Friday, December 28, 2007

Newsletter: Month 3

"J, my boy,"

Today you are 3 months old.

Mommy just came back from the hospital, and there is some sad news to tell you about your Papa's mom. This last month has been filled with joy, celebrations with family, and quiet times watching you develop and expand in cuteness, but your "G.G." passed away this afternoon and that will overshadow most of this letter to you. Even though she's been sick these last few months, she's been in good spirits and never more so than when she was holding or talking to you, Mac, and Cam-cam.

When I got to the hospital today, I bent down to say "Hi Geej."* She smiled sweetly when she saw me, and through her morphine haze she asked, "How's J?" After I told her you were doing great, she smiled again and then she muttered "J. my boy..." several times as she settled back into sleep.

*When her first great grandchild was born, my gram renamed herself G.G. (as in Great-Grandma) but when she signed cards, she wrote, "Gigi," fully embracing her new, more exotic identity. She allowed us grand kids to tease her and we shortened her name to the one syllable, "Geej." And she giggled pretty much every time we said it.

The events leading up to today, when grandma passed away, have made me proud to raise you in a family that takes such good care of each other. When G.G. needed a place to stay, my mom (your Nana) didn't hesitate to tell my dad to bring her home. My dad (your Papa) spent every day for the last 4 months making his home more comfortable for her, talking to her, laughing with her, comforting her, placing his grandchildren in her arms, and tucking her into bed. When she was short of breath, he carried her up the stairs at night. When she was hospitalized and moved to a nursing home last week, he spent most of the hours of every day visiting her and helping to coordinate her care. He was by her side, holding her hand and stroking her hair for most of her last 20 hours and at the time of her death.

But that's not all. So many people in our life teach us generosity by practicing it and not preaching it. Grandma Bella spent special time with GG, taking care of her, offering companionship and friendship as well as support to her daughter and son in law. Your Uncle Bill and especially your Aunt Teri were selfless and tireless in the time they offered to Geej, making sure their daughters got to know and love their GG. Your mama was here every day listening, offering support, and loving us. Your grannies were here today, and they babysat you and went grocery shopping, and prepared a meal of wonderful comfort-food.

We will try to teach you that death is a part of life, that being good to each other while we are here is the only thing that matters. Hopefully the reward of a life well-lived is more than the combination of who you leave behind and what happens in the next realm; but my eyes are a little misty knowing that you will grow up not ever remembering your GG and her crazy stories. She was independent-minded, energetic, and spirited as a younger woman. She was bright and had kind eyes and a semi-permanent smile. She loved a good tale, a catchy tune, and a quick wit. She appreciated mischievousness. If she called you "a rascal" it was a compliment.

Your Papa was her baby boy. He has no choice but to lead us in this grief process. I feel sure that you and your cousins (more than any of us) will be the ones that fill his heart with the peace and comfort he seeks. (If you can, fall asleep on his chest regularly and often... that seems to be the best therapy for any heartache.)

Just a few days ago, we celebrated our first Christmas together. It was exhausting, but you know... wonderful. You were a star as the baby Jesus in the Christmas pageant. You had your eyes open the entire time and just sort of bobbed your head looking around, curiously during the entire "show". You were just as big a hit playing the part of "tiny parishioner," when we went back for the 9pm service.

We finally put you in your own room this month. We set up a space heater so both mommies could feel comfortable having you 2 doors away without a blanket (as recommended by all health care providers.) When you slept noisily in our room, we didn't heed professional advice, choosing to instead follow our "blanketing" instincts as the season changed from fall to winter.

You sprouted eyelashes this month that grew and grew. Seemingly overnight. Really. One day, no eyelashes. Then tiny eyelashes. Then lashes like a mascara ad.

You also have been laughing up a storm. This is the month I have felt convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that you know your mama and me and we amuse you to no end (as long as you are recently fed, diapered, and not overtired.) Speaking of well-fed, you are still breastfeeding like a champ, and I am pretty comfortable with the arrangement. You take a bottle with no problem if I am unavailable, but otherwise it is you and I trying to negotiate a "whatever you need" boobie-buffet, that potentially includes a 5-6 hour stretch of sleep at night which I like to call, "time off for good behavior."

Things you like this month: 1) Your giddy up and go gym- we think you are in love with the sheriff/hen. You talk to that thing like you are gossiping with the girls from Sex in the City.

2) Morning play time with Mama. You giggle and laugh with her every day, as I try to pull myself out of the coma that results when I finally get more than 3 consecutive hours of sleep.

3) And of course, time with Mac and Cam. The cutest thing keeps happening now... if you and Cam are laying side by side. Both of you are starting to realize that you have limbs, but are still painfully unaware of exactly how they operate. You frequently get your fingers all accidentally intertwined with one another. Mac is all ready a doting older cousin. When she sees either of your parents or talks to us on the phone, she will immediately cock her head to one side and hold her hands palms upward and in a type of shrug, asking, "J?" At least one time when she realized I was visiting without you, the conversation literally went: "Hi, tt... J?!?" and then when I explained that J was home with Kt, she shook her head sadly saying, "Bye, tt." Which I'm pretty sure was meant to communicate, "You can go now."

Things we like this month:
1) Snuggling you and letting you sleep on our chests, even though you could go down and sleep in your crib;
2) Watching you grow ever more observant. You look at things. You watch us. You notice changes and follow things, and interact with your toys and your family...

3) Dressing you up in the tiny-man clothes we have acquired; sweaters, flannel shirts, jeans, and cords are among my favorites.

4) Bath time...

You've taken your last bath in the kitchen sink (at least until you can sit up independently.) You just simply grew out of that space. One night, you kicked your feet against one sink wall, and only your mama's hand, cushioning the blow at the last second, prevented a concussion. But the bigger space in the bath tub has allowed for ongoing family bath time. I love bathing you! It is simply the most relaxing and rewarding chore I have. You freak out a little every time you first get in. Then you stare at me with an expression that seems to say, "I've got my eye on you, Sparky." And slowly, you settle in and chill out. I've also started taking you in the shower with me sometimes, and that is less relaxing for both of us, but a cool bonding experience nonetheless.

This month I experienced what I will refer to as my first bout of Mama-bear possessiveness. There was this one day when a coworker asked to hold you (I took you to my work's Holiday luncheon.) You started to fall asleep on her shoulder and though my back was a little sore from holding you, though I was relieved that you were giving in to sleep, and even though I like and trust this woman, I inexplicably wanted to slap her across the face and snatch you back hissing, "THAT MY BABY!" It was weird, but I acknowledged it and let it pass, realizing that type of jealous-esque emotion is bound to be more regular than I am comfortable with.

You are such a good little boy and have already brought us more joy than we imagined possible. We are still exhausted and adjusting to the changes in our life, marital relationship, and sleep patterns, but we are completely grateful for you. And can barely remember a time before you were here.

We love you.
Your mommies

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