Saturday, November 21, 2009

Two Months - And Not Counting


“Buuugggg – I can’t believe it! You’re two months old today!” I squealed to Lawson in a delighted tone, yet felt the floor of my heart sink into its chambers as I knew this meant my little boy was, indeed, growing up as all children do. As I attempted to prop him against the auburn couch, the template two-month sign sliding through his sticky fingers, I marveled at how far we’ve come as a pair in the past two months, and surged with joy at all that was still to be. Though still physically tiny, everyday with him meant a mountain of milestones, from smiling to cooing to practically rolling over in a way that even the most avid gymnast would be proud of. Each blink of a steel-blue eye, each nod of a bobbing head, each cry for a feeding or well-deserved attention – this is what life has meant for me all along. In just two months, this little man had changed every passion, every emotion and every part of my being in the most remarkable and insurmountable ways…for the better.

Trying to tuck the negative thoughts of my maternity leave coming to an end, his days without Momma at day care and the stress of managing it all in just a few weeks, I ended our photo session, tucked him into his crib and began to list all the amazing things I love about the kiddo. Perched at the computer nearby as to hear his soft cries, I felt the slow, melodic thumping grew stronger in my chest as tears of unconditional love and small peeps of laughter tore through my mind in a myriad of emotions. The list, so easy to start, impossible to finish, was gripped tightly in my fingertips and lined with smeared blue ink. Its content read of some old and some new favorite things about Lawson in his short two months of life. From first burps to the number of smiles, each precious memory was logged in my head for a lifetime, now set for paper so I can revisit it whenever the diapers get too many or the crying sessions too long. Please, come along on this short journey with me, and may a few of them bring a smile to your face as big as the eternal one on my heart:

The smile factor: Lawson delights in Momma’s smile when he first awakes in his crib; his grin seems to start from the brights of his eyes and sink into his toes..and deep, deep into Mommy’s heart; he also wiggles with a jaw-dropping smile during diaper changes as he focuses on Momma’s face and the delight of getting a new nappy! Slow and steady, it starts in his left corner, creeps into the right and generally ends up with a gutteral note of glee.
Sally Sunshine: part of a Baby Einstein play yard, she lights up and plays show tunes for newborn entertainment. Again, the slow start of a smile turns into a freedom-filled grin, followed by a gurgle of glee, then a dance party that can last up to 10 minutes. Note: Sally’s speaker blew out the other day and Disney was happy to replace in 5-10 days. After two days of giving Sally the stink-eye and crying when she wasn’t singing, I paid extra to have it shipped overnight…
Tooting: I’m sorry – farting is just funny. Rip-roaringly hilarious…no matter what age you are. And how cool is it that he can pull them off at the most inopportune times and no one bats an eye? Lucky…Note: exuberant burping is also rewarded and quite humorous in the Choate household (Lawson only!)
Dislike for binkies: you know the look you give when you get fluoride at the dentist or try a liquor you don’t like? Yeah – that’s the face he gets when he’s not down with the binkie. No second guessing his feelings on that one!
Loud mouth: from the second he came home, his grunts vibrate off our neutral walls like a bounce in a raquetball court. From groaning to chirping to full-fledged grinching, this kid has something to say and wants you to listen. Regardless of what activity he may be participating in, the noise is always in existence. Bottle or nursing time? Deep, sing-song gulps. Nodding off to sleep? Loud moaning aligned with wiggling. Sleeping? Groaning. Irritated or hurt tummy? Paci in mouth, hand over it tight, with quick, low grumbles like the Grinch. Needless to say, our baby monitor sound is now turned to “off.”
Wrinkly forehead: with each ounce a few of these darling wrinkles whisk away, but when he’s listening intently, scowling, or looking up these darling things make an appearance. Married with his bright eyes and little dimples…priceless. Speaking of wrinkles…better clean them all tucked in the rolls! The boy has 3 chins, several knees and more than a pair of arms that he likes to tuck away the day’s dirt. Boys will be boys!
Saying “hi:” although technically not yet a genius, Lawson likes to say hello daily to anyone who will take it. A big fan of doing this one a 4 a.m., he yells “HI” to Mommy and Daddy as we still struggle to wake. We estimate it’s his first favorite vowel as well as the word we repeat to him the most as we grin all goofy at him and marvel in his love.
Party pal: though some nights he’ll fight sleep like a ninja, this boy loves a party. Whether it’s at a girls’ night out and five of us are gossiping loudly over a bottle of wine or there are more than 30 people watching sports during a gathering in our home, Lawson can cuddle in his blankie and dream of milk and diaper changes.
Thumb hunt: though the entire fist is still trying to make its way into the cavity, the thumb has just started to make it into the mouth, making the boy veeerrryy happy and relaxed. The rest of the fingers are a toss up during this event…either curled out, in a rock sign or hitting him on the head as he is not sure if they are all attached together.
Snoring: now that he’s swaddle free, he’s like a little old man tucked into a barcalounger…two hands over the chest, sometimes over the head, mouth wide open with deep snores of delight escaping from his nose.
Love of motion: whether I’m working my biceps to calm his crying in his carseat or placing him in his lamb swing, the boy loves motion. Slap him in a car, bounce him on your knee or rock him wildly and the boy is happy.
Spiky hair: from his darling toes all the way to the tippy top where his little Mohawk sits, his hair could not be cuter. Borderline male pattern baldness to a little mullet-esque, his rich, dark hair is fun to spike, smell and comb as he drifts off to sleep.

