Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What I Would Like You to Know For This Day

                                               Image result for pregnancy loss awareness

I tried writing this post two years ago, before we became pregnant with Fox, and I was unable to even get through the post. I also searched for this particular post in my draft, and it apparently no longer existed. I must have deleted it. 

I think it was just too difficult for me to put my feelings into the words. It was a matter of not being ready, and guess what, that was okay. It was not the right time. I needed to work through stuff, and to begin to heal. 

So, why now? Why share it so publicly? I have a few reasons. Please do not take this away with you to think to yourself that I'm self-seeking for attention, or self-serving in such way of making myself out to be a victim (you know, woe is me, the world is against me, blah blah). One of those reasons is to reach out, and hopefully to make a connection with someone out there who may be going through this right now, or is still grieving for a loss that happened a few years prior, or wondering what can be done for their loved one who is struggling with a loss. 

Image result for missed miscarriage

This is a very painful topic. Some people get alarmed when I start tearing up while talking about what had happened, and they feel awkward. What to say? They feel terrible for causing pain of asking, or to witness such an emotional moment. People are comfortable with discussing about what they know, and understand; a death of a parent, a friend, a colleague, a relative, or someone you knew that had a life, because they understand that kind of loss. With pregnancy loss, it's harder to understand the pain that comes with it, especially with early pregnancy, because only mothers (and their partners to a degree) knows how it feel, since it is a physical experience. Not everybody knows what it is like to experience such a trauma of this loss. It is easier to place that burden on their shoulders, and sweep this under the rug. Once this event has passed, it is never really spoken again. 

This is what our society has taught us. We are uncomfortable with someone's pain. It is more comfortable to laugh, smile, and focus on the good. Of course, we should do that. At the same time, we also need to be comfortable with painful, uncomfortable, and possibly taboo topics. Pregnancy, infant, and child loss is one of those taboo topics. We may shirk away from someone's grief regarding this topic, wondering why that person has not moved on after so many months, or we end up fumbling for words to offer to the bereaved person. It is easier for people to not mention anything at all. 

We cringe when we hear the following statements: 

"Oh, she lost the baby." 
"She had a miscarriage." 
"The baby was a stillborn." 
"The baby has died."
"There was no heartbeat." 

No one wants to hear those words, yet they are still being uttered. Death can, and DOES happen. My oldest child asked me recently why do we have to die? My answer is simple. We have to make a room for new lives on earth. If we don't die, then there won't be a room for all of us to live here. Every living thing that comes into being must eventually end. When we think about death, we definitely don't apply that to unborn babies (or babies that are born but only lived for a short while). It is why pregnancy loss is very difficult. We are so full of hope. So full of anticipation. So full of love. So full of naivety. SO full of innocence. Then you get that statement that everybody dreads to hear. In that very instant: that hope, anticipation, love, naivety, and innocence are gone. Just like that with a snap of your fingers. 

With my older two boys, my pregnancies were very uneventful besides from Gestational Throcembeyenia. I carried them to term without any serious problems. I loved my ultrasounds with them. I loved documenting every minute of my pregnancy. I just LOVED being pregnant, even with being so sick in the beginning of them, and I cherished every moment of it. My labor and deliveries were quick. They came into the world, squalling and red in the face, as perfect as they could have been. I developed a thinking of "Oh, it will never happen to me. I've had two successful pregnancies with no problem. I'm young." 

Then our 3rd pregnancy happened. It was a surprise. We had always been a planner, and always wanted to plan everything from A to Z. The unexpected things had a tendency to jar me. I didn't like unexpected things. I had to prepare for everything. It was just how I functioned. But this happened unexpectedly, and earlier than I wanted, but that was still a welcome surprise. I knew I was pregnant the moment when I made myself a fried egg on a toast, and nearly vomited from the smell of it. I was sicker with this pregnancy than I was with other two. I had no reason to be worried. The older two, and Stu were sick with a stomach bug. Being a germaphobic, I pulled out bleach, and chlorox wipes. I obsessively cleaned the house around the clock, and quarantined the boys and Stu until they recovered. I was pregnant, and it was my duty to protect the baby at any cost. Plus the idea of being sick with a GI Bug on top of being sick from pregnancy didn't appeal to me. I did not honestly think of anything different. I was not obsessively on top of every little symptom I had. After all, this was my third pregnancy, and I had no worry. I had been around the block twice. I would have known if something was wrong. 

I was busy raising two very little boys, and we had just moved to a new area. I did not know anybody, and had no friends locally in the town other than our family. I kept myself busy with a lot of walks, and chauffeuring the oldest to 3K. I had forgotten that I had a strange discharge the other day, which I had put it in back of my mind, and did not think of it since it did not happen again. It was just one of those weird pregnancy thing. Looking back, I should have taken that seriously, and have always regretted dismissing it. Looking back, the week before the ultrasound, all of my symptoms gradually disappeared. I had assumed I was getting better from my nausea, because I had no morning sickness with Forrest, and it lasted briefly with Franklin. I didn't think anything of it. 

Then we had that big ultrasound that I have always loved while pregnant with my older boys. 

I remember, and do not remember much of that day. It is funny how you recall some things, and some other things you just don't remember. 

I remember laying there, getting anxious, because the technician was taking too long. I remember telling myself half assuredly that I had a long, and tilted uterus, and how sometimes it take a while to find a little bean of a baby in there! I remember finally seeing the baby, and thinking, what a relief! There you are, baby! I remember the technician turning to me, rather abruptly, and telling me, "I am sorry. There is no heartbeat." The first emotion I felt was anger. I was ridiculously angry at the technician for being cold. Why was she not more warm? Why didn't she give me a hug? Why didn't she say something nicer? Anything but "no heartbeat". 

                     One day I had a great Step-brother who I loved and looked up to and the next day he wasn't my brother anymore...I have wanted to talk to him and tell him how much he meant to me and I still have never gotten the chance.

I don't remember sitting up. I don't remember getting dressed. I don't remember either Stu or my interpreter talking to me. I don't remember how I ended up in the exam room. I don't remember the wait. I don't remember any thoughts I had during that time frame. 

I remember my doctor walking in with a gray laptop in her arms. How gracefully she soared across the room. Her blue scrubs stood out at me. Her nimble fingers opening up the laptop, and turning it on. Her expressive brown eyes looking at me, taking me into her arms, and giving me a hug. I was struck by her compassion. She did not let me go even though I did try to break the hug. To have her tell me that it was all a mistake. But she didn't. She kept hugging. 

