Meet our newest son, Milo Burke.
Born Sunday, April 14, at 6:16 a.m. He was 7 pounds, 3.3 ounces, and 20 inches long.
In case you don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter, where I’ve been documenting the last several days, we’ve had quite the tumultuous postpartum experience. Four days in the NICU for a bowel blockage, followed by two days at home, followed by my re-admittance to the hospital to treat an infection. The saga is not quite over yet — I’m slated to be released later today — but soon I’ll write more.
For now, though, know that Milo is doing great. He’s a perfect little baby, who looks a lot like his big brother Rowan, with some distinction of his own. Rowan is adjusting in his own unique way, though I know he’s craving a return to some semblance of (new) normalcy soon. And Roth is a rock star dad right now, taking care of Milo and Rowan on his own, juggling schedules and feedings and changings. When this is all over, this man deserves a medal. And all the beer.
To all who have reached out to offer help, express concern or extend well wishes, thank you. These last nine days have been the toughest stretch of days I’ve ever had to endure. But there is light here at the end.
A couple of Saturdays ago, when the light was just right, the three of us loaded into the car and drove north to a park we’d never been to before (though it turned out Rowan had remembered going there once with my mom when she watched him in January) and met up with my friend Jess for a mini family photo shoot.
It should be noted that planned and scheduled photo shoots are probably Roth’s least favorite thing, ranked up high with calling to order takeout. Rowan doesn’t like posing for photos, either, not without the promise of candy in his very near future. So, let’s just say the two of them were not exactly looking forward to this photo shoot, despite knowing how much I was. After listening to the boys argue about which shoes Rowan needed to wear, I’d had enough of the bitching and moaning, and I blew up a bit. I let them know how disappointed I was that they couldn’t just feign interest for five minutes in this little photo project because it felt important to me.
I wasn’t interested in doing a family photo shoot because I needed a dozen different artfully posed shots of my belly, complete with sun flares and other photographic cliches, no. When my friend Jess, who I plan to officially hire to take newborn photos of the baby, offered to take some shots of us together before the baby is born, too, I jumped at the opportunity. This wouldn’t just be a maternity shoot (although that’d be part of it); it’d be a chance to document us how we are now. As a family of three. When our lives had grown simpler because we’d figured out how to just be a family. You, me, him. Rhythm and ease and comfort.
It’s not lost on me (or Roth) that our lives are very soon going to become complicated and messy again. We very easily could’ve chosen not to go down this road, to just continue on as a threesome, enjoying sleeping through the night and not changing diapers and everything that entails bringing up a baby, but in all our discussions about if and when to have another, I just knew Rowan needed to be a big brother. Both Roth and I are firstborns with younger siblings, and it just felt right to let our firstborn experience that, too.
We’re almost to the end now, and the timing of receiving these wonderful photos from Jess couldn’t have been more perfect. I’ve reached maximum capacity and most days I don’t feel particularly attractive, but somehow Jess managed to capture so much light and joy in these few shots, and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out, despite initial reluctance from my boys. I will treasure these images just as I will these last couple of weeks … before we were four.
All photos by Jessica Eskelsen.
Know what the hardest part of this pregnancy is? Surprisingly, it’s not the weeks-long morning sickness, the Zofran-induced constipation, the searing acid reflux or the perpetually vibrating hands and fingers from third trimester carpal tunnel. (Although don’t get me wrong, all those common pregnancy ailments SUCK like whoa.) Nope. I’d say the toughest thing at this stage, as my belly swells beyond physical comprehension and with my due date rapidly approaching, is the unknown. It’s not being able to circle a square on the calendar as “the day the baby will be born.” Because if I could just do THAT, life would be so much simpler. Plans could be made. Nerves would be soothed. And maybe, just maybe, I could just chill the eff out.
