Sunday, February 28, 2010

Our First Mother's Day

You made me a mom.

Celebrating mother's day was very different in 2009. Although you were only six weeks old at the time. I did not get a homemade card from you. You did not run up and hug me. I don't think you even let me sleep through the night. Although you rolled over for the first time at 5 weeks and I was convinced I had a genius baby on my hands. I was smitten with you.

But mother's day 2009 (May 10) was very special because it the day you were baptized.

Nonna, Nonni, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Katie and Uncle Kevin, Aunt Clare and Aunt Molly and your father and I all walked to the church down the block. We got you dressed in the baptismal dress that was Nonna's wedding dress in the prep room. She marched you down the aisle to the front of the church.

Father David was ready for us. You were a little fussy. But as Father David baptized you and Uncle Kevin held on tight as you hoovered over the baptismal font, you were calm. As if you knew the importance of this moment. We prayed for you. Promised that you would be raised in the Church. Everyone looked on lovingly. It was a good day.

We had a small party back at our townhouse. You liked to be rocked and lifted up in the air over and over. You wore the Gymboree green gingham dress I got on sale. We sat outside on the patio and enjoyed the sunny day. You were so new to us all that we just were awe and wonder of your presence on us.

I remember being so overwhelmed at all of this. I remember wanting to slow down time so I could absorb all of the moment.

We went to a dedication today for our friends. Its like a baptism except without the water. Our friends kept saying how much you had grown. I already told you about turning into a toddler. You are so mature compared to Mother's Day when you were baptized. You are so knowledgeable and can do so many things by yourself now.
You are not 100% dependent on your father and I for everything. You can play and entertain yourself. You can feed yourself and get from one place to another on your own. Maybe I didn't soak up enough of the precious moments when they were happening. It could have been because I was sleep deprived.

I try to enjoy you every moment. I try to remember every detail of your being from your after-the-bath-smell to the way to crinkle your nose up when you smile. I love it all.

You are getting bigger, more independent. I am grateful for your rapid development, I mourn the moments I took for granted. I look forward to the thousands and thousands of after-bath smells, smiles, outbursts, laughter, and special moments we will share.

Look at you today on the way to the dedication (in front of your tree). Who couldn't love that face?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

How We Fell in Love

I have not told you much about your father and I before your arrival into the world.

So today let's travel way way way back to when you were a zygote. Do you remember? Do you remember implanting yourself in my uterus? Any memories of growing your heart? Or head? Or hands? Or spine? Or fingers? Or toes?

Your father and I remember the first time we knew you were there.
Your father and I remember the first time we saw and heard your heartbeat.
Your father and I remember the first time we saw your head, fingers, toes, 4 chambers to your heart, the details of your spine, your perfect kidneys...
Your father and I remember the moment we were told you would be a girl.
Your father and I remember the moments you would kick and move under my belly.

Your father and I remember you from the very beginning.

We went to Homer, Alaska for cousin Marta's wedding. It was a hectic trip because we were flying directly from Homer to Minnesota for Aunt Kaethe and Uncle Peder's wedding and then a week at Great-Grandma's farm in Wisconsin.

You made me exhausted. I was irritable and tired. Your father and I had our suspicions about your presence. We finally took a test while at the farm.
Your father who was looking at the test said, "Well, you're pregnant."
We told Great-Grandma before we left in July 2008. She was the first person to know about you, besides your father and I.

It was August 8, 2008 when we went to the Ob-byn for the first time. After filling out the endless paper work, our doctor told us that we would go for an ultrasound.
They took us into a dark room and had me lie on a table. The technician took the cold wand and started to look for any sign that you were in my belly.

All of a sudden out of the whooshing sounds in my womb came this thump.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.

Then, we saw it. A murky oval going in and out with the thumping.
"There's the baby's heartbeat," said the technician, "it looks perfect."

Your father and I did not move or say anything to each other or to our technician. We just watched and listened, mesmerized by your rhythm.

