Monday, October 15, 2012

A Letter to Fiona: 4 Months

To My Darling Fiona,

You are four months old today! As I sit down and write this letter, all I can think about is how one year ago yesterday, we found out that you would be joining our family. It’s crazy to think back now about how nervous and excited we were on that day, and how much has happened since then. From not knowing whether we would be having a son or a daughter, to wondering about what color your hair and eyes would be, to guessing what personality traits you would pick up…we just had no idea what to expect! But, here you are now, so alert and loveable, and the best thing that every happened to us. I can say one thing for certain baby girl, you are a million times more perfect than we could ever have imagined. We feel so blessed every day that you chose us to be your parents.

We feel blessed even when the days are hard and long and tough, which happened more often than not this month. You hit a major growth spurt this month, which in your mind equaled needing to be held all of the time. Not held so that you can cuddle, mind you, but held so that you can look down on everything around you. Your Papa and I joke that you want to be held just so you can look down upon your minions. Needless to say, your loud, vocal disdain of anything that resembled a seat, a bouncer or play-mat, equaled one tired Momma. You must have been exhausted too, because boy oh boy, did you grow. One night I was putting you in your footed pajamas and they were nice and roomy, and comfy, and the next night I went to put them on you and they barely fit. You really are getting to be such a big girl! 

Thankfully, all that growing didn’t interrupt your sleep too much. You now sleep from around 7:00 PM – 6:30 or 7:00 AM, and take two pretty good naps. You absolutely love your sleep. You’ve also become a self-soothing champ, and will talk or play in your crib if you wake up, before drifting off to sleep again. When you wake up in the morning you are so happy and excited and will just laugh and smile and squirm when we come to pick you up. I cannot even begin to explain how happy this makes us. We feel like we hit the baby sleep lottery with you, and we definitely don’t take it for granted.

You have also had a lot of changes and milestones this month! You stopped being swaddled around 15 weeks, and now love to stretch out and move in your sleep. We tried not swaddling a couple of times before week 15, but you definitely were not up for it. Then one day, we put you down and you fell right asleep without that sweet swaddle blanket, and have been without it ever since. We certainly miss the days of snuggling you up as a Fiona-burrito, but as usual, you let us know when you were ready to move up and on to the next big thing. In addition to giving up the swaddle, you also gave up any interest in your pacifiers. You are in love with your hands, and since they are constantly available, you’ve decided they are 100% better to stick in your mouth. I’m not really going to complain about this one, since it means we won’t have to break the habit, but I do miss the days when I could calm you down easily with the soothie pacifier.

Currently you love picking things up and pulling things down. Whether it’s your lovies, toys or my hair, you are so excited to grab, grab, grab. It’s kind of humorous to see you be able to pick up things that are sometimes half your size, and I love watching you light up with excitement when you discover something new. You also adore talking and singing. You still aren’t that excited by most toys (although you do tolerate the jumparoo we introduced fairly well). You would prefer to just have conversations all day long. Your face lights up when your Papa or I talk to you, and you babble along with the great tales that you want to tell us. You also love to try and sing. I’ll have the radio on, or will sing a song to you, and you’ll start cooing right along with the music. You most definitely get your conversation and singing skills from your Papa.

This month you were also baptized into the Catholic Church. The baptism was held at the same church where your Papa and I were married in 2008. It was a beautiful ceremony, and the deacon who baptized you loved your name so much that he broke out singing the Irish Blessing song. We loved that our families came out to share this special day with you, and we are so thankful to God for bringing you to into our lives.

As for interesting facts:

-      -  It’s your first fall! We’re filling it with as much pretty leaves, pumpkins and football a four month old can handle.  You love to lay outside on a blanket and look up at the yellow, orange and red leaves.

-       - You were baptized on October 7th, 2012

-       - You can almost roll over from your belly to back. You get a bit stuck on your side, and have been trying to grab onto things to help try and pull yourself over. Of course, this leads us to believe you are a genius child.

-       - You still protest tummy time with as much passion as a toddler throwing an epic temper tantrum. I’m fairly certain you could probably crawl right now if you decided you wanted to do so, but you prefer to let the neighborhood know that you really, really dislike tummy-time. Then you pretend to sleep. It’s actually quite endearing some days, but the dramatics of it all has me a bit nervous for toddler Fiona.

-       - You adore the Itsy Bitsy Spider Song. You squeal with delight every time I start singing it, which of course, means I sing it 1000x a day. Anything to make you happy, little one.