Instead, I’ve been wringing my tingly hands raw while trying to figure out the best case scenario as we enter the final four (or less, I hope) weeks of my pregnancy. My biggest concern is not how the baby will be get here — I’ve got a pretty good idea of how that will happen — but rather who will be take care of baby’s big brother when I do go into labor. It’s difficult not having grandparents close by for these kinds of situations. It would be amazing to just have them on call, but instead we’re having to play a guessing game as to when the moment will arrive. Will this wee little Sapling decide to come early like Rowan? Or will we be twiddling our thumbs well into the 41st and 42nd weeks?
We’ve decided to take a leap of faith that the baby will be a bit early in order to take advantage of Roth’s mom’s latest chemo schedule, which will allow her to come up to Seattle between my 38th and 39th weeks. This feels like the “sweet spot” for something to happen, if it doesn’t happen earlier. We’ve also got a backup plan in place with local friends, too, in case of an early evacuation. If Sapling decides to copy Rowan, that would be in another week and a half!
Because of this remote possibility, we’ve spent the last couple of weeks getting everything ready for the baby by my 36th week, which is where I am now. We spent one Saturday washing and wiping down every thing, and now we’ve got the car seat, cradle and newborn clothes at the ready. We brought the glider up from the basement. The bouncer and recently inherited swing are ready to go. Yesterday, we finished up our 2012 taxes, a task that’d been looming over our heads. And last night, we packed our hospital bags.
I’m sure being THIS prepared will ensure the baby will NOT come early, but without a job to occupy my time, it’s been something to keep me busy. There are still a handful of household organizational projects I want to tackle, but if I went into labor tomorrow, we’d be ready. We’d be OK.
If I had my druthers, though, I’d prefer the baby held tight just a bit longer since I’ve got plans this weekend. Kerri (and Matt, too) is coming from Wenatchee, and we’re getting together with a couple other gals for pedicures and lunch out. I didn’t want a baby shower, as it felt wholly unnecessary this time around, but I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to prettify my toes and hang out with some lovely ladies before my life is turned upside down in a couple of weeks.
I’m woefully behind on documenting this pregnancy’s progress here. I’ve been pretty good about having Roth take regular belly shots and posting selfies on Instagram, but I’ve definitely neglected this space. I decided to put together the last four shots, from 20 weeks to 35 weeks, into a collage, the results of which are more interesting than seeing a weekly shot, I think.
There’s not a lot of change from 20 (top left) to 25 weeks (top right), but holy belly growth from 30 (bottom left) to 35 weeks (bottom right)! Oh, and also, while my belly has grown several inches, I decided to lose several inches of hair last week, too.
I’m definitely feeling every inch and pound of this pregnancy. Restful sleep is getting harder to come by, with the frequent getting up to pee and more recently, my hands going completely numb from the aforementioned carpal tunnel syndrome. I do almost anything to avoid going up the stairs, for it renders me completely breathless. I’ve been going to a weekly prenatal yoga class on Sundays, and I find myself spending most of the time in child’s pose, just grateful for extended moments of stillness.
We’re at the homestretch, I think. A matter of just a couple weeks, and the baby will be here. I’m starting to get really excited about (finally!) finding out the sex. Most friends and family say I’m carrying high and all in front, which indicates girl. Just for fun, I’m curious what everyone thinks based on my 35-week pic. Is our little Sapling a he or a she?
I spent a good chunk of time last week drafting a post essentially about how little I’ve enjoyed this pregnancy compared to the last. It was definitely a little glum in tone, which nicely complemented the funk I’d often found myself in the past couple of weeks since I last wrote about silver linings. For the most part, things are fine, but at least once, maybe twice, a week, I inadvertently wade into a dark, murky place where I can’t see the light shining through the trees, where the seeds of insecurity take root, and all perspective on my situation is clouded by a dearth of confidence.
It’s not a happy place, obviously. It usually manifests itself into a lot of couch wallowing, cookie eating and hours upon hours of Netflix watching rather than active engagement and interaction with the world’s greatest little boy. Sometimes there’s unfounded yelling, too, at the person who loves and supports me the most. And perhaps the saddest of all, I find myself willing these last few weeks of my pregnancy away.
