Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Happy 12 Months: A Letter to Arlo

(I kept putting off finishing this letter because nothing I could write could ever capture the true amazingness of Arlo, but I made myself slap a few paragraphs on the end and call it a day.)

April 1, 2014

Dear Arlo,

You turned a year old today! From sun up to sun down, the day was about you. Your daddy and I greeted you with balloons first thing in the morning. You opened presents and ate—played with, rather—your smash cake. We visited the zoo, had family photos taken, and went to what your daddy and I think is your favorite restaurant, Texas Roadhouse (they have rolls and loud music!), for dinner.

As amazing as the day was, I kept finding myself slipping back to April 1st of last year. It’s remarkable how clear my memories are from that day. Their vividness is what makes the day seem like it was just yesterday. (The fact that I can barely remember what life was like before you—haven’t you always been with me?—is what makes the day seem like it was a hundred years ago.)

I remember those final moments of labor—those last few minutes of wondering and imagining who'd been living in my belly for 39 weeks and 6 days—and being more excited to meet you than I’d ever been about anything else in my life. I remember Dr. Ekman saying, "If you give this last push everything you have, you'll be a mommy." Your daddy was obviously able to see you before I was, and I remember the expression on his face as he studied you for the first time. It was an expression that spoke a thousand words—words that certainly aren’t in my vocabulary and may not even exist. It was an expression that conveyed love, pride, relief, triumph, and bliss—an expression that made me fall even more in love with your daddy.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that if I close my eyes and imagine the nurse placing you on my chest for the first time, I can still feel those perfect 7 pounds, 14 ounces of you there. I remember knowing immediately that you were objectively beautiful, and I don’t believe I’ve ever documented this sentiment before, but I remember saying to your daddy, "He looks like an Eskimo!" I can feel newborn-you in my arms now, as I write this, and I'm confident I'll be able to conjure up this feeling for the rest of my days.

I know I’ve said this more than once, but it really is astounding how drastically you’ve changed since that day we met you—and how much we’ve learned about your personality. You couldn’t do much more than look adorable then (which you were a pro at), but now, your skills are infinite—and we’ve learned so much about who you are. You run, clap, kiss, mimic, wave bye-bye and dance. You say "mama," "ba-ba," and "baby." You're breathtakingly handsome and garner stares wherever we go. You’re bright, independent, curious, strong, determined and—my favorite, so happy. You’re always smiling—a smile that lights up your whole face, and consequently, the whole room.

You love blueberries, your pets, music, pillows, and swings. When somebody walks through the door, you greet them with giant smiles and squeals of delight—as if I needed another reason to rush home to you. You're such a joy, and watching you learn and transform from infant to toddler has been an honor—and because of you, your daddy and I have grown and learned, too.

We know how beautiful it is to love somebody more than we love ourselves, what a blessing it is to watch somebody experience something for the first time, and what it's like to spend a year crying more tears of joy than tears of sadness—despite encountering major pitfalls and heartaches. We’re living healthier lives, so we can be with you for years and years and years. We’re kinder, more patient, more thoughtful. We're more optimistic and look forward to the future—and to making a million more memories with you. We love our friends more. We appreciate sunny days. We can only repay you for these gifts by continuing to love you with everything we have.

I don’t subscribe to the theory that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that things have a way of falling into place most of the time, and that it’s possible for really beautiful things to happen as a result of really terrible things. If I wouldn’t have had to work so hard to get you, wouldn’t have had to force myself to carry on when I didn’t know if my heart could take one more blow, I absolutely, beyond a doubt wouldn’t appreciate you the way I do. You're worth every test, every failure, every breakdown and shed tear it took to get you, and as much as it hurt, I’d do it all again a thousand times over. You're that amazing.

I try to avoid speaking in superlatives when I’m talking to you about you because I don’t want to give you a superiority complex, but this one’s the truth: once upon a time, I didn’t know if I’d ever get to have a baby, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t get the best. I can’t imagine a more incredible child, Arlo, and being your mother truly is the greatest privilege I’ve ever known. I am so, so proud of you. You're the sweetest gift the universe has ever given me—and the sweetest gift I'll ever give the universe. I love you beyond comprehension. I love you beyond words. I love you beyond measure.

Happy first birthday, precious boy.


Child, you are gorgeous.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pining for Pumpkin

Here's one more photo from Arlo's one-year session:

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

12-Month Photos

I don't know how she did it, but Brittany of Brittany Graham Photography already sent over the photos from Arlo's12-month photo shoot, which took place just yesterday evening—and they took my breath away. I actually teared up as I clicked through them. Brittany expertly captured the joy he radiates. See it?


Monday, March 31, 2014

52 Weeks

Arlo is 52 weeks old today. Fifty-two weeks! Since he's technically not one until tomorrow, let's keep it business as usual around here today.

Arlo spent his last week as a baby being extra adorable. He had a very serious conversation with Danny about love and life and happiness.

Or maybe Danny was just asking him if he wanted to be tickled. Believe what you will.
He mastered the xylophone.
A terrible sound never sounded so lovely. Love is apparently deaf, too.

We stuck him in his snowsuit for the first and only time this winter, and he had the time of his life.

I hate snow a lot less when my kid is cracking up and playing in it.

Danny and I both cried watching him walk down the driveway in his snowsuit—because he's growing so fast, because it's such an incredible joy to watch him experience (and delight in!) things for the first time (which I know I've mentioned a million times before), and mostly, just because he's ours.
Such a big boy.

