Guess where I went today? Work! Yep. For eight whole hours!
And it wasn't that bad. =)
I was lucky to have almost three months home with Isaac. It was like nothing I've ever experienced before. Sweet, difficult, nerve-wracking, cozy, cabin fever-y, frustrating, exhausting, dreamy. Would you believe me if I said it's already almost one big blur?!
The anticipation of going back to work was much worse than actually going back. In reality, it was... comfortable. The substitute teacher and my teaching assistants did a SUPERB job while I was gone! Although I thought about Isaac throughout the day, I did not worry about him one little bit. He will be spending the days with one of his doting grandmas and I can't even describe the peace of mind this gives me.
Plus I know that each day I get to come home to my smiley (or screaming. I'm sure we'll have those days too) little boy, spastic dog, and husband who's the greatest partner I could ever ask for. Life is good.
Obviously life has changed. I haven't slept for more than three hours in a row (and that only happened once. A blissful flukey nap) since July 20th. When I curl my hair I smell burning formula. I feel everything more intensely than ever before. It blows my mind that Jonathan and I are in charge of helping Isaac become a strong, compassionate, intelligent and (most importantly) happy person.
But with all of that said, I don't think it had really sunk in until this past Sunday night. Isaac was sleeping and Jonathan and I were watching the movie Hangover. We'd seen it before... pre-Isaac. Both of us thought it was funny, entertaining, etc, etc. Still do. But we noticed something completely different this time around, through the parent lens.
If you've seen it, do you remember the baby they find in a closet? And the baby waited until morning to cry? Remember how they carry the baby around in a front carrier all day and she's blissfully happy? Never needing to change positions or nap? And how they never feed her? And she's happy? And then they put an adult seat belt on her with no car seat? And leave her in the car alone with the windows cracked? And she watches bad guys bash their car in? I KNOW it's just a stupid movie, but I kept going back and forth between rolling my eyes ("Yeah right. THAT would never fly.") and wanting to reach into the tv and take care of this fake baby. And I wasn't the only one. Jonathan kept exclaiming over the way they were treating her. Realizing how different our movie experience was this time around, Jonathan said "Wow, it really is different when you have a kid!"
I guess you know it's for real when you watch a movie that's supposed to be about binge drinking, bachelor parties, and debauchery and all you can say is "But that poor baby!"
1. Sleeping gowns. It is such a relief to not have to mess with snaps in the middle of the night.
2. CD of womb sounds. When Isaac was teeny tiny we could turn this on and he was instantly lulled to sleep. Well, some of the time.
3. Little Noses saline spray and nose sucker thingie. Isaac had his first cold early on and couldn't even eat because he was so stuffed up and felt like he was drowning. He still gets congested during the night sometimes, so we use these a lot.
4. Baby carrier. I used the Moby when he was tiny, but now I prefer the Baby Bjorn. I wear him hiking, to the dog park, shopping, and just around the house when he refuses to be put down but I have things I need to do.
5. Aden and Anais swaddling blankets. Love, love, love, love, LOVE these. They are the only swaddling blankets that actually fit him after he was one week old. Plus, they double as a great stroller cover when he falls asleep. Perfect breathable material for a summer baby who loves to be swaddled!
6. Baby tub with hammock. Slippery baby problem solved!
7. Vibrating chair. For the first 6 weeks of Isaac's life, this kept us sane. He LOVED it. We still take it everywhere with us, although the magic seems to have worn off.
8. Swaddle Me blankets. These keep my baby warm and cozy at night and prevent him from waking up by punching himself in the face. Also gave me great peace of mind because I was paranoid that the swaddling blankets would come undone, cover his face, and smother him.
9. Nuks. Oh how I love thee.
10. Netflix. I have discovered shows like Dexter, United States of Tara, and Dead Like Me through the wonder of Netflix. When you spend at least five hours a day feeding your baby, you have to have SOMETHING to do! Especially if he has reflux and has fussy feedings and you need two hands to make it a successful eating experience. =)
I am fully aware that I make our adoption story sound like it came straight from a Lisa Frank folder. You know, unicorns, dolphins, and rainbows surrounded by dreamy fuzzy edges. I don't know how to tell it any other way. It's a whirlwind-y story that ends with me becoming a mommy of the most beautiful little man ever. Nothing can beat that. And, if that isn't enough, we can't imagine a more incredible birth family to be going through it with.
However that doesn't mean that there haven't been difficult moments. One night in particular stands out from the blur of memories that those four days in the hospital have become.
In the hospital that Isaac was born, mothers are encouraged to keep the baby in their room with them overnight. New parents can practice parent stuff with the safety net of the nurses nearby. This is, however, assuming that the mother in the hospital is the mother that will be caring for the baby when he leaves.
The first night, Isaac slept in the NIC-U. The second night, however, he was out. And needed to sleep somewhere. And Lexie wanted him to stay in her room. All night. Without us.
As the hours ticked by and it became later and later, my stomach was in knots. I was worried that she wouldn't be able to tend to his basic needs during the middle of the night... she could barely walk to the bathroom due to the horrific c-section she had gone through. In fact, she had just gotten the colostomy bag removed a half hour before and had attempted her first steps out of bed. It was not reassuring.
But mostly? I was scared. to. death. that she would fall even more deeply in love with Isaac and we would never see him again. I cried on the way home. Felt like I was going to throw up the whole way to the hospital the next morning.
