The One Milestone I Never Wanted to See

Dear Charlie,

Well it was bound to happen sooner or later… the last couple of months were so crazy that I completely missed your 7 month letter, and now you’re just a few days shy of 8 months! I’m so sorry, but I promise that this letter will be nice & long to make up for it. 😉

So the night after I last wrote, you woke up in the middle of the night struggling to breathe. You were making horrible seal-like sounds that I had come to recognize as “striders” from when Alex had croup the week before, and knew that you had come down with croup as well. 😦 I tried all the things the doctors had told me to do with Alex, but unfortunately none of those things worked & you were getting worse. Things like this can be very serious for a baby so little, and therefore around 8am the next morning I decided to take you to the hospital. Luckily we live only 15 minutes away from a wonderful children’s hospital, so I took you there. There was only one person ahead of us in the waiting room when we got there, but you were doing so poorly that the lady checking us in called a nurse out and she whisked us to the back right away. They immediately gave you a special breathing treatment and an oral steroid to help reduce the inflammation in your throat. You were okay with the breathing treatment for the first 10 seconds or so, but once you realized that you couldn’t take the mask off of your face your FREAKED OUT. Having to keep that mask shoved on your face while you thrashed around and sobbed, in the emergency room surrounded by a crew of doctors and nurses looking on, was the most horrible and heartbreaking moment I’ve had as a mother so far.

I wish I could say that was the end of it. Although you did improve a bit after that, your breathing gradually began to get worse again and they had to administer another breathing treatment about an hour later. And then a third. At that point the doctor came back in and said that if you started to get worse again after that third treatment, they were going to have to admit you into the hospital overnight. It was around noon at this point. When she came back to check on you, your breathing still wasn’t where she wanted it to be, and we agreed to have you admitted overnight. When the hospital doctor and nurse came in to process you into the hospital, I just completely lost it and broke down crying in front of them both. On the one hand I was mortified that I couldn’t even control myself enough to talk to them, but on the other hand this was my first time having to take a child to the ER, let alone be admitted for an overnight stay in a hospital, and I’d never felt so sad or scared in my entire life. My heart was breaking, and I felt so incredibly helpless. They were nice about it but it was still a pretty awkward moment for them. Anyway, they wheeled us up to your hospital room and got your medical history (not much of one there!), hooked up to all the monitors, and otherwise situated. This was around 2pm and one very kind nurse finally brought me some lunch. I hadn’t eaten anything other than a hasty granola bar in since dinner the night before. Dad was stuck at home with Alex, of course. The attending doctor told us that our goal was to have you go at least 6 hours without needing a breathing treament. Once you got to that point, you’d be able to go home.

The hospital crib was nice in that you could prop the mattress up on an incline which helped you breathe a bit, but you were scared and completely thrown off your typical sleep schedule by then, so for the first 8 hours or so you would only sleep if I held and rocked you, which required me standing and holding you just so in order to keep you close enough to the monitors.

You eventually did get to a point where you slept in the crib, but various nurses and technicians came in constantly to poke and prod you with various things to check your vitals & such. So, I don’t think you slept much more than an hour or so at a time & I had to feed you a few times during the night, which I hadn’t had to do since you were a newborn. But, we got through it and actually didn’t need any more breathing treatments throughout the night. The next morning you were in good spirits, rocking the hospital clothes:

And we were released around 10am! I kept you home with me that day & the next day. You improved drastically over those couple of days and were almost entirely back to normal by the third day, so I sent you back to daycare and went back to work. I’m so blessed to have a job that allows me to work from home (so I didn’t have to take any time off while you were sick, and a good thing too because I’m still trying to earn back the time I took off for maternity leave earlier in the year), but we aren’t allowed to telework more than half our time in any given pay period so I simply had to get back in the office. I felt guilty about sending you back to daycare (even though you were much better, you still had a small cough)… but such is the plight of a working mother I suppose. I enjoyed our time together while you were home with me though. You are such a happy baby in general, and were in such good spirits given all you’d gone through. Everytime I looked over at you while I was working on my laptop, this is what I saw:

So all in all, you took the whole thing much better than I did. Even now almost 2 months later, reliving it all while I’m writing this I started crying again. “Baby’s First Hospital Stay” is simply NOT something a mother anticipates writing about in the baby books… but it is what it is. I hope that was the last time I ever have to take a child to the hospital. And I have to say, if I’d had to guess I would’ve totally picked Alex to be the first one I had to take to the hospital… :-X Really surprised the first trip was for you. Glad it’s over! Everyone’s been more or less healthy since then. We all had another little cold about a month later while we were on vacation in Hampton, but that was drop in the bucket compared to this croup business!

On to happier things– you’ve had some much more positive milestones these last couple months too! You now sit up 100% independently for long periods of time, which is nice because you can hang out in shopping carts and high chairs much more easily. You’ve gotten so big that we finally ditched the bucket seat and went to a rear-facing “big boy” seat. Although I miss being able to easily get you in/out of the car without waking you up, especially since you nap in the car or stroller a lot on the weekends, the whole apparatus was just getting way too heavy for me to handle.