Then I don't remember what Dr. Mbah said. I don't remember how long the visit took. I just nodded my head, and allowed Stu to make decisions for me. I could not feel anything. Then I was told that I needed D&C the next day to rule out a Partial Molar Pregnancy. My doctor gently explained how serious the condition was, and how it could become cancerous. It was when Stu broke. He started crying. I remember that. I also remember my interpreter telling me how there was a song by LeAnn Womack playing in the background: 

Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me that you will give faith a fighting chance
and when you get a choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance, I hope you dance....

I am not sure how I broke the news to my family. I don't remember that part. I only remember seeing a rainbow on way home, and somehow made a way into my bed. I stayed in my bed for a long time. Probably the whole night. I don't really remember that night. I don't remember if I had dinner. Or if I even ate. All I knew was that I had a dead baby inside me, and how much I had hated myself for killing the baby. I scrutinized every little thing I did; what I ate, how much I had obsessively cleaned, how I had been exposed to the germs, the exercises I did, and you know what? I really beat myself up. 

The D&C itself went well. I had a wonderful staff of nurses, and an amazing doctor who were there for me. Stu was a source of my rock. So many people poured support, and love. It was very humbling, and touching. I could not have asked for a better support system. I was very thankful (and still am) for all the comments, love, and support. I was fortunate that the initial suspicion of molar pregnancy was ruled out, but I was left with no answers why my baby died. I really struggled with not knowing why, and the lack of closure. When we got a medical bill from the hospital for that surgery, I was smacked in the face when I read SPONTANEOUS ABORTION. Logically, I knew it just meant sudden expulsion. In my case, it was anything, but that. It was not spontaneous. I had carried that baby inside me, not alive, for a possibly week without knowing it. It was certainly not an abortion. My body held on to that baby as if it was desperate to remain pregnant, desperate to believe that the baby could be retrieved, and desperate to continue with the pregnancy. 

                                                    Image result for 1 in 4 pregnancy loss

What surprised me the most was HOW MANY people came forward to tell me that they also had lost their baby, and sometimes, how they lost their babies one after other. I had no idea that they experienced this. I had no inkling that they struggled with infertility only to lose their baby, or that they gave birth to a baby that sadly did not survive, or that their baby passed away in their sleep a few weeks later. I had no idea. That floored me, and not in a good way. It was not a wonderful "floored" kind of emotion. I felt terrible for not knowing, and how common it was for us to remain silent after our losses. 

Let me tell you something. I blamed myself for a very long time. After the surgery happened, I lost it. I really lost it. All the sense of normalcy, denial, shock, and detachment were sucked out of me, and what took its stead was a terrible darkness that left nothing but a raw pain. There were days when I felt that I did not only fail our baby, but I also failed our older two. I sat there on the sofa, frozen by grief, and all I wanted to do was sleep. Forrest often patted me on my back, played with my hair, and put blanket on me as I laid there. First two weeks were incredibly difficult. I kept telling myself to get up, survive the day, and go back to bed. It was all I did. I had no recollection of what I did during those first two weeks. All I knew I was empty, and I failed so badly at everything in life. My kids were what got me through the days while Stu worked. I worked so hard to pretend that all were fine when I went out. I didn't want to appear vulnerable, weak, and sad. I worked hard to appear strong like how I always had been for my entire life. I was stuck in the limbo for 12 weeks as my HCG slowly dropped to zero, and waiting for my first cycle. I was secretly glad to not have to go to my OB clinic, and to go to a hospital for lab draws instead. I was unable to bear to see pregnant women, and unable to bear to see babies. 

I had no anger toward pregnant women. It was just so sad. So sad. It was difficult. I had no strength to face them. I hid myself away from the public, and from Facebook. I even ended one of my acquiescence with one of the pregnant ladies, because she was treating her pregnancy so badly with abusing drugs, eating bad food, and not exercising. It angered me, because why was she still pregnant with everything she had been doing wrong, yet I did everything right and lost mine? I desperately wanted to be pregnant again. Then I learned that my brother and my sister in law were expecting their first baby shortly after we had our loss. It was such an odd feeling; I was beyond thrilled to be an aunt, couldn't wait to meet my niece, and to spoil her yet at the same time I was also sad about the idea of not having my baby grow up with her. Later in the year, we found out we were pregnant once again! 

My pregnancy with Fox was emotionally difficult. I dreaded every ultrasound, and cried at each one of them, thinking we would find him without a heartbeat, and go through hell again. The first ultrasound was difficult, because I had started spotting, and needed progesterone to get through the next 14 weeks. The first ultrasound, there was a heartbeat, and it was the best thing ever. Then we had another, and our specialist was wonderful. He bid arrivederci with a smile on his face, and told me that my tears better be one of joy instead of sadness, because all looked fantastic with our Fox. The rest of my pregnancy with him were great, even though I held a lot of fears that something terrible would happen to him, and when he was finally born, I felt like I didn't fail him. I was so scared the whole pregnancy that something would happen to him. So for him to be born safely, and be here with us was a relief. With him, I began to heal. His coos, smiles, and twinkle in his eyes kept the oppressive pain away. When I felt overwhelmed, I just picked him up, and held him against my chest. Then I looked at our two older boys, I felt such gratitude to be able to keep them, and to be their mommy. 

I really believed that if we had our rainbow baby, then everything will be all right in my world once again. In a sense, it was true. Fox helped to narrow the hole in my heart. When I held Fox in my arms for the first time, I had a stark realization that my heart held such contradiction, it was still broken, but it was also whole, because we had a new life in our arms. Fox helped the pain to become softer, and more bearable, but the pain still remained. 

Two and half years later, I still do wonder about our angel baby. If you ask me today, then I will tell you how old our baby should be today. I should have a soon to be 2 year old running around. If you ask me, then I will tell you how much I wish I had that baby with us along with our other three. If you ask me, then you will know how conflicted I feel when I think of our angel baby, because as much as I want that baby, then that means we may not have had Fox. Why can't we have both Fox and that baby? If you ask any parent with a pregnancy, infant, or child loss. They will tell you the same thing. They always know. 

The pain has changed. It is softer, and no longer raw. Instead of darkness, there is sorrow. When I come across a post of a bereaved parent lamenting their loss, I give them words of solace with that quiet empathy, and wish them nothing but love. When I meet someone who shares their story with me, I give them a small smile, and in our eyes, we acknowledge each other's pain. When I learn that a friend, no matter how significant the friendship is to them or to me, I send them a card with money for food. It is a club that we all belong to. The instant knowing in our eyes. How we reach out to each other. We sit with each other in silence as tears come. We say the words that many people lack. We are brutally honest by telling them that there is no antidote for the pain, yet we are gentle with how we carry their pain until they are able to carry it themselves. 

