Saturday, June 9, 2012

Your Birth: Another (More Disgusting) Perspective

Dear Maddie,

I know your mom already told this story, but her version of events is...well, both better and worse than what actually happened. It glosses over some of the more disgusting elements and skips straight ahead to the 'yay, we have a beautiful daughter'. And while that last part is certainly the most important, I think leaving that account as the only story of what happened is tragic. The true story is way grosser.

The story all starts on a Thursday. Well, that's not true, the story all starts back in September. Well, that's not true, either. The story really starts with a big bang, or not, depending on what the government is allowing them to teach in schools by the time you learn this stuff. But for our purposes, this story starts on a Thursday.

So, it was a Thursday. I had just been laid off from my job. Literally hours before. Oh, also our health insurance ran out at midnight. But we didn't really have time to worry about any of that, because your mom was in labor. Well, she thought she was. She would later (with more perspective) describe the contractions she was having that Thursday as 'lame'. But at the time, she was pretty sure she was in labor, and so we were off to the hospital. After waiting around forever in the triage, they finally saw us, and basically laughed us out of the place. Your mom was less than 2cm dilated, which is more than you probably ever wanted to know about your mom's cervix. They sent us home and told us to come back when we were ACTUALLY in labor. How would we know? "Well, you won't be talking and laughing through your contractions," they said. Wise words.

So, fast forward to the following Sunday (May 27th, a date you probably recognize, because you often get cake on that day, and I know I remember days like that). I had slept in a bit, because I was unemployed and nobody really gets on your back about sleeping in when they already know you're a lazy bum for other reasons. When I woke up, your mom said something along the lines of, "I think we're going to have a baby today!" She and I went back and forth when writing these blog posts about what she *actually* said, but that was the gist of it. Her prescience shouldn't be given too much credence, however, as she had said roughly that same thing on several previous days. She likes to forget that part when she's recounting this story.

I didn't want us to get sent home from the hospital again, so I basically spent the morning killing time and pretending we had lots of important things to do before we left. I cleaned the living room and the kitchen. I moved some boxes down the basement. I did the dishes. Basically anything I could think of. In retrospect, I think I just wanted you to come home to a clean house. Finally, around noon, your mom was getting pretty surly about the whole 'contraction' thing, so off to the hospital we went. We waited forever in the triage again, and then forever once we got an exam room, but finally they came in to check and lo and behold, there was a 4cm hole in your mom's cervix, so we were admitted and sent up to labor room.

Note that this 'labor' room was not actually one of the labor rooms we'd been shown on our tour of the hospital, because apparently there was a 'mysterious smell' in the labor and delivery ward that was 'causing people to get sick' and they were 'investigating' so the wing was 'closed'. Maybe too many quotes there. Anyway, instead we got to go to a pretty nice room in another ward. Sadly, this room wasn't really set up for birthing babies, so there was a lot of rearranging furniture in the time we spent there. I called your Memere so she could get on the road from New Hampshire, and we settled in for an afternoon of contracting and dilating.

When your mom's OB, Dr. Perry, showed up, things got kicked into high gear. Suddenly there were epidurals and pitocins and catheters all kinds of crazy things running into and out of your mom. I can tell you that never before have I seen such a complete transformation in a person's demeanor as I did from the moment before they put that thing in your mom's spine to the moment after. I am willing to put forth that mankind has created no greater medical marvel than the epidural.

Your Memere showed up right after that, and we basically hung around chatting and joking for awhile. Dr. Perry came in and broke your mom's water, which was when we discovered that your 'membranes had ruptured'. This is the medical way of saying you pooped all up in your mom. They told us not to worry, that this was very common, but that it meant they'd have to take you away and work on you right after you were born, and so this was all very scary for us. Around 6:15pm, Dr. Perry came back, stuck her hand in your mom and pronounced her fully dilated. "We'll start pushing in 45 minutes," she said casually as she left the room. Now, my dear daughter, what happened next was what I now think of as 'the opposite of the epidural'.

