Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Meg-Meg at almost 2 1/2

Poor Megan hasn't had a post about her in a very long time. I was working on one for a long time, but it just never captured everything. And then the craziness of Emma's separation anxiety happened...then colds, Christmas, family visits, baby showers, ear infections...and all of a sudden she's almost 2 1/2 and Megan is growing up so fast!

What to say about Megan? She's just wonderful. Really, everything about her...especially now that she finally sleeps through the night!

The first thing that anyone notices about her is her hair. Its crazy curly and beautiful and so cute. Its almost always a battle to brush it, so there are definitely days when I just don't do it and its wild. But she also loves her pony tails and loves to see what I've done to her hair in the mirror. Then she'll just look at herself with a sweet, self-satisfied grin.

After her hair, really the most striking thing on meeting Megan is her verbal ability. She communicates in complex sentences, picks up new words like candy, and is almost always very polite. Recently, when we suggest doing something, she has started saying, "Oh, yes. That's a great idea." Or, "That sounds like it would be FUN!" She is a pro at saying please and thank you and reminds us when we forget to tell her how polite she is. "Say, 'Good job being polite' mama." Oh, yes, she's very into telling me what to say. "Say 'no no Emma'", when Emma drops her sippy cup. "Say, 'your friends are coming over after your nap'" when we're pretending its nap time. And my favorite, "Mama, don't say 'no you can't have some chocolate'" or some similar request.

She knows a couple jokes that she likes to tell, if she's in the right mood. She knows the knock knock joke that ends in, "Boo who? - Don't cry. Its just a joke." She also loves the more juvenile, "Guess what. Chicken butt." Jamie taught her that one and she thinks its hilarious.

For a while there, Megan was getting a little jealous of Emma. After talking with my mom and others about how to address this, I decided that Emma's morning nap time would be reserved for Megan and Mommy time. It really is amazing how much of a difference this has made for all of us. Megan loves it. She knows that while I put Emma down, she gets to watch Elmo. Then, after Elmo, we do any of a number of things that are only allowed while Emma is asleep. For a long time, we would open up the ottoman, which is where all our board games are stored. We played with and explored each board game, building a house with boggle letters, using game pieces as people to ride in game card cars, and putting the scrabble letters carefully on their "benches" and then sliding them off into the bag. Oh what fun a 2 year old can have with grown up board games! Now we've moved on to making Valentine's "cards" with paper, glue, and a permanent marker (no crayons for her!), but we also play with a magnetic doll who has magnetic clothes that can be put on her, read books on the couch while completely covered with a blanket (yay forts!), play with dominos, and do puzzles that are way beyond her, but fun for her to stand on when they are completed.

It has had an amazing effect on Megan and Emma's relationship. Megan was always generally kind to Emma, but now I can really trust Megan to take care of Emma (well, as long as I'm nearby.) I now leave them together in the crib or the play pen while I do quick things like wipe over a bathroom or shower. They are (almost) always as happy as can be together. Megan hugs Emma, sings to her when she is sad, "helps" her up when she falls over, talks to her in a sweet voice with sweet words, and just really tries to nurture her little sister. Now, when Megan has a snack, she always breaks off small pieces for Emma. Even when Emma is napping, Megan will give me some little pieces to give to Emma when she wakes up. She knows that she has to bite the tail off her goldfish crackers "so Emma won't choke" and never fails to do so. She knows that Emma can only have the white parts of popcorn, not the brown. (Although, those are two snacks that I don't give them when I'm not right there, just in case.) And, of course, Emma laps up the attention. Even when Megan is napping, Emma goes for Megan's toys first and just tries to play with them like Megan does, even though she really has no clue what Megan does with such things as dolls and puzzles.

And, of course, I'm just learning more and more what a wonderful, sweet daughter I have in my first born. (Not that I've ever doubted it.) I love those times of play and conversation and cuddles.

Megan is really a little smarty-pants. She knows all her shapes (the other day she couldn't remember what a circle was called and called it "the round and round thing"), almost all her colors (yellow and white are so similar!), and can count to twelve from memory...and count up to three objects correctly...usually. :)

Most of her time is spent playing pretend...usually either that she is going to bed or she is putting us to bed or she is putting her dolls to bed. She can also be found "doctoring", "packing to go to California",  going to church (after which you can hear her little voice raised singing, "Hallelooooyah. Pwaise the Lord!"), going to the grocery store, and going to Starbucks. Recently she's also been making little hide-a-ways for herself by enclosing herself with baskets, boxes, chairs, and whatever else she can find to make herself a "house".

I am often amazed at her memory of events. She remembers details of things from a long time ago that we have never discussed. And I'm loving that she is verbal enough to tell us what happened when she is away from us. Ha ha. Her stories about what happened in Sunday School often include something like, "Miss Jessica said, 'no no.'" - We ask why. - "Because I was talking when she was reading." Poor child. I haven't had the heart to tell her that its just a foretaste of school life to come. She also told us the other day that Walker took her pacifier at Sunday School and she shouted at him. Sorry Walker. I guess next time you won't take what's not yours. Of course, I'm not sure how much of the dialogue that she told me occurred actually happened, and how much of it was from the movie "Elmo In Grouchland" where Mr. Huxley (the bad guy) takes Elmo's blanket and Elmo has to get it back. I hear her imagining that (very tame) argument relatively frequently.

She's old enough now for books with real (simple) plots. Woo hoo!!! Her favorite currently is The Best Nest. She also loves stories about when Mommy and Daddy were little and when she was "a little little baby." And the most satisfying story for her is one that ends either in, "Then he said, 'thank you'. And she said, 'You're welcome'." or "Then he said, 'I'm sorry.' and she said, 'I forgive you'." Oh how she loves those two little dialogues. They really are the building blocks of her world in a lot of ways!

She often, now, thanks us spontaneously for various things. I tell her she can watch Elmo while I put Emma to bed and she responds with an enthusiastic, "THANK you Mommy!" Or she'll be eating her dinner and just pipe up with, "Mmm. This is yummy Mommy. Thank you for making it for me." It really doesn't get better than that.

We do work with her on saying I'm sorry and she can be spontaneous about that too. The other day she was crying because she didn't want to do what I told her. I ignored it while I finished up what I was doing and by the time I was done, she had calmed down. Then she came to me, "I'm sorry for crying Mama." Oh, what a sweet tender conscience she has. Of course, I told her that I forgave her.

