Monday, March 29, 2010

The First 100 Days, More Or Less

Our Henry turned 100 days old…well, a few days ago, I think. 100 is a nice, round number. Henry is a nice, round baby. Coincidence? You decide.

Audrey has done such a wonderful job keeping up this journal of photos, milestones, and stories. Some folks call it a “blog,” but not me. It will be such a treasure to look back on as Henry continues to grow at roughly the speed of light. I am so grateful, and I know Henry’s extended family in Texas is grateful too. Because they’ve told me. A lot.

Audrey is a really tough act to follow, a fact which taken in conjunction with my own crippling fear of writing anything that might [gasp!] actually be read by people has, until now, prevented me from contributing. The 100-day mark is a good excuse to stop making excuses, though. It’s a nice, round number, see?

When Henry was on his way I heard a lot of “advice” from friends that had already joined the ranks of the pooped-upon. Some solicited, some not. (The advice, I mean. Not the poop. Poop is rarely solicited.) The guidance I received was always appreciated, except for one bit that I heard more than a few times: EVERYTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE. I didn’t like hearing that, and I think I was secretly kinda resentful. And scared. Outwardly, my response was “I know! Isn’t it great?!” but in my head I was thinking “really? Everything? EVERYthing is going to change?! But, things are great! I have a wonderful wife who likes to watch football games with me! A brand new house! Time with my great friends! A wonderful church! I’m half of the reigning Cornhole champs! I love my job have a job! I don’t want everything to change. Are you sure it has to?” No doubt I was excited about the baby coming, but couldn’t that be the only change? Please??

Turns out, for one of the few times ever, I was wrong. They were right. Stupid They! Of course everything changed. Not at first, though. I mean, yeah, Henry was instantly adorable and I fell completely in love with him and all that and blah, blah, blah. How could I not; you’ve seen the pictures!

See, for those first several confusing, challenging weeks, Henry was a baby that needed to sleep and eat and be washed and loved and oohed and aahed over, and he surely was. Audrey and I followed as best we could all the tips we’d learned from friends, nurses, books, and grandmothers. And Henry, already aware that he had been bestowed Easiest Baby of All Times, made all of that remarkably easy for us. Aside from a little nervous sleep deprivation, an influx of cards and cute outfits in the mail, and some extra laundry, what had really changed? We still had a house to keep up with. Leaks to repair. I still had to shovel the driveway and get to the job that I love have. There were football/basketball games to watch. Friends coming and going. Two episodes of the West Wing, back-to-back. Finally reading Gone With the Wind so I can understand what the heck Audrey is talking about. The usual stuff.

Then, maybe about 8 weeks in, from the bedroom I could hear Audrey and Henry having a little chat, post-feeding. It started out as just a quiet little call-and-response game but then someone – I’m not sure who – had their funny bone tickled and started to giggle. It was contagious. Henry’s little laugh made Audrey laugh a little louder, which made him giggle louder still. And back and forth they went in the most natural and sincere way. It was the sound of pure joy – my wife and son just cracking each other up to the point where Audrey was in tears and Henry was in hysterics. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. It was music. Yep, everything changed that day.

Henry is a great sleeper. He only wakes up to eat once during the night. Typically, though, a couple times each night he’ll wake up due to the fact that a) the dream he’s currently having - about a bunch of shapes and colors or whatever - is just too beautiful to last for very long or b) he has just accidentally punched himself in the face. (It’s prob’ly ‘b.’ He gets that from me.) When we hear these awakenings on our monitor, sometimes it’s my job to get up, go to the nursery, and put the pacifier back in his mouth. Usually this works like a charm and he’s back to sleep within moments. The idea is for me to be as stealthy as possible so that he doesn’t see me, get confused, and think that it's eating time or, God forbid, morning. Gotta make sure the kid knows the difference between daytime and nighttime, see? Don’t turn on the lights, don’t engage him by talking, etc. Anyway, for the first two months or so, the stealthiness was pretty easy to pull off. Henry’s eyes were still working on focusing, and I’m sure he was still wondering who this big, blurry dude was tossing pacifiers around in the near dark. Plus, being half-asleep myself, I wasn’t much in the mood to chat. In and out. Easy.

