Dear Baxter: Happy “birf-day”, you’re “tree!”

My tiny, speedy little peanut is three.  THREE.  We are officially and totally out of the baby years.  We got rid of your crib last week, and you potty trained yourself last month.  Board books are being replaced by beautiful picture books with long stories and intricate characters.

But you and I share a special ritual, one that I hope will never change.  When I drop you off somewhere, when you get hurt, or when we say goodnight, you always insist on a “kiss, a hug, and a high five”.  You came up with this yourself, and you are the enforcer every single time.  It’s your little way of checking in, making contact, and reassuring yourself that you are okay to go off and do whatever it is you’re going to face.

While I certainly know that 15 year old Baxter, or 32 year old Baxter is not going to insist on a kiss, a hug, and a high five, I hope this foundational bond always remains strong between us.  Three-year-old Baxter needs to ‘fuel up’ on your mom’s love and affection before going to do something solo: before being dropped off at a new preschool, or staying overnight at Nanny and Grampy’s, or going to sleep in a big boy bed.  It buoys your confidence, and it cements the knowledge that we will see each other again soon.  With your kiss, hug, and high five, you can conquer anything.

When you do become 15, or 24, or 32,  I know that a kiss, hug, and high five won’t be enough to solve your relationship dramas, your work frustrations, your existential crises, or your maturational dilemmas.  But remember what had prepared you for these momentous events and difficult conundrums: your mother’s love and never-ending belief that YOU CAN DO IT, and that you ARE okay.  As a little boy, you could conquer anything knowing that I was right behind you–figuratively, or literally.  This will never change.  No matter how old you are, no matter what your situation is, your mother is right behind you.  Likely cheering for you, and probably marveling at your bravery.

You see, you don’t NEED this check in with your mom.  You just think you do.  [And to me, that is everything.  Somebody once told me that the greatest gift you can give a parent is to make them feel needed.  You do that quite well.]

You are quite an affectionate little rough-and-tumble man.  You clamor for my lap anytime you get hurt or scared.  You love to “have snuggles”, and you regularly tell us “love you moon and back, momma”.  You love to have your hair stroked and your back rubbed, and every time you suffer an injustice you want to read a book to make yourself feel better.  One year old Baxter didn’t seem like he was going to grow into a cuddle bug, but you are.  And I love it!  I never knew I could put off so many chores when you ask me to “sit longer” or “talk about the day”.

My hope as you grow up?  That you will always know how, and be brave enough, to ask for help when you need it.  That you will not stifle your fears, or ignore your concerns because you think they are silly or baseless.  That you will not struggle within your own head because you’re afraid to let someone else in.  Instead?  Ask!  Discuss!  Strategize!  Worry together!  Then take a leap knowing that someone will be there on the other side to meet you: to celebrate, or commiserate.  Someday your partner or spouse may fill that role.  But never forget that your momma can do it too.  I’ll always be there with a kiss, a hug, and a high five: to fuel you up, and send you off.  Because I know you can do it.  You just have to know yourself that you can do it too.

Kisses, hugs, and high fives to the moon and back,

Momma

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Baxter is 11 months old!

I’m actually posting Baxter’s 11 month pictures in a timely fashion!  Gasp!  But that’s because we’re basically all quarantined at home today due to hand-foot-and-mouth disease that is running through our house hold.  Yuck.  High fevers, nasty rashes, no appetites…it started with Charlotte, went to Bax, on to Fred, and I’m ok…so far.

In any case, we have to stay away from other children, so we had plenty of time for photos today!  Between ten and eleven months were a BIG change for Baxter:

  • Still has only two teeth, and weighs in at 16 lbs. 6 oz, or in the 1%.  Tiny peanut!
  • Finally figured out how to crawl on all fours instead of his inchworm/army crawl.  He can crawl over/under/around/inside/outside anything that presents an obstacle!
  • Is slowly starting to cruise on furniture, but really cruises with his push stroller toy.  The boy is fearless.  FEARLESS!  He will push that thing like a bat out of hell, fall, and get up and do it all over again!
  • Babbles more and more, loving to make different tones with his voice, and plenty of yells
  • Grunts a little gremlin grunt and blows raspberries at anyone that will look at him
  • Thinks Charlotte is the funniest person on the planet.  On a recent trip to the beach, she repeatedly threw Dad’s flip flop at his face, and he repeatedly cracked up.
  • Did his first sign!  Signed “more” when eating, and uses it sporadically.
  • Has a definite word/sound for Dad.  “DA!  DAAAA!” he will shout upon seeing Fred.  Still no consistent “mama”.
  • Loves Pippa and gives her lots of hugs
  • Went on his first family camp trip to Sebago Lake for a week with my family.  Baxter loved the water, the beach, crawling around the house, playing with everyone, the food…basically everything except sleeping.  Which he did not do much of.  He preferred to cry his brains out each night, prompting Fred and I to take him home a day early and let everyone else have some peace and quiet!
  • Favorite foods are applesauce, avocado, pasta, watermelon, fish (sometimes), and crackers

Baxter is ten months old!

Highlights from 9-10 months (how did we get another ten month old???  Time moves faster with each month!)

