Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Baptism of Caroline Grace- December 28, 2008

At long last- the baptism post. I hope it was worth the wait, Marecha. I encourage any of the many loved ones present to add memories to the comments or to e-mail me memories that I can add! Memories fade so quickly... and five months have passed!

She was just 23 days old. Younger and tinier than the six week old we saw this morning who looked impossibly small. It was the Sunday after Christmas and all four grandparents and one uncle flew in from far away to meet this precious addition to the family for the very first time. Aunt Katherine was, of course, already here, though was then preparing to depart within days. It was a bittersweet time, hellos and goodbyes and hormones, oh my!

Mommy and daddy stumbled into affiliating with two congregations upon arriving in our new home city, two congregations that meet in the same building one after the other, every Sunday morning. It was important to us to have both congregations involved in some way, but it was hard to imagine how exactly that would happen. We asked for representation from congregation number two- the pastor and an elder- we didn't want to disrupt their Sunday School time by asking for more than that. But the Sunday before the baptism, in his charge at the end of the service, the pastor of congregation number two indicated that everyone who was in the building at the time of the baptism would come in, after the sermon in congregation number 1, for the baptism of Caroline Grace. I was moved to tears when I heard him extend this invitation.

It was important to us, also, to have connections to other congregations, other parts of Christ's body that had meant a great deal to us, in the ceremony. With the permission of the pastor of congregation number 1, we invited my best friend from college, now known as Auntie Mieke, to actually perform the baptism. Mieke and I were ordained together as elders on the same day at Westminister Presbyterian Church in Wooster, Ohio- the congregation under which I was under care through the ordination process and in whose presence and space I was ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament many years later. Mieke bore the presence of that very important congregation. The pastor of cong. 1 assumed one of our fathers would be invited to perform the baptism, but... we wanted them to be grandfathers, and how would we choose between them anyhow, and we pray they were comfortable with this decision. They seemed to be. The presence of both sets of grandparents carried the presence of so many of our formative congregations with them.

And imagine our delight when a couple from the congregation Kevin and I most recently served in Lowville just happened to be in town to see loved ones for the holiday and were able to stretch out their visit to be present for Caroline's baptism! It wouldn't have felt right for the First Presbyterian Church of Lowville to NOT be represented at that moment. I get teary now thinking about what their presence meant.

It was a small congregation, it was the Sunday after Christmas afterall, but... much like my ordination, for which an incredibly small congregation was present, the representative nature of those present was deeply moving. And this became even more true as the service unfolded, but I get ahead of myself.

I baked up a storm in the days preceding the baptism, all sorts of naturally sweetened goodies for a reception to follow in the church basement.

And mom brought with her the outfit I had worn on my trip home from the hospital and the baptismal gown that had been crocheted for me by my grandmother's (caroline's) best friend Auntie Bernice, in the wide hem of this lovely and delicate gown, in Auntie Bernice's shaky needlepoint script my name, birth date, and baptism date are stitched. Bernice indicated that her hope was that many babies would wear this gown until the hem was all filled with names and dates. And in the 32 years since I first wore it, over a dozen babies have followed in my stead, and my mom has taken over the task of adding names and dates to the hem. I had last seen the gown at my ordination when my mom, charged with presenting me with my robe and dressing me for ministry, pulled out the baptismal gown and spoke of dressing me for ministry when I was but a few months old. How powerful to unfold that gown and prepare to dress Caroline in it all these years later.

The preparations before the service were chaotic. It seemed all the clergy involved were speaking different languages. And I seem to recall dealing with some physical discomforts that kept removing me from the midst of the awkwardness. Mieke was doing a beautiful job mediating and I trusted her to that task. We decided that the elder from cong. 1 and Kev would head out when it was time for the baptism to bring in the folks from cong. 2. I don't remember a lot about the sermon that day, the pastor of cong. 1 preached. I do remember him suggesting the strong possibility that Caroline could end up a pastor. Meh. Maybe. In any case, I have no doubt I dressed her for ministry whether ordination is ever on the table for her. After that sermon there was a bit of a long pause as we waited for folks to come in from cong. 2, but... their arrival was by far one of the most moving parts of the day for me. They streamed in, nearly doubling the size of the congregation, a nearly entirely African American group of people, of all ages and filled up the more sparsely populated side of the sanctuary. And they all looked SO EAGER to be there. And... I just can't find words for what their presence meant.

