Sunday, February 15, 2015

Whitley - Month One

My Daughter Whitley is simply adorable:

Heading out to dinner to see uncles, aunts, and grandparents.
How much I love this little girl cannot really, truly be expressed; and as I do not wanted to sound overly sentimental or ridiculous, I will refrain from a long, sappy exposition about how the heart is unable to express to the mind what it feels. The poets have made many a comment on this topic, and I don't read enough poetry to really do it justice. I just want it to be clear that I really, really love her and hope that she knows it.

Now to the good stuff. What has happened in the first month since Whitley has arrived home? I really wish I had been more diligent in keeping some sort of record because it seems like this little vessel of joy just grows too fast! Within the first two weeks she had gained a pound! That is almost 15% growth! It is even more amazing when I consider just how much smaller she was when she first entered our lives. If I thought that time went by fast before, it is simply warp speed now.

Whitley has learned this last month to do a variety of things I didn't know babies her age could do (which isn't really saying much because I am totally ignorant to such things anyways). At around week four she had started to lift her head up on her own, and I am not sure that there was really ever much time that she didn't seem to have an unusually strong neck. Normally it feels like newborns are wobbly little flesh dolls that are about to fall apart at the seems; but Whit has constantly astounded me with how much she moves her head.

Since birth one of her favorite tricks is to try and flop to one side without you noticing in an attempt to fall out of your arms (or off your chest if she is laying on you). It always amuses me and Andrea when, while holding her, she leans to one side or the other so far that she is basically a v bent at the hip. She doesn't seem to like being straight very often. The most amazing part of this is that she does it most actively when she is asleep, so it is like she is having some sort of flashback to the womb when she was always bent in some way, except now she is bending in the wrong direction.

When Whitley isn't trying to back-flop off your grip, she will constantly be looking around at all sorts of things, anything that is high contrast and interesting. She doesn't often look at humans, but when she does she has the most funny little expression of confusion on her face, as though she is seriously wondering where we came from.
What are you doing and why are you holding me?
Sleepy time for Whitley truly is the cutest thing I have ever seen. The little sounds she makes melts my heart every time, and when she does her little whimper and starts to frown I can't help but laugh. She had some rough nights at first, but lately she has been sleeping five to six hours, and we hope that she will start to increase her time soon. Andrea is really the only one who suffers when she doesn't sleep though, because I apparently sleep like the dead. Occasionally I wake up when Andrea is getting back in to bed and ask her if she needs to feed Whitley. Thankfully Andrea is a very loving and supportive wife, so she lets me keep sleeping and thinking that Whitley does the same.

Family and friends can't seem to get enough of Whit. Andrea's parents make it a point to come and see her (and they also split their time with Whitley's cousin Juliette in Logan) and they just adore her. Aunt Loralie has taken probably close to a couple thousand photos of Whitley, so there will be no shortage of documentation that Whitley was once a baby. My parent's are often overjoyed to see Whitley, and my Dad was able to come down from his work in Washington to visit and meet Whitley for the first time this last Friday. It makes me strangely happy to see people holding her and calling her cute; it is as though I can't think of a higher compliment to me than to have them say good things about my Whitley. In fact, we were at a convention this past week called RootsTech, and several people would congratulate us on the good job we did with Whitley. Although the comment makes no sense (like Andrea and I had anything to do with how she looks), it makes me very happy all the same.

Pacifier use with Whitley has been something of an ongoing philosophical battle within ourselves. On one hand we want Whitley to have the comfort that she needs and we don't want to deprive her of a pacifier just because we don't want her to have one. But on the other hand there are several studies that indicate pacifier use in early newborn stages cause some issues in vital aspects of baby rearing, such as nipple confusion, early weaning, and reduced ability to self-soothe. Also, it is nice to know that I don't have to rely on a pacifier to calm her down, that through training she will fall asleep when comforted naturally. This last point has been taught her rather successfully, and Whitley falls into a deep sleep whenever I hold her and sing her to sleep, no matter how fussy she had been. I get great satisfaction out of comforting my child, and I hope she prefers this method as well.

