Abby: One Month

I figured I should probably post these before Abby turns two months. Can you tell it’s been a little hectic around here? Although Josh’s job is technically 8-5, realistically he works late most nights and at least one day on the weekends. The demand ebbs and flows, but right now it’s particularly intense.

We’re all adjusting to life with two kids and, honestly, Abby has made it incredibly easy. Seriously, she is a very easy going infant. And JP loves her so much that they’ve both made this smooth as it can be. Abigail eats and sleeps well and is content most of the time. If she isn’t, I wear her and she falls right asleep. Of course, now that I’m posting this for the world to see Abby will sense that I’m bragging and bring me back to reality. She’s looking out for my sanctity.

As I said, she eats and sleeps well so far. By that I mean, I put her down around 9 and she usually wakes up once in the middle of the night and then again around 6 or 7. She usually wants to go back to sleep after that, but sometimes that’s hard since the rest of us are trying to get the day going. Sorry, Abbers.

Abby started smiling almost right away and now warms our hearts regularly with her affectionate grins. She has these eyes that make me feels like she KNOWS me. She looks in deeply. So far she is a good traveler in her car seat. There’s really not much to report – we just all really love the little honey bee! and I think she loves us, too! And gosh, she is cute! Glad to see her cheeks are coming in strong. Love you, baby girl!

Adventures of a Seven Month Old

John-Paul should…

Get a Delta credit card and cash in on some frequent flyer miles. He made his third flight to the Twin Cities to witness the marriage of John and Christine Goerke. Christine is a dear friend from Grand Forks. She has one of the kindest, purest, gentlest souls in all the land and reuniting with her (and Amanda!) was a breath of fresh air. John and Christine’s beautiful wedding filled our hearts with joy. Watching them embark on this new season of life made our summer! Leaving the reception, I had tears in my eyes because I have so missed close friendships while starting over in a new place. Being far from the friendships where I grew up, leaving behind friendships to attend 3 different universities, moving away from best college friends, leaving dear ones in Grand Forks…it’s hard on my heart (sorry JP, I’m hijacking your 7 month into a mommy update). Keeping up with long distance friendships is tough when I’m also trying to be present in the new places that I live. But being with my sweet GF friends reminded me that balance between staying connected and staying present is important. Friends are precious.

While in Minnesota, we went up to Bemidji and visited Jackie and Grant. We stayed at their cabin once before, when Josh returned from his deployment. Oh the good times! We sat out by the lake, went for a boat ride, sipped wine and enjoyed alllllllll the catching up we had to do. From wedding stories (congrats Madeline and Carson!) to long discussions about youth ministry and sharing about John-Paul…And laughs. Many laughs! What a blessed visit.

Unfortunately, there were weather issues when we went back to the MSP airport. Our flight got delayed so much that we missed our connection and they couldn’t rebook our flight for two days. It was a stressful moment and an exhausting end to the trip. But we’re so grateful that Christine’s parents took us in for a couple days. Thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Thelen!

After we finally got home, we had a day of recovery and then a drive up to Albany, NY for Father’s Day and Josh’s first triathlon of the summer. Everyone made it home (except for Dan! We missed you!) and good times were had by all.

John-Paul has…

6 teeth! SIX! We are just waiting on two more bottom teeth, and the gums are already swollen there so I’m guessing he’ll have all 8 by 8 months. (or at least I hope so, we could really use a break from teething!)

Gone for his first swim. He started out a little unsure of the water, but seemed to enjoy himself by the end. Josh hopes to keep up his swimming lessons so they can do a relay triathlon together.

Been to two weddings and gone on three round trip plane rides

Developed a little bit of stranger danger…but not consistently.

Started taking longer naps most of the time

Decided that rolling from his stomach to his back is something he is not interested in doing. He just stopped a while back and hasn’t picked it up again? Weird?