The day was all about presence.

Eventually we gathered by the font- four pastors (though I was just mom then!), two elders, a deacon (just dad then!), and sweet Caroline Grace, dressed for ministry. The liturgy was shared by all those assembled. Most memorable... the tears of the elder from cong. 1, whom is unfortunately not visible in the pictures above. Mieke's gentle touch as she poured the water over her sweet head. Did she cry? I don't think so. Maybe just a bit, but she settled. And was totally fine as Mieke walked her about the sanctuary and spoke spontaneously and beautifully about all those to whom she belongs and begged her forgiveness for all the mistakes that these many Christians who love her would make. And entrusted the teaching of us to her. Mieke nailed it. She drew together all that presence with her words. And... I remember most of all... the way that the pastor of cong. 2, did the laying on of hands. I encouraged him to be spontaneous if he so desired. And he so desired. He lifted her high and prayed to the only one more powerful than her as he blessed her. And all those circled around lifted up too. It sucked the breath right out of me.

So, we are baptized in the Spirit, yes? Well, I think that's what the presence was all about. I believe it is the Spirit that binds us to Christians far and near, similar and dissimilar. It is the Spirit that enlivens congregations and pulls them together. It is the Spirit that binds congregations one to another. The Spirit of Christ in whom there is no male or female, no Jew nor Greek, no slave nor free. That Spirit was present at the baptism of Caroline Grace. No question.

Aunt Katherine and Mommy sang a duet with Daddy's accompaniment. It was Holy Innocents Day and we sang a setting of the refrain of Lully, Lullay- that haunting remembrance of the babies who lost their lives upon the birth of Christ. And that too seemed fitting... remembering the fragility of human life in this dangerous world... all the more reason to entrust our lives to God and God's community.

And shortly thereafter we relaxed in the basement and took picture after picture, and ate cookie after cookie, twas a good day, the Lord's day, the day on which Caroline was welcomed into the body of Christ to whom she belongs... in life and in death. Alleluia!

And then home to rest... A representative shot in the arms of Abuelita.

Thanks be to God! And thanks be to all the loved ones for the sacrifices made to be present that day. Your presence was precious.

Friday, May 29, 2009

25 weeks!

Ah... this 25th week was a MUCH calmer week. Phew. The action packed weeks just passed were wonderful, but... a slower week... was a gift! A week from today Caroline will be 6 months old and I have to say that I am LOVING this age. She still has rough stretches, but they seem fewer and farther between. And she is much more easily distractable when she gets upset. It is so much easier to make her laugh, and her laugh... what a heavenly sound! She's making all sorts of sounds these days- pinching her lips together and blowing (working on her brass embouchure, perhaps), making bubbles with her excessive drool (such a lovelier use for it!), squawking in addition to squealing, and babbling, babbling, babbling... It also seems that, especially with daddy, she tries to sing along when he sings to her. And more than once it has seemed that she matches pitch, or at least vocalizes in the same key. THAT is pretty cool. Today was a day of interacting with a lot of different people and she gave almost all of them BIG smiles. Each one that they were particularly special, but... she loves people. What can I say! And of course, we're all special. And it is nice when babies can help us feel that way!

Here she is smiling with my hair dresser just today!

On Monday we got an extra day of family time as Kev opted to stay home from work. We did lots of needed home organizing and freed up a lot of space in our bedroom which makes it a better (and alternative) place for Caroline to play. As our laundry machines are attached to our bedroom, this is VERY HANDY! I also moved her jumper this week to the door between our bedroom and the bathroom off our bedroom and this is a brilliant spot for it. I have managed to shower, dress, make the bed, and fold a load of laundry all while she happily jumps away. I think there's a bit of novelty in the new spot that has stretched out her jump sessions, but, whatever the case, it has been a good move! This is a bit blurry, but I think you can see she likes the new locale!

Diaper changes have gotten exciting because she contorts and rolls and... well... does anything but stay in a position that facilitates a successful diaper change. She's not upset during the changes, just ready to MOVE. I wish I had a pic or video of that to post, but usually... our hands are pretty busy keeping her from flying off the changing table WHILE trying to keep bodily fluids landing on diaper- an impressive feat, I assure you. We're doing lots of changes on the floor these days... it just feels safer.

