Category Archives: Parenthood

Butterbean

We’ve had a bit of a rocky start, haven’t we, Baby Boy?

Sometimes it was my rigidity, my inability to stretch myself enough to include you in our “pre-baby” lives. We had a hard time finding a rhythm because of that inflexibility, and I’m sorry for that. I was robotic: make the bottle, change the diaper, wipe the spit-up, just trying to stay afloat.

Sometimes it was my anxieties that kept us adrift from each other, stomping down on my throat, making it impossible to breathe. That’s no fault of yours, Butterbean, but it’s crippled me, nonetheless. The sleepless nights, the constant worry, the uncontrollable emotions have all affected how I’ve been parenting, and I’m sorry for that. But I’ve been trying, everyday, to be better.

Sometimes it was the three-month battle with your severe reflux and colic that drove the wedge. No matter how much I rocked, and walked, and patted, and soothed, I could not make you happy, sweet boy. And in every waking moment, I felt like I was failing you.

But here’s the awesome part, and I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point, I fell head over heels in love with you. Maybe it was the first time you genuinely smiled at me…

Or maybe it was watching your big brother taking the time out of his busy life (practicing his Acrobat-Baseball Star-Pop Singer-Hair Stylist), to dote on you…

Or maybe it was watching you react to the world around you for the first time: reveling in the texture of your fingernails against my skin, blinking into the bright sunlight, singing along with my lullabies…

…but somehow, you wriggled your way deep into my heart. You are a treasure, Butterbean. You make me laugh every single day. And even though we sometimes still have our bad days, I keep reminding myself that everyone does. I can finally see what our future looks like, the four of us, together. I can see your personality beginning to peek through: all giggles paired with seriousness. You’ll be my quiet child, my contemplative child, the one who thinks long and hard before he leaps. But leap, you will, with your big brother in the lead. (I see the way you look at him. I get it, Butterbean, I adore him, too.)

I know we’re getting started a little late. I know the last three months have been hard, for all of us. But let me say to you, sweet boy, that I can’t wait to get to know you, now that we can clearly see each other without the fog of post-adoption depression in our way. Mommy loves you, Butterbean. Always.

I Miss Sleep

I’ve been awake since 4:45 a.m.

Not because I set my alarm to witness some fantastic cosmic phenomenon. Or because I was so excited about Tuesday that I sprang from my bed like a six-year-old on Christmas morning. Or even because I was so well-rested that my body decided that 4:45 seemed like a great time to wake up for the day.

Nay, friends. I’ve been awake since 4:45 because the Adorable Toddler thought it was time to drink precisely 2.7 ounces of milk and watch strange people open toys on YouTube. (Seriously, you guys. He watches this video on LOOP.)

I am what they call a “mombie.”

Forget about brains. I need a pumpkin spice latte, stat.

See, here’s the problem. We co-sleep. Now, before you go throwing your “How To Raise Your Child The Right Way” books at my face, I will staunchly stand up for my right to co-sleep with my child. At least, I will do so as long as it is safe and working for our family. And I’m starting to think it isn’t. You see, when he was teeny tiny, all he wanted was a snuggle buddy. A hand in my hair, the warmth of my body, and he would sleep happily through the night. However, lately, we’ve been experiencing 3 specific occurrences with our once-snuggly kid. Let me break it down for you like this:

#1: The Triple Lutz

This is when the Adorable Toddler, who is sleeping soundly, decides to corkscrew himself from one side of the bed to the other, taking covers, Mommy’s hair, and whatever else he can manage with him.

#2: The “Slap You Silly”

Bear in mind that this occurs while he is in a full, deep sleep. An errant elbow while he’s turning over, a hand in the face when he’s reaching for a handful of my hair, a swift kick to the throat when he begins to execute #1. I’m happy to report that there hasn’t been bloodshed….yet.

