Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Like Camping

Misery

Ivy is INTENSE. Her shrieks are eardrum-bursting. Her appetite is voracious. Her laughter loud and long. Her kisses are big and sloppy. When she starts to cry, she escalates quickly, like she wants us to know in no uncertain terms that something is terribly wrong RIGHT NOW! When she locates the object of her desire, Ivy charges, full speed ahead.

When I wouldn't let her unplug computers at the library today, Ivy took all the board books off their little rotating shelf and thrust them into my hands one at a time. She has figured out how to open the screen door and let herself into the back yard. At dinner she pointedly dropped her garbanzo beans and peas on the floor, and demanded more tomato, pointing: "May! May!"

She can climb to the top of the tallest climbing structures at our favorite parks. On Saturday, she braved the highest slide at the playground and then went back at least 15 more times to do it again. I've never seen her more ecstatic, squealing, grinning from ear to ear, her hair a fuzzy sea urchin of static electricity. Charging up the playground structure, sliding down the tallest slide—sometimes head first—over and over and over again. By the time we had to leave, she was out of breath.

"She's a handful," people (and I) have been saying since she was born, and it holds true. Ivy might be several handfuls. It's exhausting, but also delightful beyond words.

Reach

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ivy's Birthday Weekend

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So Ivy turned one—have I mentioned that Ivy is ONE?!—and despite my best intentions, her birthday celebration got stretched out into several birthday celebrations. (And we have one more coming up this weekend, because Rob's and my families can't seem to coordinate and just do ONE BIG CELEBRATION where everyone shows up and we celebrate and it's over.) First up was a little get-together at Grandma and Grandpa's house, where the hit of the day was new pajamas...

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"Not flame resistant? What the what?"

...and the activity table that Westley received for his first birthday!

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(And a ratty old cat toy. She's hoping I won't notice.)

* * * 

Blood Donation

Before I even thought about the details of Ivy's party—or even whether or not we should have a party—there was one thing I knew I wanted to do to celebrate her birthday. I wanted to donate blood.

During my (unfortunate, unplanned) hospital stay following Ivy's (wonderful, amazing) home birth, I received three units of blood. It certainly wasn't enough to make up for what I lost in the operating room, but I owe a good portion of my life to the generosity of blood donors.

I still remember Ivy's birthdate as a joyful summer day, with a beautiful, clear blue sky. But objectively, it was pretty dark, and the fact is that I would not be alive without the fluids and donated blood I received.

My goal is to donate six pints this year. I feel like it's the least I can do to pay back the Universe—and maybe help someone else through an unfortunate, unplanned situation.
 
Blood Donation

(Next time, though, I'll leave the kids home with a sitter. The donation didn't take very long, but they were bored out of their minds and bouncing off the walls.)

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* * *

Ivy's "official"-with-invitations birthday party took place at a park chosen solely for its wonderful swings.

Ivy's 1st Birthday
Ivy's 1st Birthday
Ivy's 1st Birthday

There were a presents and healthy(ish) cupcakes and balloons chosen by Westley.

Ivy's 1st Birthday
Ivy's 1st Birthday
Ivy's 1st Birthday

We played, sang "Happy Birthday," and played some more. Then we stuffed the balloons in the trunk and drove home. Ivy fell asleep almost immediately after we strapped her into her car seat.

Ivy's 1st Birthday 

It was a simple, sweet, happy birthday for a wonderful one-year-old.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

One

Birth

My hands found her easily, and I pulled a baby up and onto my chest. She was pink and perfect. 
"Ivy!"
First touch.
Ivy!

I kissed her over and over. 
"Welcome, Ivy! You got born! You're here!"

One Month

One Month

Maybe I should have known it would happen when I named her after a climbing plant, but Ivy clings to be for dear life. She protests when I put her down, squawking with a ferocity I don't remember Westley having at this age, but maybe I've just forgotten. Ivy is intense. (And a little high maintenance.) Her favorite place is on my body. 
She cries real tears now, and they collect in her tiny eyelashes. It's heartbreaking.

Two Months

Two Months
I love having pretend conversations with her. Ivy coos, I coo back. She watches my mouth when I talk to her (and when I eat), so I make huge, stupid, wide-eyes-open-mouth faces at her. I would feel like a idiot doing it, except that it's totally fun. She also seems to like being read to. Night before last, Rob caught me reading to her from Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck.

Ivy is always delighted to see Rob. She makes her, "Oh, wow! It's YOU!" face at him, like the George Carlin dog. But Westley is the one who keeps her most engaged. It's perfect: he loves to explain things about superheroes and fictional robots, and she seems to enjoy being explained to.

Three Months


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Most of the time, things are good. I'm amazed by how far we've come just in the past few weeks. The 3-6 Months clothes are already starting to look too small. Nursing sessions don't go on for hours. There is something resembling a sleep schedule.

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Right Hand

It's funny to me that I still can't believe Ivy is real. Yesterday I put her on the changing table and I was just blown away by her actual-baby-ness. All I could do was stare at her, because, Look at you! You're a baby! You're my daughter and you're really REAL!

