Friday, February 26, 2010

The Promise

Tonight while listening to Tracy Chapman's "The Promise" on an endless loop, I decided that I'm finally ready to share how this song came to be My Dex Song.♥

My dear friend Kat and I served briefly as mission companions in Riga, Latvia in 1998. When we returned to the states, we took a road trip together to St. George to visit "our other parents", the Welches. Some may remember Keith when he spoke at Dex's funeral. On this long drive, Kat introduced me to the song and I fell in love with it immediately. I listened to it for several weeks before forgetting about it for 9 years.

In October 2008, Kinley was in morning Kindergarten and still took afternoon naps on occasion. One such afternoon a few weeks before the boys were born, Kinley and Tanner were napping at the same time and I had some hours of solitude.

In the peace and stillness of the rare silence I felt an immense urge to find a special song. Not just any song, but a song that would be my song if Dex died. To say that I felt morbid doing it would be putting it mildly. I never would have admitted it to anyone, yet I felt overwhelmingly driven to complete the task. It took less than 5 minutes to find the right song, a song I hadn't thought about in almost a decade.

I listened to it on an endless loop, much as I have tonight. I cried and cried until I had no tears left. I knew exactly which baby I was mourning. I knew it wasn't Crew and I knew that it wasn't both of the babies. That afternoon was all about finding peace in saying goodbye to Dex. I sat in our home office and mourned the loss of a baby that I had no intention of ever losing.

When I couldn't shed one more drop, I brushed myself off, calmed the hysteria, and promptly blamed hormones and lack of sleep. I never confessed to Justin how I had spent my afternoon because obviously only a crazy person would pass her time in such a fashion. I felt so macabre.

I didn't even think about that experience again until a few weeks later. When I sat in the hospital in similar solitude, grieving the sudden and unexpected loss of my Dex. Again. And needed a song.

I was in no mental or emotional condition then to be trolling the internet for lyrics to express my feelings. I count it as a very tender mercy that I had the perfect lullaby already chosen. I think of it as what Dex would say to me if he could.

I've been thinking a lot lately about tender mercies, ever since I stumbled upon a reference in 1 Nephi in the Book of Mormon. It says in 1:20 "But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance."

I believe the Lord gives us these wonderful tender mercies with purpose, to strengthen us against the battle. This tiny little gift that seemed so insignificant (and kinda strange) at the time, was a valuable piece of armor that would help deliver me in the end.

Banana Boy

Speaking of granted wishes...

6 months ago I was watching one of Crew's much younger friends feed himself a trayful of cheerios and other assorted munchies. I remember wondering at the time if Crew would ever feed himself! In the last month, Crew has taken a sudden interest in making this very important step toward independence. He can't yet feed himself cheerios, but he swallows them and doesn't gag if I put them in his mouth. He is eating Mum-Mums, of course. He is also eating slices of bread (what??) and even pieces of Cinnamon Toast Crunch--by himself. Yesterday I thought I'd try out something new...

Same outfit as the last post. Different day.

It was a tiny banana, but he ate about half of it! He spread the other half all over himself, earning a nice warm bath.

Head, Shoulders, KNEES

To the untrained eye, this may not look like a big deal. But this is Crew doing physical therapy, balancing ever-so-precariously on his chubby little knees!! I have to put him there and make sure he is stabilized, but I can now let go for about a minute while he plays on his knees. It's all part of the pre-crawling puzzle. This kid is going to be getting into stuff before we know it! Then I'll be saying "be careful what you wish for!"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Physical Therapy

Crew had his PT appointment this morning with Julie and it went very well. He is making progress with his pre-crawling skills, which is exciting. He won't be crawling for a while yet, but we have every confidence that he'll get there eventually; my guess would be before summer. On a side note, Kinley crawled for more than 6 months and we went through a lot of holey knees and scuffed shoe-tops. We predict that Crew will take after Kinley in this regard, as he has in so many others.

Crew is also very playful, taking turns with games and sounds. Today while snuggled in Julie's arms, he reached up to touch her face and she made a kissy sound and he dropped his hand. Then he would smile and raise it back to her face until she made the kissy sound again and he would drop it. He did this many times. Later, he heard me telling Julie that we think he says "Da-da" purposefully and he started shouting it at us. He knows who his Da-da is, I'm convinced of it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Must. Nap.

Someone's super awesome mom took a shower and missed all the cues.