And there is more…so much more.

Happy two-month birthday buddy…and no, Mommy is not counting! Because that would only lead us a little closer to the truth that time flies by when you’re having fun. Thank you for giving me more fun than I could ever have imagined. And as the famous children’s book quotes: “I’ll like you forever, I’ll love you for always, as long as you’re living, my baby you’ll be.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ode to a Superwoman


“Well, what do you think – ‘Barely Beige’ or ‘Kilm Beige?” my Mom said to me through a crystal clear cell connection, a touch of anxiety in her voice as we were down to the wire on yet another Team Choate house project.

“Let’s go ‘Barely Beige’ and don’t look back,” I said excitedly, the graciousness for my Mom’s help oozing out of the corners of my mouth as I thought of all she had tackled for me this week. “Ok – done. I will see you in about 30 minutes,” she said, snapping her mobile shut in the way I could always picture her doing – with a pencil and paper in one hand, her chin doing the work with the other.

“Ahhhh, Lawson – we are soooo lucky!” I say to the half-sleeping little man tucked in the crook of my arm as I attempted to pour Wheaties and milk into the paisley bowl. The green digits on the microwave read it wasn’t even 8:00 a.m., and already Mom and I had chosen a paint color, moved all the furniture and made a plan to clean the garage the rest of the day. As I paused, thinking of my next step on how to juggle a newborn and simply eat breakfast, I marveled at the kindness, patience and energy my Mom continued to provide me well into adulthood. “How does Nana do it Lawson?” I mutter to him while he shoots me a glance indicating he’s trying desperately to understand. Nearly dropping the milk (better than the baby I guess!), I gave up and grabbed a NutriGrain bar and perched on the steps waiting for the painters and my Mom to arrive.

She arrived first, her black Volvo parked neatly in the drive, her standard tee and jeans trotting up the driveway as a true woman with a mission. Armed with cleaning supplies (she knows me so well), trash bags, paint samples and storage boxes, she entered the house and immediately went into assignment mode. As I she rattled off words such as “ok…you start with this…and I’ll do this…” I smiled to myself and once again felt the warmth of blessing crowd into all the corners of my heart. Looking around, I saw the fruits of her labor – sure, I had helped, but really, she’s the mastermind – in all corners of our home. Our master was finally a room that could be walked through, where intimate conversations could be had and clothes for the next day could be found. The nursery was clean as a whistle, Lawson’s little clothes lined up by size and the other baby items lined neatly among the closet floor, from safety items to tiny shoes to stuffed bears. The playroom was quickly becoming the color we had dreamed of, the vision with family pictures, primary colored toys and accents and a comfy couch all there for the taking. Dust balls that had once lined the wood floors of almost every facet in the house had magically disappeared, while my favorite cups were lined neatly against the kitchen sink, hand washed and ready to be placed where they belong. And with winter upon us, the garage was spotless, ready for Mike’s car to live and avoid scraping the windshield, the floors so tidy that when Sully escaped out there, he could eat off them.

“Amazing…” I said to no one in particular as Mom roamed from room to room, her smart-as-a-whip brain calculating all of our next moves. “You know Ma, it’s true – everything Moms do, it’s better than we can do ourselves! You’re a super woman!”
As she laughed and shrugged off the compliment as she always does, I made a mental note as I often do of how very special my Mom is and how grateful I am for all she is and all she does. So thank you super woman, for making our hearts and homes a better place to be each and every day. You continue to amaze us with your giving heart, your hard-working hands and the ability to leave everything a little bit better than when you found it. We love you!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

That WAS It!