She's napping a bit better these days, especially if I lie down with her at least to get her started. We seem to be settling into a bit of a nap routine. And when she does nap... oh, how much more pleasant she is! Nighttimes have been better, not great, but better. We're moving in the right direction. We're back to co-sleeping some because some nights I'm just too tired to get up. Either she's nursing less when sleeping with us, or I am capable of sleeping through it better!

Perhaps inspired by Sesame Street (which Mamie got us watching a bit!), I've taken to dedicating days to different colors. One of the only days on which I took pictures was a green day. She wore green. I wore green. We walked about outside to see what green we could see- PLENTY. Here are a few shots from green day, with her favorite new toy- an empty apricot container! Hey... it works!

We had a wonderful play date with Fiona last Saturday. Pretty much every time those two get together they plant open mouthed kisses on each other within 15 minutes. No pics from that get together or of that preciousness, but today she had some play time with a baby younger than her for the first time ever. J.H. is 12 weeks old, and Caroline was... mostly gentle. They seemed to enjoy one another's company!

Mamie just sent along a disc full of pictures taken on her camera so I can FINALLY do a baptism post- five months later!!! It's coming, Marecha, eventually, keep reading! And I may have more pictures from last week to put up as well. But, not tonight. It is getting late...

I also have a post about my grandma, Caroline's namesake, brewing.

But again, not tonight. I will try to blog two or three more times this week to get some of these backlogged posts taken care of. Maybe blogger will even cooperate and I'll get some videos up!

Friday, May 22, 2009

24 weeks!

Oh my goodness! It feels like so much has happened with Caroline this week that I should have blogged all that she was experiencing as it was transpiring... maybe I should Twitter. Sigh. Let's see if I can remember it all!

Caroline spent lots of good time with Mamie, of course. Mamie was determined to get her into as many of the outfits we have for her as possible. We tend to be content with onesies unless we're going out, but not Mamie! "You have all these beautiful clothes! She should wear them!" So she did. And Mamie uncovered a very special item I had forgotten about, monogrammed p.j.s that she is now just about too big for. She got in one good wearing! You'll see it in some pictures below. Mamie also reminded us of the marvelous McLeod kilt (just like Kev wore in the Wooster band, and appropriate because Kev's family is in the McLeod clan!) and lovely blouse that Aunt Janet, Uncle Doug, and Cousin Elliott sent along. They fit perfectly at the moment and so they were her Sunday wear. Isn't she adorable in this outfit?! I mean, she's adorable in any case, but still...

After both church services, we headed out to Debbie and Bruce's houseboat for a delicious meal! Caroline's first time on a boat! She was entranced with Debbie's husband Bruce. I've never seen her quite so taken with somebody. She would just stare and stare and stare at him. You'll sort of get a sense of that in the pics below. In one of the shots below with Debbie you can see what a good stander Caroline is. She loves standing (with assistance of course). Kev has noticed this week that she will start to pull herself up to a stand when we hold on to her hands, she comes part way up without our help.

On Monday Caroline took her first trip to the zoo. Mamie has a zoo membership at home and so could get into the zoo for free here. I decided to go with and just review flashcards as we walked about as I needed to do something calming the day before my exam. I was getting wound up. We LOVED the zoo. And Caroline did great there! She's big enough to ride in her stroller without the car seat and she did quite well like that. Mamie and Grandpa might get us a zoo membership for Christmas and even though daddy is not a big fan of zoos, he is open to this. It is a beautiful place to walk. And certainly is a good place for Caroline to learn. So, I'm looking forward to Christmas. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera to the zoo and mom didn't have a cord for downloading pics from her camera. I think, perhaps, the best pics I took of Mamie with Caroline were on her camera! Sorry, mom, not to have captured a really great shot of you two on my camera... I was so preoccupied this past week... wonder why?!

