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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy 6 months Lew

My dear beautiful daughter,

You are 6 months old now and I don't even have to say it, do I? Half a year already? Really?! And you are cruising right along, my dear. Speeding past milestones and racing head long towards your brother. You've been crawling (and I use the term lightly. It's forward motion that involves hands, knees, feet, belly and, sometimes, your face) for about a month now. It's still shocking to put you on the floor, leave the room for just a few, quick moments and come back to find you on the other side of that room desperately trying to squeeze your head under the couch. There must be some really great toys under there. Or fabulously gross dust bunnies - equally, if not more appealing. But you move the fastest for Asa. My goodness, how you love him. You can see it in your eyes, this focused intent and intense adoration. As soon as his little voice is audible, your head turns, your ears perk and you track the sound. Target spotted, you gear up. Flipping over from your back to belly in one quick and awkward swoop, eyes still locked on your goal, you start to move. It's a crawling-scampering-drag of the body, you might say, complete with huge grunts of effort and sighs of exasperation. Closer and closer you squirm, wiggling and hopping and struggling the whole long way across the carpet. Then right there, right at the very point of your destination, right when you're about to grab a glorious fistful of Asa's hair....he snatches his head back and won't let you have it. It's momentarily heart breaking and I think you might cry, what with your tiny hopes so quickly dashed and all. But you are fine. A small smile passes your lips and you start again, head down, butt up, body moving ever towards its target.

You are hungry as can be and grab at any food that passes by you (though the only thing you actually eaten is banana and rice cereal). You took to eating very fast and you happily gobble up spoonful after spoonful of whatever is offered. I think if you had it your way you’d eat a lot more solid foods, but for now it’s just one, sometimes two servings a day. Don’t worry love, there’s more to some!

You have started making the most interesting sounds I may have every heard. Truly little one, it is weird. It's hard to describe accurately, so I will have to record it soon for posterity, but I'd say it's akin to a cat yowling or a small dog growling. No really. And you do it mostly when you're excited. You love it when we hoist your little body up into the air, a tiny toss over the head. It's on the way down, when I imagine that feeling of falling hits your belly like butterflies, that your strange little call bursts out. "Yaawwwooarrrw!" Or something close to that. Followed by a tiny snort that is almost a giggle. Sometimes Asa and his best friend Harper will "talk" to you by imitating the sound back to you. Of course, being 2.5 year olds, this is best done inches from your face and at very high volume. And you love it. You smile that mouth wide open, cheek splitting smile and yowl right back at them. It really is the best sound in the world. Strange and grunty and unrefined, it is the sound of absolute joy. I like to think of it sort of as a talking/laughing/growl thing. One to get attention and express your joy. I will definitely miss it when it's gone.

We’ve moved you out of the bed and into the Pak n Play right next to us. So far it’s been a pretty seamless transition and you seem to like your little bed. We usually swaddle you at night, but you’re already strong enough to wiggle out rather quickly. You’ve even managed to flip yourself over a few times, which seems difficult and uncomfortable, but for the most part you sleep quietly on your back, tightly tucked in your swaddle, mouth agape and eyes twitching. Really, your nighttime sleep is pretty awesome with 4 – 6 hour stretches between feedings. It’s the daytime naps that are a little rougher. You just don’t want to sleep for more than 30, maybe 40 minutes at a time. You’ll fall asleep easily enough, but up you pop, sometimes just 20 minutes later, ready for more action. I suspect you hear your brother (despite the music we play at a slightly higher than is necessary volume in your room) and don’t want to miss out on the fun. Sometimes when you seem fast asleep, dead to the world in that serious konked out baby sleep, he’ll some walking through the room talking or laughing or playing some noisy toy and POP! There they are, gorgeous grey eyes wide open and ready with a big ‘ol smile to match.