                                               Image result for pregnancy loss awareness
This is something I wish people would know:

The pain doesn't go away ever. It just gets softer. So please don't tell someone to move on no matter how long ago the loss occurred. Grief has its own timeline. Allow them commiserate their loss in their own way.  

Don't devalue early losses. They matter, and hurt as much as late-term losses does. 

It is okay to sit in silence with them. No need for words. No need for anything, but a physical presence. Please don't feel uncomfortable with the tears. They can be very healing, and cleansing. 

It is okay to also ask, are you doing okay? If they capitalize on the question, and start talking, then let them. If they don't, then that's okay too, and change the topic. Just let them know you are thinking of them. It's also okay to say, "I don't know what to say, and I am sorry that it happened to you. If you need me to listen, then I am here. If you need my shoulder to cry on, then here's a tissue box, and I will sit with you." 

Remember dads/significant other hurt too. They just hurt differently. Don't forget them. 

If you are close to someone who have had experienced a loss or recurring losses, even if they go on to have a successful pregnancy after their loss(es), then remember that underneath their smiles, they are scared to death. 

I still struggle. There are some days when my anxiety gets so bad that I just sit down, close my eyes, and try let it pass. I worry so much about my kids, about things I can't control especially when it comes to death. I can't bear the thought of being an executor, and kill a living being with my hand while knowing that I had somehow 'killed' off my baby. There are many people who struggle with  similar feelings.  

Sometimes I don't know what to tell you when you ask me how many children I have. Should I say 3? Should I say 4 without explaining? Should I say I have 3 living kids, and one in heaven? Should I just say I have 3 kids, and spare you the confusion? 

When I sit in the office for my examination, I have to be reminded that I had four pregnancies. Not three, yet I only have three children to show for it. 

Not everybody will be as open as I am. Some people will be more private about their loss. Some will be a lot more open. Some may share pictures of their stillborn, or have pictures of them in their homes, or on their social media sites. Some may have nothing to show for their loss. Some will talk about it. Some won't. There is no right approach to this. 

I wish I have a picture of my 3rd baby. I desperately wish I do. I have nothing to show for that baby. I struggle to wonder if that baby ever exist. I have no grave, or the ashes. I have no pictures. I have nothing, but my memories. My account. My experience that I am currently writing about. 

I struggle with whether my grief is excessive, or appropriate for an early pregnancy loss. After all, our society places more value of a loss on if a person is further along, or had a baby. I may have been almost 9 weeks when we lost our baby, and understand that we saw our baby, and our baby did exist. This struggle feels very isolating at times. 

In early days of loss, time has no meaning. Even if you don't know what to say, or do, then just show up. Be there. Give money for take out foods, or even better, make home made food. Or just sit there, and acknowledge the silence. Acknowledge the tears. Help with child care. Help with chauffeuring. Trust me, they won't be thinking about those things, or just going along with motion. It's probably one of the hardest things I had to deal with in those two weeks. 

Parents may become fiercely protective of their living children, and of their rainbow babies, mainly because they have been touched by a loss, and have come to a realization that life is fragile. There are some actions I take with my children that could be interpreted as overprotective, and it is because I can't bear the thought of losing them. 

A pregnancy loss is not a competition. It doesn't matter how it happened. It doesn't matter how far along the person is when a loss occurred. Do not devalue one's experience just because someone else had a different experience. What all of those people share in a common is that they have been touched by a loss. 

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This is something I wish people would not say: 

At least you were not that far along. 

No matter how far along you were: 4 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks. That's a lifetime to that baby. This platitude offers a lack of empathy. 

At least it was not a baby. 

It was a baby. From the minute we got a positive pregnancy test, we celebrated the new life even though it was surprising. We developed the idea of a little third set of pitter patter keeping up with the older brothers'. We started brainstorming names. The nursery room was already being devised in our minds. We fantasied about how we will announce to the world, and how to break the news to our boys. Will the baby be another boy? Or a girl? You see, that baby was wanted, cherished, and celebrated. We saw the baby on the large ultrasound screen. It was not a specimen. It was not a blob of cells. It was a baby. Most of all, it was a loss of dreams we had for our baby. 

You can always have another. 
You can always try again. 

We wanted that baby. 

At least you didn't know your baby. 

 We may not have had a full term pregnancy that ended up in having our baby placed in our arms. We did know our baby. My belly grew. After losing our baby, we didn't just lose an unborn baby. We lost our 6-month old baby sampling food for the first time, a year old taking an unsteady steps, a five year old saying goodbye as he/she runs into the school for kindergarten, a 10 year old smiling shyly at us, a fifteen year old expelling a huffy breath and rolling eyes, and a 18 year old walking across the stage with a diploma. It's the milestones that you see with your living children that will be absent with that baby. In your heart, you know how old that baby will be. Always. 

There must have been something wrong with the baby. 

While statistically many early pregnancy losses are a result of chromosomal defect, low progesterone, immunity issue, pre-existing condition, or infection, it is not helpful to hear the statement about whether the baby was healthy or not, or if the mother was healthy or not, because mothers blame themselves so much. In some cases, like mine, we don't have an answer why it had happened, since my surgery did not yield any answers. Many of us, more than not, would love to have that baby, even if there is an extra special touch to them that may make them different from other babies. 

Be grateful for the children you have. 
At least you have others. 

Should you be grateful for your other relatives? Your other parent who is still living? Your other siblings? Should you be told of this if you lose your parent, a sibling, or a relative? If you find yourself shaking your head no, then don't say it to someone who have had experienced a loss.    

             Grief never ends... But it changes. It's a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith... It is the price of love.

Having said all of this, I want you to take away from reading this blog post by remembering why today is such an important day for many of us. If you are dealing with a loss, then I walk with you, and carry you until you have steadied yourself. If you are still grieving for a loss that has occurred a few years prior, then I hold your hand, and acknowledge you. If you're someone who loves a person who has a loss, and have no idea what to say; admit it, and tell them you don't know what to say, and that you're there for them. Sit with them. Lend them your shoulder. Listen. Check on the Dads, and Moms, who are bystanders, to their wives or girlfriends going through a loss. They grieve too. Just in a different way. Don't forget them. Most importantly of all, don't forget the babies even if they've never been born, or lived briefly on Earth before departing.

Tonight, I will be lighting a candle for our angel baby, and for all the others who have gained their angel wings.  Would you do the same? 


