December 5, 2017

The Week Of Pajamas


Here we are, stretching into December and short dark winter days. Trying and failing to kick the chest cold that we're all sharing, not ideal timing for a baby with a lung issue. Trying and failing not to obsess on impending doctors appointments, and to just enjoy each moment. Succeeding in pulling Smith promptly from the playground each day after school, and spending more time at home, playing together, sipping cocoa, eating clementines, watching Christmas movies, making giant messes, peering at the ongoing yard construction, listening to the Beatles, and living in our jammies. All day every day. 

November 29, 2017

Limbo


At some point over the summer, I had allowed myself to indulge in the fantasy of a totally healthy baby and a completed construction project, all wrapped up in time for Christmas. Our reality is a chest x-ray that still looks lousy, despite our strong little girl showing absolutely no symptoms, and a construction project that will roll right on through the new year. 

It would be dishonest to say that I was anything other than heartbroken today when our follow up doctor's visit, a visit that is typically the final checkpoint in the dismal journey of this condition, revealed Lo's lung still partially collapsed, gunky, and with the causes unclear. This is something that happened after her surgery, something that should have cleared by now, and the fact that it hasn't has all the best and brightest scratching their heads, and naturally has me holding my breath all over again. For now, we wait. Two more weeks. Then we get more images and just hope for the miraculously perfect recovery that we'd assumed was guaranteed. I no longer have a clear path for the 'worst case scenario'... because no one seems to know, or no one seems to want to say. And so, we just live as normally as possible and bury our heads in the sand for another few weeks.

Or in our case, thankfully, I can bury my head in plaster dust and lots of banging. Our long planned little yard overhaul is underway. Smith and Roo are less than thrilled about our Christmas decor including flapping plastic, but I am grateful for the distraction. I have always loved living in construction, and while some might be daunted by the combination of a crawling baby and the various hazards that multiply daily, so far it just feels great to be making progress. On something. To be in control of the chaos, here if nowhere else.

November 28, 2017

Thanks Deferred


A year ago, Thanksgiving was the date that I had circled as my goal. I'd been told that if I reached my 28th week of pregnancy and our baby's lung mass was stable and not growing, we were in the clear, I could slow the weekly ultrasounds, and we could all breath a little easier. I practiced positive thinking and knew that come Thanksgiving, I would be with all my family and feeling lighter with the most critical threshold behind us... instead I found myself laying in an ultrasound room, hearing that the mass had grown, squeezing in three consecutive days of steroid shots before Thanksgiving, and booking months of twice weekly ultrasounds. 


This year, celebrating with a slow holiday at home, our baby fresh from surgery and thriving, I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with joy and gratitude and basically just a sappy mess of emotions. I never use the word 'blessed', but it does seem the most accurate description of how I'm feeling. So blessed. 

This year Thanksgiving looked like drinks and appetizers with our neighbors, a veggie feast all to ourselves, a well behaved (if slightly dazed) baby straight from her nap, a giant jar of 'thankful notes', the children's first brush with The Wizard of OZ, and store bought pumpkin pie.


Roo earned her star as the official best kitchen helper, she legitimately prepared cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes and squash and stuffing... and also the official pickiest eater, as she consumed nothing but cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Smith loved demonstrating his budding reading skills by picking through the jar of thankful notes- a new favorite tradition that I find reminiscent of fortune cookies (no one makes fortune cookies anymore, and I miss them sorely, however culturally inappropriate), Lo was amazed by the candles, James refilled his plate so many times that he singlehandedly justified all our the cooking efforts, and I was just so damn happy- snapping pictures and pinching myself that these beautiful people all belong to me. 

Thanksgiving, 2017

It feels so good to take pictures with my 'real' camera again, and looking at them I am reminded that even the oldest and most janky camera is somehow better than an iPhone- at least I think so. It also feels good to cobble together a few thoughts, and to just be myself. Lo's follow up appointment is tomorrow, and I don't think the weight will lift until she finally has a perfectly clear sign off... but the load is certainly lighter. So much lighter. That critical threshold is finally behind us, a year late, but certainly no less appreciated.

November 26, 2017

Little Lo


At nine months old, our Little Lo is determined and busy, eager for activity and action, and resistant to quiet snuggles. I watch this third child of mine, and am constantly reflecting on how different her babyhood is than either of her two siblings. 

Smith was obviously an only child for the first two and a half years. Those were quiet days spent building block structures, coloring, taking slow strolls. There was zero screen time, a tremendous effort around 'intentionality' with everything we ate and the life we were creating for him. I look back on my early years of motherhood with equal parts nostalgia and humor at just how much I sweated and basked in all those details.