In general, Megan is an amazingly thoughtful and spontaneously generous and helpful girl. Believe me, that's not parented in. (Or, if it is, I have no idea how we did it.) She'll run to get Emma a toy while I'm changing her diaper, or put something away that she sees out of place (and she's not really a neat freak -  just likes to help when she sees something that can be done.) If she hears us talking about needing something, she'll go get it without being asked. She has always had a sixth sense about needy people, and still seems to know just who to hug, smile at, or talk to.

When Emma is crying in the play pen because she doesn't want me to leave her (so I can do something like clean a toilet), Megan will run to her, "Its ok Emma, Megan's here. Megan's here." Or, "Hi Sweetie. What's the matter Sweetie? Do you need your ba?" in a high pitched voice. Then she'll run to get her pacifier or a snack.

Yesterday morning Jamie was leaving for work and asked Megan if she wanted to feel his smooth face. She rubbed her cheek against his. Then proceeded to rub her entire face, both sides, over his cheek for several minutes. Then she looked at him and said, "Oh, THANK you Daddy for letting me do that." Jamie and I both about choked up at the incredible sweetness of it.

We're really working on obedience and respect with her. Often, if she doesn't obey my instructions the first time, I just have to remind her to "obey mama." If that doesn't work, I usually start singing a little Bible verse song, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord." That works almost 100% of the time. I'm not really sure why. But she does love that song and the others on the same album.

Trying to help her understand respect is a little difficult. She's just so verbal and so smart...and she loves to argue with me. For now, I tell her that respecting Mommy means saying, "ok mama" instead of arguing over every little thing. Usually that works...and keeps me from going completely batty when she argues with me over things like whether Daddy is home or whether its Sunday today.

On that same album of Bible verses that I mention above is a song "When I am afraid I will trust in you." I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but Megan has always been kind of, well, scared. When she was smaller she went through a phase where she was VERY afraid of feathers and bubbles...like jump-in-mommy's-arms-screaming afraid. But the amazing thing about her is that she is also incredibly brave. Emma is fearless. Megan is very brave.

When we were at the beach in California in September she was quite scared of the waves and the ocean. But, after spending some time in Grammy's arms, she cautiously approached the waves by her own initiative. By the end of the afternoon, she was laughing raucously as the waves hit her little chest so hard she would have been knocked over if she wasn't holding Daddy and Uncle James' hands. Anyway, since the first time she heard this song/verse about trusting God, she has loved it. I don't know if it just resonates somewhere in her little heart or what, but she really noticed it above the other songs we listen to.

About a week ago Jamie was getting something out of the garage and had taken Megan with him. He didn't even notice that it was pretty dark and cold in there until he heard her little voice singing, "When I am afraid I will trust in You...in God whose word I praise."

I know I'm forgetting some things, but really, this is long enough. And I'll never post it if I don't do it now.

Megan, you are the most amazing 2 year old I've ever known. I'm so thankful that I get to be your mommy! I love you!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Emma at almost 8 months

Time is flying by. How did my baby go from a newborn to almost 8 months old so quickly? Oh, but she is a sweet, sweet baby. And so different from her sister!
I guess we can start with developmental milestones.

She started eating solids at 5 and a half months and quickly made it known that she would like to eat 3 meals a day just like everyone else in the family. She eats peas, green beans, carrots, sweet potato, potatoes, corn, spinach, apple, pear, banana, oatmeal, rice cereal, cream of wheat, beef, chicken, turkey (but hated it), peach, pineapple, mango, blueberry, avocado, plain yogurt (hated it at first but has loved it the last couple days), onion (mixed in with other things), cinnamon (mixed in with other things), and probably more that I'm not thinking of right now. Oh, and I gave her cheese today after reading online that its ok for babies 6 months and up. Not sure what she thought about that! I've also started giving her finger foods. Mainly plain cheerios, peeled and cut up grapes (not often - so labor intensive!), banana (which she stuffed whole into her mouth), and baby rice cracker things. She doesn't really have the pincer grip down, but she's working on it really hard! In general, she eats pretty well but doesn't LOVE many foods. I think she loved avocado when I gave it to her, but I have to admit I haven't bought it much because its so expensive. And she likes carrots and most fruits, but apples and pears can give her reflux (that's my diagnosis - not a doctor's).

She has 8 teeth. Her two side top ones are just now poking through. Poor baby drools like crazy when she's teething. My brother James was totally grossed out by it when he was visiting. And I have to admit, I would probably think the pools of drool dripping from her mouth were gross if she wasn't my daughter. As it is, I think its kind of cute. And Megan goes back and forth between asking me to clean her hands when they get drool on them and dipping her doll's bottle in Emma's drool and pretending its milk!

Emma is one of the most agile babies I have ever seen. She started crawling at 6 months and 8 days old and by 7 months was pulling up and crawling really well. At this point she's almost cruising and pushing herself around the room, standing bent over the sit-and-spin holding on to the top of it! :)

For the last week or more Emma has been sick. Last Sunday, she was so sick that we didn't go to church. She spent pretty much the entire day with her head laid down on my chest. She's been better since then, but still wants to be held almost constantly. Today, after a couple hours in the moby, she finally let me put her down and crawled over the place, chasing her sister, experimenting with trying to walk, and putting everything she could find in her mouth.

She is just such a contented baby (when she's not sick), I am often amazed. If I take her out in the stroller, she sits in her seat happily sucking on her pacifier and looking passively around her. You'd never know that the minute you put her down she will be off, exploring, instinctively finding the MOST dangerous, non-baby-friendly items. I don't think Megan has yet really noticed the outlets or heating vents on the walls. Emma has licked both (thankfully the outlets are covered) and loves to explore the trash cans, the monitor receiver, and the fireplace cover. What an interesting personality! Into everything, but when you take her away from something dangerous she doesn't complain at all. And she will happily play on her own for relatively long periods of time.

Stranger anxiety is starting to rear its head, I think. (Although, it could be just sickness that makes her cling to me and me alone.) She is happy as long as I'm in sight, but if I am out of sight - even if Daddy has her - she starts to wail.

