Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Our Little Guy...

Busily coloring an egg to dye for Easter.

True to Shipton style, look at those toes poised to run. This busy little guy is constantly in motion running, dancing, and jumping.

Up until about a month ago when we would ask Shipton what his name was he would answer, "Named Thomas."  Now he either says "Shipton" or "Call me Little Guy."  With his second birthday quickly approaching, it's more and more apparent that he is a little guy...more boy than baby now.

Gavin and Shipton have a special relationship.  Gavin loves to be silly and Shipton loves to play silly.  Shipton's budding sense of humor can be directly attributed to these two playing together every day.

With the happy and confident toddler he has grown into, it could be easy to suppose he has always had that disposition. I was recently reminded what a fussy and cautious baby Shipton was. He came with some things to work through having pre-birth trauma. Some details I have shared previously, and some will stay ours at this point.

My answer as I prayed how to ease the crying makes more sense now.  Do all we could to respond to his needs as quickly as we could.  It didn't feel right to sleep train him as I had the others.  He continued to wake up every 2-3 hours at night to nurse until he was about 15 months old.  I needed to be willing to allow him to nurse on-demand 24/7 and he did so until about 22 months. He will still ask once or twice a week, but usually is quick to swap for his zippy cup.  We needed to do all we could to prevent or minimize crying.  This has meant lots of baby-wearing, carrying, and allowing him to stay close by or with me.

Would you believe me if I told you the past nearly two years and nine months have been exhausting? I am grateful that I had built up a reserve before going into his pregnancy, that I have learned how to holistically care for myself, and that Mark is so supportive of giving me time to myself.

But when I look at what my willingness has helped to create---this confident and happy toddler---every sleepless night and my tired arms from carrying such a chubby baby have been worth it.

I can see a bit of the grand design of things...that we two were meant to be together.  Each has brought healing to the other.  God knew He could send this precious and delicate baby to this Mama at this time.  That because of all the loss and difficulty, she would be willing to give and to give in ways she wouldn't have been willing to before.  That he would be wanted, welcomed, cherished, and adored.  He also knew that if He sent this baby after pregnancy after pregnancy resulting in empty arms, he would bring her joy for mourning and closure to the losses. Oh the healing we both have enjoyed these two years together!

And now firmly attached, trust having been established, he is gradually leaving my side to venture out and become anchored in other meaningful relationships and to try out the world.  With weaning, he also has lead out in potty training, further sleep training, and sitting at the table without his booster seat. It seems he went from baby to little guy over night.  My job now is to cheer him on, to encourage exploring, to support him as he grows and changes, and to always welcome him back with opened arms when he needs reassurance.

Shipton's gift to our family is gratitude.  I see this in two main ways.  He is a living reminder to us each day of our gratitude to God.  Our gratitude for His goodness in allowing this child to come to our family and the ways He brought him safely into our arms.  The other is so fitting.  Shipton is actually our most grateful family member.  He always is saying thank you.  Some recent examples: he was sticky and as I held him to the sink to wash him he said, "Thank you washing, Mommy."  While in the car headed to the library he sincerely said, "Thank you driving, Mommy" or when he asked to nurse the other day he said cheerfully, "Thank you milk, Mommy."  We are blessed by his examples of gratitude and the living reminder he is to us of the many blessings we can express our constant gratitude for.

How we love you, Shipton!  We are grateful to you for your courage.  We love the giggles, gratitude, and joy you bring to our family.

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