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Forrest is 6 Years Old

Dear Forrest, 

You are SIX year old. Holy batman. It is getting to the point where Mama is telling people that it no longer feels like as if it is yesterday when she and Daddy brought you home from the hospital, because so much time has passed. This brings up a weird juxtaposition of having emotions of both sadness, and happiness. There is sadness because time waits for no one, and you're growing up too quickly for Mama's liking, yet there is a lot of happiness, because it has been so fascinating to watch you grow into an awesome person, and to develop a more meaningful relationship with you.  The relationship with you is no longer 'one way street' of Mama and Daddy pouring love onto you, and taking care of you. Mama and Daddy encased their ideas, hopes, and dreams onto you. Now it's becoming two way street. You're shedding that encasement of what Mama and Daddy put on you. You're able to interact more, show different interests, a plethora of lessons to be discussed about and learned from, and to really get to know you.

The best news came from your former speech teacher, Colleen, was you being officially released from IEP. It was hard to believe that you came to her, barely speaking and communicating to being a very talkative little boy! The hard work you put in with Colleen paid off! She informed us that she had released only a handful students during her career, and she was proud to include you to be among of the few. It was an emotional moment to have her retire, because she had put in so much in teaching you and Franklin to communicate, and to also have you to improve so much under her care. It didn't surprise us though that you were able to blaze through the last two years in term of your speech development.

Your second year of 4K was a wonderful one. It confirmed our decision to hold you back for another year, because you had grown so tremendously in Michelle's LEADS class. It also helped to learn that the majority of your classmates were held back due to their late birthdays. You were placed at the first grade reading level, and you joined the first graders for reading time. It blew our minds how well you were able to read. You showed a preference for a silent reading. Mama and Daddy encouraged your love of reading by picking books in your favorite topics, which usually meant nature, cooking, dinosaurs, Big Foot, myths, and Star Wars! More often than not, people told us they were also mind blown by how well you read. Your mathematics with counting was marked to be at end of kindergarten level. Your writing had improved from being barely readable to Mama and Daddy being able to understand what you were writing. Your coloring, and cutting skills were difficult for you last year, and this year, you had no trouble doing them! My, what accomplishments you had achieved, and on top of this, to have your skills to be fine tuned by attending this wonderful program led by a great teacher.

You remained to be a social butterfly! You loved to talk loudly among your friends during the class, and often needed to be reminded by your teacher to settle down some. It was wonderful to hear that you were the life of the classroom. At the same time, we wanted to make sure that you learned proper social norms, and to be a polite boy. Your emotional maturity level had also grown. There were a lot of lessons for you to learn how to socialize with your friends, how to resolve conflicts and arguments, to apologize, and to accept apologies from others. Your friendships brought a lot of teachable moments involving discussions about your feelings, and thoughts. It prompted your teacher to encourage us to give you a journal. Boy, you sure loved writing in your journal! It helped you to identify, and label your feelings to reduce some of the outbursts you had. By the end of the year, you gained confidence, and Mama and Daddy could not be any happier than they already were for you. You were more than ready for kindergarten this fall.

Your signing has also exploded. It is wonderful to see you developing fluency for a second language. Your signing has gotten to the point where you are able to carry on a conversation with Mama. You have been complimented by some folks in the public on how well you sign for your age. When you try to ask Daddy to interpret for you on the days when you feel discouraged, he tells you no, and to keep trying. This fuels your drive to overcome obstacles in not knowing certain sign words. You love reading with Mama, and having her sign along with you reading so you can learn signs. It is amazing to see how children's minds function in term of developing language, communication, and blending two cultures into one. By your persistence in learning signing, Franklin is also encouraged to pick up on his language development, and he has been improving greatly as well! You're a wonderful mentor for your younger brothers, and becoming into a fascinating CODA (child of a Deaf adult).

You went to your 6 year old wellness check. Everything checked out to be great with you! You were a bit worried about getting immunization shots, and fortunately, you did not need them until you turn eleven year old! You clocked at 3 feet 8 inches tall, and weighed 42 pounds. Dr. Karbon said you looked great. 

It has been amazing to see you growing into a little boy, and how much you resemble Daddy! When people share with you that you look like Daddy, you smile and nod your head, then say, yes I know rather shyly. You are no longer a small child, but a young boy with so much yearning to explore, and learn about the world around you.

While you look so much like Daddy, some of your personality traits reminds Mama so much of...her! Mind you, while you share some similar personality traits with Mama, you still are uniquely YOU. There are a lot of things about you that are just YOURS. 

You love books, especially Goosebumps, anything about Big Foot, mythology, dinosaurs, and adventures. You often hoard books on your bed, and Mama have to clean off your bed at least once a week so you have some space to sleep in your bed! You get quite upset when one of your books falls apart from being handled so much, and ask Mama to fix them for you. Sometimes, she has to replace your favorite books by ordering new copies! It warms Mama's heart so much that you love to read, because Mama was (and still is) still the same way. You love scary movies! Mama looks forward to the day when she can introduce you to to the world of zombies, monsters, aliens, and outlandish creature movies...but that will be some time off yet, and you will need to be a bit older before that happens. Right now, you enjoy Goosebumps, and kid friendly scary movies, books, and all that. 

You love pizza, home made garlic bread, and hot dogs. You're starting to accept the idea of eating broccoli, and certain vegetables. It's a work in the progress, but you will come to like to eat them. You have found that you love eating yogurt, and cheese sticks. Mama has to watch over how much you eat dairy, because it can cause your eczema to flare up. Finding a right type of milk that you will drink is a bit tricky still in term of not causing your skin to flare up, or finding something you will drink. You're such a picky eater! Mama and Daddy are still constantly encouraging you to widen your palate with food, and you usually end up liking them! 

You dislike being discouraged from doing certain things by yourself. Sometimes you think you are able to make your own rules, because you are the oldest child in the house. Mama and Daddy often have to remind you that while you are the oldest, your parents still determine, enforce, and establish rules for everybody to follow. You struggle with Franklin copying you in everything you do. You often need to be reminded that Franklin looks up to you so much, and loves you so. He thinks you are the most awesome person on the planet, and craves your approval. Franklin gets quite heartbroken when you try to do your own thing without him. Because of this, Mama and Daddy have to find a happy ground of allowing you to do your own thing and him with his own, and making sure you both have time to play together. Sometimes it can be such a challenge for you, because Franklin struggles with his speech development and doesn't always express himself appropriately, which annoys you, and you want him to stop. It is a constant balance of making sure all cogs in the wheel continues to function properly. This brings a lot of lessons in appropriate social interaction, how to express ourselves appropriately, when to apologize and forgive, to give and take, and apply those to life outside home.

You're so full of personality! You love to show off, and make everybody around you chuckle. You have a sharp sense of humor. For instance, the other day you asked a nurse why your doctor was mean after she told you the doctor's name, Dr. McMeen. The nurse assured you that Dr. McMeen was anything, but mean, and that it was just her surname. You said without a beat, "Oh, she must be mean to the adults then." You started cracking up shortly after.

