Dear Merrill,

You're going to be six weeks old tomorrow - which hardly seems possible - and I want to make sure I'm taking note of every little thing I can right now, because I want to be able to remember each tiny detail and milestone.

I stare at you for hours on end, watching you purse your lips as though you're concentrating intently. I capture the tiny smiles that cross your face, and hope they are in reaction to the songs I make up for you as we spend a lazy day in bed. I laugh at all of the little noises you make, from the squeaks when you're stretching out to the machine-gun sounds that escape your lips after you eat.

You love to lie on your back and stare at the ceiling fan while you get a tummy rub...and you are happiest when you're curled up in a ball on your dad's chest. Last week, when we gave you a pacifier for the first time, you reacted as though it had been dipped in crack. You grab our fingers whenever they pass your hands, and your grip is amazingly strong.

All of these things seem so basic, yet I am filing them all away because they are the things that make you who you are. We are getting the opportunity to watch you grow and become your own person, and that makes us the luckiest people in this world. We are already so proud of you, and we are so amazed and honored that you are a part of our family.

You don't know what you've done for me in the short time you've been here. You've helped me exceed my own expectations of what I'm capable of, while challenging me to be better than I was. You've given me the strength and the patience I was afraid I'd never find in myself...and you've managed to eliminate the selfish nature I was afraid I'd never lose. You let me find rational thought in the midst of fears, acceptance even when I don't have control, and energy on the days that I'm so tapped out I can't think straight.

The past six weeks have been amazing, and we can only imagine where we'll go from here.

In the categories of "I never thought I'd hear myself have a conversation like this" and "One day Merrill will hate me for telling this story"....

She. Will. Not. Poop.

Oh, she's trying to - but because my body decided it was time to stop producing breast milk and so I've had to give her formula, her little stomach is struggling in a way that is painful to watch. She strains, she cries, she gets red faced, she screams - and nothing comes out. I called the pediatrician's office to find out what I can do to help her out (and in turn, help me out because my God, my heart is breaking to watch her in pain and I can't handle it anymore), and so we are now adding dark karo syrup to her bottle twice a day. That did help - once. I'm currently waiting and hoping for it to work again....essentially, praying for poop. Yeah.

I broke down in tears watching her cry, wanting so badly to fix this for her and knowing I couldn't. The feeling that it's my fault overtakes me, because if it weren't for my lack of breast milk she wouldn't be on formula, but that's a whole OTHER set of issues that I can't even go into at this point, lest my head explode. It initially made me feel like I'm not cut out for this motherhood stuff - because if the sight of my baby being constipated makes me break down, how on earth will I ever be able to handle anything big and real that she has to overcome? It took a teary conversation with my friend Jessi, in which she helped me understand that the presence of my caring means I am cut out for this, to put things in perspective.

Oh, and this didn't hurt either.


I decided to take Merrill to get one-month portraits made, in order to have something to give for Father's Day. Several hundred dollars later, I arrived home with these.

I went in thinking I wanted to get one or two shots of her - and while I gave it a valiant effort to narrow down the 100-plus shots they took, I was only able to narrow it down to thirteen.

Can you blame me?



When people asked me what I was getting my husband for Father's Day, I would quickly reply that I got him a baby. We were pretty sure the baby would be here in time, since my due date was 2 days prior, but we weren't expecting our little one to be a month old by the time Father's Day rolled around.

I am usually not one who struggles for words - I can pretty much always convey any emotion I'm experiencing and don't seem to lack for things to say....but when it came time to sign his card, I was at a complete loss. There is just nothing I can say to adequately illustrate how much I love this man, how proud I am to be the mother of his child, and how easily and effortlessly he has fallen into the role of being the most amazing father to his little girl.

He swoops down on her at the end of the day with such excitement at seeing her tiny face - and covers her with kisses as he tells her about his day and how much he missed her. She perks up and smiles when he walks in the door and she hears his voice - and then she curls up against him and sighs contentedly. It's sometimes more than I can handle.

Happy Father's Day, sweets - you're so much more than these two girls could ever ask for.



