Can’t Help Falling In Love With You

My Sweet Little Man:

Today? Today, you are four! I can’t believe it. Four years ago, you were coming into this world reluctantly. Now you are here and not reluctant at all.

That first year the changes were unbelievable. I can’t deny that the vast majority of changes in life occurred during that first year, but I have been no less than astounded as each year passes and you continue to grow in so many ways. From one to two, two to three, and now three to four.

You went from a toddler to a preschooler in a year.

And what a year it was! We spent your third birthday on vacation at a beautiful lake house, which you adored. To this day you will bring up that vacation with fond memories. Usually you will bring up memories of the lake house when you are supposed to be sleeping, but it’s charming nonetheless.

We moved into a new house, you started a new school, you grew inches and pounds; your vocabulary continued to explode, your grammar improve, the stories have continued to grow in length and detail. You moved up not just one but two classes at school!

Your love of life can’t be ignored and is almost impossible not to catch. The world has continued to fascinate you. From the day you were born, your wide eyes would examine every little thing around you. Questioning, wondering, thinking. I always assumed it was this fascination with the world that led to your amazingly awful sleep habits that have continued almost to this day.

Your fascination amounts to lots of questions. Questions about what, how, why, come out of your mouth approximately every 2.3 seconds. When we don’t know the answer, you ask us why we don’t know the answer. “But, you’re my Mommy and you are supposed to know why [insert some totally random question about bats or helicopters or asparagus]!”

Because you want to know the answers right away, you haven’t yet showed much interest in reading or writing. That’s okay. I know that every child goes at their own pace, and I can’t deny that you are a smart boy. It frustrates you that you have to learn how to write one letter at a time! You want to just know them and write a book for everyone to read. Right now. No patiently learning over a period of days, weeks, months. You want the answers and you want them as soon as humanly possible.

Your growth this year has astounded me. You have grown up so much. I look at you and see a child. A smart, funny, impeccably clever, loving, little boy. A little boy. Not a baby. Not a toddler. Not a baby! You are so mature in comparison to last year, so grown up.

And with growing up has come so much love. You hug and kiss, cuddle and snuggle, and find so much comfort in us, your parents. You are definitely a Daddy’s boy these days, asking for extra kisses and snuggles from Daddy whenever possible. We love that you are so loving. So very, very, sweet.

We hope you will stay this sweet. This loving. I know that the next year will bring about more changes. You will grow in inches and pounds, becoming longer and leaner. You will learn to write letters, read, continue to learn hundreds of new words. You will continue to learn addition and subtraction, history, world events. You will be prepared for Kindergarten!

I can’t wait to see what this year brings, my big beautiful four year old Alex. You are such an amazing little man, and I can’t believe the amount of love I have for you.

Happy Birthday, my darling Alexander.

We love you.

Today More Than Yesterday and Less Than Tomorrow

Dear Alexander:

My little stinker. Stinker pot pie. Stinker the linker. Pooper. Schpooger. Booger. Booger the looger. Pinky. Boobers.

My little buddy.

Today you are three. Three! Can you believe it? It was three years ago that you were born, fighting to stay in the home you had known for the previous 9 months. You didn’t want to enter the world, but eventually you arrived, and boy was it beautiful.

The last 365 days have been quite an adventure. You went from staying home with me all day, every day, to going to daycare full time with me returning to school full time. You transitioned beautifully, and have grown even more beautifully.

You were talking at two, but now you won’t stop! There is a constant dialogue streaming from your lips, explaining every little thing that is happening. You not only talk, you ramble. You tell stories. Long stories. Almost every story ends with someone or something farting. Or pooping. This, of course, is hilarious to you, and pretty darn amusing to me. “Row Row Row Your BUTT!

This year, you have outgrown toddlerhood. You are officially a kid. Between the incessant chatter, including in depth conversations, the knowledge of letters and numbers, the ability to be taught, in an instant, the definition of a new word, the hopping, skipping and jumping, and the love of all things big boy, you are no longer a toddler. I look at you and see a child.