Suddenly your mom was shaking. Her teeth were chattering. She thought she was going to pass out...or maybe throw up. She couldn't decide. It was a very scary 15 minutes or so involving oxygen masks and very tight hand holding. I don't know if it was the adrenaline or nerves or what, but things were INTENSE for awhile. Eventually, your mom calmed down, and though her teeth continued to chatter a bit, I think we were all ready for the (disgusting) miracle that was to follow.

Prior to all of this, through the whole pregnancy, your mom had been making me swear that I would say 'on the north side' of her body during the delivery. She didn't want me seeing what was happening down there. When it came time to push, however, there suddenly wasn't really a 'north side'. It was a small room, and I was helping to hold her leg...and, well, I saw everything from start to finish. It was awesome. And so gross.

Just after 7:00pm, the nurse came into the room, asked me to hold your mom's leg, and the pushing began.  I saw a little piece of your hairy little head on like the third push. It was crazy. Not long after, the nurse called for Dr. Perry, and they made the bed transform through some sort of sorcery into a completely different device. Seriously, if there was a THIRD miracle in that room today, after your birth and the magic of the epidural, it was the trick that bed performed.

A few pushes later, and your head was pretty visible now. Dr. Perry was having a tough time getting her fingers around it, though, so she asked for some lube. It was then, for the first time, I watched somebody lube up a baby's head. My baby's head. Maddie, I'm telling you, the miracle of life is WEIRD. So they lubed you up good, and on the next push, out popped your head. It was huge. Like, I honestly have no idea how it fit through there.

After that, everything happened REALLY fast. There was another push, and they pulled you all the way out. I saw your umbilical cord, which looked like little pulsing intestines. And then, after your feet, came the largest gush of fluid I have ever witnessed. It was sort of like your mom exploded. I couldn't begin to tell you what was in there, but it could have been ANYTHING. It sprayed all over the doctor and the bed and the floors and you and man, there just isn't any way for me to drive home what watching the mother of your child explode looks like. This was quickly followed by a strange gurgling sound, which I realized was you...attempting to cry. It only took you a couple of tries, and then you were wailing like a banshee. It was incredible.

I didn't have time to consider what had just happened, because suddenly the doctor was asking me to cut the cord. Now, Maddie, you've probably seen this happen on all manner of TV and movies, and people had warned me that it's not really like that. But for real, it's not really like that. You think, "I'm just going to cut through this little tube." But really you're using some weird scissors to hack your way through human flesh. It feels weird, and it took me a couple of tries before I managed to actually cut all the way through. But I did, and then you were handed off to the pediatrics people, who took you over to the panda warmer.

After a quick check to make sure that your mom was okay, I did some fairly acrobatic dodging around the doctors, nurses, and horrifying fluids to make my way over to you, where I watched them clean you up. It was incredible to watch as you went from a sort of scary pale blue color to a warm, rosy pink. Oh, also, you were peeing everywhere.

I was so wrapped up in what was happening to you, that I was only able to half pay attention to what was happening to your mom. Apparently they were helping her expel the placenta, and then there was stitching and who knows what else. Have I mentioned that birth is WEIRD? Your mom was looking at me for some sort of response, since she couldn't see you, and all I could think to do was give her a thumbs up and smile. I think that made her feel a little bit better. Or like she married a total moron.

While they continued to work on you, one of the doctors told me it was okay to touch you. Before that I'd just been standing there trying to stay out of the way, but that was all the permission I needed, and soon you were holding my finger. Maddie, I love your mom madly, but never before that moment had I felt anything like the love I felt for you. You stopped crying, and you had goop in your eyes, so I'm sure you couldn't even see me, but you looked right at me, and I said, "Hi, I'm your dad."

Soon you were pronounced hale and hearty, and they took you over to your mom so she could hold you, and I could see then that she loved you as much as I did. It was the start of a whole new crazy life full of crazy adventure. Suddenly, it was as though nothing else even mattered. This is the kind of thing people tell you you'll feel, but you don't really believe it until it happens to you.

We spent a couple of days in the hospital trying to come to grips with the fact that we were suddenly responsible for a whole extra person, and on Tuesday they sent us home with a pack of diapers to fend for ourselves.

I think we've done okay so far.



Friday, June 8, 2012

Our Baby Girl!

