Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dinosaurs, Brits & Rockstars

Jack has been growling lately and I can’t help but wonder, when he finally does open that little mouth up to speak his first word, what will he sound like? Will he sound like a raspy old man with a raspy dinosaur voice? Or will he sound like a distinguished gentleman with a British accent.
“Ello, mum. Ello, dad. Finally I can chat politics over tea & the newspaper with you.”
Or perhaps he’ll have a rock star demeanor.
“What up, mom? What up dad? I’ve been dying to show you my new guitar solo.”
Could he possibly speak so softly you can barely hear him?
“Hi Mom. Hi Dad.”
Or maybe he will be painstakingly loud.
“Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Mom. HEEEEEEEEEEYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY DAD!!!!!”
Or maybe he’ll speak like an athlete short and to the point.
“Parents. How’s it going?”
How will he sound when he talks and more importantly where will his heart be? Will he be giving and kind or will he take, take, take? Will he be a friend to the kid without friends or may he be the kid without friends? Will he explore the world with curiosity or will he be scared to see the world? What will this little growling person who depends on us for everything be?
What will you be, Jack? 
What I know right now is you make us laugh harder then we laughed in a while with your squeals and your growls and your little intense moments where I would pay a million bucks just to know what is going on inside that head of yours. You make us laugh so hard, Jack, from a place we’ve never laughed before.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

5 Months on Friday

Jack turns 5 months on Friday. 5 MONTHS. It literally feels like this yesterday I was sitting at the doctor's office at his 4 month appointment complaining about how quickly 4 months had gone. And now he is 5 MONTHS. Tell me I'm not going to become one of those moms who talks about how my son is 192 weeks old. My summary of 5 months can best be depicted in pictures.

That is a picture of us 6 months pregnant on our 1 year wedding anniversary. I randomly found it while searching for pictures.
 The day I came home my parents dressed me in this hat. It was 70 degrees out. They were overprotective.
 First time in the crib:
First bath. Thanks, G Mom:
I look like a little old man here:

 First walk:
 First time fighting an elephant:

 2 months:
 First time meeting Gram. She's a special lady.
 First Easter. I'm throwing up my gangsta bunny ears.
 First trip to G Moms.
 First vacation for my mom's 30th birthday.
 That's my girlfriend. No, really. It's legit. Our parents met in my birthing class. Who knew?
 First time wearing blue shoes. First time wearing any shoes.
 No firsts. Just because I'm cute.
 G Dad makes me smile.
 Looking cute again.
 And again.
 Dressed in a little girl onesie for my first 4th of July.
 And here I am today looking like a hoodlum after bath time. 16 pounds and all boy turning 5 months old on Friday.


I remember it like it happened this morning. It was a beautiful summer drive from Indiana to Michigan. The sun was shining, the windows were cracked and the music was loud. I had just wrapped a 3 week cycling trip from Bloomington, Indiana to Bar Harbor Maine and I was heading back to my summer apartment in Holland, Michigan. I was happy. How could you not be? 20-years-old with no real responsibility and a free summer vacation courtesy of your friend's parents? How could you not be perfectly content?

Suddenly, the semi in front of me slammed on its brakes. Traffic was flowing at a fast 65 miles per hour and i was surrounded by Michigan drivers. I knew this could not be good. I glanced in my rear view mirror noticing a red explorer tailgating me. I tapped my breaks realizing this would not end if I slammed them. I had a split second to make a decision. I could go right into the traffic next to me. I could stay in my lane and slam into the semi or I could take a chance and veer left to try to avoid the situation all together.

I chose left as the red explorer slammed on his brakes stopping inches short of the semi narrowly missing a collision. That gap between him and the semi, that gap was where my 1994 camry would have been. I would have been sandwhiched between an explorer and a semi.

That decision to veer saved my life. There is no doubt about it. I quickly brought my car to a stop on the side of the interstate. I shakingly burried my head in my hands realizing the magnitude of what just happened. Here I was 20-years-old, 4 years driving experience and I was almost involved in a major accident. Once i finally got up the courage to get back on the interstate I drove miles to the nearest rest stop and curled up into a tiny ball.

I had never felt so alive.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pick Your Lullaby Wisely

When I was pregnant I used to run a bath and sink down under the water and talk to the baby. I would tell the baby how much I couldn't wait to meet him or her. I would say a few things about his or her nursery and I sang the song "Hush Little Baby" because it was the only lullaby I knew at the time. I'm sure I got the words wrong, but I rubbed my huge belly and I sang to my unborn child just because it felt like the right thing to do.