Caroline did wonderfully through my exam on Tuesday morning even though the 6 oz I had pumped bit by bit in the preceding days and refrigerated spoiled due to a broken fan in the fridge (which got fixed on Wednesday- after we had to dump other milk too!) All Mamie had to work with for 4 plus hours was 3 freshly pumped oz. They took a LONG walk together and stretched that milk out and Caroline only melted down 20 to 30 minutes before I got home. And calmed right down once she got to the breast. That afternoon we had a lovely lunch and Mamie and I got our toes done. Caroline was a champ through it all. We had our new friends over, the midwife, Sam, and her family for a fire in the backyard. It was, once again, utterly delightful to see Caroline and Sam's daughter Fiona interacting. Ethan, Fiona's big brother, was also delightful and the three of them together... priceless. We shared our delicious chicken pot pie with them, and all enjoyed, and Ethan really got a kick out of making S'mores. The chicken pot pie was so good I wasn't too sad about not getting any S'mores. Caroline and I might go spend some more quality time with Sam and Fiona tomorrow to give daddy some practice time. Mommy is preaching and daddy is playing at the same church on Sunday. Wow. It has been awhile since that has happened!

Fiona is a BIG talker- no words yet, but lots of babbling. She is a bit older than Caroline, but apparently she's been this way for quite some time. Caroline was quite silent in their interactions. But, the next day... it was like a switch was flipped. She has been babbling so much more. Her babble was picking up earlier in the week, but by Wednesday, and since... strings of "da, da, da" and some "guh" sounds and maybe even a "luh". She uttering more discernible syllables, and realizing that she can make fun sounds if she plays with her hands in her mouth while she babbles. I am excited about language development. So... this is very cool! Thanks, Fiona, for inspiring our girl!

Caroline's teething pain seems to have backed off. Mom did make her some apple juice popsicles and she seemed to enjoy them- though i think she got a bit of freezer burn on her cheeks... that is hanging on. Mamie got Caroline's feeding system set up so she'd have a good place to munch on the popsicles.

For the last few weeks she has also discovered a way to click with her mouth. If we click back she almost always giggles.

She has been sort of pushing up for awhile, but this week it is like she has mastered the skill. This morning in bed with me she was more interested in showing off her skills than eating. She kept pushing up on her arms as if trying to end up eye to eye with me. She'd push up and GRIN. It was adorable. (More adorable than the kicking of me she was doing while nursing first thing this morning. She was kicking hard and steadily. I put a pillow between me and her and she contorted her body in all sorts of ways to get around the pillow to kick me! What is up with that? Then she had a big poop- sorry Jack, if you're still reading! And I remembered that other times she had behaved similarly pre-bm. Her will to kick this morning was certainly impressive. We have a STRONG girl. I think we might end up as soccer parents!)

Friday, May 15, 2009

23 Weeks!

Hard to pick among pictures this week, so there will be many!

So, big news from this week? Hmm... first Mother's Day... tried to take a hike as a family, picked a state park we've been to before because it has a paved trail around a lake, helpful with a stroller... and as it had been raining a lot in the week prior we didn't want to contend with mud. We didn't consider THIS possibility...

Um yes... that is the trail UNDER WATER!!! Pretty funny. Ah well, it was a nice drive anyhow!

Here are a few shots of Caroline and I from the day itself- I was in my walking clothes, she was still in church clothes.

Caroline and daddy gave me very nice cards and there's a pretty rose on the table still from the second church service we attended. Both my brother and sister talked me at different points during the day and didn't mention mother's day. This didn't bother me. It isn't that big a deal for me... in fact, I have mixed feelings about the holiday. But, within minutes of each other, one called (from the west coast), the other texted from the east coast to say "Doh! I forgot!" In my sister's words "I forgot this is your day too, now!" It was sweet to hear from them both a second time.

The one thing I really wanted to do for Mother's Day was to get a portrait of Caroline and I taken. When Heidi and Adam were here a few weeks ago Adam offered to take one for us. He is a gifted photographer. I wanted a picture that could be a nice companion to a picture I have of my paternal grandfather as a baby in the arms of his mother. (The baby in this pic grew up to be the husband of Caroline's namesake.) We haven't printed this pic yet, but I'm happy to share it here. Isn't it lovely?

Caroline has spent a lot of time this week on the livingroom floor moving quickly across as many blankets as I can lay down. She rolls and scoots and has a grand time making her way to toys I leave scattered about. Here are some shots from today, the first day of her 24th week! If you have given us a blanket... I can assure you... it is getting used. Even if you can't see it in these pics!