I always have to remind myself that Emma is still so young. She's (off the charts) big for her age (20 lbs 6 oz, 29.25 inches at 6 months and 20 days, well over 20 lbs by now, I would think, and in 12-18 month clothes) and so good with her motor skills. She also has this mature sense about her. She definitely has a sense of humor already and will laugh at the funniest things. The other day Megan had her fingers in her ears (testing whether she could hear that way or not) and Emma just thought it was hilarious. She let out peals of laughter. She loves silly noises and rough housing and has roaring contests with her sister. And she really seems to get teasing. When I'm feeding her, she'll grab for the spoon with a little eyebrow quirk and hold on tight. When I talk to her in mock exasperation, she just laughs and does it again.

Emma says several syllables: dah, cah and others. But I don't think there are concepts related to those syllables yet. (I don't think dada means Daddy yet.) But she definitely gets the whole communication thing too. She'll pull up to the computer with a twinkle in her eye when we're skyping with my mom and just start in with babbling as if she's having a conversation.

Oh, and she loved the beach in California,  even though she was barely 6 months old when we were there. She loved the wind in her face, the sand all over her (oh, sand is a horrible thing), and the waves hitting her.

Other things from when she was younger: she loved her exersaucer, but doesn't like it now that she's more mobile. She used to hold onto her hair while she was sleeping or nursing. And she was so soft that I just wanted to hold her all the time. She still is soft, but for a while there I was just noticing all the time how extraordinarily soft she was. I would hold her for longer than needed when putting her to sleep or nursing her just because she was so soft.

Emma has always been a pretty good sleeper, but right now she really just wants to sleep in our bed. I've been letting her since she's been sick (and I've been exhausted) but soon I'll try to get her to stay in her pack and play through the night. (I'm not opposed to co-sleeping - I just have constant pain in my neck, shoulders, and back from holding her all night.) It is funny, though. Megan would always sleep cuddled up as closely as possible to me. Emma, once she's asleep, sleeps splayed out on her back, arms thrown wide. Ha. Poor Jamie almost gets crowded off the bed by a 7 month old!

We love you EmmaBemma!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Our little sunshine at 5 months

Sweet Emma, our little sunshine girl. Honestly, if she can find something to smile about, she will. And her smile just lights up her face. At just a few days under 5 months, she is a drooling, chewing, grabbing, rolling, mouthing, laughing machine.

Oh, how she loves toys. And moving. You put her on her changing table and her feet are immediately up in her mouth and she's trying to roll over. You put her on her back on the floor and she immediately rolls over onto her belly and starts trying to get to anything that looks the least bit interesting. And she is SO frustrated that she can't get to it yet. Seriously, I think she'll be crawling very soon because she is so very motivated to get places. Much more so than Megan ever was!

Anywhere she is, she is trying to grab things. I've had a couple close calls with glasses of water, the computer, etc. almost being pulled over the side of our kitchen island as I sit with Emma on my lap. And Megan is getting quite upset with how Emma is always trying to grab her toys and, if I hold Emma too close to the high chair while Megan is eating lunch, her food, sippy cups and tray. (Although some of this is protective of Emma. Today Megan said, "No no Emma," as Emma lunged for her popsicle. Then she said, "Jus' pretend." And held the popsicle up close to Emma so Emma could "pretend" to eat it.)

She can sit up independently for a very short time...if you're right there to catch her when she topples over! If she's in a reclining chair or support (like her bouncy chair, the boppy cushion, or her bath tub), she almost always pulls herself to a sitting position and holds it for a long time (like all the way through dinner today).

Emma is quite the little dare devil. She loves a gentle game of "this is the way the ladies ride" and peek-a-boo...letting out peals of laughter if you can surprise her enough to make her jump. The other day she was belly laughing because Jamie was dropping her plastic chain on her over and over again. She's pretty much a 5-month-old thrill seeker. :)

Oh, and Emma has the best wide-eyed looks! She will just open her eyes as wide as she can as if to try to get everything in her brain all at once. So cute!

There is nothing she loves quite as much as her big sister. Emma watches Megan constantly and breaks out into a huge grin if Megan notices her. The love is mutual, though. Megan is constantly commenting on Emma's actions. "Emma talking." "Emma doing tummy time." "Good job rolling over, Emma!" Megan will back up to Emma and put her head backwards into Emma's lap. Emma will grab Megan's hair and for some reason they both think this is hilarious!

Emma's other favorite person is her daddy. When he gets home, she is all smiles for him and she belly laughs at the slightest sign that he might be being silly.

I really can't believe how quickly Emma is growing up. She's already in almost all 9 month clothes (and even some of those shorts are too skinny for her chubby little belly!) and she really is almost 100% out of the infant stage and into the baby stage...or whatever the different stages are called. She's coming into her own as a person!

She is a fantastic sleeper. She normally sleeps through the night from around 7:30 pm - around 5 am. And getting her to sleep is usually a dream. If I catch her at the right moment (and Megan is being quiet for long enough) she'll just drift off to sleep in my arms easily. Then I can put her down for a nap or the night. Just a month ago she was still grabbing her hair as she fell asleep. Now she barely has any hair (:-)) and she normally holds onto one of my fingers with one or both of her hands. She's still not on a daytime schedule. Believe me, I'm trying. But its proving more difficult than I would have thought just because Megan doesn't yet have the self control to stay quiet long enough for Emma to fall into a deep sleep and also panics if I leave the room for more than just a couple minutes.
And, although Emma falls asleep easily in my arms (she either nurses to sleep or turns her little face into my chest and just closes her eyes) and goes down easily, she doesn't yet fall asleep in her bed. AND she's been waking up after 30-45 minutes for every nap except when Megan is taking a nap too. Normally she's pretty easy to get back to sleep...it just takes patting her bottom and putting her pacifier back (and here's the kicker) without any distracting noise. But the couple times I've gone back to pat her butt and left Megan in the living room (even after telling Megan where I'm going), I start to hear panicked calls for me after just a minute or two. So, when Jamie is home or someone else is around to help, Emma gets great naps and is on a pretty normal nap schedule. When its just me, she gets a short nap that starts while Megan is watching Elmo's World (too late, really, but its the best I can do), a longer nap while Megan is napping, and one or two shortish naps later in the day.