There are a number of things that are muuuuuuch easier to do without the presence of an infant:
  • Managing to take a shower that's long enough to allow for shampoo, conditioner, soap, and shaving underarms and legs
  • Doing more to your hair than pulling it into a ponytail/headband/braid - forget the flat iron or curling iron (hell, forget the hair dryer most days)
  • Cooking a meal that includes no pre-cooked elements, nothing from a box, and nothing from the frozen food aisle
  • Sleeping. Duh.
  • Having a conversation with your husband about anything other than said infant
  • Waking up from a fog to find it's pouring outside, where the dogs are - and then trying to get two 75 lb. dogs inside, into a bath to wash the layers of mud off of them, drying them, washing the towels used for that bath, cleaning up the pile of vomit from one of those dogs because the rain sent him into a tizzy and upset the delicate balance of his stomach....all while it's time for the baby to eat and all because your husband laughed when you mentioned the thunder and the possibility of rain and the notion that maybe, just maybe, the dogs should be brought in from outside before he left for work.

Then of course there's the things that are impossible to do without the presence of an infant...namely, staring at your beautiful child for hours on end, loving her very presence.



This is Merrill's first day at the pool - and a perfect way to depict her size by showing her in relation to one of her dad's favorite things.



Last night, we gave Merrill her first full-blown bath - I had a feeling it would cause some tears and drama, since the sponge baths we've been giving her have been met with disdain and righteous pissed-offedness. Sure enough, she was not a fan of bathtime. She screamed and shivered and as much as I kept scooping warm water over her while washing her as quickly as I could, she was only content once it was over and she was wrapped in a towel, curled up against me.

(Disclaimer: this photo is terrible, since it was taken with our video camera instead of our regular camera. The regular camera was at my friend Jessi's house, where it was left behind following an afternoon of margaritas. Oops.)


Catching Up

Oh, where to start.....

The past two weeks have been a blur, and as much as I've wanted to sit down and write about the entire experience of Mer's birth, and the days that have followed, I can't seem to wrap my head around it enough to dive into the monumental task of covering everything. (Not to mention my inability to set this angel down long enough to reach for the laptop...)

On the Monday before she was born, I spent the day in a great deal of discomfort. A sensation similar to indigestion started early that morning and by the afternoon, the pain was intensifying and wrapping around my back. I called my doctor and he thought it sounded like a gall bladder attack - so he suggested we head to the hospital to get an ultrasound to check for gallstones. Several hours later, I was being admitted to the hospital overnight for observation after my bloodwork came back wonky and my blood pressure was too high. Fast forward twelve hours, as I sat waiting on a doctor to come talk to me about what was going on - as my husband left the hospital to grab lunch - not knowing our lives were about to change. A doctor walked in and announced that they were delivering the baby - and the response to my question of when was "now".

I was on the phone with my husband telling him to hurry and get back to the hospital as a nurse was prepping my IV, an anesthesiologist was explaining the risks of a c-section, and I was signing paperwork with my free hand. My husband walked in the door as they were wheeling me down the hall, just in time to have a gown and mask thrown at him.

Turns out I had HELLP syndrome, a form of hypertension associated with high liver enzymes, low platelet count, and high blood pressure. It doesn't cause problems for the baby, but is very dangerous for the mother if left untreated - and the only way to relieve it is to deliver the baby.

It was all such a blur, and it all happened so fast - but as I was laying on the operating table, holding my husband's hand and talking to him, I didn't feel fear at all - only excitement at meeting our child. It never even dawned on me to worry about the surgery or having our baby come a month early.

When I heard our baby crying as she was born, and heard my husband announce that we had a girl, I was in complete awe - and when I looked over and saw her for the first time, I couldn't believe it was real. Even now, two weeks later, I still look at her and get overwhelmed with the notion that she is the one I carried for the past 8 months.

She's amazing. She's sweet and cuddly, she makes the most adorable squeaking noises, she has the most gorgeous pouty lips, and she's definitely the same active child that used to kick me and roll around. At her two week checkup, she weighed in at 5 lbs. 7 ozs, which is amazing given how tiny she was at birth. She eats heartily - although I can't even go into the saga of attempting to breastfeed her at this point - and her cheeks have begun to fill out in the most adorable way.

Basically, I'm completely enamored with her - head over heels in love with this tiny little person, and fully aware of the concept of unconditional love and the sense that if anyone were ever to try to hurt her, I'd rip them apart with my bare hands. I'm exhausted yet exhilirated, unable to stop staring at her. Everything I've just written is completely disjointed, and does not even begin to scratch the surface of what we're experiencing, but it's all I can do at this point.