I don’t know if it’s just my attitude, if I’ve indeed felt terribly worse this time around, or both, but I’ve let these last 33 weeks feel like a means to an end. Surely, a second pregnancy IS different from the get-go, especially if your first kid is still relatively young and needy. There’s simply not time in a day to sit and marvel at your burgeoning belly, daydreaming what it will be like when your bundle of joy decides to make its entrance into your world, but I’ve also grimaced far too many times at my belly as the gentle flutters from 20 weeks turned into Olympics-style flip-turns, preventing me from sleeping or even just finding a comfortable position in which to lay on said couch of wallow.
It’s so different this time not knowing if we’re having a boy or a girl, too, and I’m fairly certain that has played a small part in my not feeling super connected to the baby yet. I don’t regret not finding out, as I’m pretty sure the moment we do, when (s)he is born, it will be as magical as other parents have described, but for now, it’s just strange not knowing, not being able to refer to the baby as he or she. I try to say “the baby,” but more often than not, I use “it,” which is just weird and unfamiliar. Maybe even a little alien?
All this not to say that I am not excited to have another baby. I am! We are! And oh boy, am I ever excited for Rowan to become a big brother. A couple weeks ago, I took him to a class at the hospital called Sibling Preparation. There he got to sit in a circle with a handful of other little kids all about to become big brothers and sisters and talk about what it’s going to be like to have a new baby in the house, how he’ll need to try to be understanding when mom needs to rest, or that if the baby is crying, he might have to go to another part of the house, because that’s just what babies do. After the class, wherein the kids also watched a demo of a doll baby being born from a doll mama, we toured the birthing suites, which was pretty surreal for me. Oh hello, PTSD.
Rowan did really well in the class (naturally, he was the one kid of the bunch who asked, “But how did the baby get in there?”), and I think he’s starting to get excited about the baby, too. He’s not so much into feeling my belly when the baby is kicking — I think he’s actually quite scared of it, and rightfully so; it IS weird — but he will “hug” the baby/my belly and sometimes talk to him or her, too. Which is, of course, heart-meltingly sweet.
Earlier this week, we went for a third trimester ultrasound, to check on a possible umbilical cord cyst as seen at my 20-week ultrasound. We decided to take Rowan with us this time, which was pretty special, that he got to “see” the baby and ask a thousand questions. “What’s that, Dada?” “Why can’t I see the baby in color?” “Where are the baby’s eyes?” It was pretty awesome for me, too, maybe even more so than any other previous ultrasound, because I could finally imagine this baby as real. I got confirmation that what I’m feeling under my left ribs is indeed the baby’s bottom, and that the baby’s head is in fact down near the right side of my abdomen, where I’ve been feeling hiccups.
And thankfully, whatever that “cyst” was has since resolved itself or maybe never even existed.
Getting to see the baby’s face in profile was definitely the boost I’ve needed these past few weeks. Even though we’re starting the homestretch, with the baby estimated to weigh around five pounds and his/her measurements putting me closer to the 34- or 35-week range (!), I think there’s still time to change my attitude, to turn things around. Instead of thinking about my due date as the end, I need to think of it as another beginning, another chapter.
I need to carve out pockets of time just for myself, to go get a pedicure or take a prenatal yoga class. I need to embrace the one-on-one time I’m getting with Rowan, rather than resent it, as I’ve done more often than not. I need to finalize plans for a date night with Roth, and for an afternoon of hanging out with girlfriends. I need to recognize and acknowledge all of the positive things in my life — a list forthcoming! I need to let go of what happened with the layoff, knowing that even though I didn’t deserve it, I do deserve this extra time I’m getting to prepare our house and our lives for becoming a family of four.
And I really, really need to not stumble into any more dark corners. It’s far better to be in the light.
Last weekend, I met up with my good friend Terrell to see Silver Linings Playbook, a movie with much buzz and many nominations. I typically enjoy these sorts of movies, the ones that are hard to define in any one category, and for the most part I did like it, despite being almost too quirky for its own good. It’s not exactly a rom-com, nor is it a drama, but it featured romantic, comedic and dramatic elements, alongside a hefty serving of crazy, too. Maybe not theater-worthy, either, but I’m glad I saw it if nothing more than it got me thinking about my own silver linings.