My child.

My Alex, you are my world. You make me happier than anything, and I hope that I can bring you even half of the joy in your life that you have brought to me.

In another year you will be starting school. Real school. You are ready in many ways now, but I know that the next year will prepare you for the beginning of approximately 18 years of schooling. You will grow more, learn more, mature more. And I will enjoy watching it all, because even the bad moments are only temporary. Every second of every day you are changing, and it amazes me.

This year has been a whirlwind, and I can’t wait to have the opportunity to spend more time with you in the upcoming years. I feel like I missed out on a lot, but as I look back at the year I know that I didn’t miss everything. We traveled to Florida together, and I came the realization that even though I may not be with you all the time any longer, something is going right because you were the most well behaved two year old imaginable.

You say please and thank you, and now excuse me. While you do not fully understand that “excuse me” is not an excuse to simply start talking or yelling or shaking or dancing in order to get someone to pay attention to you, you do know that there is some polite way to get their attention. We will work on that this year.

It isn’t something I am fully prepared for yet, but you are now lying. I know that it actually means you are learning, that you are comprehending the world in ways I didn’t think would happen quite yet. I heard you telling someone, “Mommy said when I woked up I could have fruit snacks for bweakfast.”

I certainly did not. But it’s cute that you thought you could get away with it.

You are smart. You are focused. You are extremely empathetic. Your hugs and kisses are the best ever. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings.

I love you, pooker. Sweetie. Honey. Honey bunny. Darling. Dear. My baby.

I love you, Alexander. Today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow. And I wish you the happiest of happy birthdays on this day.


Eleven Days

In 11 days, Alex will turn two.

I’m still not sure how I feel about that.

Every day, he becomes more of a person. Every day, his sentences get longer. Every day, he surprises me with a new skill. Every day, he gives me kisses. Every day, he has at least one melt down.

In 11 more days, he will be different than he is today. He will have a larger vocabulary, he will walk and run more smoothly, he will have invented new games, tried new foods, and will be two.

I’m not exactly sure when in the last few months it started, but Alex refers to himself as “baby.” It’s unbelievably cute. He requests that someone does something, and then tells himself to do it too. “Mommy walk! Mm…Baby walk!” “Daddy take a bite? Baby take a bite!” It’s too sweet to even consider stopping. Even though he isn’t a baby anymore, I am going to hold on to that for as long as I possibly can.


“Baby swinging!”

Sometimes People Surprise You

When I started a new school in eighth grade, there was this boy. He was a big ninth grader and the first time I saw him I told a new friend, “He’s so cute!” And he was. Super cute. But I was a lowly eighth grader, and then I was a lowly ninth grader to his tenth grade and a tenth grader to his eleventh.

But then one of my friends became his friend. And by eleventh grade I had talked to him. We said, “Hi!” in the hallway when we passed and even had conversations about a shared class. He was still super cute.

Our mutual friend told me that the cute boy had said that he thought I was cute. I probably shrieked with delight, the way teenage girls are wont to do, and immediately brushed it off.

At a Halloween party my junior year, the super cute boy was in attendance. We chatted, we flirted, and his cuteness grew exponentially as I learned that he was also smart, funny, and really nice.

We started dating, and I was completely taken by him. His charm, his intelligence, his conversation skills, everything about him. That boy that I had had a crush on for over three years? Liked me too. We spent an increasing amount of time together over the course of my junior year, but then he graduated and went to college in Maryland.

I spent my senior year missing him. There were other boys, but none of them were that super cute boy that I liked from the moment I first glanced his way.

The summer after his first year of college we were attached at the hip. I had a waitressing job not far from where he was living and we were able to get together almost every day that summer. When I left for college at the end of the summer I sobbed. I cried for the first hour of the twelve-hour car ride up to Smith. He was not going back to the college he had attended the previous year, and knowing that he was in Pittsburgh made it that much harder for me to leave.