It was at that moment Nora that your father and I fell in love with you. A love so deep that words simply fell short.

We told our families later on that month. Nonni and Nonna, Grandma and Grandpa and all your aunts and uncles. Everyone was excited about your arrival. Your father and I got to see your beautiful body at 20 weeks gestation. I remember your spine and heart the most. I remember seeing the spine and being in shock at how complex and perfect it was! We saw the blood being pumped through your heart and the four chambers and the valves. It was incredible. Nonna came with me to my last ultrasound a month before your birth. We saw you open and shut your eyes. Your wonderful nose.

We had baby showers, so many of our friends and family were so generous. Jessica came to help set up your nursery, Nonna washed all your clothes, Grandma painted your room, Grandpa set up your crib. We picked out bedding, strollers, bouncy seats, high chairs, all for you.

But no moment could be better than seeing and hearing your heartbeat for the first time. No matter where life takes you Nora, you will always be our baby.

Friday, February 19, 2010

No Pants Nora

After the entry yesterday, I think it's time you understood your nickname: no pants Nora which then expanded into no pants, no socks, no nap Nora!

Flash back to when you were a wee one of three months. Mommy and Daddy decided that our townhouse was too small for the 5 of us (including Brandy & Lazer).

Your toys & "gear" over took the house within a week of your birth. We searched for a more spacious home. Your father MADE me go and look at a house in Westminster, MD. I explained to him that I would look but there is no way I am moving to Westminster.

A week later we put a bid on the house in Westminster. Drats, your father won again.

The house was perfect. Want to know what the deciding factor was?


As we toured our home for the first time, your father and I did not talk much. I was in a tizzy about something or other. Anyway, after the fact we were discussing the pros and cons of the different places we had seen. When we discussed the Westminster home, we both pictured you growing up there. I saw you running down the stairs on Christmas morning skidding across the floor with your footie pajamas. Your father saw you swinging under the tree in the backyard. I could imagine that too. So we named the tree: Nora's Tree.

This tree symbolizes so many of our hopes and dreams for you: happiness being the most important.

What does this have to do with your nickname you ask? I'm getting to it.

So Westminster it was. Daycare. We needed part-time daycare for you. None of the centers would take an infant part-time. So I ran a search of the state certified in-home daycares within a mile of our new home. There were three names. I spent the afternoon calling. The first had infant 9mo old twins and had no openings, the second did not take clients under one and the third had an opening! But we had to interview because there were multiple families who wanted the spot.

We interviewed with Ms. Patti's Daycare. Your father was on a business trip. It was at night, you were fussy and wanted a bath. I thought there was no way this woman was going to take a spastic mother, an absent father and a cranky baby.
But she did. Ms. Patti was also best friends with our new next door neighbors! And she had provided daycare for their two children who were 16 and 20! We quickly realized what a small town Westminster is and everybody knows your name. It felt good.
The first night we spent in the house was the Sunday before your big first day at Ms. Patti's Daycare. On Monday morning, I got you all gussied up in your yellow flower onsie (it was July 20th) and off you went. We've never looked back. Ms. Patti has become an intrical part of our lives. You LOVE Ms. Patti and all the kids and we love Ms. Patti too. When you started crawling a month later, Ms. Patti suggested pants. I bought you all these pants but apparently you would take them off at Ms. Patti's house. All of a sudden you would be sitting there with no pants on! "Nora!" Ms. Patti would say, "where did your pants go???" You found this very funny and liked not having pants on. For the record, you also would not keep your socks on (a problem we still have).

No pants Nora. That was you.
Now you keep your pants on but the nickname stuck. Your father and I find it fun whenever you won't do something (like nap) we just add it to your nickname.
'No pants, no sock, no nap Nora' turned into 'No pants, no socks, no nap, can take five steps Nora!' Because you took your first series of steps at Ms. Patti's four days before you turned 10 months old.