Fast forward present day. Occasionally Jack will have a good hard cry, the kind of cry that breaks your heart into a thousand tiny pieces. And I pull him close to my chest and I sing "Hush Little Baby" and without fail, every single time he calms down.  Every single time. I have tried other lullabies like "You Are My Sunshine" or "Blackbird" by the Beatles, but they don't do the trick. The only one that works is the one I sang to him when he was in my belly.
Life is so darn fascinating. It's too bad I hate the lyrics of "Hush Little Baby". Pick your song wisely, my pregnant friends.

Hush, little baby, don't say a word.
Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird
And if that mockingbird won't sing,
Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring 
And if that diamond ring turns brass,
Mama's gonna buy you a looking glass 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

See the World

Today was crisp. It was a Fall kind of crisp, the kind of crisp that makes you want to lace up the dusty old running shoes and run until your lungs can't handle it anymore. I put Jack in the stroller and we explored in a way we haven't explored before. I left the sun shade open and I whispered to him:

"See the world."

He smiled up at me like he understood.

This is a phrase my Pap taught me when I was 14 and too young to understand the depth of the wisdom he was sharing.

"See the world, Erin," he would say as we took one of our many walks.

These were not walks around the block. These were long, drawn out, are they ever going to end because I have plans with my friends walks. These were walks to see the world. I would plow forward and he would stop me and point out a blue jay or the way the sun was shining through a cluster of leaves. These were walks that taught me to slow down and keep my head up. These were walks that taught me to understand the beauty surrounding us no matter what our surroundings were.

"See the world, Erin," he would say.

Sometimes these walks started at 5 am and didn't end until 9 am. At the beginning I was tired and grouchy and irritable, but by the end I felt calm and relaxed and excited. Sometimes we didn't say a lot. We walked in silence. That taught me there is power in silence. There is calm in quiet.

Sometimes when I take Jack for walks I feel footsteps behind me and when I turn to see who is there the path is empty. And even if it isn't my Pap, I like to think it's him smiling from behind as his Granddaughter takes his Great Grandson for a walk to see the world.


As I write this I'm watching Jack roll from his tummy to his back in his crib on repeat. I'm amazed that this little baby who once couldn't move now has so much control over his body. Why am I watching him in his crib? He is on a new routine and it is "naptime/self soothe time." Notice his tired eyes as he is in mid roll? He needs a nap.

We'll call this, the parents needed sleep routine. Why did we start it? Because we were finding it nearly impossible to be productive citizens functioning on 4 hours of sleep and I talked to a trusted friend who swore by this technique.

This is all coming from the girl who HATES routines. In my former 30 years routine made me feel like a hamster on a wheel and eventually I would explode fly the coup and visit some exotic country and get my spontaneous spark back.

What are my new and improved thoughts on routine? I love it. Why? It's simple. Jack seems happier and we have a better expectation of what he needs and when he needs it. It's no longer a guessing game. Oh, and by the way, he's asleep now. He fell asleep on his own with no swing, rocking or parental coddling. It's a miracle, I tell you, a miracle.

And guess what, since we started this routine exactly one week ago, he started nearly sleeping through the night with one small bit that requires a pacifier or a blanket if he's cold. I guess routines aren't so bad after all. And hopefully if you have a great daycare like mine they will appreciate and follow your schedule.

Here is what works for us. This is on 90 minute intervals. 90 minutes awake time, 90 minutes asleep time:

6:30 am-Jack eats. Diaper change. Playtime.

8 am-Jack arrives at daycare for naptime in Pack N Play or swing if needed.

9:30 am-Jack eats. Diaper change. Playtime-tummy time, mobile, reading, playing with the other kids.

11 am-Naptime.

12:30 am-Jack eats. Diaper change. Playtime-tummy time, mobile, reading, playing with the other kids.

2 pm-Naptime.

3:30 pm-Jack eats. Diaper change. Playtime-tummy time, mobile, reading, playing with the other kids.

5 pm-Naptime. 

6:30 pm-Jack eats from bottle, rice cereal, bottle.

7 pm–Jumparoo, floor mobile, bath time, 5 books.

8 pm-Jack goes down in swing or crib.

9:30-Bottle in rocking chair upstairs.

10 pm-Jack goes down in crib for the night.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

3 am

     Sometimes at 3 am I wake from a dark hard sleep and I tiptoe into your nursery and I gently put my hand on your tiny chest just to make sure you're still breathing. I know this may interrupt your perfect night of sleep, but it's worth it just to know you're still breathing. I turn around and tiptoe back into the bedroom so I don't wake your dad. I  crawl back into bed releasing a deep sigh because I know I'll never sleep like I once slept before I met you.

