Monday, January 4th, 2010 • 7 Comments on A Letter to Patrick, One Month Old
My sweet Patrick,
You’re one month old today, baby. On this very cold January day, you and I are at Starbucks—one of the few places I’ve taken you—and mama even brought her computer for the first time. Of course, I’m writing a letter to you instead of getting any real writing done, but it’s still quite an accomplishment right now for us to get out of the house! We are a team, you and I, until your father gets home from his deployment in Dubai. I’m counting on you to be very forgiving as I make mistakes over the next few months. After all, I never changed a diaper before you came along—and even then you were four days old before I changed the first one! Despite your young age, you probably have figured out I don’t know what I’m doing. Maybe that’s what those little smirks are that you give me sometimes—I just thought it was gas!
It’s been amazing watching you grow and change this month. You have outgrown most of your newborn outfits and have developed a little round belly and chunky legs. I’m not worried about your weight the way I was in the days after your birth. You no longer feel like a fragile newborn, though you are still so small and helpless and your head wobbles around if I don’t support it. You still have that adorable “startle” reflex where you throw you arms up in surprise (often while you’re sleeping), though it doesn’t happen as often as before. Thankfully, you sleep pretty soundly through the dog barking and the phone ringing and the television commercials that are so much louder than whatever program I might be attempting to watch in between feedings and laundry.
I’m so very tired, baby. I know that’s the way it’s supposed to be with a newborn and I try not to complain, but how I wish I could sleep more! It was certainly easier before your father left—having two people to take care of you made it seem almost effortless. But it’s been just you and me for the past two weeks and the exhaustion is a bit overwhelming at times. I never take it out on you, though I did have to put you down and walk away for a few minutes one particularly bad night when you were gassy and crying, but I can’t say the same about others. Everyone and everything gets on my nerves right now and I know it’s sleep deprivation and hormones. I’m recovering quite nicely from your birth, but I will be happy when you’re sleeping a bit longer at night and my hormones stop careening around out of control.
You’re too little for toys just yet, but you do love to stare at the ceiling fan. You’re also quite fond of lights—whether it’s sunlight through the window or the Christmas tree lights before your father took the tree down. Even the light from a lamp will mesmerize you for awhile. We bought you a swing before your father left, but you didn’t like it very much so we exchanged it for a simple rocker to put in the living room. You seem to like that well enough, especially when I rock you (it’s manual, so I have to do the work). Perhaps when you’re a little bigger you’ll enjoy the rocking and vibrations and music of an electric swing. It’s okay if you don’t, though. I’ll keep rocking you in the rocker for as long as you like it. Sometimes it soothes me as much as it soothes you.
You love your hands and wave them around like a symphony conductor or a painter wielding a brush on an invisible canvas. Sometimes you thrust your fist in the air while you’re sleeping, your lips pursed defiantly like a little rebel. I wonder what you’re rebelling against in those baby dreams? There are pictures of you with your hands in your mouth just moments after your birth. I love that you are a self-soother, even if it means that you resist being swaddled. I hate that you had to self-soothe in the hospital because I was in recovery and couldn’t hold you. But you’re already showing your inner strength, my sweet boy, and you took care of yourself when I couldn’t. I think your fondness for using your hands is a hint that you will end up with some streak of creativity. I can’t wait to find out what form it takes.
It’s incredible how much you look like your father, from the strands of blond and red in your brown hair (which seems to have a bit of curl to it—perhaps that’s my contribution?) to the dimple in your chin. I have always had a hard time telling who babies look like, but I have thought you looked like your father since I saw your sweet face on my 34 week ultrasound. You certainly act like your father’s son—collapsing into a deep sleep after you eat and maintaining a relatively good natured demeanor even when your newbie mother messes up some crucial aspect of your care. If you grow up with your dad’s personality as well as his looks, I’ll consider myself the luckiest mother in the world.
Recently, you’ve been giggling and smiling in your sleep, giving me a taste of what’s to come. I’m looking forward to that first real smile you give me. It will be a hard won reward, I think! I’m in no hurry for you to grow up though, baby. I know that as much work as it is to take care of you now that it will be even more demanding when you’re mobile! I’m very content to wait for those big milestones until your father comes home and can experience them, too—and give me a break! Your mama is a bit of a free spirit and it’s been a big adjustment having to give up my freedom. You’re worth it, no doubt, but I look forward to leaving you in your father’s capable hands for a few hours—or a few days.
I’m sorry your father isn’t here to experience all these newborn moments. He wants to be, I promise you that. And, with luck, this will be the only time in your childhood that he won’t be home with us. The Navy has given us a good life, but this is not at all the way I wanted it to go, with your dad only here for the first eighteen days of your life. He will be home in June, if not sooner, and everything will seem a bit easier. He’s very good with you and has more patience than I could ever hope to have. That will come in handy when he’s teaching you to swim—and to drive.
Most of the time, you are an easy baby and I’m so grateful for that. You have only had a handful of bad nights in the past month—four, I think, including one night in the hospital. New Year’s Eve was pretty bad. You stayed up longer than you ever have—nearly eight hours!—and I decided that you just wanted to ring in the new year with me. Of course, I could have done without the crying (and on the one night when I actually had people over—such is the way of babies, I suppose) and bottomless hunger. Perhaps it was a growth spurt rather than a need to see the ball drop, hmm? I have no experience with babies, but I hear that some of them cry a lot and, with those few exceptions, you certainly don’t. I’m especially grateful for that, sweet Patrick. I love you dearly, but your inconsolable wails on those bad nights broke my heart. I hope nights like that are few and far between. I’ll try my best to make sure you never have a reason to cry.
I bought a bunch of books when we were expecting you so that I would know how to take care of you. Unfortunately, I’m so tired most of the time I can’t do more than look at them sitting on the bedside table and hope I’m not scarring you for life as I bumble onward. But I do have friends who give me bits of advice here and there, and that helps. And there are some things I just seem to know about taking care of you—like how to hold you when you’re fussy or to start a bottle when you make certain little grunting sounds and start gnawing on your hands. I’m starting to gain confidence that I can take care of you by myself, which means we’ll be getting out of the house more (once the weather warms up—you are only a month old, after all). My strength is coming back and I’m probably gaining some muscle in the process of lifting you and your carseat in and out of your father’s truck! How I wish I could put you in my Miata—I think you’d enjoy riding in a convertible when you’re older. (I’m not-so-secretly hoping you have a bit of your mother’s free spirit in you!)
At some point, you’re going to realize your parents are not like your friends’ parents. In the first place, we’re terribly old. In the second place, not only are we still married, but we’ve been married forever! Hopefully these attributes will count in our favor, even if we did name you after the dog. (But you have two middle names, so you shouldn’t mind if we gave you Henry’s name as one of them. He’s a pretty wonderful dog, after all.) We may not be traditional parents (and I’m most definitely not going to be a traditional mom), but we have big plans to show you the world and make sure you have a wonderful life. I think you will inspire both your father and me to take better care of ourselves so we can keep up with you. What adventures we’re going to have!
There was a full moon on December 31—the second full moon of the month, which makes it a blue moon. I wanted to remember that so I could tell you there was a blue moon in the month you were born. You are the kind of baby that comes along once in a blue moon and I am lucky you are mine. It’s getting late now and it is bitterly cold outside, so I better get you home before you wake up again and wonder why your crazy mother still has you out at Starbucks.
Happy one month birthday, Patrick. Mama loves you.