Her teething pain seems to have reached a peak... or perhaps I shouldn't say that... we bought some homeopathic teething gel tonight... She is drooling like crazy and chomping on whatever she can get her mouth around.

The biggest news from the week is that MAMIE IS HERE! HALLELUJAH! She arrived on Wednesday afternoon. And has been loving on Caroline ever since. She said shortly before she came "I hope Caroline still likes me." To which I responded, "Mom, she likes everyone, except for us occasionally. And you love her to pieces. And she loves that. You'll be fine." And indeed she is. I introduced Mamie to Las Paletas, my favorite locally made popsicles, yesterday. And she introduced Caroline! She and I both got blackberry-lime popsicles... yummy! And Caroline agreed. Apparently Caroline was sitting in the back seat looking longingly at the popsicle and I gave mom the go ahead to rub it on her sore gums... she started sucking immediately... and wanted as much as she could get! I was surprised. It was a bit sour (delicious, but sour), but she really couldn't get enough of it- sweet plus cold- magic for our teething girl. We're probably waiting on solids until at least 6 months, but... Mamie bought popsicle cups and apple juice (unsweetened) which we'll water down and pour into the cups to make tasty, cold suckers for Caroline. I'm excited to share these with her. I don't think frozen juice counts as a solid... and... so what if it does if it makes her feel better! I wish we had a picture of the popsicle moment. I didn't see it. I was in the front seat, they were in the back. But I heard lips smacking and Mamie was offering a play by play.

Mamie and Caroline will likely go to the zoo while I take my German exam (which has been moved to Tuesday). And tomorrow morning we'll do a bit of shopping together before or after my Weight Watchers meeting. A girl's morning out... before an afternoon of studying/cooking/baby entertaining in. And we're headed to the houseboat on which Kev and I honeymooned on Sunday for a picnic with one of my mom's best friends (the owner of the house boat) and her husband (also owner of the house boat).

Our little girl is SO strong. We think her bumbo may soon be passed on as she pushes herself nearly out of it already. And she pulls into a stand so easily (not on her own mind you, with help!) Oh, and this week she really has moved to pushing up on her arms... this has been slower to develop for her. But she's been pushing way up. And she's still a champion roller. Her mobility is on its way. I'm not rushing it. But I'm in awe of it. One of the moms at church said "Don't rush the mobility. Moms always spend the first year eager for their babies to walk and talk, and then spend the rest of their lives trying to get them to sit down and shut up." Well said. Though I hope we'll delight in her movement and her talking... it sure will be nice (most of the time) when she can talk.

So, all in all, an exhausting week. Wouldn't you agree, Caroline?

Yes, exhausting. But good. 23 weeks. Wow.

Friday, May 8, 2009

22 weeks!

(The photo and video were taken on Wednesday. Sorry for the sideways video... but it is cute enough even sideways.)

As of today, day one of Caroline's 23rd week, she weighs 14.8 pounds, up over a pound from last month and just under a pound shy of doubling her birth weight. She is still smack dab in the middle of the 50th percentile for weight. Her doctor is pleased. I'm relieved. I've heard grandparents say that their daughters were starving their babies on breast milk alone, I read this week about breast milk alone being insufficient to satisfy some babies hunger, and it always seems to me my production is low... so I was a little nervous. I wish her length had been measured. Most of her 3-6 month footies barely fit or no longer fit... so she must be longer.

Caroline had a shot today. She was none too pleased. But she seemed to get over it pretty quickly. Phew. As we waited to be called into the doctor's office a little girl (a tall four year old) named Kennedy was smitten with Caroline. She came right over and was patting her head and her face over and over again. Caroline was delighted with this and was flashing grin after grin at her. And in response Kennedy squealed "SHE LIKES ME!" Yes, indeed, Kennedy, she does! When we were called in, I wished Kennedy well and told her to wish Caroline luck as she was due for a shot. She widened her eyes and then smiled at Caroline as she said goodbye. I'd say that was a well wish. It turns out that Caroline's birthday is the day before Kennedy's. They had a special connection! I love the people we meet at the pediatrician's office.