We took him to sit on the Easter Bunny's lap yesterday. We were out and about, and it was on a whim—so I couldn't be happier with how the photo turned out.
Apparently, he only smiles for photographers when he's in ridiculous situations.

Speaking of Easter, okay, fine—I have to be a little sappy today. Exactly one year ago, I'd just finished stuffing myself with Easter dinner—and was contemplating having another piece of key lime pie—when I heard a quiet pop! and felt the room flood (or at least that's how it seemed when my water broke). I remember, so vividly, sneaking upstairs to the bathroom and shouting to Danny to "come 'ere for a sec." I remember the look on his face, and I remember thinking later that it was such a perfect reflection of my own feelings at that moment—a little shock, a little nervousness, and immeasurable joy.

Me, Arlo (in my belly), and Danny ('s shadow) exactly one year ago.

The day I went into labor—the day I knew I was so, so close to meeting the tiny person I'd hoped so hard for—is one of those crazy times that somehow feels like yesterday and a hundred years ago at the same time. But it was a year ago—one beautiful, stressful, wonderful, life-changing year ago. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

51 Weeks

Arlo is 51 weeks and 2 days old today, and you know what that means. How is my baby boy one next week?
Late last week, I sent out Arlo's birthday party invitations—which our friend Melanie was kind enough to design for us, after I spent 15 hours searching for something online that I loved. I had Zazzle print them on fancy paper, and voilĂ ! Insanely cute invitations.

 You can't read that address, can you? If you can, you're invited.
Since the photo of the actual invitation was taken by yours truly, it's crappy and blurry, and the colors are here's the actual image Melanie sent me—just to be sure you really understand how amazing these suckers are: 

I can't even handle it.

I ordered custom decorations through Scout & Acadia on Etsy—bunting, garland, and confetti—and those arrived a couple days ago. Jean, the shop owner exceeded my expectations, and I'm dying to share her work with you—but it'll be more fun for you to see it all in action in Arlo's birthday party photos, so stay tuned for that.

Now, let's see what the ol' iPhone has for you this week. Okay, here's my kid feeding Scooter, having a nervous breakdown, eating his first mini-slice of pizza, and chewing on a toy while dancing on a piece of shiny wrapping paper:

I love that they have each other.
"But I needed that 2-liter bottle! And Scooter and I were sharing that box of cereal I dumped!"
Nobody warned me that I'd cry just watching my child try new foods.
Need to fold a load of laundry? Give your kid a piece of shiny wrapping paper, and he'll be occupied for 45 minutes.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

48, 49, and 50 Weeks

Arlo is 50 weeks and 2 days old today, and he's a walking tornado.

Food and Tupperware are so much cooler than toys.
He's been a real walker for a couple weeks now, basically ditching the crawling thing altogether—unless he decides he really needs to haul ass for some reason. He thinks he crawls faster than he walks, so if something terrifies him (Like Scooter charging into the room like a maniac. Poor kid's been plowed over one too many times, I guess.), he drops to his hands and knees and crawl-runs to his mama. In case you didn't know, I can fix anything.
Also of note:  the hair. I was tired of my beautiful boy looking feral.
I swear I didn't just rescue this poor child from a cave somewhere.

Last Friday, we took him to a photo studio to have some photos taken for his birthday party invitations.

This isn't for the invitations, but look at that adorable pose! (Too bad the photographer used that weird pencil chair, or too bad I didn't have the balls to tell her it didn't make sense.)
Every two minutes, we had to stop the shoot so I could hairspray his wild mop into submission, or it would cover his entire face. Danny and I decided that enough was enough, and what better time to cut Arlo's crazy hair than right after it was documented via photos? 

Check out that mullet!
We took him to Snip-Its, a kiddie salon, and I'm pretty sure he was the most well-behaved baby the stylist has ever worked with. Dude didn't move a muscle. I'd like to say he was so amazing because he's the best kid in the world, but in reality, he was so calm because he was fixated on Charlie, the half-boy, half-demon who was getting his hair cut across the aisle from Arlo. Charlie made high-pitched animal noises for a half-hour straight, while his dad held the left side of his head and his mom held the right side—and the poor stylist tried to trim his hair without accidentally lopping off his arm. I should also note that Charlie was so worked up that he turned a very concerning shade of red. He was quite the spectacle, but I'm grateful for the distraction he caused.
Holy shit, Charlie.
I wasn't in love with Arlo's haircut at first.
Too grown-up and "perfect."
But once I realized it wasn't actually going to look as prim and proper as it did when we left the salon, I was okay.
See? Still crazy.

I can't believe how different he looks without his luscious locks, and it took a couple days for me to be able to look at him without being caught off guard, but his new 'do has kind of grown on me.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rachel's Baby: Goodbye, Baby Ryan

I don't want to include too much detail in this post, because my sister hasn't even had a chance to put her story into words yetso I suppose the title says it all.

Last Sunday (has it really been over a week already??), at 30 weeks and 1 day gestation—the day after Rachel's maternity photos!—Ryan made his journey into the outside world. Doctors had told Rachel and Greg that Ryan wouldn't make it to 30 weeks, and I like to think he spent his last two days in my sister's belly just cracking up. He proved them all wrong.

Rachel and Greg were able to hear Ryan's little heartbeat on the monitor right up until the very end, when he just couldn't fight any longer. He was born at 11:15 Sunday night, and I traveled to the hospital the next day. Let me tell youthat baby boy was beautiful, and holding him was one of the greatest gifts I've ever received.

Ryan isn't physically with us anymore, but his story isn't over. Please feel free to visit his FB page, Ryan's Journey - Trisomy 18.