Well, Sweet Peas,

You're here! We love you so much, I can't even begin to put it into words. Every time I look at you, you take my breath away. And since I look at you all the time, I pretty much live in a state of breathlessness. (I also hold you all the time. All. The. Time. Nothing in this world is as beautiful, sweet, and clever as you, and your dad and I have never been happier in our whole lives than we are right now.)

I wanted to tell you my birth story, because it's also your birth story. On Sunday, May 27th, I woke up early in the morning with cramps. They felt like menstrual cramps, but quite a bit stronger. (I was immediately hopeful, because your Memere told me that her contractions felt like menstrual cramps when she was in labor with me.) I tried to go back to sleep, but every five minutes or so, I would wake up again with these cramps. They began to get a lot stronger, and after about an hour of them, your dad woke up. I said, "I think we might have a baby today!" I didn't want to get my hopes up too high, because I had thought I was in labor three days earlier, on Thursday. (We went to the hospital on Thursday, after I had been having a ton of Braxton Hicks contractions, and the doctor checked me and said that my contractions would need to get a lot stronger before I was in actual labor, but that I was in the early stages. I was pretty disappointed to go home without you that night!) As the morning went on, I became certain that Sunday was it. (I had something called a "bloody show," which is really gross but also very exciting, and it just made me more certain that you were going to arrive very soon.) While I was in the shower, the cramps/contractions were so painful that I had to lean against the wall and squeeze my eyes shut. Finally, we went to the hospital around noon. They checked me, and said that I was four centimeters dilated. I was so psyched, little one. Your dad and I were over the moon at that point, and so ready to meet our little girl! Not even the cranky nurse in triage could put us in a bad mood! They wheeled me upstairs to an antenatal room (because evidently there was a weird smell in the hallway where the delivery rooms were), and your dad called Memere so that she would head to the hospital. The doctor, Dr. Perry, was very no-nonsense about the whole thing. She came in, asked why I hadn't had an epidural yet if I wanted one, and got me hooked up with the anesthesiologist. Now, at this point, my contractions were really, really painful. It seemed like every one was stronger than the last. When the anesthesiologist administered the epidural, my first thought was, "Ugh, weird, it feels like something is in my spine," and my second thought was, "Holy crow, I feel amazing!" And I really did. Suddenly, I couldn't even feel the contractions. My lower body felt warm and wonderful, and then your Memere arrived, so I hung out with her and your dad until the doctor came back. (We were watching Knocked Up, which was on TV. It seemed appropriate.) She had ordered something called Pitocin, which made my contractions stronger (even though I couldn't feel them), and when she checked me a few hours later, I was startled to hear her say, "Okay, you're fully dilated. We'll have you start pushing in about forty-five minutes." That was when I freaked. I was so afraid the pushing was going to hurt terribly, and my teeth were chattering and I was shaking from the rush of adrenaline that happens when women are so close to giving birth. My blood pressure started acting up, and they raised my bed and gave me oxygen until I felt better. Our nurse was a very sweet lady named Mary, and when it was time to push, she was very comforting. After the first one, I calmed right down. It didn't hurt! I could feel that something was happening, and that you were a little lower and closer to meeting your mom, but I wasn't in pain. I pushed for about forty minutes, and then there was you! When the doctor broke my water during one of my checks, she said there was meconium in it, and I was so worried that I wouldn't hear you cry right away, because they might have had to suction some goop out of you, first. That didn't happen, though. You were born crying, and you kept it up while all of the nurses got you cleaned up and weighed. You were born at 7:39pm, weighing 8 pounds, 5.5 ounces, and measuring 20-1/2 inches. When I finally got to hold you, Maddie, I was in love, and I've been holding and loving you ever since!

You're almost two weeks old now, and I am just obsessed with you. I love every single part of being your mommy.

With all my heart,
Your Mom

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Our New House!!

Well, sweet girl, we have a house in which to put you! We are so excited about it, and I think it's the perfect place for our family. We should be all moved in by Sunday, so feel free to come anytime after that! (I know, I know. It's getting squeezy in there. You're uncomfortable. Me, too. But just hang in there a little longer!)
We're 37 weeks today! That means you're full term, which means you could be born at any time, and will not be considered premature. You're all developed! Now you're just getting adorably pudgy and taking practice breaths and sucking your thumb. Not much longer till we meet you, little peanut.