     I'm a mom now. It is my job to worry. I have this funny feeling the worrying may never end. I may never truly sleep again. It takes me back to a time I broke the rules and defied my curfew to find my dad sitting in the recliner as I tiptoed in the front door. 
     I offered up an apology, "I'm sorry, Dad. It was out of my control."
     He didn't say anything because he didn't have to. I knew I disappointed him. He calmly got out of his recliner and slowly walked back down to his bedroom. The next day I approached him again.
     "I'm sorry about last night, Dad," I said. As I began to piece together an excuse he interrupted me.
     "I'm disappointed in you," he said. "I trusted you."
     And that was all he had to say because I was never late again. Now as I look back on that experience my self frustration is multiplied tenfold. My Dad probably has no recollection of the incident but I know what it feels like to be a parent helplessly packed with so much responsibility for this life you must protect. 
     I know what it means to sit in the recliner now.    

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This One is for the Dad

This one is for the Dad who isn't afraid to roll up his work sleeves and get a little dirty. This is for the dad who believes that 50% of parenthood falls on his shoulders. The dad who isn't afraid to pick up his 8 week old baby in public and kiss him on the cheeks screaming sounds only a baby would find amusing. It's for the Dad who takes his responsibility of being a father seriously.

This is for the Dad who creatively builds a contraption so his son can hit the buttons on the obnoxious toy he swore he'd never own. The Dad who goes straight to his baby before the garage door hits the ground. The Dad who opens a book and pushes a stroller and changes a diaper.

This is for the Dad who works harder than he ever worked in his life because he wants to build a good foundation for his family. The Dad who works a 10 hour day and then wakes up at 2 am, and then 3 am and then 4:30 am to give his wife a break. The Dad who drops his son off at daycare every single morning because he knows his wife has a hard time saying goodbye.

This is for the Dad who says I love you, I'm proud of you and you mean something to me. It's for the Dad who stepped up to the plate the minute he learned you existed. It's for the Dad who tells your mom he appreciates her.

This one is for your Dad, Jack Peckinpaugh. You're a very lucky kid.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A note to my friends turning moms...

My Dearest of Future New Moms,

There will be this day many days from now where you will feel a kind of tired you've never felt before.  You may be juggling 8 hour work days on 3 hours of sleep. You may have poop and spit up all over your freshly pressed work shirt. You may wonder how you made it to and from work in one piece. You may have different colored shoes on, smudged mascara and a run in your tights. You may be a version of yourself you don't recognize.

But you will walk into your nursery that you spent months designing in your head. You will stand over the crib you dreamed about for weeks and you will look at this little life you created and you were realize that it just isn't about YOU anymore. And hopefully he or she will glance up at you and smile. And all those moments you asked yourself how you are going to make it through another sleepless night, they disappear like water down a drain.

It may not make sense in the moment. It may not make sense when you're 8.5 months pregnant and asking yourself if it's ever going to end, but that moment your baby locks eyes with you and lets you know you're the most important person in his or her universe, it will make sense then. And those are the moments that matter.

You will love that moment.


A Newer Mom

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

4-Months Old

     Today was one of those days. I took Jack to his 4 month checkup and as I was sitting in the room waiting for Dr., it hit me. He was 4 months old. 4 MONTHS OLD. He was sitting up in my lap with perfect head control, holding onto my fingers, smiling and cooing. He was 4 months old.
     I immediately envisioned taking him to the park and spinning around as he giggled. I pictured putting him in a wagon and frolicking around the neighborhood waving at the neighbors. I imagined going to Starbucks and sitting with him at a table while all the suits stressfully came in and out demanding espresso and Venti lattes. I imagined this perfect little day with him, my 4 month old. And then I dropped him off at daycare and my daydream came to a halt.
     And then it hit me.
     I don't even have a wagon. There is no way I could spin around with him at the park. It is 110 degrees outside. Taking a 4-month old to Starbucks could easily become a disaster as he knocks over my Venti latte and screams bloody murder when he is ready for a bottle. Although I understand days will exist where I just want to be with my baby boy, I am blessed to have an incredible job with an incredible management team and incredible clients who I can help and brag about Jack.
    I am blessed.
    On my drive home I am feeling accomplished and content and like one of those women who really can do it all...and a cop on a bike pulls me over because I didn't come to a complete stop. One victory at a time. One victory at a time.