We managed to stay close over the next three years while I was attending college in Massachusetts and he was either working or attending Carnegie Mellon. That cute boy that I crushed on for so long had become my long term boyfriend. We talked on the phone every day, sent e-mails almost as often, and made sure to spend a lot of time together on breaks. He was able to come visit me a few times and I was able to come home for longer breaks every once in a while.

That cute boy who had become my long term boyfriend then became a father unexpectedly.

If someone had asked me if Zach would make a good father I would have responded, “Yes! Of course!” And I would have meant it. But I never could have foreseen what I now know: he is an astounding father. And he has remained super cute, funny, smart, nice and caring.

If someone would have told me that the cute boy I saw walking down the hall when I started at my new school in eighth grade would one day be the father of my child and the love of my life? I would have laughed in their face. But that cute boy has become exactly that and then some.

Happy Birthday, Zach. I love you more than words can express.

Daddy and Baby (cropped)

Birthday Hair

I got my hair cut last week. It was the first haircut I’ve had in a long time where I walked away saying, “Wow! I love this!” The stylist was great, complimented my hair numerous times, and took the time to tell me how to blow dry my hair properly.

On Thursday night, I decided it was time for a change in color. I haven’t dyed my hair since before I found out I was pregnant with Alex. Needless to say, it was a mess. The last few inches of it were still dark red, while the rest was my natural color: mousy brown. I figured with a new cut and my graduation party the next day it was the perfect time to make a change.

While it’s a little redder than I was expecting, I like it.

So, now I have new hair. New hair that helped me celebrate my graduation on Friday night and new hair that will be there with me to celebrate my Birthday tomorrow.

Turning One is a Big Deal

It’s hard to believe that I have a one year old. A walking, semi-talking, little person.

Alex had a wonderful Birthday and Birthday Party. We went to a nice little Italian restaurant on his Birthday and he enjoyed eating tons of white bread and tortellini. Seriously, he ate about a pound of bread. It was impressive.

"I'm 1!"

Wearing his “I’m 1” shirt, made by the wonderful and talented Karen, everyone knew without asking how old he was! At lunch the next day, a (clearly naive) waitress asked, “How old is he? Three or four months?” I almost laughed in her face, but refrained and answered her nicely.

Thanks to Zach’s father, “Big D” to Alex, an unbelievable cake was made to celebrate Alex turning one:

Wall-E Cake!

If I could take all of the credit, I would. But the credit is due almost entirely to Big D! The cake turned out fantastically, and Alex clearly enjoyed it:

Wall-E Cake!  and Alex eating him

By the end of the afternoon, Alex was exhausted. He had played with everyone for hours, had cake, opened presents, and played some more. He took a nice two hour nap while some cleaning was able to occur, and was refreshed and ready to play some more when he woke up!

All in all, the Birthday madness was a success!

Alex and Daddy

I Have Cans of Tomatoes Older Than You

(Warning! This is a LONG post. There is a slideshow at the end.)

Dear Alexander,

Today you are one. One! You are a single year old today. That’s old! Or not…I mean…one?! I have a can of soup in my pantry that is older than you. I have shoes that are five times your age. You were born seven years after the turn of the century! The 1900’s will sound foreign to you, the way that the 1800’s do to me. You’re growing out of infancy and becoming a toddler. But you are still my baby, and I think you always will be.

Three hundred and sixty five days ago, I knew I was going to meet you soon. When I went in for my last weekly Doctor’s appointment on August 21, already 3 days past my due date, I was told that I would go into labor “any minute now!” The Doctor was sure you wouldn’t be waiting much longer, but we scheduled an induction for August 28 just in case.

August 22, 23, 24, 25…26…and then the 27th passed. Still no signs. I was huge!

21 Days BEFORE I gave birth

21 Days BEFORE I gave birth

But I was loving it. I never had a single problem throughout my pregnancy. I felt beautiful, I loved by body, I loved feeling you kick me, I loved knowing that inside of me a little person was growing. You were becoming more and more “real” every day. With every hiccup and stretch I grew more convinced that you were a person. A real person. And I knew that having to pee every hour, 24 hours a day, was going to be well worth it.