Despite her sad lack of regular
nap times, Emma is a happy little girl. She loves her exersaucer and laughs at herself in the mirror. She breaks into a grin whenever anyone pays attention to her. (It makes me feel kind of guilty...like I don't pay enough attention to her.) She loves to "talk" and can hold her own well in screaming contests. :)

She loves to have her head stroked and, when she's had her fill of play, will just lay back in your arms and snuggle. (Or, if you are her Auntie Caroline, lay back in your arms and stare straight into your eyes for long periods of time.) And she has the sweetest puffy-eyed look when she wakes up. She almost always wakes up happy!

Finally, the stats at 4 months. (Yes, she's 5 months old now.)
Weight - 15 lb 5 oz Height - 26 in Head - 16.75 in
And she didn't cry at all for her first shot and just a bit for the second one (that stings when it goes in.)
Favorite nicknames right now: EmmaBemma, Emmaboo, Emma Baldy Brown, Emma Catarina

We love you sweet Emma. I can already tell that God has some amazing things in store for you. May you love and trust Him in everything you do.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The wild child at 21 months...ok, 22 by the time I actually finish this post!

Disclaimer: Once again, this post is much too long for anyone to want to read unless they really love Megan. :) And the pictures are NOT well placed. But blame that on blogger.

Sweet Megan, my wild and crazy girl. She's really turning into a big girl. Jamie and I were commenting the other day that somehow, in the craziness of Emma being born, Megan made the transition from baby to toddler. Its true. She's a busy busy girl, emotional, sensitive, loving, and smart!
I don't really even know where to start in talking about her. She's pretty much talking in full sentences now, although she still says, "hm?" when she doesn't know how to answer. She's almost figured out "or" questions, although she still will often answer "Yes" when you ask her if she wants this or that. Her language learning is still incredible. She'll pick up on something new that you say and repeat it over and over again until she has figured out what it means. Same with enunciation. Often she will repeat multi-syllable words to herself until they sound right. Amazing. Of course, she's still less than 2 and her enunciation is still baby-like. She can't say her "L"s or her "R"s, so she says, "de-yish-ous" and "I yuf you" and "watuh". And she really doesn't get personal pronouns. When she wants you to pick her up she says, "Hold you" and when she wants you to sit next to her, she pats next to her and says, "I sit wight he-uh". Or, more often, since we misunderstand her (because she's not using the correct pronouns), she'll switch to our names after trying with the pronouns. "I sit next to you...MAMA sit next to MEGAN." She's very deliberate about her talking too. She'll pause to make sure she's using the right word or pronouncing it correctly. Oh yes, and she thinks all babies are female. Or, I guess, just doesn't know the difference between male and female yet...although she does correctly point out "man" or "yady"...often asking if its a "mama" or "yust a yady". (I guess she can't say "J"s yet either.) But if she sees a baby she always asks to "kiss huh...talk to huh...touch huh yeg" even if its a boy.
And, boy, does she love babies! Emma, of course, is chief among them. She gets SO excited whenever Emma wakes up. She brings Emma toys and books constantly, and will now turn the book around as she holds it in front of her so that Emma can see the pictures. (That one amazed me. How did she figure that one out? I didn't teach her!) If Megan is sad, nothing makes her feel better like hugging Emma. If Emma cries or even complains, Megan starts suggesting things to make her feel better. "Emma sad. Kiss huh?" if she's crying. "Ah you bored? Wanna go in exuhsaucuh?" if she's complaining. And she willing runs to get me anything that Emma might need. A bib from the bib drawer in her bedroom, a burp cloth, a blanket...whatever. She even noticed the other day that I switched Emma to the same brand of diapers that she wears!
Other than playing with Emma, Megan's favorite things to do right now are "wite, wite, wite" (draw or write), read, look at pictures of Emma's birth (yook at doctuh pictchuhs?), put anything and everything "nigh night" including finding a blanket or paper or whatever to cover the object, play with the toy food and grocery cart that Mia got her, and generally transfer things one at a time from one container to another container on the opposite side of the room. And she loves playing with water and drawing with chalk outside.
She's also getting more and more imaginative every day. She'll scoot a piece of play food along the floor making car noises. Or put 5 purses on her arm and tell us she's going to "chuhch", walking into the other room and standing there singing "ha-yay-yu-yah" at the top of her lungs for a while.
Oh, and she loves to be "si-yee". She'll hunch over when she's walking or wrinkle her eyes up and look at you expecting a laugh. Sometimes Emma will make a noise and it will strike Megan as so funny that she will just burst into squeals of laughter.