Yesterday was a LONG day. I was due to be examined for membership in the local presbytery and Kev had to work all day. So Caroline was with me. She slept TERRIBLY the night before. And I was more anxious about how I was going to keep her contented through the day than I was about my exam (well, I was a bit nervous about that too... when she wasn't keeping me up I was keeping myself up with anxious thoughts about what exactly I would BRIEFLY say to introduce myself, or I was sleeping poorly due to an anxiety dream.) I was so nervous that her exhaustion was going to equal a very challenging day. But... not so. They arranged for child care for me for the last two hours of the meeting (during which I would be examined), but for the first four plus hours... on my own. SHE WAS WONDERFUL! I had some awkward moments of public nursing (note to self- pull up the button down shirt, don't unbutton, REALLY hard to re-button with one-hand without flashing folks). Fortunately, she is so darn cute and endearing I think any public indecency was graciously overlooked. I spent much of the first four hours of the meeting either nursing her or walking about with her, bouncing her, etc. During the debate that I was most interested in hearing she was quite happy and talky so I listened in from the narthex- not really following it. She'd be quiet in the narthex, but then when I'd get into the sanctuary again (figured I'd try), she'd start babbling again. I think she wanted to interact with ALL the people. And wow, were there a lot of people there for that big debate (far fewer come my exam in the afternoon).

The stated clerk had lined up a helper if need be (particularly if child care fell through for my exam time), and we met to meet her before the meeting. She is a first time grandma and she looked at Caroline and said "How old is she?" "Just five months this Tuesday," I replied. "Oh no, we're going to have to get more specific now, December?" "Yes," I said, "December 5th." "Oh my goodness! She is exactly the same age as my granddaughter!" "Where does your granddaughter live?" "Maryland!" "Well, this girl's grandmas are in New York and Michigan, so if you ever need some grandbaby time... give us a call!" But I didn't end up needing her help... well, I could have used it... constantly moving with a 14 and a half pound weight... on not much sleep... phew... but I survived. And appreciated the exercise. And enjoyed my delightful girl. And caught enough of the debate. And got lots of big smiles from many new admirers of Caroline. And I was VERY grateful when the child care provider arrived. During lunch though several other grandmas in the crowd took their turns holding her and doting on her. I met some former theology professors from my university (who apparently only show up at presbytery for big votes- their votes didn't carry the day, unfortunately. Unless of course I'm misreading them... I don't think so.) and a famousish (in church circles anyhow) author who knows my father-in-law well. Caroline did very well in the nursery... I did fine in my exam... it was a good day. And the night was easier than I expected it would be. (Everything's relative.)

(Guess I'm working backwards through the week.)

Caroline did lots of super rolling around during her play time this week and some mini-scooting. I now need to lay down many blankets so she can MOVE... and move she does... always straight to whatever part of the floor I haven't covered.

Zooming back to Sunday... We were VERY tired at the start of the day.. Kev especially. The afternoon held a few things we wanted to do- an ordination of a colleague of mine (a Southern Baptist WOMAN!) and a choral concert. We were trying to figure out how we could do at least one of the church services and both of those, and we couldn't. So we decided to have a restful morning and then do both afternoon events- taking turns on primary baby duty- Kev for the ordination, me for the concert. The concert was at a beautiful Catholic church where a few of my professors worship. The landscaping around the church was almost more beautiful than the interior. Caroline and I spent a good portion of the concert outside admiring the different plants- I let her feel different leaves and petals- and talking about similarities and differences between Presbyterians and Catholics. I'm sure she was FASCINATED by the latter. We made the right choice. It was a peaceful way to spend the day.

O.K. zooming forward again to yesterday and today... The opening worship at the Presbytery meeting started with a bagpipe and organ prelude. We were seated towards the back of the sanctuary (to enable easy escape- of which we availed ourselves frequently- and of course the bagpipe started in the narthex just behind us... Caroline was peacefully nursing, drifting off... but when the drone began she pulled off dramatically and her face just crumbled when the pipe started she started howling (not that that could be heard over the pipe and very loud organ!) I found this to be hilarious given that Kev and I woke up to the sound of bagpipes on many a Saturday morning of our college careers and had a bagpiper for the prelude at our wedding. I cuddled her close and got her nursing again, whispering to her "This is your heritage, honey. It'll be o.k.." She quickly acclimated and eventually settled into a slumber... for awhile anyhow. Interestingly enough, this morning an intense thunderstorm blew through. I was nursing Caroline as the storm revved up. At one point a very loud thunder clap resounded, shaking the back of her house... and she pulled off dramatically, her face crumbled, and she started to wail. An identical reaction! She lets lots of loud noises go, but these were new... and intrusive... and her reactions were adorable (especially because she was quickly calmed.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Remembering With Love...