You're also filled with surprises. In the same conversation, You asked your doctor if she was from France, or Europe, because of how her last name was spelled. The doctor smiled, and later Mama learned that your doctor, in fact, was from Kiev, Urkaine! How did you know that? Or you will randomly tell Mama or Daddy (or anybody who is listening) facts about nature, and it blew their minds. It was like how do you know this stuff at age of 6?! Mama tries to remind people (and herself at times) not to make intelligence a sole bragging point for you, because there ARE MANY wonderful things about you that are always praised, and reinforced.

While we miss Dr. Warpinski, our previous allergist who had retired last year, we have come to really appreciate our new allergist, Dr. McMeen. 

She was full of wealth information with helpful tips, and suggestions. Some of tips were new to Mama, and she appreciated all the help she got from Dr. McMeen regarding your eczema. Your eczema had been a huge struggle this summer with you swimming all summer long, and being exposed to pollen in the environment. She explained that your previous blood test had cleared you of all tree nuts allergy, including the cashews to which you were allergic to as a baby, however, she still erred on the cautious side. She wanted you to wait a year before retesting to make sure that it was completely safe for you to attempt tree nuts trial. A challenge remained with tree nuts, and that was the case of cross-contamination of them being mixed with peanuts. It was a bit mind boggling to see how EXPENSIVE tree nuts were when they were labeled to be processed in a separate facility from the peanuts. It was Mama's hope to find tree nuts that were affordable, and ALSO safe for you to eat, so she can go ahead and make homemade granola bars for you to snack on someday. 

Your score was higher than the last time you had your blood test from a few years prior, which pinpointed to a severe peanut allergy, and it was a bit sad to hear that. Mama wished she was able to find a cure for your peanut allergy, so you can always remain safe, never having to worry about rejected by insurance someday for having a pre-existing condition, stressing about having epi pens with you at all of the time, dealing with general ignorance surrounding food allergies, and enjoy food carefree, yet at the same time, you were given this for a reason. Mama felt that by growing up as a Deaf person, she was able to prepare you for life challenges, and the struggles that may come with you having a peanut allergy. At the same time, remember that this also shared a lot of benefits, such as making you more empathetic person, shaping your assertiveness, and standing up for those with conditions that may invite others not to be as understanding toward them. 

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You have grown into the role of an oldest brother rather wonderfully. You're extremely protective of Fox, and always want to make sure he remains safe under your watch. You love picking him up in your arms, and carry him to whatever you think he should go. You let Mama know when Fox needs her, tells Franklin to be "soft" with Fox, and helps Mama out by throwing away soiled diapers. You proudly tell people that you have two brothers, and that you love them so (despite your sibling rivalry with Franklin from time to time).

We look toward year 6 with you!

We love you so, our dear bookworm.


Mama, Daddy, Franklin, and Fox

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fox is ONE Year Old

Dear Fox,

The tradition continues with you as it has with the other two, and your first letter is in the making for you to cherish someday. Daddy and Mama have always known that we wanted a big family. What they did not know is that they will end up with three very rambunctious, loving, sweet, and beautiful boys. We are blessed to have you three in our lives. You each brings an unique factor to our family, and to not have one of you with us most certainly will cause a void. Mama hope you each will come to understand that you are valued, wanted, loved, and cherished. 

Daddy and Mama does not make it a secret that you came after a loss of their third baby. It is their hope that you understand that you are not going to be associated, or shadowed by that experience, and that you are uniquely you. You are not a replacement, or a filler for what is lost. You, and your brothers are gifts. With having said this, you are also shaped by what had happened, and you are our rainbow baby. It goes to show that love, and hope are always going to prevail. After all, you are the living proof of this. You come bearing with a valuable lesson that it is possible to survive a storm, and to be still blessed. 

You are our third living child. You have two older brothers to look up to, and it is in my hope that you three will form an unbreakable bond that will continue long after when Daddy and Mama are gone. Your relationship with them will not going to be perfect, easy, or neat. There will be moments when you may not like them very much, or them you. There will be moments when you may feel that they outshine you. You may feel left behind as they get older, and lose interest in things that you still enjoy. Do know this though, you will always be cheered on, exalted, loved, and supported by all of us. The sibling rivalries will fade away. You are never left behind. You are always kept in front of us with your brothers. You three may end up on different trajectories in your lives, the love and brotherhood you have with each other will be what holds you together.

Forrest made Mama a mother for the first time. They navigated through the murky waters of parenthood together, experienced a lot of firsts, dealt with a lot of tears, trying to adjust to the life of a baby which was hard for someone who was fiercely independent, and to be honest, Mama did not know what she was doing most of the time. Everything was so new, overwhelming, amazing, and beautiful with him.

When Mama went into labor with Franklin, oh, she cried, and cried as she held Forrest against her chest, because she was so worried about losing that unique bond she had with Forrest, and whether she was going to love this baby as much as she loved Forrest. Then Franklin came into the world, and floored her completely, because her heart grew so large with love, and she realized there was no limited capacity of how much you could love someone. Franklin was such a happy, happy baby despite his medical problem, and she gained confidence. She had some idea of what she was doing the second time around with a newborn. Franklin taught her that love had no bounds, and that it just kept growing.

Then, you came along. Mama was not worried about not loving you as much as Mama loved Forrest, and Franklin, because Franklin showed her otherwise. You healed what was missing in our hearts. You anchored us in a midst of a tumultuous storm, and brought a rainbow into our lives. When Mama's heart felt sad, all she had to do was hold you, and all was right once again in my world. Because of this, you three are so special to us.

You're such a cunning, funny, sweet, wild, and loving boy. Mama can see you becoming an imaginative, adventurous, and have a wicked sense of humor. You're going to be an unpredictable one. You are quick witted, and expressive yet you can be broody and serious. You love to scrunch your face, and it is one of the most awesome facial expressions you have. We never know which side we will end up with!

You're never without kisses, and hugs. You're always being picked up, and talked to. Your brothers are beginning to discover how much fun you can be now you're more mobile! I imagine watching you growing up with them, and developing that close bond with them. It is my hope that you continue to foster that relationship with them, and keep your brothers connected with you.

Dr. Karbon gave you a clean bill of health. You measured to be 31 inches tall, and weighed at 18 pounds! Mama called you her Bean pole! She was not used to having such a thin baby, but Dr. Karbon assured her that all was well with you! You hadn't begun to walk on your own, and showed no interest in doing so. She diagnosed you with eczema, and suggested cutting out cow milk to see if it helped your skin to clear up. At this point, Mama was an old pro in handling with food sensitivities, and had no problem switching over to almond milk. All left she had to do was finding the right management for your skin to remain clear.

