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.