The night before my scheduled induction, Daddy and I got into bed around 9. We had to wake up at 5, so it made sense for us to get as much sleep as possible. Unfortunately, I couldn’t sleep. I was unable to get comfortable, and my mind was filling with thoughts about the next day. Finally, I accepted that I wasn’t going to fall asleep yet, so I went out to read (again!) about labor on my computer.

As I was reading about the pros and cons of epidurals, I was unable to get comfortable. My back was aching. I kept shifting my weight in the chair, crossing and uncrossing my legs, leaning forward and then backward, but nothing was working. On top of all of that, I kept going to the bathroom. I assumed that my dinner must not have been settling well.

Over the next hour, I kept laying back down only to get back up. I either had to stand because I was so uncomfortable, or I had to go to the bathroom. When I focused on how uncomfortable I was, I realized that I was in pain. My whole stomach hurt. “Is this labor?” I couldn’t figure it out. I thought labor was contractions. As in, my uterus contracts and then stops. There was no stopping. Where was the stopping?

I was in constant pain and it just kept getting worse. Finally, I woke your Daddy up. He has never been good about being woken up, but the second I said, “I think I’m in labor,” he popped up and was ready to go!

I called the Doctor, and headed to the hospital. It was almost impossible to walk, as I wasn’t getting any breaks between what I could only assume were contractions. By the time I finally made it up to the maternity ward, I was almost in tears. The pain had been going on for about three hours at this point, and it was midnight.

Waiting For Your Arrival

Waiting For Your Arrival

When given the option for an epidural, I couldn’t say no. I had wanted to try to keep drugs out of the picture, but at only 5cm dilated and in nonstop pain I couldn’t turn down the option to feel better. And, oh, was the epidural wonderful. I even managed to fall asleep for a few minutes at a time.

All night long we sat and we waited. Daddy, Grandma, and Nana were all waiting in the room with me. I was making progress, but very slowly. Six cm…7…8…9…and then nothing. It was 11am, I had been in labor for 14 hours and I was stuck. Instead of waiting around longer, the Doctor offered to break my bag of waters, which I agreed to. Apparently, it was already broken. Who knew!? (I now realize that it probably broke during one of my many bathroom trips before I realized I was in labor. It also explains why the pain was so intense so early on.)

The Doctor decided to stretch me the last inch. Just before noon, I began pushing. And pushing and pushing and pushing. The Doctor and nurses told me I was a great pusher, but that this baby was obviously big and not interested in coming out. One nurse estimated that you were probably close to nine pounds. About half an hour into pushing, my epidural was done. I wasn’t allowed to press the button anymore. I could feel everything. You were “sunny side up” so the pain was even more intense than it should have been. Your little head was pushing onto my spinal cord and my back was killing me. My entire stomach was hurting more than I knew anything could possibly hurt. My entire body ached. My contractions were extremely strong, yet nothing was happening. You weren’t moving.

One nurse told me, “If this baby could come out, he would have shot across the room.” But you weren’t coming out. Not even your head could make its way through.

I felt weak. I was exhausted. I had barely slept in 32 hours, was in labor for 18 hours, 3 of which were spent pushing. I threw up twice (my least favorite thing in the entire world). At one point, I started shaking. The pain was too intense. I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t talk. I could barely breathe. I was mostly silent.

Finally, the Doctor suggested a C-section. A C-section. Something I had never thought about. I hadn’t planned for one, I hadn’t read about having one, I had no idea that I would ever be in the situation where I could need one. “Okay.” I said. I was done. The pain was too much. “Okay.” I said again. I didn’t want her to keep talking, I just wanted to move to where the pain would be taken away again.