So, obviously, the biggest silver lining to my layoff is getting to stay home with Rowan. A few people have pointed out the serendipitous timing of our one-on-one time together, what with my due date a mere two(ish) months away, and it’s definitely not lost on me. He’s at an age now when he may actually remember this time, how now we can drop whatever it is we’re doing to go get burgers and milkshakes for lunch at Dick’s Drive-In, or marvel at the butterfly exhibit at Pacific Science Center, while everyone else is either at work or school.
That’s not to say we’re not still adjusting to this new reality. We’re both — and forgive me for yet another seafaring analogy — navigating through unfamiliar waters, trying to figure out schedules and routines that make sense and make the most of our time. These past three weeks have been equal parts wonderful and overwhelming, for the both of us, I think.
Before I was let go, Rowan spent his week days at the same tiny in-home daycare he first went to when he was 4.5 months old. Even though we’d been prepping him for a change come fall with the introduction of full-time preschool, I don’t think he was ready to just be yanked from his cozy cocoon of familiarity. After a couple of days at home with him, I knew he needed something more than what I could provide, so we enrolled him in a very part-time preschool through a local community center. It’s just two days a week, for three hours each day, but so far, it’s helping to break up the large expanses of time we have to fill each week. (And allowing me to feel like an adult, too.)
Another silver lining to this unfortunate situation is that despite losing my full-time income and benefits, we’re actually going to be OK, financially speaking. When you subtract how much we were paying for full-time daycare, gas for commuting, daily back-and-forth tolls and lunches out, and then add in what I’m getting for unemployment, we’re doing just as well, if not better than (!), as before. Seeing those positive numbers in a spreadsheet, seeing that really, truly, we’re not going to drown, not anytime soon, really puts things in perspective. Obviously, this situation isn’t the ideal, nor is it our long-term plan, but for now, it’s OK.
I’m looking for work, as I’m required to do, and I will consider anything that comes my way — anything that makes sense given my impending due date and desire to be “off” after the baby arrives — but I’m really trying to see the forest for the trees, and other overwrought, cliche expressions. Now is the time to take a step back, evaluate my surroundings, decide who I am and who I want to be, and just go from here.
One week — one silver lining — at a time, anyway.
In retrospect, the timing of our trip to Maui was quite serendipitous. We’ve since wondered aloud if I’d been laid off before we were set to go if indeed we would have gone, and the answer is always yes. A lot of our trip was pre-paid and non-refundable, and my mom was to fly up from California to watch Rowan while we were gone, so it would’ve been silly to waste the opportunity. Would we have dropped $200 on dinner at Mama’s Fish House while we were there? Maybeee not.
Yes, given what was to happen a few days upon our return, the timing of our trip to Maui was very fortunate. Despite Roth coming down with the flu (yes, the flu-flu) the night before we left (and my unfortunate experience with snorkeling), we really did have a wonderful time.
We stayed at an adorable cottage tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the more touristy parts of the island. It was very peaceful and serene, and just perfect for us.
We ate at amazing restaurants, including the famed Mama’s, but the highlight of the trip was dinner at Hali’imaile General Store.
We marveled at awesome vistas, including from 10,000 feet above the island (and clouds) in Haleakala National Park, and the unexpectedly treacherous Hwy 340, which made the Road to Hana seem like a Sunday stroll in the park.
(Much more Maui here.)
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to thank the people who helped make our trip a reality.
First and foremost, there’s my mom, who agreed to come to Seattle in the middle of January to stay at our place with Rowan for five nights. The timing of HER trip was a bit tricky, since she’d just started a job a few days before, but thankfully her new place of employment was understanding of her pre-existing plans, and it was not a big deal for her to be away.
