Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The good stuff

Clearly, nothing is normal while you're in the hospital, even less so than when we were in Maine. For right now, you're basically a puddle of baby in the middle of thousands - if not hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of dollars of equipment. Still, I'm fighting pretty hard to keep in mind the fact that you were making some amazing leaps in the few weeks we were home. You had everyone more than impressed at your growth and progress, so I'm going to dwell on those for a few.

Right after we got home, you started smiling like crazy. I'm content to tell myself that you were just happy to be home and free from medical meddling, but of course that might have just been the right time for such a developmental milestone. I'm not sure if this is a "normal" baby thing, but you tended to only smile when you were in this one particular alert, perky mood. When you were, however, you could have minutes of grinning and cooing. Even if this only happened once a day, it was still just about my favorite thing. You've been smiling in your sleep since you were just about a month old, which is still adorable and wonderful, but the intention-laden smiles that start in your eyes...those are something else.

Obviously things are different while you're medically sedated, but I'm increasingly under the impression that you are a VERY quiet little dude. It was only since you got home that you started making any kind of conversational noises, and even those have been pretty quiet and rare. You really don't cry unless you have a good reason (hunger, pain, extreme irritation, a massive deuce in your diaper, etc...) Aren't really little babies supposed to be, y'know, noisy? I mean, I don't WANT you to be loud, but the noises you make are just so amazing that I want more of them! (I'm sure I'll be kicking myself in a few months for even thinking that.) You've got a few specific little happy noises that you make, including a very pronounced "mmm-gah!" and a sort of chirp, to say nothing of your very distinct cries.

Some of the nurses at Maine Med were giving your Dad and I weird looks when we teased you for just whining when nothing is wrong, but seriously dude. "Who's a little crybaby? Are you gonna have a little baby cry?" has become a fairly standard response to your "I'm just irritated," or "I want something that you're already working on getting me," cries. I think we're about not-dribbly and baby talky as parents can realistically get with a tiny baby, but I think a lot of that is in response to you. You have some of the most mature facial expressions I've ever seen on a baby - hell, a small child - and you are NOT afraid to use them. I've seen indignant, irritated, judgmental, flabbergasted, disgruntled, incredulous, contemplative, appraising, furious, playful, and only just recently something that I can confidently call happy. Maybe I just know too many adjectives, but I'm fairly confident that I've even seen sardonic a few times.

About a week ago, you started holding your head up on your own. You've been flailing for weeks, and have been able to adjust your position if you were on your tummy or being held upright, but on Saturday afternoon, you just went for it. In the morning, you still needed a hand at the back of your head to make sure you didn't lurch backwards and lose control of your head (which, incidentally, is only in the 10th percentile for size, so it's not like it's too crazy heavy). In the afternoon, I picked you up and when you bounced your head back a little, it just stayed. It seems like being able to look around and choose what you are seeing makes you really happy.

Saturday - of course, just before you end up being intubated and sedated for days - you started to actually pay attention to high-contrast images in a book. You were absolutely fascinated by this one book of black and white images of animals, which was so massively comforting. I've been terrified from the beginning that you would lag developmentally from having so many days under sedation, but you seemed to be meeting all the targets everyone wanted to see. I can only hope that continues after this next round of time spent out of the world; I don't think your Dad and I will let you lose any ground.

There are all sorts of other magical baby things that you've been doing that I know I don't want to forget, but I'm honestly pretty drained and the word-working section of my brain is getting kind of...not good. What've we got...

  • Your sneezes are pretty much the cutest expulsions of bodily fluid ever. You open your eyes in a vaguely confused expression, then when you let a sneeze go, your whole head rattles around for a second, leaving you looking like you really just don't know where you went for a second. Best sneezes ever.
  • Sometimes it sounds like you're deflating. You'll take a deep breath, hold it for a second or two, and then let it all out with a little sigh. My favorite times when you do this are when you have gas, and when you're settling in to sleep.
  • You are the greatest sleep snuggler on the face of the planet. Your favorite places to sleep are the crook of my arm, right up against me, and propped up against my chest, but regardless of where you are, you like to either burrow in to get closer or grab onto some part of me with your tiny vice-like fingers. There is a high incidence of me getting drooled on (some of my shirts have giant crusted-up patches on the shoulders), and you sometimes wallop me in the face with your head when you're adjusting your position, but whatever. After that, you settle in and are just happy as a clam.
  • Sometimes you click your tongue. I don't know why you do this, but it's really stinking cute.
  • Every now and then, you get really excited and kick your feet like you're trying to go swimming. This is pretty funny because you don't yet have the muscle control to actually move yourself anywhere, but it seems to make you awfully happy to make the attempt. 
  • Just in the last week, you started to get pretty consistent in your efforts to make conversation. If you made a noise, one of us would parrot it back, and you typically would make another noise, which we would repeat, and so forth. This elicits smiles.
  • Your range of expressions is incredible, as I mentioned, but you have one particular face that slays me. I think this happens when you're inquisitive or irritated, but you purse your lips in such a way that your upper lip comes to a little point in the middle. I call it your "bird face." 
  • Oh, do you fart. 
  • Burping you is one of the funnest and funniest things to do. Not only can you let loose with some pretty insane belches, but you make an absolutely hysterical face while someone is thumping your back. Your Nana and Papa have pictures; you're like an irate chipmunk.
  • Sometimes when you smile, you try to turn your face away like you're being coy. It slays me.
I know there's more, but that's the good stuff I'm trying to keep at the front of my mind. I really do know how dire this situation is, and that's part of what makes it so difficult to watch the videos we have of you just squirming around and being normal, but sometimes they're comforting. Until/unless you become a parent, I don't think you will know the crippling love and fear that your Dad and I are feeling, but it's there, simultaneously crushing and sustaining us.

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