John-Paul loves…

Green beans, scrambled eggs, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, yogurt and strawberries and cheese

Jumping in his jump-up

The Raffi song “Ducks Like Rain”

Scratching and pinching my face

Sleeping in the car

Family Milestones

If you’ve known me or read this blog over the course of the last few years, you know that February 5 is a special day in the Dill household. Call us sickeningly sentimental, but it is the anniversary of the day we first met in 2005. So! This year marks 10 years since our awkward teenage selves encountered for the first time. And since JP was born on the 5th of the month…a happy collision of celebration has occurred; John-Paul is 3 months today! So here’s a grainy family photo to commemorate.

JP giving lots of cares.

JP giving lots of cares.

Since I’ve written our story before, I figured I’d take the opportunity to write a JP update! See the links above for a blast through the past if that’s more your jam right now.

Hurdles we’ve overcome

Like I’ve said, life with a newborn is hard. Not because the tasks are difficult, but because they are constant and repetitive. Now that JP is a little bigger, he can go longer between feedings which allows me to get off the couch more. And because he can go longer between feedings, he sleeps longer at night. He slept all the way through the night (kind of) once, from 9pm – 4am. I go to bed with him usually, so that meant I got a full 7 hours (YOU MOMS KNOW HOW MUCH FANTASTIC THIS IS). But even on the nights that he doesn’t sleep all the way through, he often gives me 4-6 hours at a time, which feels like a miracle of miracles after waking every two hours for a while. I do think, however, that we’ve had it pretty easy. JP was never a crier, and so even when he did get up he only cried until I picked him up and nursed him. He usually went right back to sleep without much of a fight (not always, but usually).

He also only poops about once every other day now, so that makes my day to day a little less messy. (My apologies, future JP. These are the things a mother’s diary are made of.) (Ironically, as I work on finishing up this post, JP gifted me with a massive diaper bomb.)

Also, we can check off first flight alone with an infant off the hurdles list. That hurdle contains sub hurdles, including but not limited to: how to pee when traveling alone with an infant, carrying two bags and a baby through Chicago O’Hare, dealing with the rudest staff from United Air (that’s for another post, but if I can avoid it I will NOT be flying United again), and a 3 hour time change. But it was all very much worth it because I had the pleasure of introducing John-Paul to these fine people and many others – again that’s for another post!

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Things I miss about John-Paul as a newborn

I miss my little old man baby! My little Benjamin Button! That puffy, wrinkly face! The wrinkled up forehead. His scrawny legs, oh, the scrawny legs! Those have been gone for a while. Mostly though… I miss the way his top leg would shoot out straight like an arrow when he was getting latched on to eat. Now he’s latches much easier (praise the Heavens) and nursing doesn’t seem to require as much focus from either of us – which is AWESOME! But I’ll miss that little, straight leg.

What I’m enjoying right here, right now

John-Paul loves two things: Getting his diaper changed and bath time. It’s funny, because he used to hate both of these things during his first month of life. Now, I get that boy on his changing pad, take his diaper off and he transforms into the Lord of the Dance. I actually enjoying changing him because he is so happy – I’m talking huge grin, flinging his arms, looks like he’s running a race kind of happy. I can’t help but laugh and let him live sans-diaper as long as possible. In his baths, he is content, relaxed and causally splashes his little feet around. Then he’ll look up at me and give me a content little smile that melts away all the frustrations of the day.

John-Paul tends to keep his long, skinny hands in little fists…but it cracks me up because they’re not just in fists – he keeps his thumb tucked between his pointer and middle finger (making the letter T in ASL). Unknowingly, he also signs A and S and, on occasion, the letter N. He just waves those little letters around all day. His palms get all sweaty because his little hands are balled up so much. Ah, I love him.

Speaking of his hands, (really, how much can she  talk about his hands?) he is also starting to use his hands more (when not in fists), so when I feed him he’ll grab onto my shirt or rub my side and it just kills me with the sweetness! Sometimes when I’m holding him upright to burp him, he is so relaxed and wraps his little arms around  my neck, and I want to stop time.