Baby Mum-Mums

I discovered the most interesting treat in the baby aisle last week. Baby Mum Mums. They are rice husks, tasty little quick-dissolving munchies in the perfect shape for tiny, undisciplined mitts. This is the first thing that Crew has been able to really eat independently. He doesn't just mangle it or suck on it until it's spread from ear to ear. It's fragile enough that he can actually bite off little pieces and it's big enough and well-crafted enough for him to manipulate successfully to the bitter end. And it dissolves almost immediately; he hasn't gagged or choked on it one time. It's the perfect item for him at this stage! It says right on the box that it's "no mess" and they aren't kidding. The clean-up is minimal, mostly on his sticky little slobbery rice-hands. I thought I'd pass the word for anyone looking for a good starter-munchie!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sassy Seat Baby

Now that he's a stable sitter, he likes joining the big kids at the bar in his Sassy Seat (thanks, Laney!) when they are doing interesting things. He still eats in his regular high chair, though we have been able to remove almost all of his foam seat inserts.

You want to kiss him, huh?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

He's One Of Ours

Crew usually wakes up early and hollers for us to come fetch him. I always lay him down to sleep on his back and when I check on him in the middle of the night, he has rolled onto his side.

In the morning, I often find that he has rolled himself onto his belly. This morning he slept later than usual and I needed to sneak into his room to get something out of the closet. I discovered that he doesn't just roll onto his belly in the morning after he wakes up. He also apparently can sleep that way. He was snooooooozing very comfortably flat on his belly. Just like everyone else in the family. He's definitely one of ours!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Pooper

Let me put it to you this way:

My baby poops so often that when I change just a wet diaper, it feels strange.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Being Big Sister

Can there be any doubt about how these two feel about each other?


Streeeeeeeetch! Got it!
Are you proud of me?!

Crew Playing With Friends

A fun new stage.

Growing Boy

Crew is 16 pounds now.

I also wanted to record one of the best things he does. Whenever I pull him out of bed in the morning, he reaches forward to clasp both sides of my face firmly between his outstretched little hands. That sweet, brief little squeeze on my cheeks is my favorite part of the day.

He is also starting to lunge when he wants to go to someone and is almost starting to raise his arms in a requesting motion. You can tell the thought is there, but the motion is not fully developed yet. He has been known to choose to be passed back and forth between Mommy and Daddy. He has been flapping his arms for a long time when he wants someone to pick him up, but those arms are starting to point in the direction of the person he wants to hold him. Very exciting stuff, this communication.

Finally, he is starting to play a few games. I will bring his head down to kiss him on the forehead and then lift him back up. He'll smile and throw his head forward time and time again. Also, the other day I tipped him backwards off my lap and then brought him back upright. He suddenly started throwing his head back to continue the game. These are all great cognitive signs.

Physically, he has decided to stop rolling. Bah--jeesh, you don't focus on something for a few days... But he is now willing to play on his knees in front of an overturned basket. He isn't stable by any means, but he's willing to do it now, pitches no fits, doesn't launch out of position. He plays and bangs happily while I hold him steady.

Crew is being a big boy!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bum to Belly

Guess who can very purposefully maneuver himself from his bum to his belly? His movement is strong, controlled, and intentional. Yay, big boy!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

An Inconvenient Truth

You must know by now how often my tiny stinker fills his britches. If not: it's 3-7 times per day. There really isn't ever a super convenient time to change his foul little pants, but there are some moments that are worse than others.

A new circumstance rose to the top of my list today:

25 minutes into his eagerly anticipated afternoon nap, which happened to be 7 minutes into my less anticipated Shredding workout. In the end (pun intended) it all worked out (again with the puns). He sat in the corner completely mesmerized and entertained by the Fat Mommy Show.

It's times like these that I remind myself that I once rejoiced over poop...

I would have given anything for him to be able to fill a diaper instead of an ostomy bag...

When polishing his little bum with a wet wipe would have been a welcome alternative...

When we had to weigh and measure his poop instead of just tossing it into the garbage...

When pooping meant I had an excuse to give him a bath and change his clothes: my most favorite-est treat in the world...

When changing his "diaper" required 30 minutes, 2 nurses, and a tube of adhesive. And the incompetence of a few nurses in taking care of his stoma got us transferred back to Primary's at the surgeon's request...

When his poopies made me cry with relief and gratitude...

When we just couldn't get him to go...

When our entire life revolved around the contents of his diaper and I had to raise hell over the status of his bowel movements...

When poop kept us trapped in Alcatraz (Primary's)...

When functioning bowels made me weak in the knees with gratitude.

Hey.... what's that smell?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lessons and Comfort from the Past

One thing I've been spending a crazy amount of time on is Family History. I have always found geneology to be very addicting and quite calming. The new Family Search Website has reawakened the obsession and I think my mouse-ing fingers are getting carpal tunnel...

