Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Newborn Pictures


It's been a few weeks since we've had Emma Vance's newborn pictures done, and as I've slowly been working on sending out baby announcements. (Don't worry, friends, yours is coming soon...), I've been trying to delay putting these up so as not to spoil the fun of snail mail. Oh well. Here it goes! (Just act surprised when you receive them, okay?) She was ten days old here, and I have to give major thanks to Carrie Tabb for fabulous pictures!

Here are a few samples...to see more, CLICK HERE:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dear E.V. (Month One)

Dear E.V.,

You came into the world with quite a grand entrance, and although the nurses and doctors kept calling you stubborn as you took your time, I defended you from the beginning. I was the stubborn one; you slept peacefully throughout most of the labor process, quite relaxed and happy to let things happen at their own pace. In fact, you smiled straight at the "camera" during the last ultrasound we had at the hospital, even turning your head to be facing straight on, no matter how hard the nurse tried to get a profile shot of you! (You were a ham from the start!)

When they handed you to me, you just looked at me quite contentedly, like we were already old friends. Your dad's eyes sparkled from the moment he saw you, and he hasn't stopped looking at you with joy and pride since.

This has been quite a month of change, but the most amazing and surprising thing is that you just slipped into the family nicely, as if you had always been there. I was so worried before you arrived that we were leaving behind a life that we loved, but now that you're here, I know I was so wrong. Now we have a life that truly feels complete.

You are a very easy baby, which your dad and I are thankful for. You rarely cry unless you need something, and you have a natural rhythm to your days, making your needs relatively predictable. You've been a healthy eater since the start, doing your one job as a baby very well. You don't spit up often, although when you do, it's often in full force, always almost in my face, and usually in my hair. (Thanks for that! Ha!) In fact, you love to use your mouth for every occasion, often sticking your tongue out for guests' entertainment and licking anything that comes even remotely close to your little lips. You always make the most distasteful faces when you have to take your gas and vitamin D drops, but as soon as one swallow is over, you stick your little tongue out for more! Pacifiers aren't your thing, although we've tried them on occasion to soothe you; you prefer to try and suck on your hands and fingers instead. Sometimes it makes me so sad for you--as soon as you manage to catch a finger, it seems that your newborn reflexes make you throw out your arms, causing you to lose it. You're always surprised when this happens, and a little frustrated, and I can't wait until you master this task. 

You're very strong, with a firm grasp and legs that try to push off of everything. In fact, you learned how to "roll" yourself over (more like flop yourself over!) at three weeks, which you do often during tummy time and when you want to see whoever is holding you. You've been trying to crawl almost since the moment you were born, and can easily climb up your dad's chest when he gives you his hands to push off of. I know that it will be a while before you can actually crawl, but we're proud of your attempts so far! Your dad and I disagreed in the beginning as to how much to "baby" your neck: Because I was the one feeding you, I knew what a flexible girl you were from the start, but your dad is very protective over his little girl and was more careful when holding you. However, you proved that you were self-sufficient early on, showing him that you could hold your head up easily, which gave your dad confidence to let those little neck muscles get practice as often as possible. The longest you've continuously held your head up all by yourself (I've timed) is about two minutes--very impressive, girl!

You are very social like your dad, and so though you sleep well, you love to be awake and involved with our daily events. Sometimes you take shorter naps than you should, or sometimes just skip them altogether! Most nights you wake up to eat at 3:30 a.m., but one night you slept until 6 a.m., which I was both surprised by and thankful for. (I don't doubt that you'll be sleeping through the night very soon.) You love to be "super swaddled" at night, a two-layer swaddling process that is your dad's specialty. We can't swaddle you in the traditional manner because you prove yourself to be a Houdini baby, always managing to get those hands out to suck those fingers (or at least to attempt to suck them!). During naps, we just cover you up with a blanket, and you inevitably end up with your hands uncovered and chilly by the end of nap time. (Like the old adage, you have "cold hands, warm heart.") You wake up mostly because you're pooping (which seems to be very uncomfortable for you) or because you've thrown the blanket over your face. If we can't get you to sleep, you love when we turn on the vibrations in your pack 'n play (your preferred place to rest) or hair dyer, which always works. I love the sweet sounds you make when you're asleep--coos and sighs and squeaks--it's all so honest and innocent and pure. However, the squeaking always alarms the dogs since it literally makes you sound like a dog toy. (What a surprise the first time we heard that noise from you!)