And finally, my favorite:

#3: The “Pull Your Hair, Pinch Your Nose, Pluck Your Ear” Phenomenon

Again, this happens completely in his sleep. He has no idea that his finger is up my nose or that his foot is on my forehead until I gently move him back to a more comfortable space for me. At this point, he wakes up with a wounded look on his face because I deigned to interrupt his slumber.

 

And so, with co-sleeping no longer being the most restful method in our home any more, methinks it may be time to transfer the Adorable Toddler to his own very comfortable, very expensive bed. I no longer sleep as much as I defend myself from the oncoming onslaught of limbs. In fact, I’m nursing a pulled hamstring. From co-sleeping. That’s, like, a serious athletic injury. However, no matter how long it takes me to limp through my day, something tells me that Moms don’t get to go on the IR list. Looks like I’ll have to do my stretches, fill my own water bottle with electrolytes, and figure out how to better protect myself from injury.

Maybe I should invest in a mouth guard.

Mombie, out.

A Letter to My Husband, on Mother’s Day

Dear Brian,

It’s here. That day I’ve dreamed of for much of my adult life–my first Mother’s Day. When you stop to compare this May with last, it seems almost impossible. Look at where we are now! Look how far we’ve come! We are blissful (if somewhat sleep-deprived) parents! We’ve become those people with a trunk full of baby supplies and toys, the ones who wallpaper Facebook with pictures and videos of our son, the ones who plan our lives around the happiness and well being of one, very small, very important person. I love being a Mom, so, SO much. I hope that’s as apparent to you as your happiness at being a Dad is to me.

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I know you’ve watched me in years past, struggling with the emotions of this day. Trying to find a balance between celebrating the moms in my life and the grief of not being one myself–I never quite managed it with the grace such a situation warranted. You stood beside me, reminded me that it was ok to cry, held me when I fell apart. I know you felt helpless, knowing I was so sad and there was nothing you could do to fix it. There are no words adequate enough to thank you for that support, throughout our many years of infertility struggles. So let me just put in black and white—I know how hard it was for you, too. I acknowledge with a full heart that I never felt alone on my path to motherhood. You were always there for me, holding my hand, swimming in that same sorrow, but somehow always managing to buoy me up when I needed it most.

I have so many things to thank you for. Thank you for going on this journey of parenthood with me. Thank you for being brave enough and strong enough for the both of us when it seemed we were destined to fail. Thank you for celebrating with me in our moments of triumph, but more importantly, in HIS moments of triumph. Thank you for telling our son how awesome his Mommy is, especially when you think I can’t hear you. Thank you for all the nights you’ve let me sleep just a little bit longer, specifically those when ten hours of sleep was the exact thing I needed most. Thank you for being wonderful, deliciously nerdy you: I get more joy out of watching you teach our son about everything superhero, and seeing how excited you are for what his nerdy little future holds. Thank you for being patient with me as I navigate this new path, for understanding why sometimes my brain is fried and my temper is short. Thank you for all the things you do that I never have to ask for: the poopy diapers, the long days at work, the longer commutes, the unwavering support, the unconditional love, the perfect way you parent. Thank you for being such an amazing Dad.

This new, seamless little routine we have going right now is so much more wonderful to me than I think anyone can understand. I look forward every single day to you coming through the door, to our dinner around the table as a family, to Jeopardy and bath time and evening giggles and games. We are most complete in those moments between dusk and dawn. We are one. We are family.

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In short, I wouldn’t be “Mom,” if you weren’t “Dad.” We are in this together, as ever. And I love you more today than in the almost 17 years I’ve known you. Today may be Mother’s Day, but in my heart, I’m celebrating us, and our family. Our gorgeous, perfect, awesome family.

I love you to the moon and back,
Abby

Look, Y’all! I Wrote A Blog! (One-Handed)

The last six (almost seven?!) months have passed by in an absolute whirlwind, with a million tiny spectacular moments suspended in time, like so many dragonflies in amber, waiting to be reexamined and  treasured in the months to come.