Most of her days are spent with Andrea, and as such Whitley is left with a most pleasant atmosphere. I love coming home to these two wonderful ladies and get nothing but a heaping load of love from them both. Whitley is being raised by the best mother I know, and I am sure that she will pick up many great things from her. I am so impressed with how well Andrea has taken on the role of mother, seeming to thrive in this environment as though she never didn't have a child. Often I hear horror stories of women who have children and almost seem to have break downs a few weeks in. Andrea could be a motivational speaker to these women, for I don't see her showing any signs of wear over Whitley.

Even though she is a tough woman, Andrea still conks out after a long day of looking after Whit.
My relationship with Whitley seems to have started off very well.
Whitley after her first bath. That bow is hideous and I vow to never make her wear one like that again.
As you may know, I was there for her when she was first born, and I gave her the first bath she ever had. Since then I have been at all her baths but one (which, sadly, we have done less than once a week). As soon as I get home each night Andrea gives Whitley to me and I basically hold her until we get ready for bed. In the morning I often get to hold her and let her sleep on my chest before I get up to go to work. Several times we have taken naps with her on my chest while we sleep on the couch, and I look forward to these times so much (I didn't get to do it today because I wanted my dad to hold her as much as he could).

Perhaps the sweetest thing about Whitley is just how much she stays calm around me. It is probably just a fact that she is a calm baby, but I like to think that there is something more to it than that. Whitley, for whatever reason, does not like to be laid horizontal unless being fed, she just doesn't. Sometimes you can cradle her and rock her, but you will get much more traction if you hold her up right and do so. But Whitley will almost always fall asleep when I place her horizontal on my lap as I work at my desk. She will rest with her head on a boppy and the rest of her body secured against mine and the edge of the desk with the rest of the boppy as support. She has been known to sleep very deeply in this position for hours, and I simply love it. 

There is no end to the measure of satisfaction I get when I can pick Whitley up and put her at ease within a minute or two. I really love this girl and I am trying to learn all the tricks and secrets I can to personalize my love for her. She loves hearing singing (especially songs like Music of the Night and Hallelujah), and I often employ this technique to cease her squawking post haste.

And finally, I just want to end with a few more little things that I love about Whitley:

I love when she yawns and she throws her head way back to the point that you can see her body form the shape of an r. I love when she gets a little spooked or needs to stretch that she raises her hands over her head, and it is made even more adorable because her hands barely reach past the top of her head. I love that, when she cries, I can cry back at her and she will stop and look quizzically at me. I love the little lower lip quiver she makes for seemingly no reason (it looks like she is cold, but she will do it no matter how warm it is). 

I love when she is searching frantically for something to suck on, like a hound looking for a scent, and when she finds it she attacks it like a piece of meat. I love when she is crying because she is hungry and I put my nose in her mouth and she will suck on it for a bit and then pull out and look totally confused and cry even harder. I love how she grabs my shirt with her little hand when she is asleep, making it hard to put her down without waking her.

I love that she enjoys car rides and being swung around in her car seat, and I love that she likes being in her little baby swing. I love the fact that she hated baths so much at first that we didn't bathe her for almost two weeks after that (she now loves baths, probably because we learned to make the water much warmer than the recommendation). I love that she enjoys being held up by her armpits and be dangled (her faces are priceless and I really need to capture one sometime). I love that she loves to be danced with, and bouncing her up and down is a joy to her.

I love her little attempts at smiling, with her gummy half grin and oft-times milk-drunk half awareness. I love that she seems to love mommy so much, and that she can be soothed by her mom so well. I love watching Andrea hold Whitley and have Whitley look so at peace. I love seeing Andrea change Whitley, to bathe her, and to dress her. I love watching Andrea be a mother.

Basically, I love being a father. I hope that I stop sucking at writing these things down. Whitley just grows so fast, and I want to be able to record more of it. My next post will be much shorter, and it will probably cover a lot more of me (because I know that some context about what else is going on in the lives of her parents will also be of interest to her). But this first month has just been so incredible that I really wish I had written more often. I love my little family, and being a dad has been the best thing in the world.