You are a delightful baby, with a face full of expressions and laughter. We can't wait to see how your features will grow and change with time (hopefully you'll keep your dad's blue eyes!), but I feel certain that your expressions are indicative of who you'll be in life. Every time you fall asleep, you smile and giggle. I often wonder what a baby could think was so funny...I'm sure you'll tell us one day. You even laugh in your sleep sometimes, which is quite surprising in the dark of the middle of the night, but always makes me smile. (You think you're soooo funny!) You've just recently started smiling at actual things and people, which is so rewarding. (Finally we know what you like to look at!) When you're sad, it breaks my heart because you act so pitiful, with a really exaggerated frown and big, salty tears. Those tears are terrible, and I would do anything to avoid them; they even dry out the skin around your eyes, making me certain that you were meant never to be sad and cry in life, which your dad and I will try to make happen with our every effort. You also have several facial expressions that we love to see, my favorite being "The Magoo:" When you're eating and falling asleep, you often pause to stretch, making the exact face of the cartoon Mr. Magoo. It cracks me up every time, and has earned you quite a few related nicknames.

Everyone always comments on what a pretty baby you are, and we agree! Your face seems to take on different characteristics depending on what you're thinking or what you're doing, but most people say that you look like me so far. (Unless you're crying, that is--then people say they see your dad! Ha!) My favorite part of you so far is your little mouth: It's perfectly formed and beautiful. I'm sure that people will compliment you on your smile all of your life. I love both when you pout and when you smile. Your dad loves your hair, which is the second-most commented-on feature you have. It's hilarious! No matter what we do, you have a little mohawk with a mind of its own. From the moment he saw your head of thick, brunette hair, he has been praying that it doesn't fall out like most baby hair, and so far, it only seems to be getting longer--especially in the back! (Mohawk AND a rattail? Lucky girl.) We know you have your dad's ears because I don't have ear lobes and he does, and I think he secretly takes pride in knowing that you've officially got a small part of him in your looks. Whatever you end up looking like, we know that you are going to be beautiful!

When you were in my belly, I (truthfully) never thought of you as actually being in there, but now I can look at you and all of your little movements and remember feeling them inside of me. Your little hands are always moving, your little fingers caressing anything and everything you can reach. And the hiccups! Oh, the hiccups! You get them several times a day, just like when you were in my tummy, and that makes me smile. I always feel bad when you get them, but you don't seem to mind, just like the content baby you are. You LOVE to fall asleep on my tummy (or your dad's), and it makes me sad that you're out in the world now; you seem happiest when you're scrunched up, pretending to still be in my womb.

We love you. We love you beyond measure and can't remember life without you, Emma Vance. This has been a month of change and adjustment for us and for you, and everyday you amaze and amuse us. We can't wait to see what fun and adventure you'll bring into our lives next month (and beyond).

Love you always,
Me (and Dad)

British Baby

That's our little British Baby!

Today we're celebrating the U.K., so happy Olympics to all you London-ers!

Super thrilled (sarcasm)

In honor of the opening ceremonies tonight, I taught E.V. the word "anglophile" this morning. (Never too early to start on that SAT vocabulary, right?) She was not excited about the lesson. :)

U-S-A! U-S-A!

So then we talked about celebrating England, but rooting for the U.S., a concept which escaped Emma Vance...

Now that's worth waking up to see!

...until I mentioned all the cute boy athletes who are competing. Consider her interest peaked!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fat Bottomed Girl (One Month Dr. Appt.)

That's my Fat Bottomed Girl and her Snoopy Bandaid!
Growing up quickly and on schedule...

Yesterday we had Emma Vance's one month check up (just a few days shy of her real one month birthday). We started out the day with a bang--or rather a barf--as E.V. had her first real projectile vomit, which happened as I carried her between the nursery and our master bedroom...landing in my hair...and down my shoulder...and straight down my leg to my foot...and onto the carpet...and on the wall. Yep, the wall. Oh, joy. It was first thing in the morning, and my yelp woke Ryan up with such fear that he rushed to my side, assuming something life threatening had happened (which, in a way, it had). Well, consider me broken in.

We planned on bathing her right before the appointment, but she was so peacefully asleep that I decided that I didn't care if the doctor thought she smelled a little rancid and resolved to skip it. In fact, we even skipped the opportunity to get dressed up and opted to wear our footy pajamas in public. E.V. was passed out all the way to the office and while in the waiting room. Then, of course, she had to get undressed to be weighed, and, like any female, she was not happy about the prospect. So, in retaliation, she decided to pull what we've deemed her "super squirt." (Moms, you know the one: the baby's bare-bottomed on the changing table when they realize that it's the perfect moment to projectile poop across, and most likely off, the table.) In fact, she super squirted so hard that it shot right past the scale's raised sides onto the floor. Oops. Then, of course, she continued to pee and super squirt continuously so long that the nurse left us and asked me to call him back when she was done and all cleaned up. Perfect.