And the fact that it took me thirty minutes to think out and type that sentence with my left thumb, on an app from my phone, with a squirmy baby taking up four-fifths of my attention, is just one of those shiny moments I’ll remember in my old age. “Remember when I used to type one-handed?” I’ll say to no one in particular from the confines of my rocking chair, which probably won’t rock as much as levitate, and will come equipped with its own hologram television, WiFi internet connection (password protected), and locator beacon for my more widespread adventures.

I’m getting distracted. Let me start again.

I’m a mom. A fully-entrenched, pureed sweet potatoes in my hair, dark circles under my eyes, laughing till my sides hurt, worrying till my brain aches, honest to goodness, bonefide mom. I spend my days adoring this child, and my life couldn’t be more perfect.

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I have become well-versed in all things teething, submersed myself into the world of baby sign language and environment enrichment, and know way more about poop than any medical professional on the planet. (Pretty sure a doctor has to take a course called “Baby Poop: It’s Many Forms and Functions” in order to get their license. And yours truly could teach it.) But the one skill that has become the most valuable, and the one I use most frequently on a day to day basis, is the ability that moms across the globe have been perfecting for generations: that of being able to thrive with the limited use of only one hand.

In true Abby Gabs fashion, I leave you with a list of things I’ve managed to accomplish (nay — master) in my short time as a mother. Enjoy.

Things I’ve Done With One Hand (and Occasionally, My Toes)

* Picked up a dropped pacy/toy/blanket (most impressive when performed with my toes)
* Updated my Facebook status
* Perfected the “Mommy and Me” selfie

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* Made (multiple) daily cups of coffee
* In that same vein, made hundreds of perfectly toasted PopTarts (that covers the two main Mommyhood food groups)
* Cooked dinner (because warming up leftovers totally constitutes cooking)
* Pet a purring, sleeping kitty
* Loaded and unloaded the dishwasher
* Answered my phone (or, more likely, frantically smashed buttons or swiped the screen in order to silence my phone before it woke a sleeping baby.
* Rocked a restless kiddo in his car seat while blow drying my hair (this is another toes thing)
* Cheered maniacally (and relatively quietly) as my Carolina Panthers smashed their way into the upcoming Super Bowl!!
* Sorted, washed, dried, folded, and put away laundry.
* Caught an epic baby vomit with a burp cloth, singlehandedly avoiding a giant mess and therefore, more loads of laundry.
* Vacuumed. My whole apartment. Like a boss.
* Carefully maintained precious friendships with those I used to see far more regularly than I do now. (I’m a text messaging, Facebooking, digital-corresponding expert.)
* Blown my nose. (Not kidding. That’s Yoda-level parenting, people.)
* Surfed for a better television program. Not so impressive one handed. Circus-level impressive when done with toes.
* Written a blog.

While I’ve mastered the art of surviving with one hand (and sometimes toes,) the most important part of it all is finishing those tasks so I can finally, happily get back to the important stuff: playing tickle monster, steadying a wobbly baby who’s learning to crawl, snuggling him close when he wants to nap. Those things require both hands…and five-fifths of my attention. So til next time readers, stay tuned for the next installment of Abby Gabs: “Funny Things I Did With Only Four Hours of Sleep.”

Days to Remember

On the day I found out about you…
Daddy was at work, and so was I. The day was slow, and uneventful, with only the long Memorial Day weekend ahead to look forward to. We’d tried so hard to remain positive, and to hold each other up, as we made our way along this emotional, bumpy path toward you. But it seemed, on that day, that you would never come.

Until the phone rang.

When I heard the words, “She picked you and Brian,” you could have knocked me over with a feather. We had applied for you over two months previous to that phone call, and had given up hope that we would be chosen. We’d tried to forget about you, to move on with our lives. And then…this. I never even saw you coming, Baby Boy. Until that moment, you were a lovely dream; one that seemed far away and hazy around the edges.

