Discovery Rocks!!!

I have the smartest little girl, ever!

Ok, ok, ok… I know that EVERY new parent goes through this stage. The one where you think your kid is just THE smartest little one on earth because they just figured out how to _____. Whatever “blank” is.

I’m going through that right now. And the super cool part is that I don’t have just one “blank.” I have several, all happening at once. 2 weeks ago, Abby started to use her hands. For the longest time we have been playing this game with “Jacques the Peacock” (her favorite toy) where she pushes him, he falls over, and then I put him back within her reach. It is so fun to watch her realize that her hand is what is pushing him. She does it over and over and over again. And when I put him just slightly out of her reach, it only took her a couple of tries to realize she needed to reach further to get to him.

Fast forward to the last couple of days, and now she spends far more time moving Jacques around (from his hanging position) so she can see him better. And just yesterday, she grabbed him and brought him to her face so she could put part of his wing in her mouth. So cute, and so neat!! Oh, and she also has figured out how to bring her hand to her face to hold her pacifier in her mouth without me having to put it there for her.

She is starting to realize the toys around her. She grabs her links and her keys. She sticks everything in her mouth. She looks at each individual page of her special black and white books made for newborns. She likes mirrors, and she is really starting to recognize ME!!! She makes the best facial expression when I get my face in front of her. Her eyes go super wide and her mouth makes that “ohhhhh” shape and she stares at me. Her arms start to reach for me. It is the best feeling, ever!!!

She is also gaining a lot of strength. There are several occasions in each day where she can hold her own head up. She also has great control over moving her head and neck. And when we are in Tummy Time mode, she does her little push ups. Occasionally she still does the “face plant” thing when trying to turn her head, but now 85% of the time she is strong enough to turn her head from one side to the other.

And remember a while ago when I told you about her yoga poses and her ability to “crawl” in the NICU? Yea, the whole notion the doctors gave me that she would “stop that” when she grows bigger because she would be “too heavy” and then “forget” is just silly. She does little baby push ups. And when she gets her feet in just the right position, she can totally “schooch.” She has enough coordination to push off with her feet and pull with her hands. And boy does she move! In addition, she is “THIS CLOSE” to rolling over. She rolls all the way onto her side. Honestly, the ONLY reason she doesn’t roll all the way over is because her arm gets in the way. And I can see it now… it is going to happen totally by accident. That arm is going to move spontaneously into just the right place to allow her to roll all the way over. And the light is going to go on and the world of my non-mobile newborn princess will go straight out the window.

Yup. I’m doomed.

But the absolute best, most crazy-awesome thing Abby is learning? When to smile. Oh yea. She is learning social cues and they are manifesting in this amazing, heart-gripping, worth-dying-for smile. She makes this smile when she sees me in the morning. She makes it when we play and I get excited that she did something well, or new. She does it when she gets Jacques in just the right place so she can see him properly. It is by far my favorite thing right now.

The Amazing Abby strikes again! And there is no way she is just 2 weeks old, developmentally. I will explain her “Corrected Age” in detail in a later blog, but essentially we go off of the 40 week mark as what her birthday should be. I don’t know of any 2 week olds that do anything but sleep, eat, and poop. So we’ll have to adjust that corrected age to something closer to her stages in development, but right now… I’m just enjoying every second of being a Mom.

Jen

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Loving my body

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard it in my lifetime: “Jen, I wish I had your body. You are so skinny!”

Let me be the first to clarify: Skinny doesn’t always equal good-looking.

Anthony and I met in 2003. When we met, I weighed 105 pounds. I have battled a dangerously high metabolism and blood sugar level problems since I was a child. I have always been small. Always “skinny.” Truth be told, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t gain weight. It seemed impossible. And with the low weight and the blood sugar problems came fatigue. What so many people saw as “laziness” was actually much-needed rest. I slept A LOT. And when I didn’t get sleep, I was one grumpy guss.

Stress never helped, either. Stress and anxiety in my life always manifested in weight loss. At one point, Anthony sat me down and said that I needed to talk to a doctor because he was concerned with my weight. He told me he was afraid to hug me because he thought I was going to break. You could see my ribs. You could see my spine. You could see the bones in my face. Unfortunately, not much could be done about it. We changed my diet…again… which helped slightly, but at the start of 2007, I only weighed 112 pounds.