She's definitely a toddler with all the drama that goes along with that. She cries to let you know she wants something or doesn't like something and laughs a hysterical sounding fake laugh when she's showing off. She definitely has her own will and lets you know it...but at the same time she is a very good little girl. She knows that she must "obey mama" and she usually does without even a complaint.
Honestly, she's better about cleaning up than I am! When we're going to move to a different room or a different activity, she often jumps up and says "keen up keen up?" and starts cleaning up the objects she has been playing with. I think it must be Jamie's mom's influence because I am totally not that consistent about making her clean up. Yay for grandparents!
She's trying to figure out what different words mean. Often in the car I'll hear her little voice from the back: "I have a kestion." But she has no idea what that means. :) She asks often if someone or something is "koot", "fun", or "funny". Ha. I feel bad saying, "No. Papa isn't cute. He's nice." But, really, I have to teach her language! :)
A few weeks ago she went to her first friend's birthday party...and LOVED it! Of course, she and 3-yr old Bailey chose to go inside away from the craziness of the party guests and play together just the two of them. She also chose that day to decide that she was big enough to go down a big girl slide all by herself (with Daddy to catch at the bottom!) She loved it SO much.
Oh, and speaking of things she loved, the Fairfax City Independence Day parade had to be a highlight of her summer so far. If she hears us mention a parade, she flaps her hands and eagerly says, "go to puh-yade? Yay!" And runs around to try to get ready to go.
Outing-wise, she also loves the pet store, Starbucks, Home Depot, Trader Joe's, "Unca Jon and Auntie Cah-yine's house", and the pool.
She's finally started going to the church nursery on her own. And amazed me a couple weeks ago by actually answering me when I asked her what she did by telling me that they blew bubbles, ate crackers, and drew pictures. No prompting necessary.
She does love church. She talks about it all morning on Sundays. "Go to chuhch. Sing songs. Hah-yay-you-yah. See friends?" and she talks about her "friends" all the time. She draws a picture and asks me to show Anna, or asks to talk to Becca on skype. This morning she has been asking to see "Annabeya" (she means Izabella) who does "bite choo bite choo" (a little back scratching rhyme) and sings "Jesus yufs me this I know for the Bible tells me so". She points out any young guys and asks if they are Caleb and, of course, talks about our extended family all the time.
She LOVES her friends, but is still super shy around people she doesn't know very well. In crowds she often wants to be held and, if I can't hold her because I'm holding Emma in the car seat or something, she'll cling to my leg. And if someone tries to talk to her she'll bury her face in my shoulder.
She can sing lots of songs *almost* word-for-word, and often refers to them as the entire first line or two (as above with Jesus loves me). She used to sing the alphabet "abcdabc, abcdabc...". But in the past week or two she has started singing, "abcdefghijklmnopqrsy and z Now I know my abcs next time won't you sing with me."
She can count to four and often will add the next number to your counting up to 9. She knows that she is one, although it did get a bit confusing when Bailey turned three. :)
And she's just started sitting still and paying attention to longer books (with simple plots) being actually read to her.
But, as much as she really is a smart, grown-up girl, Megan still has little hold-overs of baby-dom. When she waves, she shakes her head vigorously too, as if she can't shake one part of her body without getting her head involved. When she's happy, she still flaps her hands. And, in the middle of the night, when she wakes up, she still wants to be held and rocked "like a baby". (Although we rarely do it because we are trying to help her learn to fall asleep on her own...not very successfully!)
Megan's sleep has never been great. I work hard to keep her on a pretty strict schedule and routine for nap and bed times because sleep has always been difficult for her. She naps at 11:30 (unless she's slept very late because of very disturbed sleep the night before) and goes to bed at 7:30. Recently her naps have been lengthening a bit (to around 2 hours thankfully - it took a LONG time before she would sleep more than 30 minutes unassisted!) and she's been sleeping through the night more frequently. (Maybe around 50% of the time?) For a long time she had awful insomnia where, if she woke up, she would be awake (in her bed in the dark, no toys, no books, no conversation, etc.) for usually 3 hours minimum. Since she's been sleeping in her big girl bed, its been better. But still, this past Saturday night, she was awake from 11:30 pm - 4:50 am. Its no fun for us, but its not fun for her either, poor baby. We've tried everything and nothing works all the time, although we do have some things that seem to help a bit. Thankfully, most nights that she wakes up, it only takes an hour or two for her to get back to sleep.

An aside: Honestly, Megan's sleep has been something that has been challenging for Jamie and I. We pray for her to sleep well, and most of the time God doesn't do what we want. Ha. For me, its been a reminder that we don't trust in Him because He does what we want or makes life easy. (Believe me, its not easy when Megan has been up all night and then Emma wakes up an hour after Megan gets back to sleep!) But I've been reminded several times (most specifically through this blog post) that there are much worse situations in life than a sleepless child and I'm challenged that if I can't trust God through this, I will have much more difficulty when those other trials come. God doesn't always take away trials. But He does ALWAYS give us the strength we need to go through them. And He walks beside us through them. And, in all this, God is good. And I am thankful for that. Even when He doesn't do what I want. :)

One of the sweetest things about Megan growing up is seeing her learn about Jesus a little. She's still so young and I'm not sure how much she understands, but Jamie has taught her that Jesus will live in her heart if she asks him to. So she points to her heart when you ask her where Jesus lives. She kneels beside her bed to pray at night and, after listening to Jamie or me (or Grammy or Mia or whoever) pray, she says, "I yuf you Jesus" and then, when prompted, "Amen". She knows that the Bible is a book about Jesus and really likes her "Jesus books".

Megan has always seemed to have an affinity for those who society might cast away. Even from when she was a tiny baby and wouldn't go to anyone but mommy...except a lady who's husband was sick and a very overweight cashier and several others who just needed a sweet baby smile and snuggle. Now, she is very aware of others' pain. If a child cries, she rushes to "kiss huh" and if she hears about her uncle falling off of his motorcycle, she wants to kiss him to make him feel better.

Oh yeah, and she's potty trained!

Megan, you are sweet and tough and tender and smart. You are silly and lovely and a million things that I haven't remembered to document. Your daddy and I are so proud of you and love every part of you. And Jesus loves you more than either of us and He will never fail you. I pray you learn that above any other lesson we teach you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sweet Emma at 3 months

From the start, the adjective that has seemed to describe Emma the best is "sweet". She's laid back and lovely.

She was born with long arms and legs, long fingers and toes, and extraordinary strength.

And, as a newborn, she would often sleep with her eyes open. We would joke that she was kind of like an alien.
A very cute alien, but an alien none-the-less. Long finger
s and toes, eyes that open in her sleep, and extra strength that enabled her to tense up her b
ody and struggle against what she didn't like. It usually went something like this:
Me: Is Emma awake? Her eyes are open.
My mom: No, she's just being an alien.

She is also prone to "man burps". It was amazing what huge burps would come out of such a pretty and teeny girl. Ha ha. She does it less now, but she still has skills!

Her hair is dark, but highlighted. Now its looking more red, but when she was first born it almost looked like she had had it streaked. Dark, dark hair with striking golden streaks.

And she's a great sleeper. At one month, 6 days old, she slept from 10 pm - 4:45 am, ate, and then went right back to sleep until 9 am. At two months, 11 days old, she went 10 1/2 hours between feedings. Now its unusual (and probably a couple-day growth spurt) if she wakes up before 4 or 5 am after going to sleep around 7:30 or 8 pm. And sometimes its closer to 7 am!

Ha. I'm glad we had Megan first or I would think it had something to do with my parenting!

Anyway, she's not just advanced sleep-wise. On her two-month birthday we were giving her tummy time on our bed. We looked away for a minute and, when we looked back, she was on her back. Since then, she's rolled over several times for us from belly to back. (Thankfully she's still pretty immobile on her back!)

When she's on her tummy she can lift up her whole upper body in a combination between arm and core effort. And she's just a little bobbly when we hold her in a sitting or standing position. I often put her in the bumbo while I'm making dinner or feeding Megan and she does really well in it. But her favorite is when you hold her by her hands in a standing position. How is it possible for a three month old to be proud of herself? But she definitely looks like she is!