And then I heard those words, and you came into sharp, gorgeous focus. And our hearts soared.

On the day I met you…
It was hot and sticky and unbearably humid outside. Once again, your Daddy was at work, and we’d planned to just get through the weekend so we could finally, FINALLY start packing our bags and getting organized for your big arrival. Your nursery was mostly done, your crib had been assembled. We’d stocked up the shelves with diapers and wipes and even a few onesies. We’d done almost everything we needed to, except get ourselves ready for the big day. We had three whole weeks, and were convinced we had the time.

Until the phone rang.

When I heard the words, “He’s coming! The baby is coming!” my heart nearly fell at my feet. You were coming 3 weeks early, and we were 3 hours away, and I was desperate to get to you before you made your debut into the world. I scrambled to pack while I called your Daddy, and your Grammy, and our lawyer, and our social worker, and everyone else I could think of. When your Daddy got home from work, we hugged, we cried, and we marveled at the miracle of you. And then we made the three hour trek to finally, finally meet you.

You were born while we were stuck in rush hour traffic. But two long, frustrating, heart-fluttering hours later, I saw your face for the first time.

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And my whole world changed.

On the day that we brought you home…
We’d spent ten days hovering over you, worrying about every feeding, every med, and every hiccup. Yearning to touch you when we couldn’t, wanting to cuddle you when you needed rest more than snuggles, made those days a mixture of grief and gratitude. We gazed in wonder at your tiny perfect fingers, the shape of your chin, the sound of your cries. We loved you before we ever even knew about you, but in those ten days, you made a permanent home for yourselves in the hearts of two people who wanted you more than you can ever know.

And when we finally heard the words, “He’s cleared for discharge,” we hugged, and we laughed, and we whispered in your ear.

“It’s time to go home.”

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As we pulled away from the hospital that had been starting to feel like home, your Daddy looked up into the rear view mirror and caught my eyes. There were tears shining there, and even though I couldn’t see his face, I could hear the smile in his voice when he said, “They actually let us leave with a BABY! Can you believe it??!”

And we laughed.

On the day you became official…
My heels clicked on the marble floor as we entered the court house. The reverence of the day settled over me like a warm sweater, and I felt the emotions well up in my chest as we passed by the giant statue of Lady Justice in the foyer. Your Gram pushed you in the stroller through the corridors, bustling with activity, and your Daddy and I followed in her wake. When the elevator doors opened, we met up with our lawyer–the woman who is solely responsible for bringing you into our lives. She quietly walked us through what to expect during the court proceedings, reminding us to be calm, telling us it was okay to be emotional. She went over the questions she would ask each of us on the stand, and your Daddy and I exchanged a glance of worry when we were told we would be asked to explain to the court why we wanted to adopt you.

“I’m going to cry,” I said.

“And that’s okay,” our lawyer said.

And so, in we went. I held you snuggled to my chest, and you slept as Daddy was sworn in, and gave his testimony. When asked “The Question,” he paused, gathered his thoughts, and said, “It’s just what we’ve always wanted–to be a family. We have so much love to give. And I know we’ll be awesome parents.”

I heard your grandparents sniffling behind me, and knew if I turned around, I would join them. So instead, I kissed your head, passed you to Daddy, and made my way up to the stand.

I had a whole speech planned, Kal. You would have been so proud of me–flowery words that would weave the tale of our journey to you in such a way that everyone would understand exactly what you mean to us. But when she asked me to explain why I wanted you, all of that went out the window. I simply shrugged, a single tear trickling down my cheek. I leaned forward to the microphone, took a deep breath, and answered the only way I knew how.

“Because he is everything.”

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And you are.