Fear not, it will happen when you are good and ready. It can happen any time between now until 18 months. You still sport a gummy mouth with no hint of tooth on the horizon! Mama is told that you can get your first tooth at age of two! She certainly most hope not, because then it would be harder on you to deal with pain.

You are so chill. You are happy to go along with everybody. You're perfectly content to just sit on Mama's or Daddy's lap, and watch the world go by you. Your only requirement is that you get to be a part of the flurries during the day. Once in every while, you will throw a fit, and be upset about missing out life. You love your older brothers so much, and to see you being upset by how they handle you is very rare. If you are being tripped over, picked up, held funny, or dragged around, then you just laugh, and want more of it! Mama suppose with you being a third child, you just have to take life's knocks, and see a humor in it!

Mama and Daddy are looking forward so much to watching you grow up into a little person in the following days yet to come.


Mama, Daddy, Forrest, & Franklin

Monday, June 25, 2018

The "Seven-Year Itch"

At 19, I met Stuart, and became a couple. We started dating during our sophomore year, and graduated at twenty-two. We were whisked into life. I went to Washington DC for graduate school, and then worked in Minnesota while Stu worked his way up with teaching. I graduated from Gallaudet University with Master's at twenty-four. Life sped up. We decided to tie the knot at twenty-six. A year later, we had Forrest. Stuart decided to go back to school to get his Master's. We made a lot of sacrifices to make that happen, because education was so important for us, and for Stuart. I got pregnant with Franklin, and Stu got offered a job as an associate principal. We made a big move when I was nearly 6 months pregnant. We finally felt settled in, and comfortable with living in a new town. We began house hunting as we rented from a wonderful couple, and I discovered I was pregnant for the third time! We found a wonderful starter home, fixed it up, and moved in. Unfortunately, right before we moved into our new home, we learned that our pregnancy was not meant to be. With heavy hearts, we let go of that baby, and healed from the loss. As we were healing, we discovered we were expecting once again, and Fox joined us. We were blessed with our three boys, and we couldn't be any happier. Our family continued to grow as our brothers and sisters had children of their own. Stu was offered a job as a head principal at our local middle school, and he decided to take it. 

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Looking at our life together, have we got the Seven Year Itch now? We are officially married for seven years. Imagine that! To be truthful, we have been together for thirteen years and half as we celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary. The itch is a pop culture reference explained by psychologists as a phenomenon when a couple starts to feel dissatisfied, and bored with their relationship, and all the problems start to crop up in a marriage. It's when someone says, oh you have got that itch, don't you? 

I am happy to report that we are pretty content with our marriage, and that there are not any pressing problems to worry about. In other words, no itching for us. I am always thanking our lucky stars to have such an amazing husband who absolutely loves his children, and is always doting on me. He still tells me how beautiful I am even despite experiencing four pregnancies, and with how much motherhood has changed me. Sure, I won't delude any of you into thinking that we have a perfect storybook marriage.

Before you exclaim how perfect we appear to be, I assure you that we have had our moments, and our struggles. We just happen to not air our "dirty laundry", or complain about each other in such way that poses one of us in a negative light. We don't go around obsessing about how wronged we are, or that we must avenge ourselves. We know, and understand that bad stuff will pass. We know we fail sometimes. We choose to forgive each other, and move on. We pick our battles, and let go of minor ones. We are not willing to give up on each other, and we know that even with every storm, it will always pass. As John Kern once said, "Storms make trees take deeper roots", and how true it is. Storms are not necessarily an evil, or a bad thing (even though its adversity can be overwhelming). The storms only goes to prove what our strengths consists of. 

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing, wedding, suit and outdoorLet me preface by bringing up an experience we had as a young couple many years ago, and that was our "seven year itch", even though we were not together for 7 years at that point. Nonetheless, what I meant by our 7-year itch in that experience was that there was a difficult discussion to be made in our relationship that could have made, or broke our relationship.

There had been a point in our relationship where we had a very raw, and honest discussion about the paths we were taking in our lives. I still remember that day as if it had happened yesterday. We were sitting on a bench in the middle of a busy outdoor food court in Washington D.C. Stu had flew out to visit me during his school spring break. I was twenty-two, and he was twenty-three. What sparked that conversation, or the turn it took  to what we had discussed was something I did not remember. 

However, I remember the feeling that hung over our heads, and shoulders as we spoke about what we wanted from our lives; children, marriage, me moving back to Wisconsin after I graduated with Master's, and Stu exploring the coaching angle. It was a pinnacle of our relationship. Right there on the bench in a busy food court among the pink blooming cheery trees, several miles down away from White House, among the tourists snapping pictures, commotion floating all around us, and it was such a contradiction to how we felt. Did we have what it takes to have a successful relationship? Did we have what it takes to weather every storm on the horizon? Did we have an ability to overcome an obstacle that may come our way? Were we together, because we grew comfortable with each other, and afraid of unfamiliarity? We started dating when we were quite young. Were we missing out on potentials by being together? Did we stop each other from achieving our dreams? Our lives were literally at our feet. What felt like hours--in reality, it was probably a half hour conversation--we concluded that we were prepared to weather every storm, overcome every obstacle that came our way, and uplift each other to our successes. 

We walked away with relief riddled with some reservations. The reservations we had was geared towards the unknown. As scary as it was, we were determined to face the unknown together. 

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And the unknown we did face. And continued to.

I could have not asked for someone else to be my life partner, my husband, and my best friend to navigate together through the deep waters. When I look back on to our entire relationship, I am amazed by how many obstacles we have overcome, how the path we are on has taken us to where we are today, and it is quite amazing. I think of all the moments, and can't help but to feel a bit emotional, especially with the birth of our third baby. We are so blessed to have three beautiful boys, a solid marriage, a home with a roof over our heads, and to be finally in a financially sound place. It is just a huge weight off our shoulders to achieve this sense of security that we have craved for so long.

Stu and I were talking the other day, I made a confession that sometimes I don't feel quite like an adult, because we are still so new at this parenthood gig, establishing career, and settling down in a place that we hopefully can call our home for a long while. It doesn't feel like we have been married for 7 years! It still feels so new to us; this marriage thing, raising our kids, finally getting around to sprucing our home with interior decorating and making this home OURS, and developing friendships through our kids. I wonder if others look at us, and think that we are still so young, that we have our "shit together" (we do, I assure you), and we are just gaining our confidence as adults. Stu smiled, and said, you know we should feel like it is still new to us, because we still have about sixty years or hopefully more ahead of us yet!