She has been smiling since she was 3 weeks old, cooing since she was a month old, and has started really obviously laughing within the last couple days. She loves to talk and will coo and gurgle at you like nothing else. She especially loves when people coo and gurgle back at her and when they whistle.

She loves her sister and will smile when she catches sight of Megan. Megan will get right in her face with her, "Hi Emma. Hi Emma. Hi Emma." And if Megan is crying or feeling sad, one of her favorite things to do is grab Emma's foot or leg and hug it. Emma doesn't seem to mind at all.

Emma is often surprised, awakened, or shocked by Megan's loud cries, yells of excitement, or temper tantrums (yes, our firstborn is in that stage), so we've had some days and weeks where Emma is just a mess by the end of the day. She just hasn't ever been able to take a long enough nap during the day. But I think she's getting used to it and hopefully Megan is getting to a stage where she'll start to understand about talking quietly.

And just yesterday when Megan was screaming in anger about something and Emma burst into tears, Megan immediately stopped her tantrum and focused entirely on making Emma feel better. "Kiss her. Kiss her." Megan kissed Emma a couple times and Emma calmed down. And so did Megan. What a sweet relationship. I pray it remains so tender.

It does seem like in the past couple days Emma has just turned from a newborn into a baby. She's talking and cooing a LOT more. She's awake for (slightly) longer stretches. And she is enjoying looking at toys. I can now set her in a bouncy chair or her bumbo or on a blanket and she'll be happy for maybe 10 minutes before complaining and wanting a change of scenery. Of course, play that is that close to the ground only happens when Megan is taking a nap!

Emma loves taking a bath. She kicks and coos and has even had two baths now where she hasn't cried at all through the entire process. She doesn't seem to get as overwhelmed by it as Megan used to, which I guess is just another one of those laid-back qualities. She just thoroughly enjoys it. Sadly, she doesn't get to bathe as often as she would probably like because it is such a handful with Megan trying to help.

The poor baby often just doesn't get as much attention or play as Megan did because I'm busy with two. But she is amazing and wonderful and hopefully that relationship with an adoring big sister will make up for it.

The picture of her taking a bath reminds me, though, that one of the things that people always comment on about Emma is her wide eyes. Its true. Its like whenever she is awake she is just trying to take in the entire world with her eyes. Right now they are a beautiful blue and she looks so innocent and sweet looking out at everything.

While Emma is eating or sleeping, she likes to have her arms up. She also likes to grab things. I never want to forget her sweet innocence as she pulls her own hair while she's eating or sleeping!

Sweet Emma, you are loved. I hope you never feel neglected because your mama has two babies to care for, but that you always feel loved and cherished by Mommy, Daddy and Megan. We all love you so much!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Emma's So-Called Birth

*Disclaimers: Blogger makes adding pictures incredibly difficult. Sorry there are so few. Also, this post is very long. Its for my memory's sake, so please forgive all the details you don't care about!*
My pregnancy with Emma went as well as my pregnancy with Megan did (well, until her actual birth day)...up until the end. No issues, perfect blood pressure, etc. Like with Megan, I didn't even get any stretch marks. Until 36 weeks. And then all of a sudden, my whole body was one big stretch mark, practically. Lovely. (I mean, who gets stretch marks on their calves?)

We had been told that I could definitely try for a VBAC, as long as everything went ok. No pitocin to induce, close monitoring because of the risk of uterine rupture, and at least an epidural catheter so that if I had to have an emergency c-section while in labor they wouldn't have to put me under general anesthetic. I was ok with all of that...especially if they let me do the catheter with no actual drug in it. I wanted to go all natural to hopefully help labor and pushing go as quickly as possible and to help breast feeding happen as easily as it possibly could (because Megan had such a hard time gaining weight at first).

At 36 weeks I had an ultrasound. The doctor who did it said that everything looked great. The baby was head down, the placenta was far away from my incision and high up in the uterus, and the incision area looked good.

At 37 weeks I was seeing the doctor who did the emergency c-section when Megan was born. I had been in awful traffic on the way to the appointment and was concerned I wouldn't get there in time. On top of that, I hadn't had anything to drink yet for the day. (I had some water with me but, with the traffic, didn't have the chance to drink it while driving in.) So, I went through my appointment. Baby's heart rate was fine. My belly was measuring fine. But my blood pressure was slightly elevated...for me. The bottom number was 80 rather than my normal 60. I also told her that my heartburn had been a bit worse. Like, I had woken up twice almost throwing up from it. (Yuck. I hate pregnancy heart burn.) Apparently that raised red flags because she decided to send me over to the hospital for possible preeclampsia.

So, we called in the troops. I walked over to the hospital (the dr's office is attached - its not as bad as it seems!) while Jamie waited impatiently for his mom to come from work to watch Megan for us. (The dr said that today could be the day if preeclampsia was an issue.) Once I got to Labor and Delivery, they had me sit down while they filled out paperwork. It made me feel kind of funny - especially because I was actually feeling pretty good except being thirsty. Anyway, they put me in a room and hooked me up to the baby heart rate monitor and the contraction monitor. I laid there and slept and read a book on the kindle app on my phone and generally relaxed. Oh, and texted everyone who had demanded to know when it was baby time to let them know where we were. The nurse kept telling me that I definitely didn't have preeclampsia symptoms that she could see. Then she asked about Megan's birth and when I told her about it she was like, "oh yeah, I think I remember that." Wow, I guess that was an eventful birth if an L&D nurse (who didn't actually work on me) remembers it from almost 18 months ago!

Jamie got there after an hour or so and we both just sat and waited and gave thanks for the iPhone. Finally after several hours the doctor came by for a long chat and then to release me. They were concerned even with a slightly high blood pressure because of my history. Apparently what happened to me (spontaneous placenta abruption) just does NOT happen to people unless they are using cocaine. (And I wasn't!) It does sometimes happen with severe preeclampsia. And, one of the symptoms of sudden preeclampsia is a very bad heartburn type feeling.

