July 7 to August 7, 2011Dear Carys,
Month one has been all about staring at you.
Memorizing the tiny movements you make, the soft sweet sounds, and the way your fists clench and unclench as you nurse. The light wisps of eyelashes and the swirls in your hair. The coo you make after you sneeze. The big stretches that seem to double your body length and the old-man faces. Trying to commit to memory the grunts you make in your sleep, the cupid-bow lips, the tiny knot of a belly button. How you immediately relax when you are put in the bath, and the way you'll try to latch onto any available surface when you're hungry. Your concerted efforts to pick your head up when you're on your tummy that both exhaust and thrill you. Your surprised face, where your eyes close and eyebrows fly up and hands flail. The loud satisfied sucking sounds when you manage to get your fist to your mouth and the way you melt into your dad as you sleep on his shoulder. Those giant, beautiful, alert eyes of yours that seem to simultaneously absorb and question the world around you - the high contrast, colorful parts you can see, that is. You love watching light and shadows dance on walls the most. I'm trying to commit that elusive dimple on your left cheek to memory, and the way your toes curl around my finger when I tickle you. And in categories that will mortify you in fifteen years, I hope I remember the loud, reverberating farts that can be heard across the room, the way your flat, muscle-less butt fits in the palm of my hand when I burp you, and how you love to poop in a freshly changed diaper.
You're a great baby, Carys - sweet and relaxed and easygoing. Not much bothers you, and you truly only cry when you're hungry or in pain. You don't sleep a lot - in fact you fight it with all you have in you lest you miss something amazing (and it's all amazing to you) - and you didn't follow in my footsteps by sleeping through the night on your one-month birthday. But you're happily awake and taking in your surroundings when you're not sleeping. You do, however, only give a two-second warning between being happy and being frantically, desperately hungry. You put yourself on a pretty reliable schedule and want to eat every two hours during the day and every three to four hours at night. You've started to smile deliberately and coo at us, and it melts my heart into a big pile of mommy goo.
It's a blessing that you're so good, kiddo, because we've had a hell of a time with breastfeeding you and if you weren't so easy, I'd have locked myself in a dark closet to cry long ago. You may want to skip reading this paragraph until you're ready to nurse your own child, because I'll be discussing my breasts and nipples in detail. We've suffered through bad latch, two bouts of mastitis, thrush, tongue tie, and...well, that's it, but that's a lot in just a few weeks. All of those things mean massive pain for mama, and frankly it's nothing short of a miracle that we're still nursing. The mastitis led to low supply which led to slow weight gain, so we were put on a grueling schedule of nursing, offering another couple ounces of pumped milk via bottle, and then pumping. The whole routine takes an hour to an hour and a half, and when you want to nurse every two hours, frankly I'm just incredibly proud that I've showered in the last month. Every day we continue is a triumph and I'd like an award, please. A big shiny one.
Now that we have you thriving, it's amazing how quickly you are growing and how fast time is going. It's hard for me to see it since I see you every day, but today I packed up the first of your newborn outfits that no longer fit - a pair of footie pajamas. You're quickly outgrowing your other newborn clothes and diapers as well. I never realized that time could fly so fast. But then, I never realized how completely exhausted one person could be, nor did I realize how much you could possibly love someone you just met, so we're learning a lot this month. I look at you and marvel that you're ours, forever and ever, and that your real parents aren't coming to pick you up. We are your real parents (we are your real parents) and we'll always be your parents. It's such a lot of responsibility and so very different from our old life...harder, but truly so much more rewarding. It doesn't seem possible that at this time last year you weren't even a twinkle in our eyes (although you were an egg in my ovaries, har har har).
You fit into our family so perfectly. Well, according to your dad and I. The dog, he could care less. He's maybe even a little irritated that someone is home all day now and he doesn't have run of the house for eight hours and therefore the chance to break into the freezer or trash. Your dad is entirely enamored with you and the first thing he does when he comes home from work is make a beeline to you to cuddle. Your aunts and grandparents are equally taken by you and request pictures and updates daily. A "daily Carys" picture is sent out every day, and one day when I was late with it your dad demanded I deliver ASAP. Your uncle...well, let's just say a newborn baby doesn't hold much interest for a college-age guy. Give it a few months and I'm sure he'll be just as obsessed.
We now have a drying rack with diapers hanging on it, a swing and bouncer and carseat in the living room, baby socks between the couch cushions, bottles in the dishwasher, and massive stacks of boxes from baby gear and gifts waiting to be broken down for the recycling truck. Our lives have changed forever, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Except at 3am. Then sometimes I would have it a different way. Not a different way that is without you, but a way that involves babies evolving to be able to feed themselves from birth, or at least sleep through the night from day, say, three. Days one and two are spent awake and staring at the new creature that has appeared, so we'll give you those.
I was so excited that you were going to be born in the summer, because I had these grand visions of walks every day, spending time in parks, and enjoying the great outdoors as often as possible. Unfortunately, those visions were dashed by a miserably hot and humid July. We did get out in the evening a couple times, and we discovered that you love walks in your stroller. Is there a baby that doesn't, though? Strollers and car seats seem to be baby Ambien. When it started to cool down, your grandma Adkins and I held a garage sale, where despite our efforts to keep you in the shade the entire time, you got sunburned. I could not have felt worse. I found out after the fact that leaves only block a portion of the UV rays. What good are they? Stupid leaves. I blame them and not my incompetence. In other incompetent news, I almost drowned you. Ok, that's a huge exaggeration but that's what it felt like. During a bath, you managed to arch your back and flop your head in a huge motion that threw you off the baby sling and into the water. This was despite the fact I was sitting next to you and had my hand on you! You were only underwater for a split second before I scooped you up and started pounding on your back but we were both terrified. I could not stop cradling and rocking you, even though you were wrapped in just a towel and were a ticking pee time bomb. Now I duct tape you into the sling so you can't do that again, and just to be safe I duct tape you anywhere I set you down as well. Safety first!
I have such a hard time believing that you've already been here for a full month, and such a hard time believing that you haven't always been here. You filled a Carys-shaped hole in my life that I didn't even know existed. I love you, I adore you, I can't imagine life without you.
When talking to new people, I love being able to say "This is my daughter, Carys." And of course, I love whipping out my phone and sharing pictures of your cuteness with the world. Everyone says you are gorgeous (but then, no one tells a parent they have an ugly child, right?). I choose to believe them. I think you are pretty damn adorable.
*This isn't a week late, it just took me a week to write it. I swear!