As of Saturday, February 6, 2010, Clark is one month old. I have been thinking for days about how to capture Clark's life to date, but so far I've got nothing worthy enough to accurately describe how awesome he is. I'm always having these reflective moments that stop me dead in my tracks when I think about Clark, or me as a mom or Aaron as a dad, and how I need to write my thoughts down so I can stick it somewhere on the blog, but it just never happens.
I cannot believe it has already been a month. I remember so clearly being in the hospital and staring at Clark in disbelief that he is ours to take home and keep alive. I can also remember the feeling of coming home with him and wondering what to do next. He was so tiny and fresh and sleepy. He slept a lot - probably about 22 hours per day. Trying to keep him awake to eat was a feat of epic proportions. He was, and still is, perfectly content being wrapped up in our arms and sleeping the day away. Reminds me of myself in my pre-Clark days.
In one month, we have watched him change so much that I finally understand the overused cliche, "Before you know it, he'll be 18 and leaving for college." Well, this is actually a true statement. In one month, he has gone from only being able to keep his eyes open for a whopping three minutes at a time to spreading this huge toothless grin across his face if we make a stupid enough face. He already has a little Clark personality that is so unbelievably cute and different from any baby I've ever been around. He is genuinely a happy little guy.
Now, don't think we haven't had our share of unglamorous moments. Some moments are just downright disgusting. One of the most grotesque moments happened just this week, and of course, it happened during a diaper change. And not just any diaper change. It was as if he had four days worth of poop in there. Because of the wide load, it took almost an entire box of wipes just to even skim the surface of getting that baby's butt clean. As I was finishing up, and being the perfectionist that I am, I made the classic mistake of bending down to look and make sure I had gotten it all. MISTAKE. My face and his butt were eye to eye, and at the perfect moment he projectile pood all over the room, strategically hitting my face, my hair, clothes, the carpet, and some even got on the wall. Yes, I had poo in my hair. That may have been one of the first times I saw him smile. Hilarious, Clark. With it still in my hair, on my eyebrows, and in the creases of my elbows, I patiently cleaned up the second batch of poop, and just as I was reaching over for the clean diaper to end this nonsense, he made one last attempt to hear me curse as he whizzed straight up into the air, only to have it land right back on his face. I tried my best to block it by sticking my hand over the stream, but it was too late...his pee was all over his face, his clothes, the wall, and my hand. At that point, I stuck a hand towel over his lower body and waited about ten minutes until I was sure that his bowels and bladder were empty. Having been pooped and peed on all in a 3 minute time frame made for a great start to the morning. So when you visualize what life is like in the Rice house nowadays, that story is a more accurate image than one you might see in a Pampers commercial.
The first week of his life included a lot of sleeping and eating and zero awake time. I didn't want to get him on a schedule because my main goal was to feed, feed, feed, and feed Clark some more. He weighed 9 pounds, 5 ounces at birth and dropped down to 8 pounds 6 ounces within the first week. I wanted him to gain his weight back and be a healthy, chunky little boy, so he was eating every 2.5 hours. During the third week, I started working to get him on a schedule that included eating, keeping him awake for an hour, and then putting him down for a nap for about an hour and a half. For the first couple of days we struggled hard through this schedule, and then out of nowhere, it clicked, and Clark picked up on the routine and totally went with it. I know I'm going to jinx myself by saying this, but he is sleeping about 5-6 hour stretches at night. That doesn't mean that I am getting 5-6 hours of sleep, because about 5 times throughout the night I peek into his room and stare at him as he sleeps. Holy cow, that baby is so cute. I don't know how many times Aaron and I say that to each other a day.
Aaron is doing a fabulous job of balancing being a dad and a law student. He is currently prepping for some huge moot court tryout or something like that, but every hour or so he gets up to snuggle with Clark or bounce him around. Clark is the perfect distraction/procrastination tool. Aaron still has a huge calming effect on the child, and I'm getting better. Maybe once my arms bulk up and if I talk in a low voice, it will be the same. One of my favorite moments is giving Clark a bath, because Aaron and I both stand at the sink and talk to him like he is an adult. At this point in his life, he hates the process of bath time and wails through the whole thing, but LOVES the aftermath of it. Immediately after we get him out of his tub, we wrap him up in his special Clark towel and hold him tight until he warms up. This is the only 10 minute time frame every three days that he is without a diaper, so we never really know what to expect, but sure enough the Clark towel has already been pooped on and our hands have blocked many streams of pee so far. I especially love the nights that he gets a bath because once I fill his belly up and Aaron rocks him for about two minutes, he is out cold and marathon sleeps through the night, and these are the nights that I also marathon sleep through the night. I would love to give him a bath every single night but I'm told that's not good for his skin yet. As soon as I think he's ready, it will most certainly become part of our nightly ritual, and that is for selfish reasons.
This is his after bath attire.
One of my favorite things he does right now has to be when he flails his arms and legs when he gets excited. I love playing Baby Mozart from YouTube on my laptop and watch him stare in amazement at all the shapes and colors flashing across the screen. His eyes get really big and he starts punching the air and pedaling his feet like he's competing against Lance Armstrong. I have it on video but I'll have to get Aaron to upload it because I can't ever figure out how. I also love his sneezes. He puts every ounce of energy he has into his sneezes and throws his arms up with each one. When he was born, he kicked out about six sneezes in a row. Now he's down to about three. I love watching him when he's about 20 minutes into a deep sleep. He makes the sweetest little noises and flails around some and then suddenly stops and starts breathing really hard. As bad as this sounds, I love the faces he makes when he is on the virge of a breakdown. Its very similar to this:
Usually, he will make that face, gear up for a huge scream, leave us in suspension for what is about to happen next, and then decide at the very last milisecond that he would rather not. He will do go through that cycle a few times, and sooner or later, if he's really feeling up to it, he'll let it all out. We are starting to learn his cries. I think I know which one means he's hungry, or bored, or when he has a dirty diaper, although in most cases, he's perfectly fine sitting in his poo for however long he needs to.
Simply put, we think that Clark is amazing. He is indescribably handsome and sweet and laid back and such an easy baby. Even his cries are sweet. We have so much to learn and figure out about how to raise this child, but Clark is making it easy and fun. I am in awe that God trusted Aaron and I to bring this child up in a way that honors Him. I thank Him everyday for his life, his breath, and his heart, and I pray with Clark every night as I nurse him and watch his eyes get heavy before he falls asleep.
Everything I've written doesn't even skim the surface of how awesome Clark is. The only way you can ever know for yourself just how great and perfect he is would be for you to come to Taylor, Mississippi and spend some time with him. If you are ever in the Oxford/Taylor, Mississippi area, Clark would love for you to see how cute he is. He promises to keep his poop in his diaper, or in his mom's hair, but definitely not on his guests.