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When JP was a newborn, I felt weird talking to him or reading him books. Now that he responds with facial expressions, it is so much easier! He even will look at the books as I read to him – and that makes it feel like I’m actually doing something good for him instead of just talking to myself. It’s easier to get motivated to actively parent, rather than sitting there and watching him all day.

What I look forward to in the upcoming months

I’m excited to watch him learn how to interact with the world around him. He has already started to recognize and respond to Josh and I; He follows us with his eyes around the room, and looks for us when he hears our voices. When we sing and dance, his eyes light up and he gets a huge smile on his face – it’s precious. But I’m excited for him to start reaching, grabbing, and interacting with his surroundings. He’s starting to, and I’ll expect he will more as his head gets more stable and he’s able to roll and sit up. More than anything…I can’t wait for him to laugh! He laughs a little in his sleep and it’s so darling. I just know his laugh is coming…and soon!

I am so thankful to have met my J, and that our love has grown so much that this new person has come into existence. It’s certainly not easy! But as Blessed Mother Teresa said, “For love to be real, it must cost- it must hurt – it must empty us of self.” JP needs me, needs us, around the clock. That costs (sleep, energy, independence, flexible schedule…), it hurts (hello, BIRTH and exhaustion) and it definitely makes me empty myself (because I don’t always feel like doing the things I need to do)…and then Christ fills me up with more love! He gives us back whatever we give tenfold. Thank you, Jesus! You are good; You are trustworthy.

4 Weeks.

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Today I am 4 weeks old!

To my Mother’s delight, I can now breastfeed exclusively in the cradle hold! Big victory. I stopped needing the shield a few days ago, and now I want to eat all the time!

I met my Grammy, Heidi, and she spoiled me and the parents for 10 days. I’m pretty sure Mom forgot how to change my diaper because Gmama and Dad changed me so much. Speaking of which, I got real good at peeing on them (and my clean diapers, and the walls, and the carpet…) while they changed me. I even got Gmama right on the forehead! #igotaimyall

My cord stump fell out, and to celebrate Mama and Gmama gave me a bath! Which I loved. Not. I cried the whole time. But I looked really cute in my flower.

Gmama and Mama took me grocery shopping but I don’t really remember because I slept in the cart the whole time while they debated over what kind of stuffing to get. Another day, however, they took me to Michael’s and I had a mini meltdown and mom had to nurse me in the car. I figure it’s giving her good practice for the future. You’re welcome, mom.

I had lots of tummy time and my neck is getting super strong. Sometimes when my parents are trying to burp me I like to fling my head around and pretend I’m going to jump off of them. Makes them nervous, keeps them on their toes.

We also went to Target and my Mom put me in the ring sling…with the help of the nicest stranger of all time who saw that mom was struggling to put the sling on correctly. This woman, Brittany, helped her get the sling on and gave her some helpful pointers. Thank goodness, cause my Mom was really riding the struggle bus.

It was a brief meeting, but I also got to meet my Grandma, Liesl – daddy’s mommy. I’ll get to see her and Papa John more at Christmas! I also got to meet “Crazy Uncle Matt” and he said in the future that we’ll hang out, have a brew and that I’ll help him pick up chicks like Peyton Manning in the United Way sketch.

I’ve taken a liking to waking up at 2, 4 and 6am. I’d wake up, get changed, nurse for about 30 minutes and then mom would reswaddle me and get me back to sleep. I live a pretty cushy life, but Mom on the other hand was not sleeping much. I’ve had pity on her though and have only woken up around 1:30 and 5:30 the last few days. Then I’ll wake up around 7am again and Mom will cuddle and nurse me until she gets motivated enough to get out of bed. I usually reward her with involuntary smiles and other cute faces. She seems to appreciate that…at least from what I can see with my eyes that only see a few inches in front of my face.

This week is also an exciting week because I get to meet my Uncle Mike, Aunt Rachel and cousin Sophia…at my baptism! I am getting baptized on December 7. We can’t wait for family time and for me to receive the Sacrament of Baptism!