One night, though, Henry sees me, but he doesn’t just see me. He sees me. His eyes and his cheeks and his little mouth smiled up at me all at once as if to say “oh! Hi, Daddy! I’m very happy that you are here,” and I just fell apart. I stood over him for a few minutes until he fell back asleep. Then I stood there for a little longer. It was a moment I won’t forget. Audrey had the same experience, and we both agreed that it’s impossible to just slither back out of the room after Henry pulls that smiling stunt of his. She tried it once and had to get up and go back to tell him she loved him. I get that. I couldn’t even get out the door.

So, yeah. I guess everything does change, huh? There’s the house, and the job, and the TV shows, the basketball games, the zippedy-doo-da and to a lesser extent the zippedy-yay. The difference is just that all that stuff matters way less, now. There is musical laughter and there are perfect smiles. Henry’s here.

[This was a lot of fun. I’m going to try my best to do more of it, but don’t hold your breath.]

Friday, March 26, 2010

Summ-ah, Summ-ah, Summ-ah-time!

(Mom, this post is especially for you!)

I stopped by Belk today to return a pair of pants and they just happened to be having a baby sale (and I just happened to have a scratch-off card that my mom had left here). And these are my spoils for the little man to enjoy this summer time!

This sleeveless number came with a pair of matching sandals.

And this one, with a matching sun hat.

This one came with a cap, too!

We are ready for the summer, now!

New Friends X 3

I am sending a HUGE SHOUT OUT to my friends Lisa and Jason. They delivered their triplets yesterday at 10am: Abby, Lucas and Zoey. Now Henry has three new pals just around the corner. Scroll down and on the right you'll see a link to their blog "Babies Cubed!" where you can check out pics of all three darlings. They are all very healthy and didn't need to go to the NICU. What a miracle!

Congratulations, guys!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

More Pictures: From Aunt Nicole!

A few of us went to a UVA baskeball game recently. Here are some pics of us hanging out at the game and at home.

My first week back to work, Nicole picked up my mom and Henry and they surprised me at work for lunch. Here are some pics.

These are from this past weekend.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Another milestone

My guess is that a weekend like ours plus the wonderful rhythm of rain on our roof was the perfect combination for little H.

He went down at 7:30pm last night and woke up when I turned on the light at 6:50am this morning.

Nice work, little man!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What a weekend!

Thanks to the AMAZING weather this weekend, we spent a lot of time outside. We started the weekend with a Friday evening stroll. We decided to give Henry a shot facing forward in the bjorn. He is getting really good at holding up his head and he LOVED getting to look around as we walked.

Here's a close up. Check out those cheeks!!

Some of you may know that the Rivanna trail runs right behind our house. We decided to take Henry on his first "hike." We didn't go far. But it sure was nice seeing the stream and the trees. Soon things will be in full bloom. I can't wait!

Saturday morning, Tish, Lisa, Polly, Henry, Nicole, Krista and I drove up to Gainesville, VA for Netia's baby shower. We had so much fun! The boys stayed in C'ville and played some basketball and cornhole. I took the camera, so we don't have any pics of the boys!

There were 8 pregnant ladies at the shower. Netia (at the front of the line) has the closest due date. Then, of our friends & family, comes Krista, Polly and Narra. Yay!! More friends for Henry!

Here are the Hullaba- (and AVP) wives at the shower.

Once we got home from the shower, we all took off to Wild Wing Cafe to celebrate Andrew's birthday! Here are Matt, Hawkins & Jeff acting silly, as usual.

Yay! The Fosters!

This picture isn't great. But I had to represent the Stricklands & the Renshaws.

After dinner, we hung out in the basement. Word got out that we'd lost the key to our cabinet. Renshaw and Jeff were immediately on it. They were determined to get it open. And for those keeping score: they did.

Not only is little H man doing so well holding his head up that he faced forward in the bjorn, he's also starting to sit in his little bumbo/exersaucer. He had a blast in there this weekend. (He had some encouragement from Kaitlyn, too!)

The weekend ended with a final rendition of "Happy Birthday" and Andrew making a wish on a few candles (not 36, of course). Thanks to Tish for baking the cupcakes!

The crew (without Matt--he was loading the car) before everyone went home.

Now that's what I call a weekend! And just think, our big party is scheduled for next weekend. Are we happy it's spring, or what?!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Singing with "Raff" Giraffe

Sorry about the low lighting. It was play time just before bed time. So we didn't have many lights on.

A Seat at the Table

It is hard for me to believe that we still have shower gifts for little Henry that we need to open and put to use. I am reminded constantly of the generosity of our amazing friends and family.

