Four months was too long between our family visits!! The last time we were all together in one place was back on the family Disney Cruise vacation in March. Now here we were in August finally reuniting and welcoming a new member into our family fold, Mr Henry! Jessie and the littles arrived first on Wednesday night, followed by my parents, and lastly my brother joined the group. We had a week together to connect, share, love, laugh, and explore. It went by in a blink but while we were together is was a perfect visit. Watching the littles play with Henry was heart warming. They were so interested in him. It was clear that they would be even faster friends once Henry is a little older to play with them more. We played hard in the mornings at home and went out on little outings during the day and relaxed together at home at night. It was a sweet visit and I am truly looking forward to our next one in December for Christmas (although, I am sure there will be many Skype sessions in between).
Hanging out in our pjs at home were some of my favorite times. The littles and Henry played, and played and played and the adults watched, joined in, and connected with one another over coffee. It was mellow but exactly what we all needed.
We spent a beautiful evening at a nearby park when the air was cool and crisp and then planned our next day to be spent out at Belkin Family Farm in Natick where we picked nectarines and apples and explored the property together. It was a great excursion for us and the littles who were so interested in picking fruit and tasting it straight off the branch.
This past week was very special for Henry. He had the opportunity to meet his uncle Bryan, aunt Jessie, and the littles. He also spent time with Mema and Pepa and met his auntie Kaelin too. Many of our wonderful family and friends came together both to visit and to celebrate the little man’s christening. After a week of spending time together in the city and around the neighborhood, we topped off the wonderful visit (which I will blog about in a separate post) with a little sprinkle of holy water. The day was beautiful, the service special, and being together as a family the best of all. It is moments like these that make the distance between us hard, but the time we get together truly special.
Henry is a sleep champion! It didn’t seem this way when he was first born though. That first night in the hospital after giving birth to him at 9PM, the nurse left us in our room two hours later and we were alone. Completely alone with this little person whom we knew “nothing” about and who was belligerent about having left the warm, dark world he had come to know. David and I sat in that room clueless. I remember feeling totally helpless as this little screaming baby turned red in my arms and I frantically tried to comfort him. Babies I had babysat for always seemed to like x, y, and z but then they were always older than two hours and none of my “tricks” worked. We had to start from scratch with this little guy and our first impression was not one of capable parents! That was the longest night ever. Yet, very quickly our sleepless, upset baby changed into a sleep champion.
By the time we took Henry home from the hospital he was sleeping like clockwork. Every two hours he was up to eat and was quick to soothe and put back to sleep. This two hour pattern though tiring was predictable and it is amazing how quickly you get use to sleeping in two hour shifts. In some ways it even felt luxurious. This pattern lasted until Henry was 4 weeks old and was coupled with long, long stretches of daytime naps. It use to always boggle my mind when people used the phrase “slept like a baby.” Babies don’t sleep well! That is why there are all those TV shows and movies showing exhausted new parents comically stumbling about. And, all those baby sleep books that line the shelves of Barnes & Noble capitalize on providing hope and advice to new parents whose bags under their eyes drag to the floor. Henry, though, seemed to be in some sleep stupor. Perhaps this was the fourth trimester some have indicated exists for the select few? Whatever it was, we were happy to get a little “regular” sleep even if it was in short segments.
At five weeks old, we held our breath. This would be the moment when everything changed, no? Henry would suddenly wake up and become fussy and restless and inconsolable. We had pressed our luck long enough and now it was time to pay up with our precious sleep. Somehow Henry didn’t get the cranky message!! Instead, five weeks marked elongated sleep patterns and changes to his naps. Henry started to sleep the fabled long stretch. From around 8:30PM to 1:30AM, he slept solidly. Then again from 2AM-4:30AM and again from 5AM-6:30AM. WHAT!?!? How is this possible. His naps are little shorter in the day now too: 9AM-11AM, 2PM-3PM, 6PM-7PM and then bed time. All week long, he followed this pattern (give or take 30 minutes). While this is the most amazing pattern we could ask for, it feels like we are walking on eggshells. It will stop, we keep telling ourselves. It will end, it will change, it will disappear, it will turn into the sleepless madness that is more universally experienced by babies all around the world, no? Sunday night we had a glimpse of this horror. Henry did not sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time. All night long, I fed him, cuddled him, changed his diapers, and swayed him back and forth. He would only sleep if he lay beside me in bed and I thought in a tearful moment that this was our forever future. And, I was “okay” with it, as it was inevitable and we held it off as long as we could.
Then last night, his predictable pattern seemed to return! Maybe the previous night was a fluke, or maybe it was a growth spurt, or maybe we will never know what it was. David and I are a little scared to see nights like that again and we are hoping that this sleep champion continues to impress us. It isn’t anything we are doing that is for sure, so hopefully this balanced, calm stays within Henry and sleep stays in our house. Fingers Crossed.
Every Friday of summer, our town hosts an outdoor concert in the green. I have wanted to go to these for two years, but inevitability something always comes up. The weather might storm, or we might forget about the series, or we might decide to skip it. But finally this past Friday was our night! We called some fellow town friends to meet us there and we drove over. Setting up our blanket, we found a beautiful spot in the cool summer air. The green was full of families and friends ready to share an evening out under the stars. Little did we know at the time that this would be the last concert in the series for the summer. Thank goodness we went then, no? While I am not a fan of the Grateful Dead, the cover band did a good job. We enjoyed the music and when Henry became fussy we even enjoyed the dancing and bopping around that he demanded! We stayed until the sun set and before any bugs were noticeable and headed for a little ice cream treat to cap the night. It was a perfect summer evening and we will definitely need to get to those concerts more often next summer!
Having a baby in the summer is awesome except he cannot be out in the sun for too long. So beach days, walks in the park, and really any outdoor activity has to be calculated perfectly so as not to let his soft baby skin burn or over heat. After a relaxing morning home, David did a quick Google search and found an “adventure” for us to have in the afternoon. We packed Henry up and piled into the car. When I asked David if I needed to program the GPS he smiled and said no. We drove down our block and within 3 minutes we were there. Little did I know that a quiet forested reservation was so close to our house. Having once been carriage routes, the paths were wide and generally flat. We took out the stroller and headed into the cool, shady woods for our first hike as a family. Along the way we talked about how we could come back with the pups too and how in the future it would be so fun to watch Henry toddle and then run about. It was a really nice way to spend the afternoon together so close to home. This may be our new favorite spot.