Two weeks and counting

So I returned to my office today after a wonderful and refreshing paternity leave, during which we spent some well-deserved and needed time as a family.

I didn’t have an overwhelming amount of work to catch up on because I stayed on top of emails throughout my leave and managed to work on some projects when there was down time at home. Still, my first day back in the office seemed longer than I had anticipated, and when I arrived home tonight, I could hardly wait to get out of my work attire. I’ve been so accustomed to T-shirts and shorts these last couple weeks that my slacks and button-down shirt felt terribly uncomfortable today.

After all, last week was filled with mornings of sleeping past 8 and waking to Phoebe crawling onto our bed to settle between Kates and I, not to mention a couple instances where Pheebs even woke up to join us for Faye’s 3 a.m. feedings. We’d let her lay in bed with us for awhile, before taking her back to her bed.

We spent lazy days playing games, reading, watching movies and, of course, taking turns holding Faye. During the late night hours, Kates and I found ourselves watching “Friends” marathons on Nick at Night, in addition to making some good progress on our mission to get current on “Mad Men.”

Thursday we took Faye for her first trip to the university campus to introduce her to some of my colleagues there. Our friend Gina presented Phoebe with a handful of balloons, which we opted to store in my office for the time-being. After all, we were on our way out of town for a shopping spree to St. Joe. ... Of course, we forgot about the balloons. And at 12:30 a.m. that night, long after we'd put her to bed, Phoebe came from her room nearly in tears and saying, “Daddy, we forgot my balloons in your office.”

Saturday night, Phoebe and I took a stroll around campus.

* * *

Faye is doing well, although I feel like we’re still trying to get to know her.

With Phoebe, we were couped up in the hospital for nearly a week after she was born, which meant we spent every minute with her. And by not being home, we didn’t have a steady flow of visitors occupying our house and diverting our attention. Also Phoebe, as we often say, was born alert and seemingly aware of her surroundings. Her personality was there the moment she arrived.

With Faye it’s been a little different. Thus far, she seems pretty laid back and content with the world. She sleeps more consistently than I remember Phoebe sleeping at this stage; Phoebe’s sleep during her first week was hindered by the stress of still being in the hospital, I think. When Faye does open her eyes, she just gazes around the room, looking totally content and comfortable.

Those eyes also have caused us a little concern because they’ve been severely bloodshot since she was born. She’s got these deep red rings around her irises that aren’t showing any signs of disappearing. But the doctor tells us it will go away.

Her eyelashes aren’t very pronounced. Phoebe’s were the opposite and were one of the first things people noticed in her facial features.

We’re still trying to get her back to her birth weight. At her latest checkup, she was 6 pounds 10 ounces. So we’re making progress.

Her voice, for an infant, is starting to become more pronounced. For the first week or so, nearly every noise to come from her was a high pitched squeak or squeal. Which had us calling her Squeaky or Squeakers. Only in recent days are we getting some good cries from her.

Her lips are almost always pursed; Phoebe was always sticking out her tongue.

Her smiles are a rarity, so far. Kates says she’s seen a couple, but I’m still waiting. Phoebe gave us several memorable smiles during her first couple weeks, with this one being my favorite.

When Faye’s pacifier is in her mouth, she smacks it like Maggie Simpson. Loudly.

She also seems to enjoy sleeping on her side. Unlike Phoebe, we’ll have no worries about flat head with Faye.

Just like Phoebe as a baby, Faye’s milk comas and the way she stretches after being raised from a good nap are both funny and adorable. When she stretches, she arches her back, strains her neck and pumps a fist in the air -- which then prompts me to sing, “Power to the people …” Every time.

* * *

Phoebe remains proud of her big sister role. When Faye cries, Phoebe is quick to tell us “Faye’s ready to eat again.” Phoebe also has helped on a couple diaper changes.

Still, we’ve had to deal with a few battles for attention.

And last evening we had our first freakout moment among the siblings. …

I was at our work table, on my laptop in our family room. Faye was laying asleep on a blanket on the floor. And Phoebe was bounding around the room, playing with her toys and dancing to some music I was playing.

Phoebe was walking near Faye, and all of a sudden Faye let out a shriek.

Phoebe jumped away and looked at Faye with a startled look. Fearing the worst, I shouted “Phoebe!” and ran toward Faye to scoop her up. Hearing the commotion upstairs, Kates rushed downstairs, shouting at Phoebe, with scared tears filling her eyes, “What happened!? What did you do!?”

It all happened so fast. Whatever happened, we were scared stiff that Phoebe had stepped on Faye and, worse, caused a severe injury.

Phoebe didn’t know what she had done and was just as scared and sorry as Kates and I. She sobbed uncontrollably as we tried to recount, for everyone’s sake, what exactly happened while looking  for any signs that Faye might be hurt.

“Phoebe, where did you step?”
“I don’t know.”

“Did you step on her tummy?”
“I don’t know.”

“Did you step on her arm?”
“I don’t know.”

“Did you step on her leg?”
“I don’t know.”

As of tonight, we don’t know exactly what happened and probably never will. We’ve kept a close eye on Faye for any signs of something awry, but everything appears to be normal.

Whatever happened, it made for one dramatic evening at our house.

Surely, it won’t be the last time we feel such emotions. The trials of raising kids.

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