... Sweet Emma Rose

beloved daughter of my cousin Richard and his beloved Annetta...

beloved sister of little Josh...

beloved granddaughter of Sherry and Hugh and others too...

beloved niece of Jenny, Laurie, Chris, Hughie, Elizabeth, Kelly...

beloved of many...

Sweet Emma Rose died on Saturday night. She had a rare genetic condition. She lived longer than expected. If my calculations are correct she lived a full month.

Lifting all who love her to light.

Thanking God for a month of graced life.

WIshing peace to all who grieve the loss of children.

Friday, May 1, 2009

21 weeks! (Lots of text, pics, and a VIDEO)

Phew. What. a. week.

(You might want pour yourself a cup of tea before this post. It is a whopper! But hang in... video near the end! Or just zip ahead!)

Caroline has been to a new state, met a great aunt and uncle (great in so many senses of the word!), met some cousins, met dear friends Adrien and Jess, worshipped at a big Episcopal church and received a lovely blessing, welcomed dear friends Heidi and Adam into our home, and received a jolly jumper in the mail- praise Jesus! And thank you, Wendy and Gracie! To boot... twas not a good sleeping week, and mommy fell asleep rocking Caroline to sleep tonight so there are no promises this post will be coherent.

So let's zoom in on the week, shall we?

Kev's aunt and uncle, Debbie and Don, were gracious enough to open their beautiful home to us once more. We arrived late Friday night. They were out with friends. We settled in before they got back. I spent a good portion of the night nursing on the lovely leather couch just outside the room in which we were staying. Now... if you're going to be up in the middle of the night... that is the way to go! So comfortable. The next day Kev took Caroline down to visit while I caught a bit of extra sleep and then took what felt like a luxuriously long shower. I couldn't make myself get out because I didn't have to! There was no baby contenting herself in a crib, likely to cry out at any moment. She was occupied. And so I just relaxed in that nice hot shower. Ah... Eventually we all hung out on their screened in porch. And Kev's cousin Matt and his lovely wife Whitney, whom we were meeting in person for the first time, came over after picking up bees. You read that right. They are starting a hobby of beekeeping. Thoroughly impressed, am I. And not at all interested in pursuing this myself. The bees buzzed in the garage, in frames, while we visited on the porch.

Don and Debbie were gracious enough to babysit for nearly 5 hours on Saturday afternoon/evening, so Kev and I could see a play that Adrien had a hand in arranging and share a meal. As I finished typing that sentence, Kev came in and handed me this week's letter from Abuelita (Kev's parents each write us nearly every week!) She begins the letter by exclaiming that she hopes we left lots of milk for them because C is growing like a weed. Well... I tried. Really I did. But... I didn't leave quite enough milk. Despite pumping and pumping and pumping... (I really need to get pumped ahead... it's just when I'm with her all day, and nursing on demand- FREQUENTLY- and trying to get other things done too, the pumping just doesn't get done... must discipline myself to do it... even when I'm tired.) We coached them to space out what we were leaving. But it ran out. So they improvised and found a way to keep her happy. Hooray! And they learned quickly that walking our girl around outside is a cure for much that ails her. While we were out Great Uncle Don finally caught the toe eating on film!

I was nervous that we were going to come back to a screaming baby and frazzled loved one, but when we came back this is what we found... a peacefully sleeping baby in Uncle Don's arms. Uncle Don enjoying a glass of wine. Ah...

She put them through their paces, I think, but they were none the worse for the wear. THANK YOU, DON AND DEBBIE!!!! SUCH A GIFT!

The next day we met Adrien for church and had a delightful brunch with Adrien and Jess afterwards. The elementary age Sunday School kids at Adrien's church had grown tomato plants from seed and I just had to get one. They did a great job! We bought a plant called "Sweet Baby Girl". How could we resist, really? It produces cherry tomatoes. Hooray! (Now we must get all four tomato plants into the ground!) Adrien did a REMARKABLE job arranging Wendell Berry's poetry into a play. It was such an honor to see the play, worship with her, and enjoy her company and the company of her beloved.