Four Months

"Does she ever cry?" Westley's teacher asked me Thursday afternoon. And, like a dope, I said something on the order of, "Oh, she has her fussy times, but she's not much of a crier." 
And then last night Ivy cried every couple of hours until I looked at the clock and it was 6:30 AM, and I said, Fine, you win, baby. We'll get up now.

Four Months

She rolls over from her back to her tummy easily (though she hasn't done it in the past few days) and immediately gets her knees under her and squirms. It's like she understands the theory of crawling even though her body isn't quite there yet. Which, naturally, makes her crazy and the baby-dinosaur noises come out full-force.

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She's crazy-delicious, this soft, fluffy baby of mine.

Five Months


Five Months
"Feet are seriously the greatest thing ever, you guys."

Five Months
("Oh, foot, I love you so much.")

Six Months


Sweet Potato Baby

I once scoffed at a picture frame in a baby stuff store that was clearly designed to hold an ultrasound picture. Script along the border read, "Love at First Sight." The whole sentiment seemed incredibly cheesy. 
I get it now. I would put that picture frame on my wall now.

Six Months

Ivy turned six months old on Valentine's Day, and I am more in love with her than ever. Sometimes I still can't believe she's here, that she made it here (we made it), when I dreamed about her for so long.

Seven Months


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Ivy is days away from crawling. Rob is sure she'll have it mastered by next Friday. She can get up on her hands and knees no problem. All fours, nothin' to it. Then she takes a crawling "step" and collapses face first into the rug. It's exhausting to watch her, but also kind of inspiring. She never once falls down and goes, "Well, screw that. So not worth it."

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Eight Months

Eight Months
Eight Months

Ivy is more wiggly than ever. She refused to lie down for her monthly photo shoot. I think it might be time to throw in the towel on this whole "take a picture of the baby on the Wonder Woman blanket every month" idea. She just doesn't want to be still. She has stuff to do.

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Untitled

Ivy finally has a tooth! On April 7, she woke up from her afternoon nap with a little white point peeking through her gums. I know the date because I wrote it on the calendar. I had a little first-tooth dance party.

Nine Months


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For the most part, Ivy continues to be a happy little social butterfly. She comes with me to my physical therapy appointments, where she has the reception staff eating out of her hand. She waves hello and good-bye, claps, and reaches out to give hugs. I can't just hand her off to a friendly adult anymore, though. A switch flipped a couple days ago, and we're starting to see a little bit of stranger anxiety, even around people she knows well.

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Ten Months


10 Months
10 Months

I would be much happier to just let it be, to just roll with the sleep punches knowing that I'm doing everything I can to help her, except that I'm so tired. By the end of the day, I don't know who I am any more. Parenting two children in two very different stages of development is the most challenging form of multitasking I've ever attempted. (And I was never very good at multitasking.)

Ergo

Eleven Months

She's going to be a year old. I can't believe she's going to be a year old. Except that it was a million years ago that she was born. I remember so vividly when she wasn't here, but still it seems as though she's always been here. She was never not crawling and cruising and pulling up to stand on everything and everyone.

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Today

At 4:18 this afternoon, Ivy Mathilda turned one year old.

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I don't know what to say other than We did it! We made it through the first year! High-five Ivy—she gives high-fives now—and Rob and Westley and self, and everyone who loved us and supported us along the way.

(Thank you. We love you all.)

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Welcome to your second year, Chickadee. I can't wait to see what you do with it.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bye, Bye Baby

Sippy

Tomorrow is her first birthday. And I know she'll still be a baby—I know a year from now, I'll look at pictures of her from tomorrow and say, "She was a baby!"—but she looks like such a big girl.

In her long, graceful arms and sweet hands (where knuckles are starting to replace the dimples at the bases of her fingers) I see the beginnings of toddler. Her voice is still all baby, as are her legs, which somehow manage to be strong, wobbly, unsure, and steady all at once. It's her face where I see the circles overlapping, tiny baby one minute, big girl the next, but mostly just both. I like to try to imagine what she'll look like when she's all-the-way grown-up, say, 27.

Even as I watch her grow, I struggle to remember that some day, she really won't be a baby anymore.

Hair

Today I took her to a concert in the park and she got up on her knees and bobbed up and down in the little protodance she does whenever music plays. She wore her brother's shirt and shoes from when he was one, and everyone thought she was a boy. I combed sunscreen through her hair so she looked like a greaser. She spent most of the concert crawling over to the picnic blankets in our immediate vicinity, checking out other babies' toys and teethers. She stole a yellow shovel and waved it around for a few songs. But she clapped in all the right places.

Clap Hands

On the walk home she fell asleep in her stroller, and I managed to get her into her crib without waking her. She woke up a little over an hour later, feeling chipper and looking like a toddler.

Last Day of 0

The first year is supposed to fly by, but for the most part, hers hasn't. It feels like quite a while ago that I went to bed with a giant belly, not knowing that I would wake up to a little gush of water in the morning. I remember the song I was listening to and the position I was lying in and how I had the pillows propped, but not like it was yesterday. Like it was about a year ago, actually.

I was so excited to meet my baby. Now I get to watch her transform into a child.

Baby

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