Rowan and my mom got along famously, mostly just hanging out at home because it was bitterly cold that week. That same Friday while I was hyperventilating in the Pacific Ocean, Rowan came down with a stomach bug (again), but my mom handled it well, despite his barfing all over the living room of my mom’s friend’s house. Oy. My cousin Julia, who works as a nurse in Seattle, deserves a shoutout, too, for bringing over Pedialyte and chicken noodle soup for the little sickie.
It was the last time my mom will see Rowan before Baby #2 is born, so I’m pretty sure she enjoyed all the one-on-one time she got with him. I’m pretty sure he enjoyed all that time with his Beppe, too.
Thanks also to Roth’s parents, his brother and his grandmother for helping fund the trip. As aforementioned, we got to eat out at some high-end places and drive all over the island in a rental car, something I don’t think we could’ve done so liberally without that financial support.
Lastly, a HUGE thanks to Roth, who despite feeling like utter crap the first two days we were there, rallied (with the help of Dayquil) to make sure we had a good time and made the most of every experience. Had it been ME who had been sick, the trip wouldn’t have gone as well. Also, Roth deserves a birthday do-over at some point since we spent his 35th on a 5-hour flight back to Seattle. At least there was chocolate cake included with the in-flight meal?
Thanks also for all of the really nice comments and support on my previous post. I plan to write more about how we’re coping with this change of status, but for now, we’ll always have Maui.
Not last Friday but the one before that, I was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 10 miles away from Maalaea Harbor, bobbing up and down on a catamaran anchored to the floor of a volcanic crater. We were there to snorkel in said geologic marvel, to float atop the azure water and peer down below at myriad sea creatures — the supposed pinnacle of our trip to Maui. I’d never been snorkeling before, but it wasn’t until we were geared up, standing among strangers and listening to a hasty lesson on how to breathe through a plastic tube that I started to feel nervous.
Roth assured me I’d be fine once I got into the water. I would just need to relax my body and breathe — in and out, in and out. He’d been snorkeling before, in the Florida Keys when he was a kid, and more recently, about a decade before on another trip to Hawaii.
(I’d never been to Hawaii before, either.)
We stood at the back of the boat, my legs quivering and my eyes starting to fill with tears, fogging up the mask. I didn’t want to get in the choppy water, but more so, I didn’t want to have to tell anyone that I didn’t even try to snorkel, especially since we paid for this rare, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Somehow, with more coaxing by Roth, I willed myself toward the steps and slowly eased my body into the water.
I never knew the depth of my fear of open water until I was in it. Even though we were mere feet away from the boat, and Roth was by my side, I felt very alone. Vulnerable. Unskilled. I clung to a boogie board and tried to breathe — in and out, in and out — through the tube, to get used to the sensation, as Roth suggested, but the more I inhaled-exhaled, my breath an eerie echo in my ears, the more I started to feel the vines of panic taking over my mind.
Put your face in the water, he said. Just look down.
I did. I did. It didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel good.
Just relax, he said.
I tried. I extended my arms and put my face in the water again, this time I was able to see to the rocky bottom, a scant few fish slithering by, but I couldn’t breathe. I was holding my breath. No in. No out. No, this wasn’t working. Despite the utter vastness below and outstretched before me, I felt claustrophobic. This wasn’t the magical experience that’d been touted in the guidebook. I had to get out of the water, and so I did, encouraging Roth to stay and get his money’s worth.
As I sat alone on the top deck of the boat, tears streaming down my face from behind my sunglasses, I felt like an idiot. We’d come all this way — not just the 10 miles from the harbor, but all the way from Seattle to Maui in the middle of winter to have an amazing! and awesome! vacation — and now the trip was marred. All that planning, and it was no longer perfect because I’d failed at snorkeling.
Several hours later, as Roth and I sat in our rental car trying to work through the anger and disappointment that’d taken over the rest of my day, we had a breakthrough, an epiphany, of sorts, as I remembered something I’d read in The Happiness Project last January.
Or, more specifically, “I tried snorkeling; snorkeling is not for me.” Period.