You know something else amazing about you? You always wake up happy. Every. Single. Time. For real! It's astounding to me, especially after Asa whom I'm pretty sure has never once woken up anything but gah-rum-py! After every nap, every doze, every long night-time stretch you wake with the biggest smile your tiny face can manage. You pack so much smile into those little features - your mouth open wide, stretched at the corners even, cracked open with joy. Your eyes and nose crinkle in the massive smile, your ears even push up, accenting that gorgeous grin. It is just awesome. Even when you're sick (which you have been for the past week or so. Nothing bad, just your first, lingering cold) you wake smiling. I'll hear you start to cough in the middle of the night. It's that awful baby cough too, tiny and terrible. Just the sound of it makes me feel bad for you, let alone the way your little body heaves with the hacking or the bright red spots that dot your eyes after a particularly rough bout. I scramble quickly to the Pak n' Play at the foot of the bed, expecting every time to see a sad, crying baby who needs to be picked up and helped and rocked and eased back to sleep. But no, it's my Lew, my happy little girl with a smile bigger than her own little self. As soon as I peek my head over the lip of that crib, there it is, that fantastic smile, cracking right across your face and lighting up your eyes. It hits me like a ton of happy bricks, this brilliant smack in the face. It makes me happy to see it, every time. (It also makes it a whole lot harder to be mad about getting up at a million o'clock AGAIN.)

You are such a bright spark of joy in our lives Lew, how could we have ever done this without you? After only 6 months it is absolutely impossible to imagine our lives any other way. You are here now and somehow it's like you always were. Your laugh is new, but so very familiar. Your big brother is proud and protective, eager to play with you and happy to scramble around the living room floor with you. You are a grey eyed, bald headed, big eared beauty. You are willful and loud and almost always smiling. You are daughter, sister, granddaughter, cousin and niece. Lew, Lew-Lew, Llewella you are a perfect fit to our quirky little family. I am so glad you are here.



Friday, August 12, 2011

Llewella 3 months

Dear Llewella,

You are nearly three months old now and writing those words down can't make me believe it. Three months, really?! I feel like you've only just slipped into our lives, ingratiated your little self right into our hearts only moments ago. Weren't you just born? Wait, wasn’t I just pregnant?!

You are speeding through your milestones, wasting no time whatsoever. What are you in such a hurry for, love? You are holding your head up frighteningly well. We lay you on your tummy - first in your little baby sleeper up on the kitchen table (which, I assure you, was actually the safest place in the house these days, despite being 3 feet off the ground) and now in the pack n’ play that takes up 30% of our teeny, tiny living room) and POP! Your adorable little head shoots right up and turns around, surveying the scene. Your crane left, stretch right and smile a little wobbly smile before plunking back down for a short break. Five or ten seconds later its POP! and you're up again.

You've been smiling for a little while now and there are few things in this world that bring such joy. When you wake up we turn you over (you are almost always sleeping on your stomach these days) and your sleepy eyes start to roll around, blinking open in the light. A few moments to focus is all it takes, and there it is, a huge, cheek splitting smile cracks. Your mouth opens as wide as possible, your little pert nose crinkles up and the skin around your eyes wrinkles - your whole face is smiling. The biggest possible smile erupts onto your little face and it breaks my heart into a thousand happy pieces.

You're also seen fit to roll over already. You crazy girl. And it happened about four weeks ago now! We had family visiting from out of town - I guess you wanted a bit of an audience. Your great-auntie TiTi was holding you, happily bouncing you around the house as cousins played, uncles grilled and grandma (also a great-grandma) basked in the happy family glow. We placed you on your tummy in the middle of the bed and watched you start. First that head came popping back up - you looked around, smiled back at the smiling faces surrounding you, then dropped that head back down. Up came those little knees, toes digging into sheets and push, push, pushing away. You struggled with it, turning and twisting from side to side, those little legs kicking out the whole time. And you caught it, you found the right hold, your body was there. One more little push and your tumbled right on over, landing on your back with an ear splitting smile to the applause of your doting family. Way to go little one!