“Oh my gosh, you are hilarious,” said my dear friend Jennie as I worked to smuggle in the delectable Sheridan’s treats she had hijacked for us before our movie date. Giggling our way with excitement up to the theater doors, I crossed my arms and tried to look nonchalant as Jennie nabbed the tickets and I did my best to keep two large concretes tucked around my now-freezing belly.

“This is so great!” we both commented, preparing to relive iconic moments that had played such a role in our lives as kids. Catching a glimpse of the movie title above the correct theater door, we braced to struggle to find seats as this two-week event had been sold out in most theaters across the city. Instead, we were surprised by having a pick of the place and found ourselves propped front and center, up high so we could catch all the magic and sparkles of Michael Jackson.

Chatting away about the endless drama occurring in each of our lives, including sleepless nights, rambunctious students, etc., we began to quiet during the girly previews and half paid attention. Then, when the lights dimmed and MJ’s voice broke across the speakers, we melted into our seats and let the magic begin.

With smiles half drawn across our faces, we marveled at MJ’s quirkiness, the way he delivered feedback, the still precision of his voice and of course his eclectic wardrobe. “He may love sparkles even more than me!” I leaned over and whispered in Jennie’s ear as she laughed softly.

Two hours later, we were almost speechless as we watched the credits roll across the large screen. “Amazing…” we said almost simultaneously, silently reliving each word of his songs and how they affected our childhood. I recalled the endless hours I played with my MJ doll, how my parents (smartly) denied me access to the concert when I was five, dancing to “Heal the World” in junior high, and still today, rocking out to every song, knowing every word, after a long day at work.

MJ – you still inspire me, quirkiness and all. You are a legend and at times, I feel, even a friend. Thank you for the many memories that helped shape so many emotions, fun times and events. Oh – and thanks for loving sparkly things just as much as I do…they really do make each day a little more fantastic…

Testing, Testing 1-2-3


“Oooooo – look at all the pretty white coats!” I say to Lawson who is tucked neatly into the crook of my left elbow, his bright safari pajamas matching the walls of Children’s Mercy’s d├ęcor.

“Welcome back! How is he doing?” said Dr. S, a dermatology specialist we had grown to love for her soothing voice, warm eyes and understanding of Mom’s tears.

Mike and I shared a glance and filled her in on how well Lawson had been progressing since his diagnosis of Incontentia Pigementi (IP). Almost chuckling to ourselves that the room was filled with hopeful residents yearning to see something so rare, we began to tell Dr. S that his rash was now nearly invisible, his eyesight just checked out well and his development was right on track for a 7-weeker.

As we chatted on, you could see the eager-to-learn residents’ faces begin to fall, their cameras placed on the counter vs. gripped tightly in their hand to catch photographs of such a rare condition in a boy. The male resident particularly almost let out a huff as Dr. S undressed Lawson, laid him gently on the table and shown a spotlight on his now rounding belly.

“Oh my gosh – there is almost nothing there! And there are no brown streaks!” said Dr. S, her brow furrowed with both happiness and confusion as the presentation of IP was now presenting so differently than we saw her a month ago. As clinical words began to spout from her mouth, the residents in the room shifted their feet in what felt like disappointment while Mike and my grins grew wider understanding this could be a misdiagnosis and our little man could actually be a happy, healthy baby boy!

After discussing a few instructions, next steps and affirming that Lawson looked like his Daddy, Dr. S sent us down to genetics (thank goodness she could squeeze us in!). As the nurse came by with more evil tools, I stepped out as a tourniquet was placed on Lawson’s bicep now lined with little baby rolls from his healthy weight gain in the past few weeks. With just a few tears from Lawson, and miraculously, nothing but welling of tears in Mom’s eyes, we were on our way with lightened hearts.

What was anticipated to be another long, painful day a Children’s had now turned into hope and faith that our little man continued with his warrior ways and perhaps just had some rare rash that not even the greatest of the great, smartest of the smart could wrangle. Though the biopsy came back positive for IP several weeks ago, only genetics can tell.

So here we wait, patiently and excitedly, for testing, testing, 1-2-3. In four to eight weeks we will know for sure and our fate will be sealed by just a little bit of blood and chromosomes. Miraculous, isn’t it?

So please, send warm and affirming thoughts into the universe that this too, shall pass. Either way, our little guy will remain he adorable, rambunctious soul that is capable of anything. As we like to say in the Choate household – no limits! And may the sky be limitless for you and yours!