Roo was the most easy going baby (certainly not a great indicator for the force of a girl she's grown to be!).She was along for the ride, and I spent much of her first year with her nestled in a carrier as I attended to her brother's interests and needs. I was busier, more sleep deprived, and more relaxed on screen time and store bought snacks. Roo would watch and delight in her brother as he constructed elaborate train tracks, but he was a quiet toddler with a great attention span for solo projects, and so our home was still a quiet place.


And now there is Lo, born into a family with two wild, wonderful school age kids who are anything but quiet. They scream and jump and fight and play every minute of every day. She is shuffled along for the constant school drop offs and pick-ups and birthday parties and outings, and she is NOT happy to be along for the ride, this girl wants IN. 

She was our earliest crawler at just over 7 months, she is fussy and grumpy when her siblings are away at school and literally lights up at the sight of them. She loves noise and shouting, Roo is one of the loudest 4 year olds I know, but Lo is never bothered by the insanity. I will catch myself yelling at the older kids with little Lo in my arms and worry about this poor baby witnessing all this craziness, only to find her beaming like it's the best show in town.

I have written almost as much on this blog about my own childhood as my childrens', and so it goes without saying that I cannot relate at all to this life my baby is living. I was an only child, raised mostly by my mother... Lo is the youngest of a big and busy family. I cannot wait to see who this tough little baby will turn out to be. She is so loved. Her brother and sister adore her in a way I wasn't even prepared for, and when baby Lo was in the hospital and gray from drugs and pain, seeing and hearing Smith and Roo was the only thing that calmed her. Something I will never forget.


These pictures were taken today, and we are nearing three weeks since Lo had major surgery on her lung. A surgery I have been both waiting for and dreading for a year and a half. I can't say how much the experience of having something seriously wrong with my baby has changed me, except to say that it has been equally transformative as  motherhood itself. It is why I couldn't write in this space, it is why I haven't really breathed or felt myself in all these months that now stretch towards years. There is more to say, but I'm not ready, and I also think this baby deserves an introduction not colored by my fears, which I can barely afford her, even now. There are still follow up appointments, and there is still not a single hour that passes that I don't think about my baby's lung... but I am here, writing. So I guess I am feeling good, hopeful, and grateful. Our baby is strong and joyful and determined, and this whole family loves her fiercely. 

August 14, 2017

Dinner For Four


It's been so long since I've written in this space that I sincerely forgot the logistics of how to do it, and the most obvious place to pick up is with the news that we had a baby girl... 6 months ago! She is beautiful and sweet and absolutely adored by her big brother and her big sister. There is so much more to say, but in truth the real push to resume blogging was that our Roo turned four. She wanted her birthday documented and recorded here, just as it always has been, and you just don't say no to Roo. So here we are :)


I was convinced that this would be the year in which our social butterfly demanded a 'real party', complete with a kid guest list. Maybe our family is big enough these days to warrant a party all its own, or maybe she just loves a good tradition, but she wanted nothing more than our family barbecue (and presents, and decorations, and rainbow cake!), and we were all thrilled to give her everything on her list. 

I said it last year and it remains true, she takes such joy in everything that it really does make throwing a party in her honor a complete pleasure. She was so excited from the moment she woke up. She helped me make her 'rainbow cake', (or as rainbow as natural food coloring afforded me), she helped her pop with the barbecue, she selected outfits for Smith and her baby sister (let's call her Lo ;)... and she was basically bouncing off the walls, giddy with being the center of attention. As it turns out, she has the perfect personality for a middle child, no one will ever forget this girl- she won't let them.


My favorite part of the day was our afternoon walk, Roo with her new babydoll strapped on in her new sling (this Keith Haring Ergo, I'm so jealous!), me with my baby strapped on... we all decided that the birthday girl would lead the way, which predictably ended in us getting lost, a storm rolling in, cutting through a few private lawns, a little bickering, and lots of laughs. 


This has been such a gigantic year for our family and our girl; she started preschool, became a big sister, navigated the emotional landmine that is three... it was a workhorse of a year, not always easy (for me or for her!), but full of growth and productivity and there's so much good to show for it. 


I am so proud of my spunky firecracker of a four year old. She is 'a handful'; quick tempered, hot headed, quick to slug anyone who threatens to stand in her way (no joke), yet she is also bubbling with enthusiasm, fiercely loyal to her big 'bwotha' and baby sister (when she squeezes her too hard and is reminded to be gentle, her reply is always, 'what can I say? I just love her so much'). She exhausts me and inspires me every single day. Cheers to my big girl, we all love you so.