We call you Lew these days, or Lew-Lew. Asa and his friends all call you Baby Lew-Lew, as if you needed that distinction. You are a fantastic nurser (and I must attribute at least some of that to my own second time around breast-feeding skills), eating every 3-4 hours during the day with a much longer stretch at night. You sleep wonderfully. At night. During the day there's little cat naps, but nothing lasting more than an hour, occasionally two. But when night time rolls around you are ready. We do out last feeding around 10 or 11, about the time of day I can no longer keep my eyes open. You happily devour your fill and then get all swaddled up or fall asleep on my chest. It's one or the other these days. You usually sleep part of the night swaddled up next to me, and the other part sleeping right on top of me, curled on my chest. It's not always the best sleep for me, but it's some sort of sleep, and it keeps you happy for much longer. Doing it this way we only wake up once in the night to feed, usually around 3 or 4, and then slip right back into sleep until your brother wakes around 6:30. Its really quite lovely, and the feel of your warm, tiny body against mine is delicious.

Asa loves you dearly and to be witness to that love is a joy greater than any other. He comes upt o you many times a day, pets the back of his hand against your head and coos “aww, lewlew. So tiny!” before bouncing back on his way. You are the first person he checks for when entering a room and the last person he kisses to bed at night. When you cry, Asa often drops what he’s doing (literally) and dashes to your side. He grabs your hand, strokes your head and puts his cheek against yours. “No cry Lewlew, Asa here” and, even though the sound of an infant crying at that decibel is mind-numbingly shrill, his attention to you is absolutely precious and I live for those moments.

Thank you for completing the circle.



Friday, July 29, 2011


Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.

But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.

To know the pain of too much tenderness.

To be wounded by your own understanding of love;

And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;

To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;

To return home at eventide with gratitude;

And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
-Kahlil Gibran, on love

Today. Tomorrow. Forever.
I love you.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


My dearest Daughter,

Just three days ago you came into this world, and my life changed forever. That was the day I realized there was no limit to my love. There are no borders, no confines to restrict the fierce affection that courses through me. The walls of my heart encompass only that, my heart, not my love. There are no walls, no boundaries to restrain my feelings. Just because I love your brother with all of my being doesn't mean that I can't expand again and love you too, with every ounce of my self. It's almost funny now that I was afraid of that. I was afraid of figuring out how I would fit more love into my life, afraid that there was no way I could love anyone or anything else like I love your brother. And then I met you, and you proved me wrong.

This is how you made your debut:

It was the morning of your due date, May 11 and I had yet another doctor's appointment. We all thought that maybe you'd come a little early, so when week 40 rolled around I was done, done, done with being pregnant. My back ached, the belly hurt and I simply could wait no longer to meet you. At the office I was dilated 2cm - not much, but more than anything the previous visits had revealed. I was hopeful and let the tiniest bit of excitement slip into my consciousness. You were coming - maybe not that day, but soon!

Easy but timeable contractions started shortly after that 10AM visit. There was nothing really intense about them, in fact the only difference between those contractions and the 25-50 Braxton Hicks contractions I had been having per day for weeks prior was that they were somewhat regular. I'd glance at my cell phone every time I felt that wave of tightness start in my lower abdomen, careful not to let myself think that I was actually timing them yet - I didn't want to get ahead of myself. 11:37, 11:48, 11:56, 12:05 - these contractions were about 10 minutes apart!

So we got your big brother dressed and we all headed out. It was a beautiful, sunny day and Lithia Park was gorgeous. Spring had filled in the trees, new green leafs flickered like tiny flames on every tree. Rhododendrons so red and so pink, they could have been painted into the scenery. Your dad played with Asa, climbing up the ladders and tumbling down the slides, while I walked and and rubbed my belly, thinking of you. I paced through the trees, keeping track of the rolling waves and talking to you. Hello baby, I thought aloud, when are you coming? Do you feel these contractions too? Are you as ready as I am? We walked and walked, up the paths and down, stopping each time we passed the playground to laugh a bit with the boys, watch your brother shimmy belly first down the twisty slide and kiss your dad as we made another lap around the park.