Your Mom

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Oh, yeah. My 35 week (and a few days) picture.

(I forgot to post this last week. On Tuesday, I'll be 37 weeks, and we'll take a picture then. I am basically the size of the Hindenburg right now. You are one healthy little girl.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Miracle of Birth

Dear Maddie,

I'm going to tell you a secret. When they talk about "the miracle of birth," they aren't just talking about bringing a new life into the world. They are talking about the last couple of weeks of pregnancy, in which a soon-to-be-mom becomes so uncomfortable that she actually begins to look forward to labor and delivery! It's pretty amazing. Just a month ago, I watched your Auntie Nan give birth, and I thought, "Heck no. Not doing that." Now, I'm 36 weeks pregnant, and oh man, I'm ready for you. It is sort of hard to stand up these days. It feels like someone has kicked me repeatedly in the crotch. (The doctor says you're really low.) My belly is suddenly pretty massive -- your dad has referred to it as "Fat Albert," which I will probably think is funnier when I'm not mega pregnant, and I've basically been living in pajama bottoms and nursing tank tops, because everything else is uncomfortable. (I have counted the number of times I'll have to be in public before you are born. The number is six, as long as you're on time. If you're late, it might be more like eight. I will reserve my uncomfortable clothes for those six to eight times, and the pajamas/tank tops will be my uniform the rest of the time.) I'm still having low blood pressure issues, which means no driving for me until you arrive. So, you know, if you get the urge to come just a little early (but after you're full term), as long as you're all developed and pudgy, please feel free! We're ready for you!

Your Mom

Monday, April 16, 2012

Healthy Little You

Well, Maddie, it's been a crazy weekend.

First, there were the very sharp pains in my cervix. (Kind of like needles. Yowch.) Then there was the almost passing out in childbirth class (several times). Then there was the dizzy spell this morning. Your dad and I were pretty freaked out, to be honest. I kept thinking, "What if this is preeclampsia? And I have to go into labor tomorrow, at 34 weeks? I don't even have my hospital bag packed! And what if your lungs aren't ready, yet?" Fortunately, it's not preeclampsia. It's just low blood pressure. Woo! And the cervical pain? That's you, my little peanut. That's your head, banging against my cervix. You're already in position, and you want out. (I hate to tell you this, but I won't be full term for another three weeks, so you've got to keep your pants on and cool it with the escape plan for now.) Can you believe that your due date is in six weeks? Neither can I! The OB said you're measuring 32 centimeters, and he thinks you're going to be between 7 and 8 pounds at birth.

I'm feeling so relieved. Relieved that the dizziness is normal, and relieved that you're super healthy and staying in there for at least a few more weeks. Still, it really might be almost time to pack that hospital bag. Just in case. Just to have it ready.

Your Mom

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

This would be much cooler as a flip book.

32 Weeks
30 Weeks
28 Weeks
25 Weeks
23 Weeks
20 Weeks
18 Weeks

16 Weeks

15 Weeks

33 Weeks

Dear Maddie,

This is going to be a doozy of a blog post, because there is so much to tell you! Well, first of all, I am 33 weeks pregnant with you. I'm full term in four weeks, and your due date is three weeks after that. You are going to be with us very, very soon, and we are so excited to meet you! Your dad was born at 33 weeks, which is pretty crazy to think about. But you stay in there for a few more weeks, and gain some weight, and continue kicking your mom in the organs, okay?

Your cousin Robert was born on April 1st! I got to be in the room with your Auntie Nancy, and while it did make me a little nervous (okay, a lot nervous) about going through my own labor and delivery, it was pretty amazing to see. And that sweet little baby at the end of it all definitely makes everything worth it. Your dad and I are going to take a tour of the hospital this Thursday, and our all-day childbirth class is on Sunday. The week after next is our breastfeeding class, and then that's it! No more classes, just the real thing. Holy smokes.