It is amazing how it is a blink of time from a certain experience to the next. In one moment, I am just starting out life on my own, then the next blink, I am a mom of three boys and married to a fantastic man.  When I look at our relationship in its entirety, I am truly amazed by how much we have gone through as a couple, and as individuals, and we are still together. It is not that I had my doubts that we would have lasted. It is just that there is a sense of amazement from those series of moments that have essentially created life for us. I don't doubt that we will continue to experience more things that will shape us, our marriage, and ourselves. I hope that there will be a lot more positive than not. I am not naive to think that we will never again be riddled with difficulties, or that nothing bad will happen to us. Our miscarriage has taught us that very brutal lesson, but at least I know that we have strength to overcome painful moments.

As our cousin Sara has written in the 7th letter to us, with all of her joking aside, there will always be good and bad days. There will be times when we will be so angry with each other, and question in that moment why we are together. Fortunately, when that question does come up, we do have an answer in despite of our anger, pain, and sadness. And that answer is love. We love each other. It's not like oh, yeah yeah I love him. Sure thing.

Our love at its most base is unconditional. After all, Stu did learn my language. He learned how to communicate with me. He embraced my culture. I am constantly reminded by that when I go out there to hang out with my Deaf friends; I look at their relationships, specifically hearing-Deaf couples, they don't know how to communicate with each other, and they don't sign fluently to each other. Their children don't know sign language. It blows my mind. How can you be with someone, who is Deaf, and can't sign to him/her? I promise you that it is not coming from a place of judgment. It's coming from a place of bewilderment, because I don't have that experience, and I have a hard time understanding how that is possible. How can you do that if you really love someone?

I know Stu loves me beyond what can be measured. I am incredibly blessed, and lucky to have him. He has seen me at my darkest, and he still loves me. He will tell you the same about me. He will tell you that I lift him up when he's down, cheer him on when he thinks that going is getting to be difficult, and forgive him when he does wrong.

No matter what happens, we will always love each other. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Fox is TWELVE Months Old

Dear Mr. Fantastic Fox,

You are TWELVE months old. It is hard to believe that a year has gone by so quickly, because it does feel like it is just yesterday when we brought you home from the hospital. Just like your older brothers, you are an incredible gift, and the one that we are extremely thankful for. You are our anchor of hope, and you've shown to us on a daily basis that hope after pain is possible. There has not been a day that has gone by that you are being kissed, hugged, held, and told how special you are. We are so, so blessed to have you.

A week before you were born, Mama spoke with her doctor, and jokingly whispered to her belly that you had to stay put in until after the 17th, because there was a family event, and a wedding that she wanted to attend. On the night before you were born, Mama gently caressed her belly as you rolled around inside, and she told you that you could come anytime now. On the morning of the day you were born, Daddy was sure that you would come that day (he had an uncanny knack of knowing when you boys will come), and Mama was not so sure, because nothing was happening. Four hours before you were born, Mama and Daddy were on way to the hospital, and Mama was feeling pretty good! Matter of fact, she was not even sure if it was even time to go in! Twenty minutes before you were born, Mama's water broke, and it was happening! You made a dramatic entrance into the world, not wanting to wait for anybody, and ended up being delivered by yourself! Two minutes after you were born, you were placed into Mama's arms, everything was all right once again in her world, and you were a blissfully perfect bundle of 6 pounds and 13 oz. 

You entered the world with your eyes wide open. You were the most alert baby out of you three kids. It was as if you found everything to be so miraculous, and you could not bear the thought of missing out on the beauty of life. Soon, this became very clear that you HAD to be involved with everything. You were not one of those babies that contently sat back, and allowed the world to go by. You needed to be in it, to be a part of it, and to keep up. You did not like being left behind. As result of this, your older brothers often brought you along with them as they embarked on their imaginative journey of playing pirates (you were often the Kraken, or a shark), or shooting through the dark space (you were the royal imperial trooper on a hunt for Han Solo and Chewbecca), or exploring a dense jungle filled with Velociraptors poised to attack (you were the stolen raptor baby). 

You do not like not being able to see anything around you. More often than not, when Mama is hiking, you often ride on her back with you looking over her shoulders. If Mama attempts to put you face in to her chest, then there's hell to pay. You scream, kick, and wail as you try to twist around, and climb out to escape from the formidable position that you are placed in. Lesson learned. Never babywear you facing in! So off you go to ride on her back instead. If you are on the floor, then you're zooming everywhere to keep up with your brothers, or Beatrice as she sniffs for food. You're determined, assertive, bold, driven, alert, demanding, boisterous, and ferocious. It is already evident since day one!  You are the one to watch out for! 

You have already taken a few steps with a help from a walker just like Mama had predicted (she had predicted you'd start walking before you turn one)! Soon you will blow everybody away, and start running, because walking is way too mundane for you. You're too wildly unconstrained to be patient enough to wait life out. You're going to go after life running, because you just don't want to miss out on anything!

You're a trouble maker, yes you are. You find ways to escape from your high chair, and more often than not, you're standing up, and about to take a plunge out of the chair. Mama has discovered more than several white hair strands, and you know it is because of you, and your brothers! You're always getting yourself into the situations that you must be rescued from. You're a little explorer already! Between Forrest and Franklin, you're set for a lifetime of adventures, and craziness. You scowl, wrinkle your nose, blow raspberries in fury at anybody who dares to defy you, when you are not being catered quickly enough, and when you are tired. 

You're a champ at sleeping. You're FINALLY sleeping through the night. The days of you barely sleeping is behind us, and Mama is oh, so relieved. You take two naps a day, and usually sleep for about 2 hours. Sleep training is one of the best things she could have done, because now you're settled in a routine, and comfortable with going to sleep on your own. HOWEVER, Mama must make a confession, one that many parents may relate and nod in agreement: when you cry and fuss, she goes in to pick you up, and hold you against her chest until your little body goes slack, and your breathing becomes slower, and she puts you back to bed. Those moments are so momentary. She has realized from raising your brothers that time waits for no one, and to truly cherish babyhood while it lasts. So when you cry to be picked up, even for a minute or two, Mama is willing to do just that, because before we all know it, you will be a young child, and no longer want to be held like that anymore.

You're nursing less, and less. You've successfully dropped all feeds except the last two that usually happens when you wake up for the day, and when you go to bed for the night. Soon, you will be all done, and it will be that for our nursing journey. It makes Mama sad, because it marks an end of your infancy. Your babyhood is very much like sand falling through Mama's fingers. It is going by so quickly, and is so fleeting. It is why Mama is cherishing everything with you, because before she knows it, it will be the last time, and she wouldn't know it until it has already passed. 

You are signing MORE! You understand signs, but aren't quite willing to sign them yourself just yet. You reach out either to say hello, or I love you. That one Mama and Daddy are still figuring out what it quite means for you yet! You say Mama, oh oh oh, ah ah, and babble! Of course, you scream, and blow raspberries when you are upset. You love digging through your cupboard to take out the Tupperware containers, stack them up, and create a mess! You laugh, coo, and babble loudly as you cause a wreck! You love blinking, whirling, and beeping toys.