The walking really seemed to help. The more I walked the more intense the contractions became. Nothing too strong, mind you, just more than they had been. I could still talk and think and move about regularly. These were the easy breezy contractions that I could only barely believe were the real thing. And just about the time when I was ready to believe that this was it, this was labor, this was the day you would come into the world, this was the time....they stopped. We got home from our laps around the park and I promptly laid down. All that walking really took it out of me and I was ready for a nap. And with that nap the contractions slowed and slowed until they stopped all together. I was disappointed and even sad - I really thought we were there. I tried not to dwell on it though, tried to remain positive and tried to get some sleep.

Turns out, that was a good idea. Around 10pm those pulsing waves started again. They began up high, above my belly button, and squeezed through my abdomen all the way to the very base of me. Rhythmic and strong, these were contractions. I knew I should rest, so I stayed in bed, trying desperately to find a position that allowed me to breathe through the contractions and relax between them. I slept, off and on, for the next few hours. These contractions were the real deal, to be sure, but still not so strong that I couldn't focus through them or sleep between.

Until 1am. That's when things started rocking and rolling. I woke your dad up and let him know it was time to start keeping track of these suckers. We found a website that was devoted solely to contraction counting and began timing. Three minutes apart? Really? That can't be right, I said, lets try the next one. Two and a half minutes. Three minutes. Two minutes. Really? REALLY? These waves shot through my body and took over my whole being while passing, but I was still standing, still pacing, still breathing right through them. Surely they couldn't be this close, surely there was a mistake in the counting. Your dad suggested we call Jani, our doctor, but I said no, it's too early, lets just keep timing these and make sure we're accurate.

By 3AM they were a minute and a half apart and we had been timing them for more than an hour - they actually were that close. I paced our tiny house, walking in circles through the dark living room, into the dimly lit kitchen and down the hall past our bedroom. Each time I lapped by your brother's door I heard his soft night time music playing and resisted the urge to run in and pick him up, to hold him to me and say you're going to be a big brother soon, the baby is coming, the baby is coming! Instead I would brace myself against the wall, or the arm of the couch or the kitchen counter - whatever happened to be nearest. Your dad would rush to my side and push, hard, on my lower back. Just the perfect spot to counter the enormous amount of pressure in my belly. Each time I was amazed at how much that actually helped.

By 3:15 I was finally convinced it was time to call. I dialed the office, got the midnight answering service and waited to wake up Jani in the middle of the night. When her sleepy voice asked how far apart the contractions were I hesitantly said, about a minute and a half? As if it were a question. But it doesn't feel like the contractions are strong enough to be that close together, I told her, and I really don't want to get there too early. She said she thought we should come on in and, as another wave, more intense than anything yet, ripped though me, I conceded. It was time to call your grandmother, get her to come stay with your brother and head to the hospital to meet you.

It took grandma no more than 15 minutes to get here. She had had her bag packed for weeks and was more than ready to rush over here at the drop of a hat. Somehow those 15 minutes stretched on forever. I had 6 or 7 contractions in that time, each stronger, more insistent than the last. I paced the living room, stopping to lean on the couch and breathe, breathe, breathe through those waves and looking out the window for the lights of her truck in between each one. Finally the road lit up and the rumble of the engine stopped right outside. She was here. Time to get in the car and drive.

I quickly stopped in your brother's room, kissed his head and told him how much I loved him, promised him I'd bring him home a healthy, happy baby to be a big brother to and closed his door again. I hugged my mom, paused for another pulsing wave and strapped myself in the passenger seat. This was it. We were finally here, driving to the hospital in the middle of the night, ready to bring you into the world.