She was pretty concerned and almost didn't let me leave, but I told her that I had had pretty severe cramping before the big event last time, so she gave me a long list of preeclampsia symptoms, made me promise to come to the hospital and call on my way in (no calling first) if I experienced any of them, and sent me home. Ha. Nothing like being told to look for headaches and cramping when you're 38 weeks pregnant to make you paranoid! Oh yeah, and they told me that I had to rest and definitely not pick Megan up because she was too heavy.

Starting that night we had to figure out a way for someone to be with me all the time because Megan was little enough that she still needed to be held quite a bit (and lifted into her high chair and her crib and out of both, etc.) Poor Jamie ended up missing a lot of work...or working from home as much as possible.

Anyway, we got through the weekend with me reassuring myself the whole time, "No, that headache is tiredness, its not in the right spot....no, that's the baby moving, not cramps...etc." Then Megan and Jamie came down with the stomach flu. And it was bad. Poor Jamie was up all night Sunday night throwing up and then on Monday I started having stomach cramps....but I had promised to go to the hospital if I had cramps. Arg. So, I went. They monitored me. I walked around. All of a sudden I had to throw up so one of the nurses aides gave me an ice cup to throw up into. My cramps went away. I walked back to my room. The doctor finally came and released me. Hospital visit number two done. (After more time off for Patti while she watched Megan and for Jamie while he stayed with me.)

We had a monitoring doctor's visit scheduled for that Thursday, so there we went. I had been feeling itchy all over the night before so I told the doctor about it. She told me to get some blood work and schedule an induction for the following Monday. Then she looked at my blood pressure and had me go back to the hospital. I hung out at the hospital; was monitored. Jamie left Megan with his mom and came to be with me. Blood pressure and baby were fine at the hospital. They never took my blood. I never scheduled an induction. And the doctor sent me home. False alarm #3.

After the third false alarm and with my due date coming the next Tuesday, my mom decided to fly out to be with us on Saturday. Oh how wonderful it was to have her here for a few days before Emma was born. I got to see her delight in getting reacquainted with Megan. Emma was super active, but no cramps, no preecclampsia. I was feeling relatively good.

Finally on Monday, I thought for sure that would be the day. I had another monitoring appointment with the nurse practitioner. We brought our bags because I figured they would probably send me over to the hospital to be induced. I hadn't felt any contractions that I knew of, but the monitors had picked up contractions that I wasn't feeling before, so I was hoping I was progressed enough for them to induce without the use of pitocin (which they - and I - were reluctant to use.)

But the monitoring seemed to go well. My blood pressure was low. The nurse practitioner who was seeing us had the nurse come in and send us home. As we left, we caught our regular (paranoid) doctor in the hall and she told us to schedule an induction as soon as possible because of my history.

We left feeling weird. We were relieved on the one hand because I wanted to go natural and my body wasn't ready to be induced, but we felt weird because we were both sure today was going to be the day.

Then, as we drove out of the parking garage, we got a call from the doctor's office. In checking the records from the monitoring that morning, they had some concerns. The baby's heart beat wasn't as fluctuating as it should be. Normally a baby's heart beat accelerates and decelerates a lot within a certain range. Emma's was just staying steady. So, they sent us to another doctor's office in the same building for a kind of ultrasound that would check on her health. We were honestly quite relieved because we had both felt so weird about leaving.

The new doctor's office sent us out to get lunch and walk around. We got back at 1 and were immediately taken in for our ultrasound. The first thing the technician said was, "You know she's breach right?" Um, no. Last time anyone checked, she was head down. I guess all that movement over the weekend was actually her turning over. Other than that, though, she looked great. But then the doctor came in and kept going over a certain section of my uterus again and again. Finally she told us that it was thin which meant I was in labor and, since Emma was breach, we would need to have a c-section that day. Then she walked us out to the waiting room and told us to wait there. "Don't go anywhere." We weren't planning on going anywhere, but she was just kind of weird about it. Seemed more urgent than was warranted by a breach baby. I mean, I wasn't even feeling contractions. Labor obviously wasn't progressing very fast.

Anyway, we sat there for a while until they finally brought a wheel chair to wheel me over to labor and delivery. They assured me it was just protocol. Hmmm. It wasn't protocol the last 2 times I was sent from a doctor's office over to the hospital. I wasn't worried though. Just interested.

Finally, we were all settled in my labor and delivery room and hooked up to the monitors and my doctor came in (the one on call at the hospital for the day) and, yay!, it was my favorite one at the practice. She explained that it wasn't just that the baby was breach, but that the ultrasound doctor had seen some concerning things on the ultrasound. Apparently she couldn't see the wall of my uterus near my bladder on the ultrasound. That could just mean that it was really thin...or it could mean that my incision had opened up and the only thing holding me together was the pressure of the amniotic sac on my bladder. Not good! Plus, if the baby kicked or was distressed, or my water broke, she could do real damage to the bladder.

So, that was why this was such an emergency. We had to wait until 7 pm because we had eaten lunch at 1 (at the ultrasound doctor's request - it helps to see baby movement if blood sugar is up). So, we sat around and waited and watched the monitoring equipment.

Finally it was time and they had me walk to the OR. (That's a weird experience.) Once they were ready they had me sit on the operating table (much skinnier than I would have thought) and lean forward while the anesthesiologist stuck the needle in my back and asked me if it was in the center or to the left or the right. Ugh. Yucko. Finally he got it in the middle and then had me lay down quickly before my legs got numb.

What a weird experience a spinal block is. You can't feel pain, but you can feel pressure. You have awareness of where your limbs are but you can't move them. Ha ha. All I wanted was for my knees to point up to the ceiling so my legs were straight. The nurses moved them a little for me, but not quite enough and it drove me nuts! Plus, the medication made me dizzy and nauseous so the anesthesiologist had to give me some anti-nausea medication. And then I started panicking. I JUST wanted to be able to MOVE MY LEGS!!! I wanted it over. I couldn't reason myself out of it. I was freaked out. (Later my mom explained that the anti-nausea medication was probably epinephrine and it probably gave me a medically induced panic attack. No wonder I couldn't control my emotions in the moment!)