-       = You took your first trip to the apple orchard. You of course fell asleep the second we arrived, but there are pictures to prove that you were actually there.

I love you more than I ever could have imagined I would 365 days ago. You are our smiley faced, giggle-fest, red-headed little love bug. You are our sunshine.


Your Mama & Papa

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why I Tell My Daughter I'm A Great Mother

I noticed my bad habit about three weeks after my daughter was born. You know, that point where the adrenaline is wearing off, your nerves are a bit more frayed, your much more sleep deprived, and the enormousness of the reality that you are completely responsible for another person's well-being and upbringing really starts to set in. No pressure there.

It started harmlessly enough. Maybe I'd realize that a bottle was a bit too cold, and I'd make an off-handed comment like, "Oh no, Mommy didn't warm up your breakfast enough. Bad Mommy!" Or perhaps errands ran a bit longer than expected leaving me with a grumpy, fussy pants. I'd quickly quip, "Uh oh, Momma  took too long. I'm so, so sorry babycakes! Momma messed up!"

Before long I found myself pointing out all of my daily flaws. To my infant. At some point I realized just how wrong all of this was. Heck, there are hundreds of people out there, and thousands of websites, who are just ready to pounce and point out all of the things they believe I am doing wrong as a mom. Somewhere along the line parenting techniques became decisive, and it became ok for everyone to voice their opinion on how you should be raising your child. You know, the child who provided you with endless days of morning sickness, the child you worried about since the day you found out you were pregnant, the child you birthed, and the child you are responsible for raising into a caring, responsible adult. The child you know better than anyone else in the world.

Those people can talk all they want about what they believe I may or may not be doing wrong, because I could care less about their opinions. But I do care about the opinions of my daughter. Because sometime in the future, she will most likely be a mother herself. And if I've raised her right, I know she will be a great mother. And what I will want more than anything else, is for her to recognize that in herself.

So I've changed my tune. Now I spend my days telling my daughter what a great mom she has. I give myself verbal pats on the back when I give her cuddles that stop the tears, or sing her songs that make her laugh. And I'll continue that tune when she needs me to  kiss the boo-boos to make them all better, or help mend her broken heart. Because one day, she'll realize that I'm not a perfect person, but that doesn't mean I wasn't the perfect mom for her.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fiona's Baptism

Yesterday, Fiona was baptized into the Catholic Church. The baptism took place at Saint Joseph's on the Brandywine, which is the same church where we were married. I love the sentiment that such big events for our family were held in the same place. It was a bit of a dreary, rainy day, but it was filled with so much love, faith and support. 

Our little family 

 The godparents! My sister, Kristen, and Ryan's brother, Kyle

 My little leprechaun. 
When your name is Fiona Kathleen, and you're a Mc and you're a redhead, your Mama has to dress you up in an Irish linen christening gown. Obviously.

This was during the Litany of the Saints. The deacon who was presiding over the baptism, likes to research different saints that share names and birthdays with the child. For Fiona, he chose Saint Finnian (closest to Fiona), Blessed Kateri of Tekakwitha (for Kathleen), and Blessed Mercedes de Jesus Molina (died on June 12th). We were laughing because he said there were so many Saint Catherines to choose from, since Kathleen is derived from Catherine. But for some reason, he felt compelled to focus on Blessed Kateri of Tekakwitha. What was humorous, is that I had chosen Kateri as my confirmation name. Also humorous, was that of all the saints associated with June 12th, he chose Blessed Mercedes de Jesus Molina, who was born in Ecuador. You know, that place my husband lived for a while. Neither of these facts were known by the deacon, so it made everything seem even more special.

 Fiona receiving the sign of the cross from her godparents

About to be baptized. If I look nervous, it's because my daughter who should have been awake at this time actually looked like this: 

 Needless to say, her reaction after being sound asleep and then having water poured over her head was everything that you could possibly imagine it would be. 

Baptized baby!
I did have socks for her, but I completely forgot to put them on. Oh well, baby feet are cute :)

 The white garment is a part of the Catholic baptism. For her white garment, the deacon gave Fiona this, which his wife needlepointed for her. It was unbelievably sweet. 

 We had a small reception at our house afterwards: 

 Ryan, Fiona & Kyle

 My sisters Kristen & Laura, Me, Fiona & My Brother Joey

It was a wonderful day, and it was great to celebrate with our families!