We arrived in the ER at 4am (the same time, as it so happens, that we arrived at the hospital for your brother's birth. The day after your due date, just like Asa). They were ready for us, but we still had to wait a few moments for the OB nurse to come and lead us to the right place. Angus says it was less that two minutes that we stood in that sterile grey hallway waiting for someone to come show us the way. if you asked me, I'd say it was infinitely longer. I think I had two contractions during that time, each one rocketed through my body, quickly spreading that wave of tightness through my belly, my back, my entire being.

Once in our room we had a quick ride on the fetal monitor to make sure everything was ok. I could hear the metallic whah-whah, whah-whah whirring of your heart beat and it was soothing. It sped up during contractions, slowed down in between. These contractions were the strongest yet. I thought about my breath and sighed hard into the height of each wave, and relaxed into it as much as I could. Being on my back, on a table was about the least comfortable position I could imagine. I was (and still am) surprised at just how striking that was to me this time. It never really occurred to me the first time - it was all new and uncomfortable. But this time around I was acutely aware of the awkwardness of that position. I felt like a turtle on it's shell, struggling through the most most intense sensations a body has ever met, trying to relax, breathe and stay comfortable. After just a few minutes though our wonderful nurse, Tasia, said that we'd monitored enough. Every thing was perfect and it was time to get in the tub.

The room was dimly lit, some sort of innocuous soft music gently coursed through the speakers and the water was warm and waiting. The second my body touched down I felt relief. Absolutely instantaneous. My whole body was lighter, my whole self freer somehow, eased and supported. I leaned my shoulders and upper body over the edge of the tub and placed my knees at the bottom, bringing the water level chest height. The next contraction threatened to split me in two, but something else took over at this point. Some sort of awesome feminine power that couldn't be explained, only experienced. Some sort of primal magic, otherworldly strength kicks in and lets you ride it till the end. Two more impossible waves crashed through me and I breathed heavy, moaned right into the crest and kept on swimming. With the next I felt nothing but the need to push, like that's all my body could possibly do at that moment in time. And push I did. Just once. Once! I felt your head moving through my body and I knew you were nearly here. Without thinking, I reached down and greeted your tiny head with my own hands. What a moment. I freeze it for a second in my head, remembering just what it was like to be the first hands on your body, the first human contact in this world. I love that. Jani was there just in time to reach in the tub herself and help to bring your slippery self up to my chest. And there you were. Wet and warm and quiet. I held you there, you and I floating in our tub and you opened your eyes, slowly looked around, blinked against the lights and took your very first breaths. You didn't even cry love, you just let it all wash over you, you just took it all in. Silent and alert, you greeted your new home.

Here are a few things we have learned about you in your first three weeks of life:

This is us, just out of the tub. This is your favorite position, laying belly to belly. We sleep like this most nights, you and I. I can feel the warm weight of you, rising and falling with my breath. You start to fidget when you're ready to eat, no screaming and crying, just a little nudge to mama, telling me it's time for a snack. And then it's back to sleep for 3-4 hours.

You and dada have a similar profile and I think you will look a lot more like him.

You like your swaddle blanket, but not quite as much as your brother did. You like to be warm and cozy against someone - and really, who wouldn't?

Your brother loves you very, very much. You are the first thing he looks for when he enters a room "Lew-lew?" he asks, making sure you are near. Each morning when he comes to join us in bed he reaches out his sleepy hand and brushes your head with his fingers so very gently. "Aw," he says "so toot. " Because you are so cute.

We make a great family of four

There is nothing quite like a nap with you. There's something about holding you that just calls us to sleep. Beautiful, warm and soporific, we can't help but snuggle.

You have delicious toes...

...they even make Asa's look big!

You are quiet and peaceful. In fact, you hardly make a peep. We have not done any of the settling down and calming that we seemed to do with Asa. There's no midnight rocking or soothing jiggling and when dada sings to you it's just because he wants to, not because he's consoling you.

You make faces in your sleep and every single one of them warms my heart.

You were born a rockstar - a tiny, petite pixie of a rockstar.

You, my love, make our family complete and I cannot imagine life without you. Thank you for choosing us as your family.



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