Here are Adrien and Caroline at brunch.

We returned home mid-afternoon and set to readying the house for company. I realized, at Caroline's bedtime, when she was more distressed than she had been in almost a week, that I had accidentally consumed wheat earlier in the day. It took HOURS to get her settled down and asleep. She settled in mere moments before Heidi and Adam arrived. I was updating Heidi by text about the status of the babe all night. I was rather demoralized when we greeted them at the door. But it was great seeing them! And settling in to a nice night with them. We finished our salads which we had been eating in bits through the bedtime drama. And then enjoyed homemade ice cream together.

And Monday... Heidi and Adam were pure gifts from God above. They occupied Caroline all morning long and assisted with her all afternoon AND they prepared us an unbelievably delicious wheat-free dinner which concluded with an absolutely to-die-for flourless chocolate cake. Oh. My. God. (that is a prayer of awe and thanksgiving...) We still have some left. It is still good.

Heidi and Adam take GREAT pictures. So brace yourselves for many... I couldn't choose.

Heidi is raising plants from seeds and she has adorable little pepper seedlings that she couldn't bear to leave at home. She wanted to take photos with them along the way. My baby was fascinated with her babies.

As if that were not enough for one week... shortly after Heidi and Adam left on Tuesday morning, the jumper arrived from Wendy and Gracie! I had a hunch that Caroline would like this toy as she loves being upright and moving. She does like it, A LOT! For about 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Which is fine. Great really. I find that if I let her play on her play mat until she gets tired of it and then move her to the jumper that gives me almost 45 minutes of German time. Unless, of course, I'm distracted by her cuteness, which I frequently was this week. Can you blame me?

So, here she is in her jumper close up!

And, at long last... another video... be sure your volume is turned up!

I don't really know if removing wheat from the diet is helping her, but... it is helping me, I think. It hasn't been easy though. Wow. I'm a bread addict. But... I think I need to keep it up. Lots of common physical discomforts for me- absent entirely in the nearly 2 weeks now of no wheat. The biggest of these... headaches... and I've had all sorts of other triggers that I would have normally blamed for a multi-day headache setting in- allergies (no meds for three days to boot), sleep deprivation, occasional low water intake (not every day, Aunt Katherine, just one day), and general muscle tension- BUT all that and no headache. Not one. I've had headaches, frequently, for YEARS. This is enough to make me keep this up for awhile. If I could get down to one or two a month max- that sounds like heaven. So, thanks Caroline for nudging me to do something I needed to do for me, apparently. And I hope that whatever is causing you distress backs off soon. We're doing all we can.

Really though, she's only been very cranked up for brief periods save for last Sunday... and last Sunday she had the triple whammy of wheat, over stimulation, and sun... so... who knows. But sleeping... yup. Still challenging. We're reading the book. And we'll start a plan up soon enough. I have to say, though, that we are definitely in a pattern where just when I think I'm going to break, grace intervenes. This morning, for example. It felt like I spent much of the night up with her (or in bed with her- I was too tired to get up for one of the feedings). I passed her off to Kev at 4:30 so I could get at least an hour and a half of sleep before he had to leave for work. When he brought her to me I didn't know what I was going to do. Almost all week she has been unwilling to settle down when lying down with me to nurse. She is always too alert and ready to play. (But then, of course, when I fully wake up, she starts to fuss and sleeps on me while I work... we need to keep these sleeping rhythms in sync). Had that happened this morning I didn't know what I would. I couldn't open my eyes when he brought her to me. But... she settled down and alternately ate and slept and let me stay in bed until 8:15. That is a first, my friends. And she was generally delightful most of the day. (This compared to yesterday when she was very clingy and fussy most of the day.) Yes, just when I need it, grace. Don and Debbie, babysitting, even without enough milk! Heidi and Adam at the door after the most demoralizing bedtime ever! The jumper in a box on the front porch! 2 hours of restful time in bed with Caroline! Thanks be to God.

And the greatest grace of all? Kevin. He is with her now. She is awake again. I've been prying my eyes open to get this marathon post out... I can hear them on the monitor. He is gently shushing, patting her back. She is babbling happy little sounds now and then. He is such a good daddy, and such a marvelous husband. Pure grace.