Married to Medicine

Married to Medicine

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dear Baby #4

Dearest M,

Can it be that nearly ten months of your life have passed and I haven't sat down to write you another letter?  It's too bad... I will have to hope that the thousands of photos and video snippits have done a good job documenting your babyhood. 

Let me first answer a question from one of my older letters, now that you're here: 

Is it better to dream and hope for the future of having children, fantasizing about how neat it will be, or is it better to live it? 

A thousand times:  It is even better to live it.  Matthew, being your mother has exceeded the highest limits of the bliss I dared hope for.  So many people warn about how hard parenthood is.  "It's the hardest job in the world," you hear.  "You'll soon wish they could put the baby right back inside you."  A study that came out shortly before you were born reported that people feel less happy after children than before, prompting questions of why couples continue having them.  But for me, these past ten months with you have been the absolute most amazing of my life.  I loved - *loved* my first year of college... I thought nothing could ever rival the rush of being on a beautiful campus surrounded by new people, on a new adventure, and falling madly in love with one of my very best friends.  But this year has been every bit as wonderful as that year.  Yes, it's been a lot of work.  But I've cherished every day with you, even the hardest ones. 

By the time you read this, you'll surely be very familiar with your own birth story.  I went into labor around 4 pm on September 10th.  I labored fifteen hours at home before being admitted to the hospital.  I labored another eighteen hours in the hospital.  We barely made it to September 12th... we spent about 31.5 hours convinced you'd be born on September 11th.  When I first began pushing, the nurses were very impressed and thought I'd have you out in about twenty minutes.  But you turned out to be much bigger than they thought you were, and at a bad angle (in retrospect, the angle probably caused the slow labor).  You were born 9 lbs and 10 ounces, after 2 1/2 hours of pushing (and 33 of labor) left me utterly spent.  They used forceps - your daddy had to look away.  You came out not doing so well - you scored a 2 on the APGAR test (out of 10).  They wouldn't let daddy cut the umbilical chord; they were very concerned for your health.  But you soon bounced back and became the healthiest, strongest baby imaginable!  Thank goodness for modern medicine.  I have no doubt that it saved at least one of our lives, and enabled me to meet you, hold you, know you, and raise you.  My heart aches for the hundreds of thousands of women throughout history who were never given that chance, and for my grandmother who lost a son when he was six years old.  Nothing - NOTHING in my life has ever made me as vulnerable as motherhood.
Tipping the Scale.

From the very start, you were a calm, sweet baby.  You only cried if you were hungry, and once you ate you pretty much went back to sleep right away.  You seemed very "mature" for your age and very "serious."  That, combined with your multi-sneezes, caused your father to declare you "Dada's Man" (but I knew you were "Mama's Little Man.").  Throughout these past ten months of your life, you've kept pretty much that same sweet personality - as long as you're well rested, and you LOVE to sleep.  You love when Mommy reads you a book, and you pretty much sit quietly and attentively while being read to.  You're very brave and very secure, and your feathers don't ruffle easily.  You've enjoyed every exposure you've had to water, even going under, and you already kick your feet and move your arms to try to swim.  Your first three words were Mama, "Da" (or "Dadadadadada") - which your Dada insists is a purposeful word, and "More" (which usually comes out as "MAAAH!!").  You tend to do an army crawl instead of a regular crawl, presumably because we don't have carpets and it's easy to slide around.  As an infant, you sucked your thumb and forefinger together - preferably with lots of my hair wrapped around it.  

You've been a foodie from the get-go, and the only two things that ever make you truly upset are (1) hunger; and (2) seeing Mommy and Daddy eating in front of you and not sharing.  Even if you're full, you want to try what we're having.  You start by staring intently at our food.  Then back and forth from the food to us.  Your expression becomes one of increasing disbelief if we don't share.  Then you start sqwaking until we do.  You've had everything we eat:  Thai food, coffee, sushi, all sorts of seafood, beets, brie, etc.  Your original favorite was avocado, but currently you're into bing cherries, blueberries, and Mommy's banana-blueberry muffins.  Ah, summertime. 

One of our favorite infant memories of you was your crying in the morning, waking up hungry.  You'd have worked yourself up a little and the rubbing of your head on your cradle swing made your hair crazy and poofy in the back.  Your little face would be scrunched, red, and dimpled as you cried your pitiful, sweet "Mrrrrroooo, Mrrrrroooo" cries.  It was beyond cute.  The very first cry would be short, then longer, then a big long one.  We took to saying "Ar-Ar-Arooo!" when you cried, and to this day if I repeat it, I get a big grin from you.

One of our most favorite "baby Matthew" stories happened a few weeks ago.  Mommy and Daddy were playing with you in the living room, and both ended up in the kitchen cooking.  You were left to play.  After awhile, it must have dawned on you that we were gone - and that we were in the kitchen, cooking without you.  At all of 9 months you let out a distinct, indignant yelp and then you literally stormed into the kitchen.  Yes, all the way from the living room we heard your purposeful, angry army crawl getting closer and closer and then you appeared, looking none too pleased, and demanding to be included.  Oh Matthew, it was so cute!

And your sweetest habit is kisses.  One morning when you were ten months old, I put you on our bed and told you to "go wake up Dada."  To my surprise, you did exactly that - you crawled right over to him, made your way to his face, and planted kiss after kiss on his cheek and lips.  Our hearts melted.  To my further surprise, you did the same thing the following day, and again and again until now it's a tradition.  You'll occasionally give Mama a kiss but oh, your Dada gets a kisses almost every time he sees you.  And boy does he love them - a big grin and an "Oh, that's nice!  That's very nice!" are his responses.  Your latest is kissing the pages of the books we read - especially if there's a cow on them. 

Honey, I've failed to write down every cute story or quirk of your first ten months.  After you finish your sigh of relief, please just know this:  My days with you have been blissful and amazing.  I miss you when you nap and get excited when you wake up.  So does your Da-da, who will literally push me out of his way to be the one to greet you if he's home as you waken.  I've always loved children... from my karate students to my French students in France, to my campers, my day-care charges, and my nanny-ee Ruthie.  I've always thought they were sweet, almost-magical beings.  But you... for me, you are like an angel sent into my arms, entrusted to my care.  I don't think I deserved a baby as "good" or "easy" as you, and the few times you've ever been truly inconsolable have made my heart just ache for new parents with colicky or otherwise difficult babies.  But your sweet, calm nature has made parenting you an absolute joy and privilege.  Your firsts - your first purposeful smile (I called you a "lady killer"), the first time you said "Ma-ma," the first time you put your head on my chest for a snuggle, the first time you "gave Mama a kiss," the first time I heard your tiny baby voice laughing - have been the highest of highs for me, oh that I could bottle each one up and take it out to relive it on occasion.   

As I write this it makes me sad to acknowledge that the first ten months of your life are over, and you'll never again - not even for a second - be that tiny baby I first fell in love with.  But I also know that I'm beyond blessed to have had a healthy baby at all, and to still have you today.  I know that the "you" I love so much - with the sweet soft baby hair, the chubby cheeks, and the sweet infant profile - will still be the same you even when you're grown... it just doesn't *seem* that way now because I can't imagine how you'll be.  M, I thank God for you every day.  I can't wait to see what your future brings.



  1. This is beyond sweet!! He will treasure this!! LOVE it. And a beautiful picture of a handsome boy.

  2. Too sweet! (you've got me in tears here, maybe because now I understand what you mean when you say how amazing this all is!)

    He is so cute. SO cute. Hope you continue to love every minute of him.