Your dad and I are in the middle of buying a beautiful house. If all goes as planned, we'll close right before you arrive! Cross your teeny tiny fingers! I know what you're thinking. "Mom and Dad, are things always going to be this hectic? You're buying a house right before you're having a baby? Are you nuts?" Hopefully things won't always be this hectic, peanut. In fact, I don't think it's even possible for things to always be this hectic. Within a year, we've gotten married, moved across the country, your dad's started a new job, your mom's finished graduate school, and we'll have bought a house and had our baby. Most years are not going to be quite like this one!

On March 17th, your Memere and Auntie Nancy threw us a big, wonderful baby shower! I know you can't see or play with the gifts yet, but I assure you -- you received a lot of awesome things from your family! It was a big, co-ed family shower, and we had such a fun time. Your Grandma Jill even flew out for it!

Today, I have a whole lot of laundry to do, and I should really get started on the Thank You notes for the shower gifts (don't worry, Maddie, I'll teach you all about Thank You notes. I used to love writing and sending them. Pregnancy has slowed me down a bit, but it certainly hasn't stopped me! These notes will get mailed. It just may take me awhile), and you're going to keep me company the whole time.


Friday, March 2, 2012

What Have Your Parents Been Up To?

Dear Maddie,

On Tuesday, I'll be in my third trimester! That means we're just three months away from seeing your cute little face. Next month (March 17th) is my baby shower, and it's co-ed, which means your daddy, Uncle Michael, Ooompa and lots of the other men in our family will be there, as well as lots of the women and kids in our family. Everyone will be there to celebrate you! Your Grandma Jill is even flying out from Indiana, which we are very excited about! Your Memere and Auntie Nancy are planning the whole thing, and it makes me so happy (and a little weepy!) to think about how loved you are already.

Your daddy and I have been getting ready for your arrival! I'm washing your little clothes and packing them away until you're here to wear them, and your daddy and I are looking at houses and setting up your nursery area. We're all signed up for our April childbirth and breastfeeding classes, and for the tour of the hospital where you'll be delivered!

Last week it was your Auntie Nancy's baby shower for Robert, and I sat next to your Memere. You started bouncing around, and Memere got to feel you for the first time! I'll be sure to drink some ice water (or orange juice) when your Grandma Jill is visiting, so that she can feel you, too.

You stay cozy in there, and keep up the wiggling! It's both cute and very reassuring!


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Dear Maddie,

It's Valentine's Day, and that's a day to celebrate the people we love. I love your daddy an awful lot -- he's the most wonderful guy on earth, and I just can't imagine my life without him. And he and I love you like crazy! You'll be here in three short months, and we just can't wait to see your little face. Even though you're still living inside of me, there isn't a moment that goes by without your dad and I thinking of you.

You're going to be born into a big family that loves you so much already. (See the photo above. Not pictured is Robert, who was actually in your Aunt Nancy's belly when this picture was taken.)

So happy Valentine's Day, Maddie! I love you. And you love chocolate, so I'm going to go ahead and eat another piece.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Little Rib Dweller

Dear Maddie,

I'm working on my thesis now, because I have to mail it to my advisor in about a week, but it's been so hard to focus on it, because all I want to think about is you, and about preparing for your arrival! I'm trying to guilt myself into focusing, though. I'll think, "Maddie would really be proud if I could just turn this thing in and finish grad school before she arrives." You're a good little motivator!

You're good at lots of things, actually, and you aren't even born yet! For instance, right this very minute, you are doing a great job of kicking me from the inside of my ribcage. Pretty wild, right? It isn't painful, exactly, it's just a very strange feeling! (Your Aunt Nancy assures me that it'll get painful in a month or two.) Right now you're head down, which is the position I would love for you to be in when it's time for me to deliver! But no pressure. You have lots of time to do some more flipping.

Lately, I get tired very easily, and I'll put on a movie while I'm cleaning or cooking, just to have something entertaining going on so that I don't sit down and fall asleep. I had the realization the other day that you haven't seen any movies, and that your dad and I will get to introduce you to all of the best ones (like Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan, That Darn Cat, and many more), and we'll get to share with you all of the best books (like Go, Dog, Go, Goodnight Moon, all of the Madeline books -- which, you'll figure out pretty quickly, influenced our baby name choice -- and so many more). You have tons of cool stuff ahead of you, Madeline Lucille! We can't wait for you to get here.