Anyway, it seemed like it took forever. Jamie came in and sat by my head stroking my hair and trying to help me calm down. I could feel them pushing aside muscle (not sure they found much!) to avoid cutting it. Then, after what seemed like 30-40 minutes to me, but was probably not more than 15 minutes, they pushed down hard on my belly and out came Emma. She screamed and everyone was happy. They whisked her away to be suctioned and weighed and cleaned and then brought her for Jamie and me to see. Honestly and sadly, I was still freaking out on the inside and it was hard for me to focus on her.
But she was so sweet and one of my prayers was definitely answered. Even from that first moment they put her next to me, she started rooting and licking my cheek. Unlike Megan, she came out wanting to eat!
Another anesthesiologist had taken over and she kept making us do stupid poses for the camera and kept wiping Emma's spit bubbles away from her mouth for the pictures, which made me mad. If Emma has spit bubbles, I want to see them in the pictures! I just wanted to tell her that I love my baby the way she is, spit bubbles and all!

After the pictures, they took Emma away and Jamie went with her. And, to my relief, they gave me some more medication to put me to sleep (not like unconscious, just asleep.)

I vaguely remember having to scoot onto another bed to be wheeled back to the room and then being able to use my legs well enough to be able to help as they scooted me into the bed in the post partum ward.

Then, almost immediately, I was able to hold Emma and try to nurse and she really got it! I mean, not that we never had any feedings where she wouldn't latch or never had moments of frustration, but THANKS BE TO GOD she really knew what she was doing from the start!

Honestly, most of those first couple days are a blur.
I was amazed at how quickly I recovered. By the next morning I could stand up.

And it was wonderful getting to know this precious baby girl without any monitors or really even much help. When Jamie had to be gone with Megan I would just hold her and if she needed her diaper changed, I would lay her down between my legs and change her on the bed. What a difference from Megan, who I didn't even see naked for the first couple days of her life!

On Emma's second night of life Jamie had to go home to be with poor little Megan, who was pretty unsettled by not having mommy or daddy home with her. (Although Grammy and Mia made good substitutes.) It seemed like as soon as Jamie left Emma started screaming. And she just kept screaming. I tried nursing her but that didn't comfort her for long. I tried holding her close. Nothing. I tried changing her diaper, swaddling her, unswaddling her, swaddling her again, singing to her, feeding her...I mean, how much can you really do less than 36 hours after abdominal surgery? After hours of this, a nurse came in to give me more meds or something. I told her that Emma was just screaming and screaming. She said, "yeah, its the second night syndrome." I looked it up on my iphone and, sure enough, it pretty much described Emma. Here is my facebook status update from 2:50 am that night:"Apparently there's a thing called the second night syndrome where the baby wants to nurse constantly, won't sleep especially in bassinet, and cries a LOT. Well, at least we're text book. Poor Emma is not very happy tonight. :-(" It did make me feel better though, just knowing that there wasn't something wrong with her! Finally, after a long night of crying, Emma fell asleep snuggled inside my hospital gown with me with her head against my heart. So sweet! I loved the thought that she was finally comfortable being as close to inside me as she could get.

After that, the days went by relatively fast. Mostly we had to wait for me to be ready to go home and as soon as they let me go, Jamie and I wanted to get home. It was hard being away from Megan for so long. She was a trooper and had a great time with Grammy and Mia at home...and she did come in to meet Emma, but at night she would get unsettled and it was breaking our hearts to be away for so long. I think it was especially hard on Jamie. I was still in that new mom stage where everything revolves (rightly) around the baby. I missed Megan like crazy, but I had to focus on Emma and couldn't focus on how Megan was doing as much.

So, after a second night where Jamie had to go home to be with Megan around 2 am, we packed up and left.

As much as it was great to be home, being home was another kind of torture. Emma was so good. She ate and slept and was as easy as a newborn baby could be, but I was hating the recovery. For some reason, this time around, recovery (after the first couple days) seemed much worse than it did last time. Maybe last time there was just too much going on to be able to focus on my recovery. I had to worry about how to get Megan to eat, where everything was from the move, etc. This time, Emma was eating and gaining so well that, after her 1st day home appointment, we didn't have to go back until she was one month old. Crazy!

But my incision was sore. Nursing was at that painful stage where you dread every feeding and just want it to be over. Megan just wanted me to hold her and I couldn't even have her on my lap for fear that she would kick the incision. Megan was also having a lot of trouble sleeping at night and would call for me (who had always been the one to get up with her at night), but I couldn't even lift her out of her crib. I would lay in bed and cry while Jamie went for her and she cried for me. I had just been told that I would never be able to have children naturally...any further kids would have to be by c-section too. And I was remembering the awful panic that I experienced during Emma's "birth". I was thinking a lot about how I really didn't ever want to go through that again, which meant that I never wanted to have more kids. But I've always wanted more than 2. But I didn't ever want to go through a c-section again. (Actually, if I think about it too hard, it makes me feel slightly panicky even now!) Those baby blues kicked in and kicked in hard. I tried to remember that it was hormonal. That it was temporary. That recovery would be over in 6 weeks. That the hormones would calm down. That nursing would become enjoyable in a few weeks. And that the memory of the c-section would fade. But it all seemed like it would take SO long.

And then I felt better. I'm not sure when. Ha. I just know the depression ended, as I knew it would. The pain (except the back pain that is my constant companion from carrying babies) went away. And I can now carry Megan around to my heart's content. (And Emma, of course, but that was never an issue...although she did weigh over the 10 lb limit before I got to my 6 week "recovered" date.)

I had help from my mom, then my brother James, then my Dad, then James again...and from Jamie's mom...for the entire first 6 weeks of Emma's life. What a blessing! What would I have done if they hadn't been there?

But I have to admit that, although I was sad to see them go because I would miss them, it was such a relief to get to that 6 week mark and finally be able to take over being a mom again! It didn't take long to adjust to being home with the two girls. And it was wonderful to be solely responsible for them during the day.
To start to be able to pay attention to Emma's eating and sleeping patterns instead of relying on whoever has been holding her to know when she's tired. To get into a routine and figure out how to get both girls dressed in the morning...and, more difficultly, how to get ME dressed in the morning!

We've had plenty of crazy days, plenty of times where one or both girls are screaming as I try to get two poopy diapers changed, spit up mopped up, and pee cleaned off of the couch or our bed, but those times are not often (thankfully!) and we're all pretty contented most of the time. Megan is such a fantastic big sister and Emma is such a sweet, good little sister that now, at three months, I can't imagine life without two!