Monday, August 4, 2014
My dear E.J.,
It has already been one month since you joined our family, and what a month it has been! Your life has gotten off to an eventful start. But, I guess we could have expected that, considering that you made sure your birth would be immediately followed by literal fireworks.
Half of your first month was spent in the hospital after you developed a fever at 11 days old. With no concrete diagnosis but suspicion of bacterial infection, the doctors opted to err on the side of caution, assigning a diagnosis of "presumed meningitis" and keeping you in the hospital for 14 days of antibiotics. E.J., watching what you went through in the emergency room that first night and for the duration of our hospital stay was the hardest thing I have ever done. I cannot even describe the heartache I felt as the doctors put you through the ringer with tests and labs (including a spinal tap and tons of bloodwork) and IVs and temperature checks and x-rays and what have you. In the ER that night, you cried more and harder than you had ever cried in your life (and more than you ever have since) and I wept right along with you. You were just so tiny in that hospital bed and all I wanted to do was to take it all away for you, to make it all better, to give you a happier start. I felt guilty for not being able to protect you from illness and the ensuing ordeal, and heartbroken at the idea of you being "cheated" out of two of your first few weeks of life by being confined to a hospital room, enduring endless checks and stabs and tests. I am so sorry, buddy. I wish I could have given you better.
But we made it out, you and me. I stayed in the room with you the whole time and we made it through the whole experience just fine. In fact, in a way I was grateful for that time with you, when I could give you my full attention. At home, your sister commands much of my focus but by being in the hospital, just the two of us, I was able to turn my attention solely to you. I liked being able to get to know you in that private way, and I think you and I are off to a pretty decent start together.
You are such a good-natured baby. Even with all you went through, everyone kept commenting on what a trooper you were. You were brave and strong, rolling with the punches with apparent ease. At home you are endlessly tolerant of your sister's poking and prodding, and the noise of our home doesn't seem to disturb you in the slightest. Even when you're upset, you sound more worried than anything, and your cries are generally brief, quiet and far-between. When you do cry, it is almost always for a specific reason, and all we have to do to soothe you is make sure your basic needs have been met. In extreme situations, a light patting on your bottom or a gentle rock in your "nest" (your Rock 'N Play cradle, where you much prefer to take your naps) will usually do the trick. When you're awake, you seem very thoughtful, carefully studying everything around you. Your dark eyes and serious expressions make you seem like something of an old soul. You are starting to smile a bit more, though - I can't wait for them to be purposeful so I can start working to make you laugh!
You sleep a lot, which is to be expected for a newborn, of course. You nap well in your nest all day and sleep well in your crib at night. Just the other night you slept for a five and a half hour stretch, which is a great sign of things to come, I think!
You eat well, too. You and I picked up the breastfeeding thing like we'd been doing it forever. I usually have to wake you to eat but aside from that (and that's not a problem), so far we're off to a really great start. I loved my breastfeeding relationship with your sister, and I'm so happy to have a chance at a repeat experience with you. In your first week at home, I especially cherished our nighttime feeding sessions, when it was quiet and dark and we sat in the glider and rocked together. You just fit so perfectly in my arms, your tiny body pressed against mine, both of us relaxed and cozy. I tried desperately to memorize every detail of those moments in the hopes that they will never slip my mind. Time will tell if I succeeded, but regardless, I really enjoyed that closeness with you.
As my second child, I have been struggling with the knowledge that much of your newborn-hood will vanish from my memory in time. When your sister was born, even as a first-time parent, I spent so much time trying to memorize everything, to catalog every detail in my mind. Even just two years later, I look back at pictures and my heart aches at how much is already forgotten. It's just the way it is, unfortunately. With that knowledge, I struggle with a feeling of helplessness as I spend these early moments of your life with you. I want to remember everything but know there is no way I possibly can. It's heartbreaking. Thank goodness for all the photos we take, so I can do my very best!