You know, I never used to drink milk until I became pregnant with you. Isn't that weird? I hated the taste and consistency. Then, in the first trimester, I craved it a lot. I didn't drink much of it in the second trimester, but all of a sudden, I'm stealing your dad's 2% again. (It really helps with the nighttime pregnancy heartburn!) I wonder if I'll keep drinking it even after you're born?

I've noticed that your dad has been signing his blog posts "Love, Daddy." It makes me a little teary, because it's so sweet, and because he's already such a good dad! It's made me wonder what you'll call me. There's "Mom" when you're a little older (though you can come up with any variation you like. I call your memeré "Marm" a lot of the time, which I think is a shorter version of "Marmie," originally from Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. That's another great book). But what about when you're still little? Or when you're older, but are feeling particularly cozy and loving toward your mom? "Mommy" is pretty standard, and "Mama" is nice, too, with the spelling variation of "Momma." What do you think, Miss Maddie?

Your Mom, Mommy, Mama, or Momma

Sunday, February 5, 2012

On the Importance of Family

Dear Maddie,

It's Super Bowl Sunday, and while this probably doesn't mean a lot to you (your mom is currently napping on the couch, so I imagine the festivities aren't really pertinent to your current interests), I think most of New England is currently freaking out to some extent. Me, I'm hanging out and writing you a blog post, so I guess that says something about my interest as well.

That's not really what I wanted to talk about, though, I wanted to talk a little bit about family. Yesterday, your mom had a party to go to and while she was there, I didn't have much to do. So I called your Grandma Jill (cool grandma name STILL pending) and your Aunt Annie and chatted with them for a bit. That was nice, because I really don't talk to them as much as I should (much to your mom's chagrin, since I'm pretty sure she tells me to call my mom once every day. Let this be a lesson to you about how she'll feel when you don't call her). I've generally been pretty independent, going my own way in life and flitting about the country to suit my whims, but sometimes it's a little bit hard being away from family, and I know it's going to very hard on them being away from you, because you're going to be way more awesome than I am.

Later that day, we went to your Uncle Mike and Aunt Nancy's house to spend some time with them. Your Memere was there, too, much to our surprise! I think everybody wanted to check up on you since we had a little bit of a scare last week. I think your mother would be horrified if I wrote about it here, but I'm sure she'll tell you all about it when YOU'RE pregnant someday. You know, when you're 35 and married to the first wonderful man you ever dated when you began dating at age 30, having never really had any interest in it prior to that. Your poor cousin Autumn was sick, which is never fun, but she managed to be awfully cute anyway, which I think is a talent you'll have as well. But try not to get sick. We promise to think you're cute anyway.

Anyway, we spent the evening hanging out with your aunt and uncle, going through Autumn's old clothes, which she has been kind enough to offer to you. We talked and ate and laughed, and it seemed like every time we were about to leave, we started talking about something else and spent another 20 minutes there. It was a great day, and all today I've been thinking about just how much I appreciate having such a great family. Both the family I was born into and the family I got to choose (as though there was ever really any choice involved in me loving your mom). I'm very, very lucky, and because of my luck, you're going to be very, very lucky, too. Isn't it great how that works out?

Please stay warm and safe in there. We're not quite ready for you out here yet, but we're working on it.



Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dear Maddie

Dear Maddie,

That's right! You're a girl! And you have a name! Madeline Lucille Lute. Do you like it? Sometimes you kick when we say it. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but either way this name gives you a lot of options. I think we're going to call you Maddie. When you're running for president and want to sound professional, you can be Madeline, or, like your Memere's mom, maybe you can be M. Lucille Lute? These things are up to you, but I think to us you'll always be Maddie.

We got to see you again two days ago. I'm sorry I didn't write sooner, but we've just been so excited. It feels like a whole new world now, knowing that we're having a daughter. That you're my daughter. We needed to pick a name for you, and though we tried out several ideas, I think we were both drawn to Madeline from the start. It's the perfect name for you. Unless, of course, the ultrasound tech was wrong and you're a boy, in which case we might need to rethink the name, but I feel pretty confident we'll be okay with that.