This is a picture of you after your first day at daycare with Ms. Patti. You were so exhausted from the experience you slept for 2.5hrs that evening before bed!

Look, you can still see the moving boxes behind you.

Although I never pictured raising a family in Westminster, we could not be more blest. Our house, your tree, the town, Ms. Patti, our neighbors are all... as they should be. They just fit us... like you did on the night you were born.

All is right with our world and I am grateful.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Oh What a Miracle!

I know. I know, we have a lot of work to do to catch up.

But. Look.
Nora you are like a different person lately. You are changing... into a toddler! I need a moment to absorb this.

Just this week you got your first pair of shoes!

You were just my new baby in my arms! Now you have SHOES!

It makes me feel better that you do not enjoy your new shoes. They get in the way of your walking. You clomp around like a Clydesdale... get annoyed and either start to crawl or stand there and cry.

No pants no socks no nap NO SHOES Nora! Oh... I haven't blogged about the origin of your nicknames?!? I know, I went off schedule with your toddler traits.

Besides the shoes... this week at Ms. Patti's Daycare (where you earned your nicknames) you graduated from the infant chair to the big kid table during lunch! Woweeee!!!

Ms. Patti told your dad and I how absolutely thrilled you are to sit with the big kids. We are so proud of you. You are becoming more and more of a big kid each day.

What happened to my baby?

At our library play group on Tuesdays all the other moms and nannies were so excited to see you walking. At 10 months you decided to walk. You toddle around you seem to know how cute you are.

Every play group we get to sing "Oh What a Miracle Am I"

I have hands, I have hands,
Watch me clap, watch me clap.
Oh, what a miracle am I.

I have feet, I have feet,
Watch me stamp, watch me stamp.
Oh, what a miracle am I.

Oh, what a miracle, oh, what a miracle,
Every little part of me.
I'm something special, so very special,
There's nobody quite like me.

You have always loved music. But now you dance, you bounce, you clap, you wave your arms, you stomp your feet. You MOVE! Nora, you are the absolute cutest when this song comes on. The instrumental intro comes on and you immediately begin to bounce up and down on your butt with the most gigantic smile on your face! You can hear the other moms and nannies oooing and awing over you.

I am in awe of you Nora. Everyday you develop more and more into a beautiful, confidant, fun person.

I call this photo: Nora LoveOh what a miracle are you.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

When You Come Back Down

Oh Nora! How much I need to tell you. How much I don't want to forget!

In keeping with your crying theme from the previous blog...

Your first three months? You HATED riding in the car. Hated with a passion. You would SCREAM and screech in your carseat. I'm not sure where it stemmed from. Maybe it was your first carseat experience that you remembered with such disdain:

So car rides with you were no fun. It was pure torture for me. My boobs would hurt because you would fuss so much. We tried to keep trips short. Your doctor's office was only half a mile away. Good. Grocery shopping? Target? Babies R Us? Half a mile as well. Whew! We could do this...
Grandma and Grandpa's house? 20 minutes. Ok... we can deal.
Nonni and Nonna's house? An hour away!!! Dear Lord help us!!

The hour drive was horrendous. I would pray you would just exhaust yourself and sleep. Most of the time you just wailed.
I was on edge from this. Your screaming cut through me like a piercing gun. Straight into my gut and tore me apart. It hurt me that you were so uncomfortable.
I thought babies liked their carseats? I thought a trick to getting a fussy baby to sleep was to drive around the block. Not you.

I thought we would go through this your entire infancy. But never fear... your father found an antidote. Completely by accident, of course (your father rarely does things on purpose. I swear divine intervention intercedes into his life all the time).

His Audi has a six CD changer in the trunk. It's a pain to change the CDs so once one is in... it stays for months, sometimes years. CD #4 in his player would be our God-send.

Nickle Creek's debut album, "Nickle Creek" (creative, huh?).