The rest of our trip — all the meals and driving and sightseeing and relaxing — was awesome! and amazing! It just feels so surreal that we’ve already gone to and returned from Maui, that two weeks ago I was adrift in an ocean of emotions. Little did I know that feeling of not being able to breathe would happen again just a week later.
This past Friday, the one after that, I was in a small conference room, the one without any windows to the outside, hearing my breath echo inside my head again, this time as I listened to the COO of the company for which I’d worked almost seven years tell me my position was being eliminated, that I was being let go, effective immediately. Like a scene out of a movie, another man I’d never laid eyes on before, an HR manager flown in from the corporate offices in San Francisco, extended a box of tissue in my direction as my eyes started to fill with tears.
The feeling of hearing you’re being laid off is not unlike the feeling of drowning. You try to breathe, see straight, and cling to the facts — it’s not you, it’s just numbers; you’ve done nothing wrong — but the water rises quickly in that situation. You’ve been sunk.
Obviously, this wasn’t part of the plan.
I didn’t see it coming, though I should have, having been through several cycles of layoffs and department consolidations in my time with the company. The sticky thing is, a month prior we’d all been assured that despite tough times ahead, there would not be any layoffs. Wrongly, I’d let myself feel safe and secure, especially in my diverse and varied role. I’d gotten too comfortable. Complacent, perhaps. Heck, I was 7 months pregnant. They’d never let ME go!
HA. Ha, ha.
Several days later, as I sit on my couch in my pajamas, with Rowan now at my side (the world as he knew it has been rocked pretty hard, too), things look a lot different than they did just a week ago. I’ve been through the gamut of emotions — sadness, anger, fear, woe, confusion (I’ve never been let go from a job before, either) — but I think things are really going to be OK. Thankfully, my former employer is not leaving me totally high and dry. There’s severance — a token, perhaps, of how terrible the powers-that-be feel, given I was one of six who were laid off that day — and help with insurance, too.
And there’s a silver lining, of being able to collect unemployment, of course, but also of being able to collect myself. Had this not happened to me, I might’ve stayed at my former company another seven years, but maybe this is the universe’s way of telling me it’s time to put my face in the water and see what else is out there.
To sink, or swim.
Oh, hello! And a belated Happy New Year to you!
It’s hard to believe it’s more than a week into the new year let alone that it’s already 2013 to begin with. So much of the latter part of 2012 was me telling myself and others, “I’ll deal with THAT next year!” And here it is, next year is now, which means I really need to get my act together with regard to some important things like, say, any kind of baby prep.
Honestly, I’m not too stressed about any of it this time around seeing as we have a whole basement full of baby stuff, but I should probably put together a list of things we’ll need sooner than later and create a timeline for getting it all ready because I’m certain the next 15 (or fewer!) weeks are going to zoom by.
Backing up a bit, though …
We spent the holidays driving a whole lot. Ten-plus hours the first day down to Redding to stay with Roth’s grandma for a night. What should have been 5 hours the next day ended up being 7 hours from Redding to Sonora, thanks mostly to white-knuckled rain-and-wind conditions.
We were so relieved to finally arrive at our Christmas destination — seriously, Roth deserved many beers for getting us there safely — only to experience Barf Fest 2012 a mere 30 minutes later. Poor Rowan had no idea what was happening to him as he puked all over himself, me and the leather couch. We thought maybe he’d eaten a bad burger at In-N-Out earlier in the day, but a couple days later, Roth’s 94-year-old grandma got similarly sick, and then the next night, I got sick, too. It got Roth later the next day (and probably the worst), so I’m fairly certain there was some sort of norovirus/24-hour stomach flu thing swirling around the house that we all (unfortunately) caught.
Thankfully, the stomach flu felled the majority of us AFTER Christmas Eve and Day. Rowan had recovered in time to thoroughly enjoy his spoils from us, the grandparents, Uncle Lane, and of course, Santa. So. Much. Stuff. It’s his last year as a Singleton Grandchild, though, so it just sort of happened. Next year will likely be very different.