But anyway, back to the seeing you thing. Your mouth is very impressive. We got to see you open and close it several times, and I've got to tell you, I'm impressed. You've got cute feet, too, and if you don't mind me saying so, you look pretty brilliant. You were kicking a lot, too, which was fun to watch. Do you think you'll be a kick boxer? Or maybe a soccer player? Some sort of river dancer? I don't really know a lot of jobs that require kicking, but I'm sure you have many other talents we'll soon discover. Are you good at telling jokes? Can you play the cello? Maybe you can solve a Rubik's cube really fast or hold your breath for a really long time or lift a lot of weights or raise chickens? How are you at snowball fights? I can't wait to find out everything about you.

Your mom has been feeling you roll around and kick a lot lately, and for the first time the other day I got to feel you kick. I still can't feel it most of the time, but that time it was like a shock going through your mom's whole abdomen. It was crazy! I hope you'll be nice to her and not kick her TOO much, but I also kind of secretly hope you'll soon start doing it harder so I can feel it more often. Is that mean? Maybe you can just save up all your little kicks into one big kick? I don't really know how things work in there, but I imagine you're not too into planning right now. That's cool. Live in the moment, Maddie.

I've been reading to you at night and I hope that you can hear me. Sometimes I worry that you get to hear your mom all day, but me only sometimes. I worry you'll get here and be like, "Who the heck is this guy?" I know that's silly, because I'm awesome and what daughter wouldn't love me, right? I hope that someday when you read this you'll think I'm ridiculous.

Anyway, last night I read you Peter Rabbit, because I think that's how we're going to decorate your 'nursery' (okay, right now it's a corner of our bedroom) and you really better start getting on board with the concept. Tonight, I think we're going to read The Tale of Tom Kitten, because your mom has been pushing hard for that one. Peter Rabbit is a little bit of a poor role model, so I'm kind of hoping Tom Kitten will be a turn for the better.

That's about all I've got for now. I just wanted to fill you in on what you've been missing, because our lives are crazy right now, and it's so strange to me that while you're such a big part of it, if I don't write it all down, you'll never know!

We love you so much, Maddie! I wish there were words to really express that feeling, but I kind of hope that by the time you're old enough to read this, you'll know without an explanation. Stay warm and safe in there, because there's a lot out here we can't wait to show you.



Our Little Girl!

Hi, Maddie!

You have a name! And a gender! And your dad and I can't wait to meet our little girl in May. When we saw you on the ultrasound the other day, we were just speechless. You are already this perfect, adorable, squirmy baby! Your whole name is Madeline Lucille Lute, and you have a very, very cute little nose (pictured above).

My dear friend Diane (who is also pregnant) painted you a beautiful picture of Peter Rabbit, which we'll hang in your nursery. She also sent several Beatrix Potter books, which your dad reads to you at night. (You probably don't fully get the complexities of all of the story lines quite yet, but I think you like hearing your dad's voice. You move around and kick and twist while he reads.)

Some people say that babies and toddlers are more likely to enjoy the music they heard while in utero. I have to apologize to you, baby. I listen to music almost every day, but I can't tell you that it's not embarrassing music. (There's a lot of Hanson and J Lo in this household just now. It wakes me up in the morning and gets me motivated to shower and brush my teeth. Motivation is important when I'm so sleepy all the time!) So you may have to blame your future questionable music taste on your mom. But don't worry, I'll also have you listening to awesome things like Rosenshontz and Raffi.

We love you so much already, Maddie. I talk to you all the time, and when your dad leaves for work in the morning, he says "Have a good day, sweet girl (that's me), and have a good day Maddie! I love you!" (Before we knew your gender, he would say, "Have a good day, Baby!") When he gets home from work, he says, "Hi cute girl! Hi Maddie!" And he puts his hand right on my belly. We both talk to you throughout the evening, and he reads to you in bed. You've got a couple of parents who are crazy about you, little girl. We love you so much.

Your Mom