So this morning, I busted out of the box Henry's high-chair. This isn't any ordinary high-chair. This little guy actually gets a seat at the table. It's a "space saver" chair that actually sits in one of the chairs around the table. AND it has a recline feature, so he can join us for meals now.

Welcome to the table, little man! So tell me, how was your day?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

So far so good!

The morning came with only a few tears. Henry was his typical smiling, giggling self. Which was both comforting and a bit sad. He just makes me want to hang around him all day!

Mom had him squeeking with joy first thing this morning. What an amazing gift she is giving us! And I totally get a way I didn't before. She would do anything for me, just as I would do anything for Henry. And I hear having grandchildren is pretty awesome, too.

Thank you, mom. I don't take for granted one second all that you are giving up by doing this: time with dad, with your friends, with your church. I know you'll miss some shopping dates with Rita and a knit-wit gathering or two. Kings Grant will miss you on Wednesday nights. And dad, well, I'm sorry you'll have to be finding your own way around the kitchen a bit more these days.

Thank you, mom and dad, for pouring so much love out on me, Henry and our family.

Sitting here at my desk, knowing that my little Henry is snuggled in my mom's arms gives me an overwhelming sense of peace.

And, if you'll let me be a little honest, it actually feels good to be back at work. I've missed the compelling conversations, the strategy sessions and the many smiles around this place. Not only am I blessed with the most amazing family, I am blessed with an incredible work family, too. More people than I can count have checked in on me already today.

Just as I've been told, it does seem to work out. And it will get better. Perhaps we'll have a glitch in the road when Henry has to go to daycare. But we'll worry about that later. Another lesson from Henry: just enjoy each day as it comes. They go by fast enough as it is.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Today is hard

Henry is sleeping soundly. His morning nap is his best. He wakes up about 7 and goes right back to sleep at 8. I have the video monitor on, not because he needs monitoring, but because I just love staring at him.

Today marks my last official day of maternity leave and it is breaking my heart. Part of me really is looking forward to being back at work. This has just been the most amazing and special times in my life. I grieve to see it ending.

In reading my pregnancy and first-year-of-motherhood books, I was prepared for these weeks to be challenging. Many pages were spent on tips for soothing a fussy baby, how to deal with feeding and sleeping challenges, what to do with nothing else will work. Amazingly, I put none of those to use. My dearest, precious Henry has been nothing but pure joy every moment.

Let me be clear: this has nothing to do with my talents as a mother. Nope. It's all Henry. He's so calm and relaxed. He is always smiling. I remember after his shots, once he calmed down and had a snack, we put him up on the table to change his diaper and the first thing he did was give us a big grin. How could you not love every moment with that kind of baby.

It was as if he was rooting me on. You can do it momma! I always imagined it was my job to boost his confidence, to teach him that he can do anything he puts his mind to. Well, wouldn't you know, he was the teacher first. In his inherent goodness and patience with me, he was giving me confidence. And as a result, spending all day with him for the last 12 weeks has been the greatest honor and pleasure of my life.

I can't help but think of my own mother today. All those moments she had to let me go: walking me into the 1st grade (with me cowering behind her leg and my dear friend Holly cowering beind her mommy's leg), sending me off to camp for the first time (where my collect calls home ended up costing more than it cost to send me there!), leaving me at Furman my freshman year. She always exhibited such grace and confidence.

I hope to be able to do the same for Henry. I know it will get easier. The week after next will be better than next week and so on. But in hoping for things to get easier, I don't want to skip over this moment--this moment to be sad and to reflect and to be nothing short of overwhelmingly grateful. Many mommies don't get this much time. Many mommies don't get this kind of baby. I was given 12 full weeks with the most amazing angel of a baby.

He filled me with confidence for this stage and I know he will for the next. I can see him now, in my mom's arms sending me off to my first day of work with a big smile and maybe even a giggle. "I'll be fine momma. In fact, I'll be great. Thank you for showing me all that a momma can do."

But for now, I just stare at the monitor. In fact, I think he's stirring. What joy! More precious time with my beloved Henry in my arms.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hanging with the H-man!

Hey y'all!

I must admit that I'm not feeling terribly witty or up to writing much. But here's a video of Henry and I hanging out this afternoon. I tried to catch him laughing; but he quit as soon as he saw the camera. Oh well. I'll catch it eventually!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Henry's Visitors

This weekend was wonderful! Two of our dearest friends came from near (Arlington, VA) and far (Iva, SC) to meet the new little man.

Here are some pics:

Chris and Henry--

Chrissy and Henry--