A few days later, and after we’d (barely) recovered from the flu, we headed down to visit my dad in Modesto for a couple of days, which was really mellow and probably what we needed after being so violently sick. My dad gave Rowan his first two-wheel bike (with training wheels), so we spent some time outside trying to show him how to pedal. It might be a long road before he fully gets it, but I think the will to learn is there.
On New Years Eve, we left my dad’s house very early and started the 10-hour drive to Bend, Oregon, rather than our usual trek back up I-5. Even though it was a long day of driving and some of the roads were not plowed, it was an awesome diversion from the norm. A longtime blog friend Shannon had hooked us up with a great rate at the hotel where she works. I finally got to meet her and her family for dinner that night, too, which was fun. We were back at the hotel early enough to watch the New Years festivities unfold on the East Coast and then asleep by about 9:30. Par-tay!
After another quick meet-up with Shannon and crew at an awesome coffee-slash-beer-slash-bike-and-snow-board-repair shop (Bend, you so quirky!), we started the final leg of our journey home. The drive from Bend to Portland to get back to I-5 was farther than I thought, but oh, it was beautiful that day through snow-caked trees with Mt. Hood looming in the distance. We stopped in Portland for a very late lunch with the newly engaged Kerri and Matt, who were also headed home after many, many days on the road. I’m so glad geography worked in our favors so we could see them for a bit before the final 3-hour trudge home to Seattle.
Roth and I both went back to work the next three days, and I promptly came down with a sore throat-turned-head cold that’s still lingering more than a week later. With regard to us getting sick over the holiday break (and me still sick now), I keep telling myself, “Better now than Maui.”
Today we’re a week away from our trip to Maui, and with so much rain coming down, this babymoon-birthday vacation couldn’t be happening at a better time. Am patting myself on the back for making the trip a reality because seriously? WE NEED IT LIKE WHOA.
For months now, we’ve been talking about the day you turn 4. We’ve been planning and discussing every detail of your birthday party — who to invite, what color balloons to buy, where to put up the banner. You and Dad would look at the calendar and count the sleeps until the party and the actual day — today, in fact — and it’s just that we’ve all been SO EXCITED.
So tell me, dear son of mine, why you woke up on your birthday so stinking cranky about the whole thing? Are my math skills really that terrible and you’re actually 14, not 4? Perhaps we overloaded you all weekend with just a bit too much celebrating, and now that your birthday is really here, you’re kind of over it. I get that. Sometimes the anticipation of something as exciting as turning 4 is better than the actual event.
Vehement denial aside, today you are finally 4. Every parent says this, but it’s just so hard to believe how big you are, how smart you are, how amazing you are. This past year has seen you transform from a still-pudgy toddler-child into a full-fledged kid, with very specific ideas and opinions. You don’t just like trucks — you like monster trucks with big chunky tires, Rescue Bots and shiny Hot Wheels cars. You don’t want to listen to just any music — you prefer rock ‘n roll, and more specifically, fast, drum-laden rock ‘n roll, like The Black Keys or The White Stripes. (The verdict is still out on Led Zeppelin and The Beatles — I don’t think I fully appreciated the classics until I was about 14, so perhaps my math skills aren’t THAT bad after all.)
Your mind is far more analytical than mine, as you often ponder how something works, where it comes from, or what it’s made of. I do believe you got this trait from your dad, and it’s fun to watch the two of you discuss the hot water pipes or the heater ducts at great length. You’re a pretty tactile kid, too, as I recently watched you bend Play-Doh into the shapes of the alphabet, something you refuse to even try with a pencil and paper.
Even though you’d rather spend hours with your hands digging in the dirt or tinkering with tools than coloring or crafting, you do have a very sensitive side, as evidenced by your love for your floppy stuffed elephant aptly named Ellie. I’m not sure when you started sleeping with Ellie every night, perhaps it was when we moved into the new house and you needed some extra comfort, but she’s always under the crook of your arm each morning when you pad down the stairs and into our room for a snuggle.