A word (too many) from Mama:

What a few weeks we’ve had a here! Call me cliche but…I can’t believe that JP is 4 weeks old and how much he has grown already. It’s hard to measure because he hasn’t really hit any official milestones, but each morning he seems a little bigger and his face looks a little older. There are other small things, like he’ll lift his head up more, or respond to my voice by moving his eyes my direction. And I just can’t believe it! I’ll miss my tiny guy, but I’m really looking forward to the exciting moments ahead as he grows.

Also, I had no idea that Josh wrote his blog post on the birth experience. I’m so glad that he shared his perspective as a father. We like to tease that Josh has a heart two sizes too small because of his hard exterior…but nothing is further from the truth, as you can see in his writing. He’s given me alot to think about from his words, but more than anything, I am just so grateful to have as kind, thoughtful and loving husband as Josh. He’s an amazing father (he changed ALL the diapers last night when I wasn’t feeling well) and it’s such a joy to experience falling more in love with each other and with JP every day. Not that it’s all gumdrops and sugar cookies, but we find it’s more helpful to focus on the positive.

Another great blessing. My mom was with us for ten glorious (GLORIOUS) days. And those ten days passed way, way too quickly. She was so helpful, kind and understanding…and basically spoiled us rotten with all the meals and helping out with keeping the house tidy. Seriously, she is the best. She has mastered the art of always answering my questions and offering helpful tips without giving an overwhelming amount of advice. She’s also so overjoyed with JP, and that makes my heart happy to see how much she loves him. She so generously watched JP one night so that Josh and I could go to dinner and see Mocking Jay. It was a much needed break, but by the time the movie was over I was missing JP and just wanted to see him again! It was perfect timing, too, because he was getting hungry and the syringes weren’t cutting it anymore. It was so great to have her with me as JP and I ventured out of the house for some of the first times together…I felt too nervous to attempt that on my own. Now I feel that I could manage if I needed to go somewhere with him, but I’m still hesitant. But I’m feeling the need to get out and at the very least get a little exercise. But now the weather is turning and so it’s even harder to motivate…so we’re working on that. Slowly. Which is ok. But back to the main point…which is that my mom is amazing.

Also…Yay for the breastfeeding! We had a doctor’s appointment while my mom was here, and JP’s weight was GREAT. He was gaining more grams per day than the doctor hoped. Since JP is (obviously) non-verbal at the moment and cannot even express in body language that he is happy, having the doctor tell me “good job, mom” and affirming that I am indeed nourishing my baby gave me a huge boost of confidence. I just needed to know that he was getting what he needed to keep hanging in there.

Overall, I feel like we’re getting closer to hitting some sort of stride. It’s amazing how challenging (and LONG) those first few weeks can feel, but now that they’re behind us, it doesn’t seem so bad. It’s easier to see the big picture…and thinking about having other kids isn’t as overwhelming because I have a sense of what living with a newborn is like and what kind of trials can arise. I think mornings are the toughest part right now. Sometimes it’s just hard to get out of bed and start the routine all over, because it can be monotonous (and like I said, I’m not getting out much so there’s no break from the cycle). JP is actually pretty good with bedtimes, and we have a pretty decent routine for the evening hours…with which he usually cooperates. Bless him.

Anyways, that’s enough rambling mom stories for a 4 week post. I hope you’re having a blessed Advent!

One Week Old.

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Today I am one week old! Mostly I eat, sleep and make messy diapers, but here are a few other things that I’ve done…

  • I also went for a short ride in my ring sling while mama took the shortest walk of her life.
  • I rode in the car to visit Karen, the “milk maven” aka lactation consultant. I’ve been practicing breastfeeding, and it’s getting better…but I’m still little and mama and I have some work to do before we’re completely off of the syringes!