This CD would start and you would stop crying within the first two minutes. It was like magic. Pure magic. You would hear the beginning of the second song and you would stop screaming. By the fourth song you would be out. Out like a light. Sleeping like... well, a baby.

I forget the moment where we discovered this. It was probably on a long trip home from Nonni & Nonna's house.

My sanity returned and fear of driving in the car with you subsided, as long as we had Nickle Creek with us.

Soon we went to the Outer Banks in North Carolina and a longer road trip to Michigan and Wisconsin (which adventures will be saved for another entry). Everything was hunky dory as long as we had our CD #4. It became your bedtime songs. You would wake up in the middle of the night. You would eat in the dark and then your Nickle Creek would be put on and off to sleep you would drift.

Nickle Creek saved us. You still love their CD. We have expanded your music selection since then... but Nickle Creek is still the favorite. It might always be.
It's funny, to date, we have probably listened to that album at least a thousand times. Probably significantly more... maybe two or three thousand times. I'm not exaggerating. I can see you rolling your eyes at me.

MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY... sometimes 10x a day we would put this CD on. And the miracle of it all? IT ALWAYS QUIETS YOU DOWN. I swear when you are spazzing in high school about some test or social crisis, I will put on this CD and you will instantly melt into the couch and go into some type of relaxed trance.

My favorite song from the album is "When You Come Back Down" and I bolded the line that always makes me tear up thinking about you. Remember the blog entry about embarrassing moments? Deal.

You got to leave me now, you got to go alone
You got to chase a dream, one that's all your own
Before it slips away
When you're flyin' high, take my heart along
I'll be the harmony to every lonely song
That you learn to play

When you're soarin' through the air
I'll be your solid ground
Take every chance you dare
I'll still be there
When you come back down
When you come back down

I'll keep lookin' up, awaitin' your return
My greatest fear will be that you will crash and burn
And I won't feel your fire
I'll be the other hand that always holds the line
Connectin' in between your sweet heart and mine

I'm strung out on that wire

And I'll be on the other end, To hear you when you call
Angel, you were born to fly, If you get too high
I'll catch you when you fall
I'll catch you when you fall

I'll always be here for you, Nora. Even when you are older and have a family of your own... I'll hold that line connectin' in between your heart and mine.
I'll always be strung out on that wire to my dying day. I promise you.

I love you. And I'll always love Nickle Creek for saving my sanity.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Touchdown Jesus!

My goal: to have us caught up on life by your first birthday and begin to blog in the present... one can hope!

So let me take us back to your first month of life. You Nora were a terror in the crying department. As Jessica said (Ashley's mom), "She goes from 0-60 in a second!" She meant that you would be sitting there perfectly content and then next minute you were hysterically screaming. Like someone had pinched you hard in that skin under your arm where it is really sensitive.

You never ever had a cute "warm up" cry like waa waa waa. 'Come and comfort me' cry.

'what the hell! come over here and pick me up!' cry.

I was afraid to take you out in public because of this cry. People would think I was pinching you. What if a complete stranger thinks I'm a bad mom??? I know it seems stupid now... but then I was a new mom and wanted to impress.

Getting on with the story...

So my parents agreed to take us out to dinner. How we ended up in a diner in college park with a bunch of 20 year olds? I have no idea whose idea this was.

Nonna, Nonni, Aunt Katie, Uncle Kevin & you and I. We were smashed into a booth in a corner of the diner. I was nervous you would scream. I was nervous that you would embarrass the family and we would have to leave because of one of your screaming episodes.

Oh how silly I was.

Nora you have never embarrassed me. Not once. Ever. I embarrass myself quite often. But you have never.

Nonni? He has been one giant embarrassment for the duration of my life.

All us squished in a booth. We were passing you back and forth. Cooing and loving you. For some reason we were all on edge. Aunt Katie didn't feel good, Nonna was being cranky. I was a pile of nerves out in public. Uncle Kevin was holding you facing the table and Nonni on the other side. You were alert, looking around, taking in the circus that is your mother's family. Suddenly you raise up both your arms in the air. Now, you have done this quite often as a newborn. Apparently its a common stretch babies do (there is a technical name that I don't know). I thought nothing of this.