Last night I tucked you and Ellie in next to your two new Rescue Bots, which was an interesting juxtaposition, but maybe it’s actually quite symbolic? One the one hand, you’re like this BIG kid, kind of rough and tumble on the outside, but on the other hand, you’re still a bit of a baby on the inside, too, occasionally curling up with me under a blanket. We’ve been testing your maturity the last couple of months, too, letting you watch movies both your dad and I loved as kids, like E.T. and The Goonies, both of which you seemed to enjoy quite a bit. Randomly, we turned on Jumanji the other day, and it got to a part where there was a giant, Seymour-like plant trying to swallow up the kids, and you got so scared, you let out this authentic scream of sheer terror, one we’d never heard from you before. Uh, oops! As your dad joked, guess we won’t be letting you watch Little Shop of Horrors any time soon.
As you turn 4, I think what I love the most about you is how gregarious and charming you can be. I sometimes worry you’re a bit of a chatterbox, but at your birthday party yesterday (and at other recent events like our friends Terrell and Andrew’s wedding), I watched as you talked to adults in a very mature way, and to your friends, too, making sure everyone was having a good time, taking advantage of all the party’s offerings. You’re a consummate host, often greeting guests at the door with contagious enthusiasm. You’re also gracious and kind, quick to slap a high-five or tuck in for a bear hug from just about anybody you’ve known for even the shortest amount of time.
A quick perusal of your previous birthday letters (one, two, three) reminded me that I pretty much came to the same conclusions then, too, so if history is any indication of the future, I think it’s safe to say that 4 is going to be even more awesome than 3, which was more awesome than 2, and so on. Four may present some interesting challenges, too, what with the addition of a sibling in a couple more months, but I’m wildly optimistic that you are going to be a terrific big brother.
Happy Birthday, Ro. Your Dad and I just love you so, so much.
Time sure is a trickster, isn’t it? How can it be that it’s already December, and that the end of another year is nigh on the horizon? That we’re preparing to celebrate Rowan’s fourth trip around the sun, followed in short order by Christmas and all that jazz? And yet, on the other hand, it feels like I’ve been pregnant already for a thousand weeks instead of just 20, as my pregnancy app tells me, and I still have so far to go.
Perhaps I’ve felt every single week of this pregnancy because my body (and the wee baby inside of it) has not let me forget it for one second, what with the weekly puke sessions I thought were just a myth the last time I performed in this three-ring circus. I’d hoped by now I’d see the return of my energy, as is typical of the second trimester, but all I want to do every night after work is put on comfy pants and wrap myself into a cocoon. The absence of light and presence of cold certainly doesn’t help, but still: it seems my energy is taking a sabbatical all winter long.
Belly, 19(ish) weeks
The good news is, outside of all the barfing and general malaise, that everything is going well with the pregnancy. All my early blood work came back normal, no signs of defects, and on Monday, we got to see Sapling wiggle and squirm for good 45 minutes during the anatomy ultrasound, which of course, also would’ve been the big gender reveal, had we wanted to find out the sex. We stuck to our guns, though, and didn’t peek as the technician poked around the baby’s parts. Not even my doctor knows if this baby is a boy or a girl because the ultrasound report did not surreptitiously include this information. So, it will be a surprise for everyone come April!
Baby, 19(ish) weeks
In between then and now, though, are a few big events to look forward to. First up is Rowan’s 4th birthday, for which we are celebrating with a make-your-own pizza party at a parlor down the street. The next weekend we are driving down to California to spend Christmas with Roth’s family, followed by a couple of days at my dad’s before heading back up to Seattle before the New Year.
Just a couple of weeks after that, we’re headed to Maui! I almost can’t believe it’s true since about a month ago, we weren’t sure we could even swing the trip. But, we searched high and low for a flight deal, secured a sitter (my mom!) for Rowan, booked lodging, confirmed the time off work, and it’s a go! This trip is part babymoon (gah, I know), part Roth’s birthday celebration, as he will turn 35 the day we fly back to Seattle. I’m really glad we were able to make this trip a reality. Once Sapling gets here, I don’t envision us going on a vacation again until … um.
See, time IS a trickster.
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