  • Favorite activities include ‘planking’, rolling away from diaper changes, and army crawling like a wounded soldier all around the house–especially to chase Charlotte or Pippa
  • Still has just two bottom teeth
  • Eats huge meals!  Shredded chicken, sweet potatoes, toast with peanut butter or hummus, applesauce, yogurt with raspberries, oatmeal, banana are the current favorites
  • Took his first overnight trip to visit Uncle Ted and Aunt Nina in Michigan: 2 days to get there, a few days at their house, and 2 days to get back.  He was an absolute rock star in the car, hardly fussing and sleeping most of the drive!  While there, he started to try/practice climbing stairs, and he and Charlotte played together for the first time with a bucket of new toys.
  • Distinctly says “Da!’ for Dad, and he used to say “mama” but it has since disappeared.  He also has a particular shriek/scream for Charlotte that I can’t even replicate here!  He is starting to babble more and more each day.
  • Went for his first swim in Sebago Lake.  We put him on a beach towel, he caught sight of the water, and he army crawled it right into it!  He loves splashing, flailing about like a fish, and especially taking baths.
  • Favorite activities include playing in the sandbox (and eating fists of sand), rummaging around in buckets full of toys which he can empty out, throwing things, army-crawling with things in his mouth, and generally eating/tasting/licking anything he can get his hands on

Baxter is 7 months old!

A few days late here because we’re so dang busy!  Baxter is now a rolling, squirming, screeching seven month old!  We had some big changes between six and seven months:

  • Fiiiinnnnally sleeping through the night.  Most nights.
  • Rolls both ways
  • But he is developing a [somewhat annoying] habit of rolling over onto his belly and getting smashed up against the crib bars RIGHT when it’s time to go to sleep.  Ensue screaming until an adult rescues him.
  • Is just about able to sit on his own, toppling over only when he over-zealously reaches for a toy or the cat
  • Loves his solid food: applesauce, bananas, baked apples, oatmeal with green beans, toast with hummus, and kiwi. All feeding himself!
  • Had a visit from Uncle Tom and Anna, and Uncle Teddy and Nina!
  • Mama went away from Baxter for her first night
  • Does more screeching than babbling:  “dah dah!”  “BWAH!”
  • Has the very beginnings of two bottom teeth
  • Loves playing outside: eating grass and leaves, digging around in the sandbox

Baxter is two months old!

The time flew between one month and two months!  Baxter has recently found his hand and tries to shove it in his mouth; he’s fascinated by windows and the trees outside; he is starting to play on his playmat; and he and I have some fun little “chats” where he looks at me so earnestly and babbles as if he’s telling a really important story.  He smiles up a storm and is really interested in Charlotte and Nanny’s drawings that I hung near his changing table.

He allllmost started sleeping through the night, going from 8pm-4 or 5am with no wakeups!  Perhaps by next month he’ll be sleeping in his own room…?  Take a peek at his two month photos, which so beautifully illustrate life with a newborn and a toddler!  [click the pictures to enlarge]

Baxter is one month old!

It doesn’t seem possible that a month has already come and gone.  Our sweet little man passed the one month mark in style with a new set of onesies custom made by Auntie Julia.  Charlotte even snuck in for a few pictures!  The highlights of month number one?

  • Gained two pounds since birth, weighing in at 8 lbs 9 oz now.
  • Eats constantly throughout the day
  • Just started sleeping 5-6 hour stretches at night (shhh!  don’t jinx it!)
  • Loves tummy time

Click the pictures to enlarge!

Welcome baby Baxter!!

“I can’t feel my hands.  How can I sign the paper if I can’t feel my hands?  Also, I have to push. NOW”.  Scribble, scribble.

Surely the nurse at Mercy Hospital thought I was a huge b*tch.  But this baby was coming, and I wasn’t going to have it in the hospital lobby.

The morning had started like most of our Sundays, with breakfast and a long walk.  I went my parents for my birthday BBQ, leaving Fred and Charlotte at home to meet me later.  But within a few minutes of Fred’s arrival, he had me hobbling into the car with contractions that were 6-7 minutes apart, out of nowhere.  “This will take all afternoon” I thought.  I probably had just walked waddled too far that morning.  We drove 2 miles home and mentally prepared to hang around the house….but by the time I got up the stairs, we were turning right back around.

1:40pm:  “Call the midwife!  Tell her…..”  (woah, big one.  breathe, breathe, breathe).  “Tell her I can’t talk and I might throw up!”  She advised us to line up childcare for Charlotte (done), pack our bags (done) and get to the hospital.  This was just an hour after the first contraction.

Fred was breaking every traffic law he could, calling Aunt Julia and speeding through red lights amidst my urging to “go faster!”  Scarborough to Portland is a long drive when your contractions are 3 minutes apart.  Gripping the seatbelt and digging my heels into the floor, it was all I could do NOT to push.  We fled the car and left it (running) in the traffic circle at Mercy hospital, where a security guard sauntered over with a wheelchair.  “I have to push!”  I tried to scare him into moving faster.  Faster!

The moment I stood from the wheelchair, my water broke all over the floor.  “Just breathe through this one, and in between the next we will get onto the bed,”  Ellie the midwife soothed me.  Her voice was the only calm thing in the room.  All around me nurses flitted about and Fred nervously held my shaking hands.  I later found out that Ellie was already holding the baby’s head as I stood in the middle of the room.

Six minutes and three pushes later and I heard the sweet, hiccuping little cry of a baby–a boy!–as I struggled to lay down.  My eye caught on the clock next to the bed.  2:22pm, just 13 minutes after I’d shouted at the nurse who wanted me to sign papers.

Frederick Baxter Follansbee, known to us as Baxter, joined this world ten days early.  6 pounds, 10 ounces and 19 inches long.  Like most things (ok, everything) in my life now, this post took me forever to write.  Things just don’t seem to happen on time, or efficiently anymore!

Baxter’s birth was the last thing that happened quickly around here.  So quickly, in fact, that Papa has already dubbed him “Speedy”.  This boy was in a hurry to join the party, and nothing was stopping him.  But if given the choice between Charlotte’s 14+ hour labor and his 13 minute debut, I’d take his any day!  [click on the pictures to enlarge].

September 7, 2014.