But I should have predicted, knowing my family for my whole life.

Nonni all of a sudden stuck both of his arms up in the air to mimic you and screamed (at the top of his lungs):


In the middle of a crowded diner with college kids.

People turned. People giggled. People looked at us like "oh you brought your demented father out of the insane asylum for a nice dinner."

I was in shock. My mouth hung open. You did not smile yet, but I think you would have laughed.

Because we all did. Howled in laughter.

Nonni never fully explained why he did that. Obviously you looked like you were signaling a touchdown... but what about the Jesus part?

It's a statue in Notre Dame's stadium in South Bend, IN. But what reminded him of that? Who knows. But now it is one of our goals to get you to South Bend and take a picture with the "Touchdown Jesus" statue.

Nora, there will be many embarrassing stories in your future. Especially with your father and I. Nonni is also not going anywhere.

We are family... it's the duty of a family to provide embarrassing moments.

Always know that you are fiercely loved Nora. In the times of great annoyance... remember that we only embarrass the ones we love. And the more we embarrass you... the more we are showing our love.

I am including a picture of your "Touchdown Jesus" pose with Aunt Kaethe. This was a couple weeks before the incident at the College Park diner.

You are my angel Nora. I love you with my entire heart and soul.

Monday, February 8, 2010

She's a Healthy One

I am trying to catch you up on 10 months of your life. Your first birthday is rapidly approaching. I should perserve our memories of your infancy while I remember them...

So flash back to your first week of life. Do you remember much? You came home to our modest town house and we lived in the family room for the first week since mommy was too sore to go up and down stairs. You nursed like a champ. You slept like a champ on my chest mostly. You were basically an all around champ.

And I am not the only who thought so.

Our pediatrician met you in the hospital and did his first check up. You were just perfect :) But newborns need to go to the doctor during the first and second weeks after birth for a weight check. They like babies to regain birth weight by the second week.

Well Nora, exactly one week after your birthday we went for our first weight check. I forget exactly how much you weighed but it was over 9lbs. And as you recall, your birth weight was 8lb 15 oz. The doctor was so impressed with your progress he said we did not need to come back until the one month check up! You actually got to skip your second week doctor's appointment because you were such a champ.

Our pediatrician actually exclaimed, "Wow! She's a healthy one!"
Many people liked to comment on your weight and how big you were. Some were family, some were strangers. Lots of people like "dainty babies" or itty bitties, as I call them. No one ever described you as dainty or itty bitty.
But Nora you were so healthy that it laid a foundation for an incredibly rapid development that is still boggling my mind.

You are so beautiful and healthy it simply amazes me.

This is a picture of you one week old right after your doctor's appointment. It was April 1, 2009. Nonni's 66th birthday.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

On the Night You Were Born

On the night you were born, I was drugged out of my mind. Not the way my "birth plan" was suppose to go. On the night you were born, our families celebrated while you slept. On the night you were born, you made your daddy and I the proudest parents on the planet. On the night you were born, your personality came crashing into our lives and it hasn't been boring since.

March 25th 2009 I went into labor at 2:33am. 3:33am I woke up your father to start recording my contractions on the iPod application iContraction. 6:33am we were heading to the hospital. The 33 minute thing was just a coincidence. 9 hours later... nothing. I had stalled at 4cm dilated and 0% effaced. So the doctor recommended the C-word and I balked and exclaimed I could do this!! The doctor then explained you had not even dropped into the birth canal. Oh. Besides she explained, "I don't know why woman always want a 'natural' birth they never poop or pee right again." She promised me that this was best for you. Ok... only if Nels AND my mom can come too, I bargained.

Away we went to the O.R.