Also, you’re now very much a baby on the move! You’ve perfected the art of getting from Point A to Point B just by rolling, and are trying desperately to learn how to crawl. You can get your upper half off the ground as well as your lower half, but never both at the same time yet. Sometimes you’re able to Army crawl a few inches when you’re really motivated, but most of the time you just end up pushing yourself backward. When we’re hanging out in the playroom, you invariably end up pushing yourself under the bed at some point…

LOL. With all this mobility comes a lot of discovery and more interactive learning. You love playing with your big brother, and never want to be far from his side. If he has a toy, you want one too (preferably the same one he’s playing with 😉 ). Luckily Alex is still quite indulgent of you most of the time, although there have been a couple of disagreements over toys. I don’t know why I bothered saving the infant toys, as you are just as content to play with Alex’s stuff… or just to be in his presence! He makes you smile like no other. 🙂

The same goes for food– you’ve come a long way in that area as well. Now you actually manage to consume a good portion of what I put in front of you, rather than just smearing it all over yourself and the tray. 😉 You’ve had a pretty big variety of things, and so far the only thing you didn’t seem to like is broccoli. I suspect it was more of a texture than a taste issue. And again, whenever Alex is eating, you want to be eating too! Your highchair is directly across from Alex’s seat at our table, and the two of you entertain each other at every meal. 🙂 You’ve been teething and your first bottom tooth has made an appearance, although it’s just barely broken the surface so far…. but lack of teeth has not stopped you from devouring food, that’s for sure! I just try to keep it somewhat soft & manageable for you. I have to watch you like a hawk though, especially at restaurants, because whenever any food comes into your vicinity you try to grab it, whether it’s yours or not…. so sneaky! You’ve also pretty much mastered using straw sippy cups, which is great because I’m looking forward to being done with bottles!

Teething has led to some rough nights around here as well. After having to bring you into bed with us a few nights in a row, I finally broke down and started giving you some Motrin before bed. Since I started doing that, things have been much better for all of us.

One other milestone to celebrate– although I was the only one to witness it. While we were on vacation in Hampton, one morning you woke up extra early (around 5am) ready for your first bottle of the day. Naturally I was somewhat slow-moving, and in your frustration you stopped crying for a second and said in the saddest little voice, “Maaaamaaaaaaa!” Pitiful, but adorable nonetheless and I am counting that as your first word. 😀 LOL. It almost negated the fact that you had me up at 5am on a vacation day! No other words since then, just lots of random vowel noises/babbling.

All the shenanigans with everyone getting sick led to your 6 month photo session being several weeks late, but we got them done eventually… and they came out really cute!

Our photographer, Jeni, is always kind enough to let me get a few photos with you… and this one was my favorite of the two of us together. Everytime we tried to get a cheek-to-cheek picture, you would turn and give me big sloppy kisses! 🙂

We’ve been on lots of adventures this summer, and you’ve been soaking it all in and participating where you can. But mostly you’ve just been taking lots of naps in the stroller or baby carrier. Thank goodness you’re such an easy baby who doesn’t mind napping in an assortment of conditions! I don’t have you on as strict of a schedule as I did when Alex was this age… in part because we’re too busy these days to stay home the amount of time that requires, and in part because you rarely want to nap for much longer than an hour at most. So, you end up taking 3-4 short naps per day, rather than the 2-3 long ones Alex used to take at this point.

I think I’ll let the pictures tell the rest of the story…

It’s never hard to get pictures of you smiling! You are such a happy, smiley baby– all we have to do is look at you & you bust out a grin. 🙂

I think you have the most fun when we’re hanging around the house, because that’s where we can give you the most attention & where you have the most freedom. When we went on vacation, you spent a lot of time in the stroller or baby carrier…

Checking out the Virginia Living Museum

You slept through your first trip to the beach, and woke up just in time to enjoy the nearby playground afterwards!

Tuckered out after a busy day at Busch Gardens

Catching some shuteye with Papa at your cousin Michael’s birthday party

… but you did have some fun moments too!

If nothing else, I know all of our family and friends down in Hampton were happy to catch up with you & see how big you’ve gotten! 🙂 You’ve enjoyed a couple of baby playdates recently as well…

Hanging out with Miss Avery, who’s a couple months older than you

Playing some tunes for Miss Scarlett, who’s about 6 months younger than you. You look like a giant next to her– it was a real eye-opener as to how much you’ve grown in such a short time!!

Now that fall is upon us, we’ve spent most weekends out enjoying the gorgeous weather and all the fun things that happen around here in the fall. You slept through most of a local fall festival a couple weeks ago…

But were awake and enjoyed the festivities on a Potomac pirate-themed cruise we did last weekend!

And now as I wrap this up, you’ve just turned 8 months old. This year is flying by SO incredibly fast! I know I say that in every letter, but it’s true. It blows my mind to see how close we are to having TWO toddlers around here… Oy! Lord help me! 😉 But in all seriousness, I am so excited to see what the future brings for our little family. Watching you grow and develop has been such a huge joy for all of us, and it’s hard to imagine life without our sweet Charlie-bean now! We love you so much!! ❤

All my love,