(I learned later that they had been discussing a C-section an hour after I started pushing. They wait for a woman to say, “I can’t take this” or “I’m done!” or show some verbal clues that they don’t want to do it anymore. Because I stayed silent and just kept trying, they didn’t offer me a C-section until three hours into pushing. I still don’t know if I am grateful that they wanted me to have a natural birth or upset that they put me through that when you weren’t making any progress coming out.)

Daddy had to put on scrubs while I went in to the surgery room to be prepped. I was given some amazing drugs through my epidural, and the pain was gone again. I could breathe again. I was disoriented, though, and apparently I had a fever.

Daddy in Scrubs

Daddy in Scrubs

The C-section was a strange experience. In some ways, I wish I had been more coherent throughout it because I have trouble remembering what it was like. I remember bright lights. I remember the anesthesiologist standing behind me, her face covered with a mask, asking me how I felt every few minutes and making sure I could only feel pressure, not pain, and that I wasn’t getting dizzy or feeling like I was going to pass out. I remember the pressure. Intense pressure. Indescribable pressure.

Then suddenly, I felt a big pull and a release of the pressure. “It’s a boy!” they shouted. You didn’t scream. It felt like an eternity before you finally cried.

I was laying there on my back while the surgeons finished. There was a large blue paper screen in front of my face. I couldn’t see anything but what was behind me and even that was difficult. Daddy went over to see you, and in the process had to see me cut open. As squeamish as Daddy is about blood, he didn’t think anything but “gross,” and he didn’t throw up!

“Nine pounds, 12 ounces” they said. I started crying. I couldn’t believe it. You were here. You were in the world.

But I couldn’t see you. I could hear you sobbing, and I could hear the surgeons talking. The lights were so bright and I was just sobbing.

Then Daddy walked over and sat beside me while holding you. “What do you want to name him?” he asked. “Alexander. Alexander the Great,” I said. (We had been thinking about Alexander and Nathaniel.) I continued sobbing. I couldn’t believe that you were here in the world. You were huge. You had a head full of hair and chubby little cheeks. You weren’t crying, but you looked like you were in pain. I didn’t blame you. I have no idea what it feels like to be in a bright room after only knowing dark, and to breathe air for the first time after only “breathing” liquid. I’m sure it hurts like hell. I kept crying. I couldn’t hold you and my heart ached.

Finally, they finished stitching me up. And, finally, you were placed in my arms.

I couldn’t stop crying. I finally had you in my arms. I was so happy, and so scared.

You were beautiful. You were fat. You looked so much like your Father, and so much like your Grandmother. Your eyes were squinty, your nose was a little button, and your lips curled in like they were trying to make an “O.”

One Day Old Alexander

One Day Old Alexander

The first two days in the hospital were stressful for me. I was in almost constant pain. I was taking percocets at the highest allowed dose as often as possible. My mind was foggy, I had trouble focusing, and I was exhausted all of the time. I had nurses coming in the room every 2-4 hours to check on me and give me antibiotics. I wasn’t sleeping, I was just dazed. But you were here, and I didn’t want to let you go.

Every time you woke up during the night or needed to be moved into or out of your bassinet (it was too hard for me to hold you for very long), I had to have Daddy help. I couldn’t get out of my bed for the first two days without help. By the end of the second day, I was able to scoot my way to the edge of the bed and pull myself to standing very slowly.

I showered for the first time in three days while Daddy held you.

On day three, a nurse came in to check on us. She took your vitals, and asked me if your breathing always sounded “like that?” I said yes, having discussed with your Nana that it sounded weird to me when you nursed. She left, and then came back a few minutes later. She said that you seemed rather Jaundiced, and that she was worried about your lungs.

She picked you up off of my chest and took you away from me.

I cried. I sobbed. I don’t think I have ever been so upset in my entire life. Daddy was out getting food, and Nana had been taken out of the room when they took you away. I couldn’t be comforted. Without you, there was no comfort. I didn’t know what was wrong, and I was scared to death.

You were highly jaundiced. Your levels of bilirubin were dangerously high, so you were placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I was able to see you later that day.

