and she will make these little determined sounds as she moves forward ever so slightly.

She is laughing more and more these days, and it is usually at Liam.  She sure loves her big brother!  She’s also vocalizing more and trying out different sounds.

She’s still wearing some 0-3 month clothing sizes, but she is mostly in 3-6 months now.  She is so long, she can ever wear some 6-9 month sleepers if they are footed.  However, other than length, they tend to swallow her.  We can only get away with doing that with the brands that tend to run smaller.  Otherwise, we prefer footless sleepers for her.

She had her 4 month checkup on June 6.  She weighed 13 lbs 1 oz (25th %tile) and was 26.5″ long (98th %tile).  She definitely went through quite the growth spurt, and her eating habits showed it!

The next few weeks are going to be quite busy, so hopefully I will find some time to do updates.  Liam’s 2.5 year checkup is on 7/2, and Elena goes to the cardiologist on 7/4, so that will be a busy week!

SGM St. Louis Event

Many who follow my blog do so because they have also suffered a loss.  If that describes you, then more than likely you are familiar with Sufficient Grace Ministries (SGM).

SGM, represented by founder & President Kelly Gerken, along with Vice President Holly Haas, will be in the St. Louis area the last week-end of July.  On July 27, 2013 at 9:00 a.m., a SGM event will be held for anyone who is interested in getting involved in this ministry.  Volunteer opportunities exist for bereavement doulas (you can take a class through Still Birthday), photographers, and those able to knit or sew to make items for babies.  Meetings will also be held with hospital staff members.

If you are interested in attending for the purposes of becoming a volunteer, or if you would like to simply come see what SGM is about so you can share this resource with anyone going through a pregnancy with a potentially fatal diagnosis or a loss, we would love to see you at the meeting.

The event information is here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/206106282879428/

Please help us spread the word!

This has been a very busy month.  I’m back in the swing of things at work, and so life is always hectic on the evenings and week-ends.  As expected with joining daycare, Elena has also picked up an upper respiratory infection, so we’ve been working around the clock to keep her breathing clearly.  Finally, Liam has been getting his 2 year molars.  He let me get a good look into his mouth the other day, and I saw one is all the way in, and 2 more are very close.  That could explain why he has been a bit on the irritable side this past month, too.

Here are some updates on each child.

Elena:

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  • Elena is still working on rolling, and is getting closer all the time.  She decided to make it more challenging by working on rolling from back to tummy first, and she gets stuck on her arm.  She’s gotten all the way over once or twice, but she still didn’t manage to get her arm out from beneath her.
  • She sits assisted very well.  I hear that she sits better than plenty of babies several months older!  Her back is very straight and not wobbly at all.  She does fall to the side though, so she isn’t quite ready for UNassisted sitting.
  • She has become very vocal and loves to talk to people who talk to her.  She carries on a regular conversation, but in baby-ese of course.  I think we may have a talker on our hands!
  • She currently weighs about 12 lbs 4 oz and can still wear some 0-3 months and some 3-6 months clothes.  If it’s a dress, 3-6 months works better and if it’s pants, 0-3 months works better, but they fit her like capris instead of pants.  In sleepers, she’s amazingly too long for a lot of her 3-6 month sizes if they are footed!  But there is no possible way she can fit into 6-9 months because they would swallow her whole.
  • She got to paint at daycare this week, and they say she absolutely loved it.  She was squishing her fingers all in it!
  • Her baby dedication was the day she turned 4 months – May 25.  I’ll do a separate post about that, including a slide show photo montage I made.
  • Her 4 month checkup is June 6.

Liam

Liam (1 of 1) Liam (1 of 11)  Liam.Bath.Smile (1 of 1)

  • Liam is seeming more like a kid and less like a baby all the time, both in how he looks and the things he says.  His new favorite question is “why?”.  He questions everything .  Why is the baby going in the car seat?  Why are we using *that* blanket?  If we are doing it, he wants to know why.
  • He let me take a good look inside his mouth this week-end, and I saw that 1 of his 2-year molars is completely in, but he has 2 on the verge, so he’s been a little grumpy.  He didn’t let me look long enough to tell if the 4th one is also coming in, already through, or if it’s still below the surface.  I hope these pop in fast, and then I feel like celebrating the end of teething for him!
  • We usually have to beg and plead with him to get him to eat anything at all, and even then he might eat 1-2 bites of something before he’s done.  However, the past couple weeks he has been eating like crazy!  For example, he ate 2 packs of oatmeal for breakfast yesterday, and he was still hungry and wanted his leftover pizza from the day before!  He must be going through a growth spurt.

I’m never sure how to end these bullet-point updates!  As mentioned, I’ll do another post soon featuring Elena’s dedication, and I hope to get them outside with my camera again soon, too.  The weather has been really bad for taking pictures lately!

This past Sunday was Mother’s Day.  I feel incredibly blessed to have two little people who are alive, in my life everyday, and who get to call me Mom.

But…

Mother’s Day still has its difficult moments for me.  Yes, I’m grateful for the pregnancies I have had and for the children I have.  I feel so fortunate to get to raise two of them.  I’m thankful things like embryo donation exist, allowing Liam, frozen as an embryo for 6 years, to be born into our lives.  I’m thankful that Elena was born free of SLOS and that we caught her heart condition in time.  Both of my children are miracles, even beyond the very miracle of life.  I love them with all of my being and they have given my life more meaning than I ever imagined possible.  I am thankful, and I am grateful.

I predicted Mother’s Days would be difficult in my first Mother’s Day after losing Madelyn (in this post).  I was wrong about one thing – I wouldn’t say that the day is overshadowed by her absence.  At the time, I simply could not fathom how much healing the baby I was carrying would bring me.   I truly am happy, which is something I never could have imagined in my darkest days of grief.

However, Mother’s Day cannot exist for me without a little bit of sadness.  I hate knowing most people see us as a family of four.  They compliment our beautiful children and tell us how perfect it is that we have a boy and a girl. I wish somehow people could determine by looking at us there was another, and that she too was beautiful and perfect. 

I can’t expect people to magically know our family’s whole story.  But I wish that were possible.  I suppose that is my way of mothering her – by carrying on her memory and wanting her story to be known.  Her life was brief, but it mattered.  Her memory is deserving of more than being awkwardly glossed over in conversation. 

I know loss is a concept that makes many uncomfortable.  But loss is part of my reality, and I can’t change that.  The birth of my two living children did not act as whiteout over Madelyn’s life or death.  Madelyn’s presence may no longer be tangible, but she was very real.  And the love we felt for her from the first moment we learned of her existence – the love that grew stronger each day, through every ultrasound, through every moment spent listening to her heartbeat, through the moment she entered this world, through the too brief time we held her in our arms- that love was not buried with her.  It is still very much alive.

So while Mother’s Day is certainly a reason to celebrate and to appreciate how much I have been given, it is also a day that inevitably causes me to reflect on what was taken. 

I’m happy.  Truly happy. 

But I still miss her. 

I just completed my 2nd week back at work.  It’s been hard to leave Elena, but she is adjusting so well to daycare, and that makes it a lot easier.   She sleeps well while there (something Liam never did as a baby) and seems content with her new surroundings.  I wish she would eat more than 3 oz at a time, but that is still way better than Liam ever did away from me.  It was a fight to get him to drink 1-2 ounces in a single day while at daycare!  So while I’d prefer to be home with my little ones every day, I’m pleased with how things are going.

Elena:

11 weeks smile 11 weeks tutu overexposed example 11 weeks tutuElena 13 weeks12 weeks

  • Elena still has not mastered rolling, but she is getting so close!  Her daycare teachers even commented on how close she gets to doing it.  It’s a 4 month milestone, so we still have time, and I’m in no rush!
  • She is still such a happy girl, full of great big smiles for anyone who talks to her.  I’m pretty sure I heard a laugh last week-end, too!  I only heard it once, so I can’t be sure.
  • She has been smiling a lot at Liam lately.  It usually makes him giggle.
  • She had a pediatric cardiologist appointment this week, and it went well!  Her EKG was fine, and she weighed 11 lbs 10 oz and was 25.5″.  They do think she still has SVT, but there is still time for her to outgrow it.  If she hasn’t outgrown it by 18 months, then she will most likely have it the rest of her life.  However, even if we think she has outgrown it by 18 months, we won’t know for sure whether she has until she is fully grown, as a lot of kids will go years without an episode and then have one.

Liam

 Unfortunately, I have no pictures of Liam to add this time.  He is not always very cooperative when the camera is out! 

  • Liam has made life very interesting these past couple of weeks!  The other morning I thought he was playing in the living room while I got ready for work.  When Nathan went in there to get him dressed, he couldn’t find him.  We looked all over for him, both inside and outside the house, and still couldn’t find him.  Finally, I heard a giggle coming from the laundry room (which we had already searched), and so I went in there, and the dryer door popped open!  He had crawled inside and shut the door!
  • He always wants to go outside.  He gets quite angry when we can’t go out there with him.
  • If Elena is crying, he will point to her and say “uh oh baby!”  And then he’ll usually grab her pacifier.  He also likes to get in her face and say “Hi baby!” 
  • He has started saying “oh” when we explain something to him (such as why he can’t do something), and he uses it in the right context.  It’s so funny!

11 weeks

Here are the things that have been going on the past couple weeks!

Elena:

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  • Elena is trying harder to grab at things. She has mastered the art of reaching out and touching things and batting at them, but still can’t quite maintain a grip on something she does manage to get.
  • Last night I laid her next to me on the couch, and she managed to scoot, on her back, quite a ways away from me!  She was pushing off with her feet against the back of the couch and my legs.  This girl has places to go!
  • She is trying very hard to roll from back to tummy.  She can roll quite far on her side, but hasn’t made it all the way to her tummy yet.
  • She is turning into a squirmy monkey!  She is still much calmer than Liam was (he kicked nonstop).  But she moves all the time these days!
  • She loves to hang over our upper arm and observe her surroundings.  She has also gotten really into the play mat. It’s the perfect opportunity to bat at dangling toys!
  • She has discovered her tongue, and likes to stick it out.
  • She has started chewing on things – she mostly chews on us!
  • She sleeps like a champ.  She will sleep anywhere and is usually able to put herself to sleep.
  • She is growing!  She can still wear 0-3 mos sizes, but she is now too long for some of her footed sleepers.  I’ve put a couple 3-6 mos things on her, and they are big, but no bigger than putting 0-3 mos on a newborn.  Some brands swallow her at that size though.
  • She is a happy, happy girl!

Liam:

Liam - unedited-1 untitled-1-65 untitled-1-68

  • Liam has had a rough couple weeks.  He has had a cold all month, and he was on an antibiotic for an ear infection.  Well, that didn’t go over too well – he spit it out most of the time.  He kept pulling on his ears and saying “owie”, and so I took him back to the doctor.  As suspected, he did have an ear infection, but he also had pneumonia!  I was not expecting that one, but we were glad we took him in.  They put him on another antibiotic, and we managed to get him to take this one.  He’s mostly better now, thank goodness.  We do have to take him in on Friday to make sure his lungs are clear.  
  • One of his new favorite things to do is hide from us.  He hides when it’s time for a bath or diaper change, or sometimes for no reason other than to have fun!  Some of his favorite places are underneath or behind baby gear.
  • He still loves pretending to drive our cars.  If we go outside, he will stand by the car or SUV and beg for the keys.  If he can’t get that, he will run out back to the shed and want in there. We have a slide in the back yard for him, and he does enjoy that, but he will only play on it for a few minutes before begging for the keys.
  • He is starting to get a little jealous of Elena if I am holding her.  If I’m holding her, then he wants held.  If I put her down to hold him, he doesn’t care anymore.  I’m sure this is all part of the adjustment period for him.  He still seems to really love her though.  He’s just not so sure about the sharing me part.
  • His talking gets cuter all the time. The sentence of the week is “It’s a mess!”  If something falls on the floor he will say “mess” and go get the broom.  He’s quite the little neat freak!  I’m sure his wife will appreciate that trait one day, assuming it continues.  🙂

 

I go back to work a week from today.  I’m not looking  forward to that at all.  At all.  *sigh*