A tooth is still not on the horizon. You drool like crazy though. It does not surprise Mama that you are still toothless. Just like Forrest and Franklin, you are late at teething, and they will come when they come. 

While Mama is definitely more sentimental about you growing out of your infancy, Daddy is quite excited for you to reach the age of being able to play with your brothers, and him. He eagerly looks forward to the day when you are able to participate in wrestling with them, to cheer for Packers, go fishing, boating, and camping. He talks endlessly about you playing, and doing activities with him. Daddy loves to pick you up, lift you high above him in the air (much to Mama's dismay), and twirl you around like an airplane. Mama tries to caution him, which leads to him laughing, and saying, oh he's just going to be fine! Daddy loves to put you on his shoulders, and run after your brothers. You grasp your tiny fingers in his hair, and laugh wildly. Daddy loves to be able to grab you, toss you gently, and get you laughing. While Daddy has a tendency to roughhouse with you, there has been tender moments between you and him, and it is absolutely precious. Mama often finds Daddy dozing on the sofa with your head against his chest, thumb in your mouth, and it was so sweet seeing you snuggling together.

The whole family is blessed to have you in their lives. It has been a joy to watch you grow in the past twelve months.

Happy birthday, love.


Mama, Daddy, Forrest, & Franklin

Friday, May 18, 2018

Fox is ELEVEN Months Old

Dear Fox, 

You are ELEVEN months old. You're a month away from turning a year old. How is that possible? Every person Mama talks to is in an agreement that it feels like you had just been born, yet you are a month away from turning a year old? Mama's heart is about to burst with all of the FEELS of thinking about this! 

You are always on the GO GO GO GO. You despite staying still. Something on your body is always moving. Let it be your foot. Hand. Arm. Leg. You fight diaper, and clothes changes. Mama and Daddy feel like you are training them to be an alligator wrestler! Thank goodness that the weather is finally warming up...because that means less clothes to fight be put on you! You zoom everywhere as fast as possible in order to keep up with your older brothers. You fight being strapped in your carseat by arching your back, and kicking your legs as if you are saying, NO YOU CAN'T RESTRAIN ME! Once you realize that you are strapped in, you give in, and becomes placid. 

You are quite vocal, and expressive. You scream, and blubber when you notice that you aren't being attended quick enough. You're quite demanding, you. Forrest jokingly calls you our "Boss Baby", because you're always "conducting meetings" from us. You make yourself very clearly. For instance, when we go hiking, you are not satisfied with being baby worn facing in to Mama's chest until you are put on her BACK in order for you to look around your surroundings over her shoulder.  You very much so prefer it this way. You scream angrily when you are placed in your high chair, because at that point, your patience has run out, and you MUST HAVE FOOD in front of you IMMEDIATELY. When you are frustrated, you blow raspberries, and trill until you get what you want. It's quite hilarious. You are always on an outlook for everything. If something happens, then you must be present to witness it. You have a serious case of FOMO--a fear of missing out--and must be involved at all cost. 

You absolutely love strawberries, which doesn't surprise Mama, because when Mama carried you, all she wanted is strawberries! It is a good thing that strawberries is about to be ready to be picked up from the pasture, because then Mama can gather as many strawberries as possible to make the boys' favorite; strawberry jam! You show a strong preference for fresh food. Just like Franklin, you have not met food that you have yet to like, and you are very willing to sample anything. Matter of fact, you have recently tried shrimp, and liked it! You love zucchini, broccoli, squash, and cukes. You enjoy gnawing on a pickle, even though you often show a sour face while eating it! 

You enjoy getting into mischief by opening cabinet doors, and pulling whatever out onto the floor around you. You love banging on pots, saucepans, and tupperware. It is your slice of heaven to be able to just do that! Mama has decided to dedicate one cupboard to you to explore, and play safely without worrying about you getting harmed during the process of doing so. You love climbing up the stairs, even though you have not quite mastered going back downstairs, because the idea of doing that scares you a bit. You love chase after the broom as Mama sweeps around the house. You laugh at Bea when she tries to take your food. Sometimes, you end up blowing raspberries at her! You get so determined to stay with your older brothers, and make it very clear that they are not allowed to abandon you.

Forrest adores you so. He kisses, sings, talks, and shows you things. He picks you up quite often, and carries you around. You show no fear, even when he accidentally chokes or drops you, and you just laugh, and beg to be picked up again (much to Mama's dismay). The only time Mama sees Forrest getting upset with you is when you try to touch one of his books, and accidentally mishandles it improperly. Such a bookworm, that one is. Mama has to remind Forrest that you are only a baby, and need to be gently shown not to mishandle any books so roughly. 

Franklin is showing less interest in you, not because he doesn't love you any less, but because he's 3. Nonetheless, when he does pay attention to you, he often tries to share food with you, and to console you when you are crying. He enjoys playing in a proximity of you, and often show interest in your toys! Franklin likes to notify Mama when you are up, or sad, or getting into trouble. Franklin likes to help Mama to push your stroller, and it makes him feel special when he is able to handle his big brother duties for you! 

You are starting to say Mama, mama, and mama almost constantly! This has started very recently when Mama noticed you talking as she walked away, and it is confirmed that you are saying Mama!  You repeat yourself until you are picked up by Mama, and secured in her arms. While you don't mind being held by your familiar people, you show the most preference to be in Mama's arms, and to be by her. You are nursing less, and less, which fits the timeline of weaning off breastmilk, and Mama is hoping to have you to be fully weaned around by your first birthday. You are sleeping through the night like a champ with waking up once in early hours of the morning to nurse. The only time you regress with sleeping is when you are in pain, and feeling unwell. Teething is still a distance on the horizon. Who knows, you might surprise us all with a tooth soon! 

Your favorite toy these days is being in a box! Yes, just a box. You love to shake, kick, roll around, and explore anything inside a box. You are even happier when you have a strawberry in your hand, and toys surrounding you in a box. What a funny boy that you are! Your legs are getting stronger, and stronger. You are able to pull yourself up with an ease, and without your legs shaking, or you toppling over. You lock your legs stiff when you are determined to maintain your balance! Mama thinks you might be walking around your first birthday, but who knows, you may surprise her by walking later! 

With summer around the corner, Mama and Daddy are eager to take you boys hiking, fishing, and swimming. It will be fun to expose you to all the new things, especially with swimming, and see how you react to them! 

We are looking forward to what month 11 will bring to you, and to us! 

Mama, Daddy, Forrest, and Franklin