You've already grown up so much in just one month. Even after your two-week stay in the hospital, nurses that saw you at the beginning and end of our stay commented on how much you've grown, and I know they're right. By the time we got home, you didn't fit quite so well in the nook of my arm during those late-night feeds in the glider anymore. By now, you're already holding your head up with impressive strength and determination, and you're starting to find your voice a little bit. Daddy and I have been greatly enjoying your "sneeze moan" - that forlorn little moan you make before, during and/or after your cute little sneezes - and we're still trying to capture it on video to our satisfaction. Hopefully you won't grow out of it before we get the chance!
You're also constantly reminding me that you are your own person, very different from your sister. I knew that would happen, but having only experienced her as a newborn, I wasn't sure what exactly that would look like. But your demeanor, personality and preferences are so noticeably different. For example, I already mentioned that you are not much of a crier, are pretty easy to soothe and you prefer to sleep in your nest (even over being held in my arms, most of the time). Ellie, on the other hand, was often disgruntled, soothing her took hours of vigorous effort, and she would only sleep if being held/bounced/cuddled. I'm grateful for these differences because they are a constant reminder that you are you, and I love every bit of the unique little baby you are.
E.J., we are so overjoyed to have you as part of our family. If I'm being honest, I had some concerns before you were born, because having only known what it was like to be a mother of one child, I had a hard time understanding how I would have enough love to give to two. But there is so, so much love. I adore you. I cherish you. I love you with all my heart and soul. You are my sweet boy, my little man, and now that you are here I can't imagine our lives or our family without you. Likewise, I know your Daddy is similarly in love and Ellie is nothing short of completely smitten with you. And it's not just us, buddy. After you were born and again when you were in the hospital, I was so touched by the outpouring of love and support from friends and family, both immediate and distant, from all stages of our lives. You have so many people in this world who love you and want only the best for you. You are one lucky little boy.
I have loved this first month with you, little man, and I can hardly wait to see what is coming next for you. Happy one month, sweet boy.
All my love,
* * * * *
It has been very nice to meet you. I know it has been a whole month, but I do not feel like we have made it much past introductions. Obviously, you are a brand new baby and not able to control your hands or feet, get out of the places we put you, or communicate anything other than that you are ready to eat. However, we also lost a lot of the bonding time we should have had due to your, um, vacation, and to the fact that you have required so little of me to this point.
Please forgive me for the poor writing, but I would prefer to address the second point first (despite the fact that I hesitate to even put in writing). You see, so far you have been every bit of the easy-going baby that we hoped you would be. Other people have been particularly eager to attribute it to the fact that you are our second child, but I am not so sure that explains all, or even most, of it. It's possible they are suggesting that you are incredibly perceptive and can tell that we know you are going to be okay, and are simply being okay in turn. However, you also maintain your cool when we are stressfully dealing with your "spirited" sister. So far, you seem to be more content in more situations than I remember her being at any age. You haven't needed the personal attention of a cuddle, rock or bounce nearly as often and, at times, have even preferred being laid down somewhere to simply watch things and be. This has obviously been a great help in our adjustment to a family of four, but it also makes it difficult to use a lot of adjectives to describe you right now or to make bold predictions about what you will be like. To me, you remain very much of an enigma.
Another big reason that I haven't gotten to know you as well as I would like is that I have had to (gotten to?) spend so much time looking after your sister. With your mama recovering from surgery, which was very much the result of your aforementioned contentedness inside her womb, we have had to adopt a man-to-man approach to childcare. This alone would have been challenging to our relationship development, but we were also forced to maintain separate residences for almost half the month! I'm fairly certain your mama is going to mention your fever in her letter, so I won't be too specific other than to let you know how worried I was about you. E.J., I want so much for you to have the fullest opportunity to be whatever you choose and I believe it is one of my most basic responsibilities to keep you safe until you are big enough to do so. I am so happy that you are okay and finally being able to daily watch you be incredibly adorable and start to grow and develop muscle (okay, maybe just the ones in your neck right now, but it's a start!) fills me with such joy that I can't begin to comprehend how lucky I am.
For lack of a better idea, I will close awkwardly by listing a bunch of things I really hope you like as much as I do: your mama, your sister, golf, the game of baseball and your baseball nursery, healthy debate and the fact that your birthday is on the Fourth of July.
I love you, little guy, and can't wait to be great friends as you get bigger.
All my love,