Obviously we know this story ends happily. The minute I walked into Lexie's room, I knew everything was okay. Better than okay. Happily-ever-after kind of stuff.
Last year around this time, we made plans with our friends Zack and Marissa to do a 2010 fall camping trip. We set a date, booked the site, and put it in our calendars. Little did we know that when the time came, we would have an eight-week old baby with us! In fact, I still can't quite believe it!
All week I watched the weather channel with a sinking heart. First they said the temps would be highs in the low 60s, lows in the mid 40s. That was okay with us. We could bundle Isaac up, bring the appropriate gear, share body heat at night... that would work. With each day that went by, the projected temps dropped by a few degrees... until the low was THIRTY! Okay. That's cold enough to snow! The campsite we were supposed to stay in is a cart-in site, meaning that your car is half a mile away and that is the closest indoor option.
We didn't feel comfortable putting an eight week old baby into that scenario overnight, so we tweaked our plans a bit. We spent the days at the campsite with Zack and Marissa (who braved the cold and spent the night in their tent) and then went to a nearby hotel to sleep.
Oh, it was such a wonderful weekend! Isaac began to truly smile while we were there (I even have witnesses! Marissa can vouch for me=) and it was so fun to spend time together as a family. Lake Superior always rejuvenates me and this was no exception. Here are a few pictures from our trip: Here we all are! Our family of four, headed to the North Shore of Minnesota.
Daddy and Isaac on the porch of our motel
The pack mule... er, Jonathan carrying all our junk to the campsite. Since I was wearing the baby, Jonathan insisted on carrying pretty much everything else. And tying the dog to his waist.
Isaac sleeping peacefully on Mommy's chest
Our little family on a hidden lake at Tettegouche State Park
Cody did his part. He packed out Isaac's poopy diaper. (HA!! Don't worry... we only tortured him long enough to take this picture. And maybe a few others.)
Isaac loved cuddling with Marissa
Baby napping on Daddy
All bundled up
Zack, the chef, cooking up some pancakes and sausage for breakfast. YUM!
I'm about to share the best parenting advice I have gotten so far. (And no, it's not "sleep when the baby sleeps.")
Melissa has been my best friend since the days before lockers, bras, and contact lenses. Our friendship has grown and changed with us from the awkward middle school days through high school, separate colleges, marriages, homes two states away, a doctorate (hers, not mine=), and now children. I love her.
She was in town a few weeks ago and we spent a wonderful day together. At one point, we were talking about advice the doctor had given me regarding developing good sleep habits for Isaac... "Put him down while he's still drowsy." I was saying that I couldn't picture that working for him at that time. She said, "And the thing is, some days it will work and some days it won't."
That simple statement, not even meant to be "advice," has stayed with me ever since and has been a huge comfort for me more times than I can count. Not just about sleep, but about everything. Having that perspective has helped me let go of some of the panic or helplessness I feel when things aren't picture perfect. If Isaac is screaming and nothing I do is helping... it's not because I'm failing him as a mom and it's also not a sign that every day is going to be like that. It's just... some days it works and some days it doesn't.
It's been awhile! Here are some random bits of information.
1. Isaac is growing, growing, growing! He's 8 weeks tomorrow and already almost 14 pounds...! He's got the kind of cheeks you can't resist kissing ALL THE TIME. I think I would be embarrassed at how huge the number is if I ever counted how many kisses I give him each day.
2. I've noticed that there's no such thing as "just" anymore. As in, "I need eggs. I'll just run to the store." Or, "My closet's empty. I'll just do some laundry." Or, "I need a shower. I'll just take one." Jonathan and I find that we are still doing the same things we did before Isaac, they just take three times as long and lots of extra thought and preparation!
3. Sometimes I panic at how fast time is going. I am hyper aware of each cuddle, stroller ride, and small hand grabbing my hair. I'm nostalgic for things that are still happening =)
4. Isaac has officially moved into his own bedroom. Although it was helpful to have him right next to me in the beginning, it has been a good move for all. I didn't realize how much I missed sitting in bed with a book before falling asleep.
5. We had our first family camping trip last weekend! I will definitely post pictures, but that takes more time than I am willing to spend at the moment, so I'll do it later. Isaac was a champ. In fact, he LOVED it. I'm not sure if it was the waves or the cool weather, but he was in his element.
Me? Oh, not much. Just celebrating the fact that Isaac's ADOPTION IS FINAL!!
Actually, "final" probably isn't the right word. I think that's what I'm supposed to say after we have our court hearing. But for all intensive purposes, he is ours forever. Lexie signed the consent form exactly 10 business days ago at 4:10 pm, so the just-kidding-I-changed-my-mind period has passed.
We celebrated by mowing the lawn, doing the dishes, and successfully putting a baby to sleep after only trying for an hour or so. =)
Now we are going to kick back, watch one of our favorite tv shows, and maybe even have an adult beverage of some sort.
I didn't think it was possible, but Isaac looks even more adorable through the lens of a professional photographer. One of our favoritest people in the whole world, Kelsey, gave us a gift of a one-hour photo shoot with photographer Natalie Champa Jennings. Natalie was FANTASTIC! Here are a few pics- all were taken in Isaac's Nana's house and gorgeous garden. You will see Isaac (of course), me, Jonathan, and Lexie.