In the NICU, you looked like the biggest baby in the world! All of the other babies in there were premature, most around 2 or 3 pounds. And then there was you. Almost 10 pounds, taking up the entirety of the incubator. They had been feeding you formula, and you were under the blue “Bili lights” that were going to help your bilirubin levels decrease. They had put an IV in your little hand. You had dried blood marks all over your hand and the needle looked too big to possibly fit a baby! I felt so bad for you, but you did look adorable with your first pair of sunglasses on.

Alex Under the Bili Lights

Alex Under the Bili Lights

I was released on Friday, but you weren’t released until Sunday. You were moved to the Pediatric Unit on Friday, so I came back to visit you most of the day on Friday and Saturday. I wasn’t allowed to just hold you. It broke my heart. Every time I took you out of the incubator, I had twenty minutes. Those twenty minutes were spent nursing, which was wonderful. I felt sad that I couldn’t just cuddle with you, and that there wasn’t much time for Daddy or anyone else to spend time with you.

The day you were released was wonderful. I was pushed in a wheel chair with you in my arms. (I’m not sure why I was pushed in a wheel chair. It was either a safety thing or just because they were being nice and knew I couldn’t walk well. Post C-section recovery was awful.) We put you safely and securely in your car seat, and we drove home.

Once we were home, you were home. You slept, you nursed, you enjoyed spending time in your bouncy chair. You would lie on your belly and lift your head up looking around at all of the lights. You would make the funniest face when you were about to cry (we called it Grandpa face).

Alex Pre-Bath

Alex Pre-Bath

You were so cute, so happy, so wonderful. You weren’t very interested in sleeping, though. You kept me up for hours at a time during the night until you were two months old. Then, you woke me up every hour and a half at most until you were six months old. Then, you woke me up every 2-3 hours until you were 8 months old. Finally, you decided it was okay to sleep through the night!

Alex Smiles

Alex Smiles

You almost never cried. We were certainly lucky in that aspect. To this day I think you are the happiest baby in the world, and Daddy agrees. The first time I noticed that you had a real smile was September 21. It was big and full and you did it whenever I made funny faces.

You laughed for the first time on November 14. Daddy and I were changing your diaper and you looked at the curtain and laughed. It was the most wonderful sound! You have such a sweet and contagious laugh, Alex.

You’ve been growing like a weed since you were born! I don’t know exactly how big you are at this moment, but I’m guessing you are about 25 pounds and over 31 inches tall. You are a tall boy, like your Daddy and Grandfather.

You’ve been teething almost nonstop since you were two months old! You have a wonderful smile with all of those teeth poking through, but the pain they have caused you certainly hasn’t been fun.

Alex Grinning

Alex Grinning

You are an active child. Never one for just sitting and cuddling, you are always on the move. Before you could crawl, you would reach for toys and bat at things constantly. Once you could move, I was in perpetual motion chasing you down! You love to get into anything and everything. Your curiosity is strong, a wonderful trait. You study toys and objects until you figure out how they work. You discovered how to open our cabinets in a few minutes. You figured out how to make one of your toys work after I showed you one time. You studied me as I walked up the stairs and promptly figured out how to crawl up them yourself. You are walking a little bit, now, and I know that soon you will be running.

You smile at everyone. When we are in the grocery store, you smile at every person we pass. You are a ham! You love attention and you want anyone and everyone to give it to you. When strangers touch you I get very angry… but I know, in reality, it’s your fault: you are just too sweet and smiley to ignore!

You get along with almost everyone. It takes you a while sometimes to warm up to certain people, and you have chosen a few that you don’t really like, but most of the time you are thrilled to be spending time with people. A people person at heart, I hope you remain that way. Daddy and I certainly aren’t, so it would be nice for you if you were!

Alexander, you are smart, funny, and adorable. You have beautiful eyes, a great sense of humor already, and are wonderful in every way. I love every minute I spend with you. It is because of you that my life is the way it is, and I thank you for that.

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy!