Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Laura: One Month

Lady Laura is one month (and two weeks!!) old. Unbelievable.

I decided to take a few pictures with her month sticker from Lucy Darling Shop. I did this after I put Grace to bed and before Will came home from the hospital. It had been a long day for both of us, apparently.

Laura was clearly not in the mood.

So, I nursed her. A little better on the Baldwin front.

Sort of.

At one month, Laura is:
  • 11 lbs, 1 oz. 
  • 22 inches
  • an active observer
  • seemingly serious
  • socially smiles at her Dad the most
  • placid with Grace's taps on the bottom, belly, and back.
  • the recipient of Grace's thoughtfulness and kindness (e.g. big sister often tries to put her pinky back in her mouth)
  • happiest when held, awake and sleeping
  • very strong - kicked so much during her ultrasound (for a hip click) that the technician knew she was fine ((and still checked with the doctor -- Laura is perfect!))
  • the most content baby

Love you, little ladybug.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mercy Maud!

Grace is wearing one of my headbands, and it looks like a slim teal halo.

Laura is sleeping (quietly!!!!) on the couch. I really really really hope this reoccurs tonight.

Will is talking to a friend upstairs.

I am resting.

I should rest more on Sunday. Between Grace, Will and myself, we keep this house topsy-turvy. It stresses me out when my environment does not have some semblance of order, so I often take the time to clean it or I avoid it (which is one reason I have not been working out of my office the past few weeks).

But as the upcoming Jubilee Year is all about mercy, I think today - Divine Mercy Sunday - is a good day to remember that mercy is not just towards others, but towards ourselves.

Mercy is "compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm."

My house is a mess.
I'm still retaining water (and eating ice cream).
My laundry is piling up.
I'm just... here. Living in the moment. Confiscated the toilet paper roll from Grace, absent-mindedly drinking my coffee, picking up as I go, and grading when I can.

I understand where I am right now: barely past my six weeks (really??) of delivering Laura, taking care of a newborn, teaching, taking care of a toddler and attending therapy 5x/week, having a husband in residency, not living close to family (or friends one can actually ask to come over and clean your kitchen for you) ... but as realistic as my life is, expectations sway towards the unrealistic.

A lot of that, of course, comes with time management. But just I cannot teach class without preparing my lesson, so I cannot expect

I am never going to wake up one day and be the person I want to be. I need to wake up every day and try to be that person. To paraphrase Aristotle, we are what we do repeatedly - virtue becomes a habit.

Things I struggle with: resting, realistic expectations of what I can accomplish in a certain time frame, and relishing in the mess.

But today, I am resting. I am folding laundry. I will not get to grading. I am chasing Grace Harriet around and carrying Laura Kathleen. It is nice, feeling content. It is nice cleaning up the mess and not thinking about the other mess around the corner, and semi-ignoring Grace as she creates a new one (as I type).

It certainly isn't a habit yet, but I like the freedom of allowing this non-permanent state of messiness to give me perspective for today. Today is enough.

"You cannot conceive, nor can I, of the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God," said the priest in Graham Greene's 'Brighton Rock'. I know I cannot - and I am so very glad that it stretches beyond my finite imagination.

Happy Divine Mercy Sunday! Oh, how He loves us.

p.s I wrote this reflection a few years ago for TIC

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Ready to Run

As if I needed any more reasons for a new pair of running shoes- my pair has been confiscated!

I love watching the "nature vs. nurture" argument play out in Grace. We want to nurture a healthy life, complete with exercise, but her love of shoes is all nature.

I wish I felt this much enthusiasm for my running shoes!

And we look forward to buying her a pair of her own.

What say you of nature and nurture, dear readers?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Remembering Donna, My Friend

Today, I missed a funeral service because I do not live in (or near) my hometown. A friend has died this week. A good friend, Donna, who always made me feel loved and like family.

My friend had one last beautiful day: Easter 2015. I sent her flowers, not knowing she would pass before their arrival.

I cried for her passing, and rejoice in her life. I am a better person for knowing her.

Donna was the grandmother of the kids I nannied a few years ago. My nanny job was my most favorite post-college job (rivaled by this current one, perhaps) and that is because I fell in love with the family I worked for - they became good friends of mine. The son and I were especially close because he did not attend school like his sister. We would spend most of the 10 hour work day together, sans a few hours of nap time, and we genuinely enjoyed each other's company.

Donna was one of my favorite parts of the job - seeing her and talking to her was delightful. She was very active in her grandchildren's lives, and I loved watching their interactions. Kindness was her voice.

She took the time to get to know me and keep up with my life. When I was engaged, she gave Will and I a wedding present which was extremely personal and generous - and that was her essence. She sincerely cared for people, and because she cared for them, she invested in them. I saw this many times in her interactions with others.

A few months after I got married, the family went on a month-long trip. I spent the month living at Donna's house, taking full care of my young charge. I was also - as some of you remember - in my first trimester with Grace. I was pretty miserable, nausea-wise. Donna made sure the house was always stocked with my four main food groups: Cream of Wheat, Progresso vegetable soup, saltines and Graeter's raspberry sorbet. She insisted I sleep in till 8 a.m. (I was usually at work by 7:30!), gave me 40 hours off on the weekend to go home to Will, and was an extremely gracious hostess. It might seem awkward to live at your employer's mother's house for a month, but it wasn't. That is a very rare quality - to put people at ease, to welcome them, and to accept them. Donna had that quality, and more.

Donna, I will never forget the conversations we had. I appreciate the way you interacted with everyone around you with respect, and I admired your generosity of spirit, a real giving of self. You taught me so much about the beauty of the human spirit, and I love you.

Thank you for loving me too.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Learning to Walk, Learning to Brag

When Grace was 8 months old, we bought her this cart so we could start teaching her how to walk. We weren't sure if she'd ever crawl, so we were starting the walking process early.

She enjoyed it and then we moved, and the novelty wore off. She decided walking was unnecessary. Fortunately, about a month later, she decided she was into self-propelled scooting, which became crawling a month later, and speed crawling soon after that.

This girl is a movement rock star.

Now, at 18 months, she's back on the walking (with assistance) train. Except, she decided to surprise me...

Step 1: Pull yourself up.

"Oh my gosh Mom, stop taking my picture."

"Okay, you can take my picture, but at least get my new shoes in the shot, mmkay?"

Don't mind me, just casually putting my right hand on the cart WITHOUT HELP OR PROMPTING.

Fingers, you listen to me...!

Two of the hardest questions I field are, Is she walking? and Is she talking? They tend to make me feel like all the milestones she's reached thus far are arbitrary.

I'm going to start posting more updates on Grace's progress - the reality is, though she is delayed physically, she is emotionally mature. That provides great stimulus for her, and helps with her progress. As she is a "hemi" (hemiparesis - only one side of her body is affected), she is learning to compensate and assist her weaker side.  Her progress has exploded over the past 10 months, and her therapists wax poetic on how far she has come. I should too, to you all, because cerebral palsy comes in all shades of possible.

So proud of you, Grace!