I had to be wheeled in alone. My legs numb. My head spinning. They lifted me onto a very cold, hard table. Bright lights shone in my eyes. The nurses strapped my arms down like I was being crucified. They said it was for my own protection b/c I would instinctually try and protect my womb. Funny smelling air was put in my nose. I tell the anesthesiologist that I get nauseous VERY easily. He smiled. I started to shiver uncontrollably. The surgeon began it was 3:45pm. My mom and your father were at my side shortly after. They watched the surgery with their masks and scrubs. I watched them. Once and while I would glance at the bright lights where I could see my stomach cut wide open in the reflection. Nauseous. I couldn't stop shivering. My doctor, who was assisting said "the umbilical cord is wrapped around the neck."

Freak out.

MOM! I yell. (for the record, I do not know why I didn't call out to your father). MOM?!? Why isn't she crying? WHY ISN'T SHE CRYING?? I become more panicked. All of a sudden, I hear it. The most piercing, shrill, loud, STRONG cry. Your cry (btw you never had one of those wimpy cute newborn cries). They hold you up over the cloth barrier for me to see. I look at the clock: 4pm. It had only been 15 minutes??? Your actual birth time is recorded as 3:59pm.

I begin the pepper the surgeon, nurses and your father and my mom with questions. How is her muscle tone? Does she have a widow's peak? What about the muscle tone? Cleft pallet? Are you sure her muscle tone is fine? I hear, "She's beautiful" "Oh wow! She beat Clare!" "Whoa! 8.15!" (that is 8lbs 15oz which is pretty much 9lbs). On a side note, we joked later that you looked at the birth canal and said "There's no way I am fitting through that!" You never tried. Nora- you've been brilliant since utero. Just sayin.

During my peppering of questions, the surgeon had to put me back together and he started to "stuff" my organs back into my body. I'm sure it's more technical but that's how it felt. And that's how I started screaming about my shoulder hurting and feeling like I was going to throw-up.

Blackness. (they put me out in like 2 seconds flat)

I wake up in a recovery room where I see you. I have no idea who else is in the room. I see you all swaddled and wrapped in some one's arms (maybe my mom's?). I slur out "Hi Nora!" and I hear your father say, "Well, I guess her name is Nora."

I am very 'out of it.' The drugs made me very sleepy. But I was still very concerned about feeding and bonding with you. Everyone hovers with you over me but no one lets me actually hold you. I am becoming increasingly annoyed that I am not cuddling my baby. The creature that I spent 9 months curating for the world. I think they were worried that I was too drugged up and might drop you.

I insisted. After all, the pregnancy books said we had 2 hours before instinctual bonding would wear off. I thought I was out for 2 hours. But it was more like 20 minutes.

Anyway, they finally let me attempt to hold you with the lactation nurse from Australia tightly holding onto you. She was yapping away. I was nodding. No clue what she said. My mom says "she was excellent." Ah huh. I just want to hold my child and feed her. The nurse still yakking away, I take you as much as she will relinquish and show you my boob.

On you latch. Start sucking away. suck suck suck. Still sucking. Nurse still talking... not paying attention. Me and you. Like we had always been. There was no adjustment period. There were no awkward moments. You were mine and I was yours. It just was. No trying, no effort. You and I? We just are.

"What's her name?" the nurse asks... for records. Ummmm. Nora. Nora what? I look up at your father. What should her middle name be? Antoinette?
"No, Verna."
Are you sure?
"Yes, it has to be Verna"
Not Antoinette?
I nod my head in agreement. Too overcome with emotion to speak.

Nora Verna, welcome to our family.

We had many visitors. Daddy & Nonna (who were there for your birth), Grandma, Nonni, Aunt Katie, Uncle Kevin, Aunt Molly and Aunt Clare all came the night you were born, to welcome you into the world. After all, it's not everyday you get to meet a miracle. You, Noraverna, are a miracle.

On the night you were born I became a mom. Your mom.

And just so you can really understand how drugged I was... listen to my voice in this video on the night you were born.