There have been so many days to remember in the three months you’ve been in our lives. Moments that left me breathless, that have solidified our bond. Quiet moments in the middle of the night when you wrap your fingers around mine and fall asleep. Laughter and giggles and moments of sheer joy that fill my heart with so much gladness. Those days will only continue, my love, my heart. My son. Welcome to the family.

An Announcement of Epic Proportions

If you’ve had a hankering for some Abby Gabs in recent months, you’ve been sadly disappointed. In fact, if you’ve visited my little website any time since mid-July, you’ve found yourself faced with the dreaded message “Site Not Found.”

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I’ve had many excuses for not writing before: vacation, writer’s block, lack of creativity. But never before have I left my precious site in “construction” mode. There’s never been a reason to do that before…until very recently. And believe me when I say that this time, I’ve had a really, really good reason for being MIA from the blogosphere.

Readers, meet ‘Kal.’

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This precious baby boy came into our lives over the summer, and I can honestly say that we have NEVER been happier. *Cue angelic harmonies of a full choir, along with 100 white doves.*

Kal is sweet-natured, happy as a clam, and is obviously the most gorgeous child on the face of the planet in all of time and history.

Obviously.

When you are finally given everything you’ve ever wanted, after years of hoping and dreaming…well, readers, I can only describe it as that joyful feeling you got in the center of your chest as a child on Christmas morning. It’s that fluttery, happy, excited, slightly dizzying feeling, when the possibility of the day lies ahead of you, and you know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it’s going to be good. Like, really, really good. The only difference? It’s a perpetual state of being. Even in my most exhausted state–when I’ve had less than 3 hours of sleep, and my nerves are frazzled, and I haven’t eaten since Tuesday, and my hair looks like a furry animal has nested there–when I finally place this sweet, sleeping angel into his bed, and I look down on his cherubic face, I feel like I could fly.

I have learned a few important things about myself since finally joining the sorority known as “Motherhood.”

  1. I can function on about 4 hours of sleep, and 6 hours straight feels like I’ve been on vacation in Jamaica for a week.
  2. If I thought I was capable of pulling funny faces for the sake of getting a laugh on this blog, it’s nothing compared to the faces, sounds, and silly things I will do to make my son laugh.
  3. There are fewer things in this world that will make me swoon like a gummy baby grin. Seriously. Kittens are cute, but NOTHING is cuter than a toothless grin. Especially because they’re ALWAYS 100% genuine.
  4. Coffee and Pop-Tarts aren’t just a way of life, they are necessary for the survival of mankind.
  5. I’ve finally found my true calling in life. No, not just motherhood. But Baby Stylist. I’m a onesie guru.

The one thing that hasn’t been entirely surprising to me is the brand new love and respect I feel for Brian. Y’all know how much I adore this man—I make no bones about it here on this space, or anywhere else in the universe, for that matter. But seeing him with Kal, watching him shower this kid with absolute adoration, overhearing the conversations about all the fun they’re going to have in the coming years…well. I love Brian more now than I ever have before. Seeing him finally become the father he was meant to be is more than a simple, happy thing.  It is my greatest pleasure. The song in my soul. It’s…everything.

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That little popping sound you just heard? It was my heart exploding into a million little pieces. Holy crap, y’all. I adore them so.

To all of you who prayed for us, who donated money and stuff to sell, who gave us your precious time to help us raise the funds we’d need, to those who sent out positive vibes and energy into the universe in the hopes that we would finally, FINALLY find our baby—-from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you. The universe heard your pleas, and as of today, October 16, at 11 AM, our little family has OFFICIALLY grown by one set of adorable feet.

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Cutest toes on earth.

Stay tuned for the changes coming to Abby Gabs in the coming weeks and months. Actually, it won’t be that much different than what you’re used to. You can still expect funny, heartfelt posts from me about the goings-on in our lives, maybe the occasional tear-jerker post about all the many emotions that being a new mother can bring. Some of my posts will make sense; most of them probably won’t, at least until we’re sleeping through the night again. The only difference? We’re now a party of 3.