When Anthony and I got engaged in 2008 I weighed 114 pounds. And my doctor told me that I needed to hit 120 pounds before even thinking about starting a family once we were married. A weight I had never even come close to reaching. And the stress and anxiety of wedding planning, being laid off, and moving to southern California was NOT helping the situation. But, once life found a groove, and Anthony and I were back under one roof, things started to turn around. For some miraculous reason, on our wedding day (last year) I weighed 118 pounds. The most I had ever weighed in my life, and I felt AMAZING! Not only did I feel great, but for once, I thought I looked great too.

In high school, people thought I was CRAZY for not liking my body. But just like someone who doesn’t like their body because they are over weight, I can find all sorts of things I don’t like, being under weight. For the longest time, I wasn’t comfortable in my skin. But when my bridesmaids zipped up that wedding dress, I saw the woman I’ve always wanted to be and the body I’ve always wanted to have. And when I saw my doctor a few months later, I’d done it. I weighed 121 pounds. Most of it was muscle weight from being diligent about my Pilates class. I was so happy – I was the healthiest I’d ever been in my life. And my husband wasn’t afraid to hug me.

I started my pregnancy with Abigail at 118 pounds. I lost weight in the first trimester due to all the vomiting. Hahaha. But then I steadily gained right up until she was born. While we didn’t get an official weight at her birth, we guess I was between 125 and 130. Woooo!!! And I gotta tell ya – I loved my body while I was pregnant. I loved my body in a way I’d never experienced before. I looked in the mirror and all I saw was beauty. Confidence. A body worth looking at.

It was short-lived. After Abby was born, I found out that old habits die hard. Stress and Anxiety, mixed with the not-so-great eating habits of a couple constantly in a car meant that I dropped down to 112 again. And I look at photos of the first month of her life and the first thing I notice is how sickly thin I look. And while none of you have seen (or will see) the gnarly scar I was left with from the C-Section, it made me so self conscious. I didn’t want Anthony to see it. I didn’t want to look at it. It was ugly, and that paired with my weight loss just made me feel ugly. Bleh.

I can’t pinpoint when it changed. Obviously sometime in the last 2 months or so. But whenever it was, it couldn’t have come soon enough. I looked in the mirror one day and saw that same woman I saw on my wedding day. She’s back. And the best part is, she’s ME!!! I feel good in my skin. I look good in my skin (or at least that is what Anthony says 😉 ).

So then, I got to thinking. I missed out on the photo shoot I was most looking forward to. My maternity shoot. It was going to be one of my very close friends, Bree, taking pictures of me at the point in my life that I was most comfortable with my body. So when I emailed her to say that I wanted to somehow make up that shoot in an artistic way, she was totally on board.

Well – We did that photo shoot today. And the point was mostly to capture me and Abby – comfortable in our skin. And I think we were able to capture just that.

I’m proud to say I weigh 116 and a half pounds. I feel great and I can’t wait to see the rest. I know they are all going to be something I’m proud of.

-Jen

(And it helps that Anthony liked it, too.)

Welcome Home, Abigail!

For most parents, the day their first child is born is THE BEST day of their life. Unfortunately, I’m one of a small handful who would kind of like to forget that day altogether. (Ok, not really, but you understand.) It doesn’t even rank in my top 10. It was an awful day of fear, pain (both mental and physical) and every type of nausea imaginable. And while it will be a day that I will never actually erase from my mind, it pales in comparison last Tuesday. Because last Tuesday was they day we finally brought our daughter home.

Have you ever seen that show on TLC called “Bringing Home Baby”? A camera crew follows a newborn and it’s parents home from the hospital and documents the first 36 hours at home. The nursery that was once for “display-only” is now in use, and the pets start to realize that this tiny creature that just arrived isn’t leaving anytime soon. The key extended family visit and good, caring friends bring food.

That is EXACTLY what our life has been like since last Tuesday. Poignantly, we arrived home right around 1:30pm. Exactly 83 days after Abby was born, right down to the minute. It wasn’t planned that way, it just happened. But it was really cool to think about.

