Friday, January 30, 2009

Future Butterfly

I know every mom does it, but I've found myself just staring at this little girl for...well...minutes at a time and wondering what she's going to do and be when she gets older. I wonder who she's going to marry and what she's going to enjoy and if her hair will be curly or straight. I wonder if it's even possible for her to be as sweet and wonderful as her older brother.

And then I stop. Because I don't remember wondering those things about him. Granted, at the time I'd been through like 5 of the 7 major life changes (let's see: moving (3 times in the States and twice between different countries in the course of about 18 months); finish a degree; start/end a job (did both twice in that same 18-ish months); marry; pregnancy and birth of a baby - the only ones I didn't do were a death and a divorce) in just over a year so I was a little overwhelmed with catching up to life. Plus, AJ just didn't sleep. Comparing him to his sister, he _REALLY_ didn't sleep. For months. Partly my fault. Mostly just him.

But back to my point. I was a "little" out of it by the time AJ came along and basically just in survival mode. That doesn't leave much room for day dreams. But I also think it was because I had no idea what to expect, so no idea what to day dream about for him.

With Joanna, I've seen how great her big brother is, I've had a little more time to figure life out again, I'm healing MUCH faster, and I'm getting WAY more sleep. As a result, I have the time and ability to dream dreams for my little girl.

I think it's more than that though. When I look at AJ, I get an overwhelming sense of exuberant joy and bone-deep sweetness. When I look at Joanna, I get an overwhelming sense of possibility. I think it's just intrinsically who she is and who he is. Even right now when all she does is eat, sleep, poop, cry, and burp (and hold her head up a little and follow her mama with her eyes!), she just exudes possibility in a way that AJ never did and still doesn't, despite his obvious intelligence. That's not to say that he's not going to make a mark in this world or that she's not going to be sweet in her own way, just that their natures shine through even before they take their first steps or say their first words.

I think I had this idea that babies are blank slates who are mostly shaped by their environment. I mean, sure, we all have our own unique natural leanings, but I guess I just thought that Joanna would resemble her brother more at this point.

Geez...this blog post has been percolating in my head for a week now and it's still all rambley. Sorry. Hopefully y'all won't think I'm putting down either of my children because I'm not. I'm excited to see what the future holds for both of them and I expect great things of both of them (although my definition of "great" may be different than most)...I'm just in awe of their uniqueness, even when all you can see is their head sticking out of a "baby burrito" (or more romantically, a cocoon enveloping the caterpillar while it metamorphoses into a butterfly - but baby burrito is funnier and quicker to type).

I dunno...maybe that's why her middle name is Hope.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Thankful for a Happy Heart

As AJ's gotten older we've noticed more and more how distinct his personality is, not just from mine and his father's, but from what we'd expect from his environment too. One example is him saying "thank you." He started doing it with no prompting from us (I was just getting to the point of thinking about starting to encourage it). And to be perfectly honest, he said it for several days at least before his pediatrician understood him and said "you're welcome." His own mama and daddy didn't even understand that was what he was saying until someone else pointed it out. Nice.

Anyway, when I was so sick while pregnant, he was amazingly sweet as I would "pray to the porcelain god." Again, without any prompting, he'd come up behind me and hug me or put an arm around my shoulders or pat my back (after he'd try to spit into the toilet himself - he _is_ a boy, after all).

And then when his baby sissy came along, he was again the sweetest big brother imaginable.

But then he broke his leg and we were sure we were in for the worst. Here he was, newly 2 (with all the "joy" the 2s bring), newly de-throned as the only child, mama still can't pick him up, all the grandparents and aunts are back home, and daddy's back at work like normal....and then he breaks his leg (or something).

We were at a friend's birthday party at a gymnastics gym and VNB and AJ were bouncing on the trampoline. They both came down at about the same place at about the same time and VNB got the good bounce while AJ got the hard crash and immediately started crying. When he hadn't stopped for most of an hour and wouldn't put weight on his right leg (despite a complete lack of bruising, swelling, or apparent tenderness in any of his joints), we went to the ER. They took x-rays, didn't see much, but thought they _might_ have seen something just below his right knee, so they said it was broken and put him in a splint cast.

Until they told us it was broken, we were still contemplating the possibility that maybe he'd just jammed it or something and was not "faking" it per se, but just afraid to use it again. Then we realized that he'd lain still on the hospital bed without complaining for most of three hours. I don't think AJ has sat still for three hours cumulatively in his entire life. Seriously. We knew then that there was something wrong.

So for the next two days, AJ continued to prove that there was something wrong by being content to sit still on the couch. Granted, we were watching his favorite DVDs and waiting on him hand and foot (and he was getting a constant flow of Infant's Motrin), but still...he just sat there happily for two days.

The ER referred us to an orthopedist who, between cell phone calls, from his 5-sec glance at the x-rays, decided that the leg wasn't broken, but figured that since AJ still wouldn't put weight on it that we should cast it anyway (the next diagnostic step would be to sedate him and give him an MRI - which might not show anything either). So even though there was _still_ no swelling or bruising, we went ahead and got him casted (he picked blue because that's the only color he'll say without being prompted to repeat you).

It took about a day of him belly crawling for a) us to figure out that casts and pergo don't do well together without some traction, and b) him to figure out his new balance and start walking again.

There have been a few spills (although for the most part he immediately picks himself up and tries again at whatever he was attempting), and a few tears (he _is_ 2, after all), but mostly he's just gone with the flow and done it with a happy heart.

I can't tell you how humbling that is for me as a parent. I mean, how could we possibly have taught him that in the past two years? I can't see how, so I can only attribute it to God's perfect design of my little boy. My sweet, loving, happy little boy.