Emma Vance was a little perturbed by this point, especially since her bout with the scale ended with a temperature taking "down there," and decided to cry while we were in the exam room waiting on the doctor. Sorry surrounding rooms!

Annoyed (with reason)

Really, I couldn't blame her for making a racket...

Thankfully E.V. was calm and happy by the time the doctor met with us. The gist of the appointment was that she's healthy and happy and on-target. In fact, she had gained so much weight since leaving the hospital that the doctor got a little wide-eyed. She's gained a net of 1 lb. 10 oz. in about three weeks, landing her in the 75th percentile at 9 lb. 11 oz. (exactly 1 lb. from her birth weight). As she was talking through this weight gain with me, the song "Fat Bottomed Girls" kept running through my head. (Bad mom! :) ) Her head size is 38.4 cm, in the 95th percentile, and her height is 21 1/8", in the 50th percentile. Ryan had to work, so afterwards I called him and joked that we have a fat, smart, average height baby. (Hey, can't complain!) The doctor commented on how pretty she is, and, not surprisingly, how crazy her hair is.

Smiling for the doctor in her footy pajamas...and with her crazy hair!

As per her usual mischievousness, E.V. refused to show the doctor how great of a head-holder-upper she is. So, I of course looked like an anxious stage mom, repeating, "I swear she does it all the time at home!" several times. But she did demonstrate her natural urge to crawl and roll, and overall there were no concerns. E.V.'s pre-exam crying did give the doctor the chance to examine her tear duct a little more, and she seems to think it's just narrow and will correct itself naturally.

In the hospital, we declined the Hep B shot so that we could follow our modified shot schedule. After our initial visit to the doctor, they directed me to some research I hadn't read before, and after some consideration, we've decided to follow the recommended schedule more closely (although, admittedly, not exactly). So, unfortunately, I had to be there for her Hep B shot, and it was so pitiful. I held her little hands, and she cried a bit, intuitively knowing something bad was about to happen. She screamed for about 10 seconds, and then it was over, leaving just a Snoopy Bandaid as her only evidence of the shot. Whew. At least that's over with!

Every time we have a doctor's appointment, I get nervous that she's not gaining weight or that some issue will come up, and so far we've been pleasantly surprised by her consistent, healthy development. Answered prayers!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Meet the Aquilios

Nathan, Lilli, Charlotte, Jill and E.V. 

My brother Tony and his family recently moved from Marietta to Orlando (coincidentally only a few miles from my grandmother, the real Emma Vance), and this weekend they were in town, giving "the cousins" a chance to meet E.V. for the first time. 

My sister-in-law Jill and I agreed to meet up for lunch, all four Aquilio kids in tow, and while they were running a little late, I got to experience being in public with a baby alone for the first time. (To her defense, Ryan was also late--but with ZERO kids in tow...hmmm....)

Thankfully Emma Vance was relatively calm while we waited in a semi-deserted corner of the restaurant. And when she did make a little noise, my iPhone saved the day. We've discovered that she LOVES the sound of the hair dryer, and (no surprise here) there's an app for that! (I figured that the closest patrons would prefer some white noise to a crying baby...)

Lifesaving iPhone app...

It was so fun to watch the kids interact with Emma Vance; they were pretty fascinated, especially Nathan, and just wanted to touch every part of her little body. (Nathan even snuck a few touches to her face, which Jill told him NOT to do about a dozen times, and each time he looked at me with sneaky pride...funny guy!) Nate and Lilli haven't had a baby cousin, and Charlotte was still young when the twins came along, so I think it was really fun for them to see her up close and in person.

The kids just wanted to touch her all over!

Charlotte was a little shy about it, but she wanted to hold E.V. and did a great job (with a little help from Jill). I've been joking with Charlotte that her mom volunteered her to come stay with us and be our live-in nanny, to which she's responded that she doesn't know how to change diapers. (Although, somehow she does admit to knowing how to wipe a baby's bottom...I think she's playing me.) Luckily for her, the restaurant didn't have a changing station in either bathroom, so Ryan had to make a couple of trips to the car to freshen up Miss E.V., getting Charlotte off the hook from a diaper-changing demonstration.

And, of course, Jacob was a little stand-offish, being an almost-pre-teen, but he came around once the younger kids were so excited to mess with her. (Plus, in his defense, this whole "baby" thing is old hat to him after three younger siblings...)

Jacob refused to hold her, but took full advantage of Charlotte's bravery for a closer look...

Overall, it was a fun and successful meeting, and we'll be glad to see them again on school breaks.

Oh, and of course I have to mention Emma Vance's outfit (which we had to choose carefully, since years of Disney princess movies have made the Aquilio girls quite discerning in their fashion preferences!). I took the opportunity to practice my baby photography...and E.V. was much obliged to cooperate. (She's such a ham already!)