Mama feels…

Mostly good, both physically and emotionally. I’m surprised at the resiliency of the female body. My body just housed a human for 9 months, pushed that new life out and now sustains it with nourishment…meanwhile it is also healing from the last 9 months and from birth. It’s really incredible. But in the monotony of trying to breastfeed, struggling, pumping, feeding and changing diapers…it’s easy to forget how miraculous this process is. It’s also easy to get discouraged about not getting out. I want to feel like a normal human, but I just can’t really right now…With the feeding routine we’re trying to keep up here and my body recovering, it doesn’t leave me much time or energy to do anything outside the house. This is probably the hardest part. I know that JP won’t be a newborn forever, and so I try to simply enjoy all the little moments with him, especially his silly faces, scrawny newborn appendages and his sweet newborn cuddles. He just started smiling a little bit in the last day. Mostly it’s at involuntary moments, like as he is falling asleep…but it still warms my heart. I don’t want to wish this time away, but I do look forward to hitting our stride and being able to get out and about.

I went to an independent lactation consultant named Karen Foard. Talk about a knowledgable and kind woman! I mean, sure, it’s pretty strange to go to someone’s home and take off your shirt to have them watch you breastfeed your child….but it was totally worth it! She shared so much information with me about breastfeeding and more about babies. Although we’re still struggling even after our session, we have made forward progress. Most importantly I have more knowledge about why JP is struggling and can work to make adjustments without doing all the guesswork.

I cry alot, but not because I’m sad. Just because my heart has changed so much in this last week (and hormones. for real.). I may be tired and frustrated with certain aspects of my new role, but my tears actually come from thinking about other mothers who are out there, mothers who lack support but have all the same (and more!) worries that I do. I think about the persecuted Christian women of the middle East who are pregnant and the trials they will face as they bring a new life into the world. I think about mothers in my own city, state, country that struggle with loneliness because they don’t have a loving or supportive partner. My heart breaks for them, because I know how hard all of this is WITH a caring husband, family and friends. In the spirit of these concerns, I want to provide you with a link to the Saint Gianna’s Maternity Home and encourage you to make a donation if your heart feels so moved. Check out their mission – they’re pretty wonderful.

Daddy feels…

A little overwhelmed. Josh has a big test in his hardest class tomorrow. Being in grad school comes with its perks; namely, Josh doesn’t have to be at work at 8am, and he is able to help out a little bit in the mornings as I try to get ready for the day. The hard part is that he, of course, does not get any paternity leave. So we’re trying to make this big adjustment without really any solid time sorting it out together at home. I know there are other people in much more challenging circumstances! But that’s where we’re at right now and I know that it’s hard on Josh.

Other than that, Josh loves being a daddy. Just as I knew he would be, he’s so wonderful at helping out with JP when he can. Even after long, hard days of studying, Josh will still wake up and help get the milk syringes ready while I try and calm JP. When Josh comes home, he’s so excited to see us and to spend time with his baby boy. He changes diapers – even the THREE massively explosive diaper bombs this morning (literally went through the sleeping gown, and his swaddling blanket into the bed. Welcome to the world of bodily fluids). God bless him.

Overall…

Things are going really well. John Paul has a relatively calm disposition. He only ever REALLY cries when he’s hungry and we’re struggling to get him to latch. Other than that, he mostly sounds like a little kitten mewing to let us know he wants us to hold him or that he needs to be changed. Right now he naps ALOT, and usually sleeps for 2-3 hours at a time during the night. He’s such a sweet boy and I am seeking to live as presently as I can to enjoy all these first moments.

I also want to thank everyone who has sent gifts and MEALS!!! to us during the last week. We are immensely grateful! It makes such a difference to be able to focus on JP in the evenings when we’re both home and not have to worry about food. Seriously, thank you.

**Also, A DISCLAIMER TO OUR FUTURE CHILDREN: I know you probably feel like you got the short end of the stick – mom doesn’t write weekly updates for me or take 2,756 pictures of me in a week! – but know that we love you 🙂