Our first order of business? Introduce Abby to Pup. Pup has been indulging on Abby’s scent since she was born… we’ve been letting him play with her dirty clothes and blankets from the hospital before washing them and bringing them back to the NICU. So he was very familiar with the smelly little creature we put in front of him. He was actually very excited. He wagged his tail and licked her hand! He seemed very happy about it all until we took her out of the car seat and realized that she would be getting just as much (if not more) attention as he would. Pup is a grumpy old man… set in his ways and really doesn’t know how to share, poor guy. But there is hope – he is adjusting, slowly but surely. In his world, Anthony and I belong to him. Luckily, we’ve already seen glimmers of Pup realizing that she belongs to him, too. He gets VERY concerned when she cries. He barks at us, as if to say, “Hey! Why are you just standing there?! Fix it!” It is actually very cute. He has also taken to running to the door and barking at intruders, rather than barking at them through the front window from the couch. He is being significantly more proactive in his guard dog tactics. He wants everyone to know they will have to get though HIM before they can get to Abby. It will take a while, but eventually he will love on her the way he does on us.

We’ve given her the tour of the house and showed her all of her toys and clothes. She spends most of her time in either her swing, her Boppy Lounger, or laying on the Precious Planet Play Mat on the floor. She stares up at her reflection for extended periods of time. Very cool to watch. And her favorite toy, hands down, is Jacque the Peacock. He is a brightly colored, squeaking crinkle toy that attaches to just about any of her baby stations. But the best part about him is that his backside is all black and white patterns. She will stare at Jacque for an hour at a time and thinks it is just so cool.

Abby has had several visitors since she got home. Her Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles have all been waiting so patiently just to touch her, let alone hold her. Each visit has been a milestone for her and the pictures are worth a thousand words, spelling out just how happy we all are to have her home where she belongs. And I have to stop and thank everyone for complying so well with all of the crazy rules pertaining to her health. There are lots of hoops to jump through to hold her! Everyone must take off their shoes at the door (so as not to track dirt onto the carpet where she spends most of her day), then go straight to either the kitchen or guest bathroom and wash their hands… and not just wash. Wash with anti-bacterial soap in very hot water, for an extended period of time (I tell people to sing Happy Birthday a couple of times… that should be long enough). Then, once near Abby, put hand sanitizer on your hands… only then can you touch her. Her Tia (Aunt in spanish) had to shower before she held Abby because she works with small children, and some people have had to change clothes before coming to visit because they work with too many people in close quarters to guarantee no germs. It’s a lot to go through, but every one of them has told me it was well worth it to finally get some one on one time with Abigail. I’d have to say I agree. And everyone has been super understanding because they know it is what is best for Abby.

But the best part of having her home? Anthony and I are finally getting to know our little girl. Sure, I knew lots of little quirks and traits while we were watching her in the NICU – but nothing compares to finally being her primary caregiver. I know EVERYTHING there is to know about Abigail. I know that she loves being on her tummy (but you have to watch her like a hawk for that). I know that she hates being cold. She loves bath time and play time, and she sleeps best if she knows you aren’t very far from her when she starts to drift off to sleep.

Abigail isn’t really a crier (thank goodness!) She wails to communicate. She can tell me when she is tired, uncomfortable, wet, or hungry. But if she doesn’t have anything to communicate, she is quiet. Or giggly, which is totally fine by me. She’s only actually out-right cried once, and I can’t blame the little girl! She spit up and it came out both her mouth and her nose. I’m sure it burned, and she cried for real, with real tears. It hurt my heart so badly that I cried, too. But other than that, she is a super trooper and such a happy girl.

All in all, we are doing very well now that she is home. She did come home attached to a heart rate monitor, and it does go off here and there (with ear-splitting rings and beeps). But it is so needed. She is still so small that her heart slows down to remarkably low rates. When it beeps, I know to be close and to watch her carefully. She has yet to have an episode that needed real help. Although, she does have a tendency to choke on her 3pm feeding as it has her multivitamins in it and she hates those. But she gets stronger (and heavier!) every day, so the monitor will be a distant memory before too long. While I won’t have an official weight until next thursday, I can tell you that I’m pretty sure she is 5 pounds now! Her last official weight was 4 pounds, 13 ounces. And that was a week ago!!!

Needless to say, we are happy. 83 days was a long time to wait to bring our little angel home. But now that she is, we are learning how to live life as a family of 3. And now I have to stop this blog because she is starting to stir and I’ll have to feed her soon. Mommy duty calls!!! And I love that. More updates soon!

Thanks for reading and for patiently waiting for me to make the time to blog! And thank you, as always, for your continued prayers.

-Jen