One thing I have found cathartic this time around is taking note of the sheer numbers of children who have died in infancy along my family line, including countless sets of twins. It's yet another reminder that I am not alone and, more importantly, everybody dies. It sounds so obvious when you say it out loud, like any of us really believe we are going to live forever. But when I laid my baby to rest, I had to truly think about how that inevitability affects me personally. It was the first time I really accepted my own mortality. And I can admit that there were days that I would have welcomed death gladly, moments when joining Dex felt so much more endurable than living without him and living with the pain of our loss and our fear of the road ahead. When anyone would say "Dex is in a better place", I was screaming in my heart "YES!! I KNOW THAT!! And right now I'd really prefer to be with him!" Sooner or later we are all going to die. I'm not trying to be morbid, just factual. Our exit from this realm will be a special and appointed experience for each and every one of us, just like the day we arrived.

I have been trolling through records of families in the 1800's. We all know how dismal life expectancies were at that time. While I don't rejoice in the sorrow that I know they felt, I feel comforted in some measure by knowing that those who have gone on before understand the path I find myself walking. If they can do it, I can do it... Maybe.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Happy Adjusted Birthday, Crew!

Tomorrow is Dex and Crew's theoretical first birthday. They were due February 2, 2009. I'm not feeling a lot of overwhelming emotions this week because this date doesn't mean quite as much as it once did to me. We have enough dates, milestones, and countdowns to worry about, celebrate, and mourn.

How is our tiny miracle faring of late?

Gross Motors
Our PT is coming on Thursday and I'm excited to show her Crew's new trick -- rolling to his belly from his back! I'll only be able to show her if he's in the mood and suitably motivated by a new and exciting object. I made my neighbor empty her pockets when she arrived this morning. Her son's chapstick proved to be the golden allure; he rolled twice unassisted in its pursuit! We generally find him on his tummy in the morning, having rolled there after waking. His crib mattress has a lot more "give" than the carpeted floor, so it's taking him longer to roll outside of his baby-cage.

He mostly chooses to lay on his back and yell until toys appear magically within his easy reach. He'll play on his tummy with a toy if he's put in that position. He still needs a great deal of encouragement and just the right incentive, but he can roll. And that's big news.

He sits marvelously, reaches/leans precariously with minimal tumbles, and he's an ambitious, kitty-cat curious Grabber. He is super wiggly in my lap and all about flailing these days. I get a Sabbath morning workout every week during Relief Society.

He can't stand to be forced onto his knees in pre-crawling exercises. He gets very angry and launches out to sissy plank position as soon as he finds the right leverage. I can see that learning to crawl is going to be an adventure.

He is now eating solids twice per day. He eats veggies mixed with cereal in the morning and fruit with cereal at night. He drinks bottles during the day. We're tying to figure out what formula to use. He's over a year now, but he's not going to straight milk anytime soon. His diet isn't varied enough at the moment and he needs all the vitamins and minerals he can get from formula. The cheaper formulas make him poop too much. You laugh, but it's actually a weight concern. The expensive formulas seem to constipate him with the cereal now added to his diet so.... Yeah, we're working on it.

Speaking of bottles, Little Lazy Bones pats his bottle nicely with one hand when he's in the mood, but doesn't hold it. His life would be much happier if he could, especially when he's ravenous and I need to change his diaper before he eats. I keep telling him that he could feed himself while I wipe his butt and kill two birds with one stone, but he's not buying what I'm selling. I haven't been very aggressive lately with this issue, but I think I'm in the frame of mind to revisit this. For a while, I would pull the bottle out of his mouth if he didn't have both hands firmly planted on it, and we were making a little progress that way. Then the holidays, blah blah blah....

He is doing better with fruit puffs lately. I now only have to break them in half, instead of thirds. Every once in a while he can handle a whole one, if I position it just right in his mouth. He pinched one right out of my hand this afternoon and tried to feed himself!!! He couldn't get it all the way in there, but it was a great attempt!! He can, however, mangle a Nilla Wafer. He eats half and squashes half.

He's always been an extremely sociable little guy. Even at 2 pounds, he demanded that the nurses peel back his isolette covering and ogle awhile. Not much has changed in that department. He is quite offended when I turn my back on him and he has very little stranger anxiety. He went through a very very brief patch a few months ago when he was very mom-o-centric but seems to be back to his old flirtatious, Love-The-Whole-World self.

He babbles constantly, and I mean constantly. He's always bearing his testimony at full volume through the church block. I've had to take him out on a number of occasions because the stories he has to tell are just too distracting. I am almost convinced that he says "mama" purposefully and I love it.

Sometimes I forget how far behind the little critter is because he's just Crew. We're on his timetable and have long since abandoned the Hawaii Early Learning Profile. I'm reminded occasionally, like when someone says "Oh! He's almost 15 months! He'll be going into nursery soon!" Then I think, "wow, he can't even roll over or hold his own bottle." There are a lot of reasons that he won't ever attend nursery (contagions, eww) but the practicality of it is really quite beyond us for now.

So, onward we go in our journey to progress. He continues to move forward at his chosen pace and we love him immensely.