Wednesday, September 26, 2012

showers are a luxury

Conversation between Alex and I:

Me: I really need to take a shower now.

Alex: You and your showers!

Me: It's the only thing I do that makes me feel like a normal human being!

Alex: You're not a normal human being, you're a mother.

That pretty much sums things up.

P.S. I've taken to eating coconut ice cream in the middle of the day. After being pregnant for 10 months and now exclusively breastfeeding my baby, self deprivation has become my middle name. It turns out I've had to give up even more as a breastfeeding mom than as a pregnant lady. My daughter quickly reacted to even the tiniest amount of coffee when I attempted to add it back to my morning routine again after she was born (think horrendous colicky fits and a complete crack addict lying next to me wide awake all night, thrashing about). And, she also voiced her disgust for dairy in her breast milk. So…..non-dairy coconut ice cream in the middle of the day, because every mama needs something (that, and if I leave it as an after dinner snack I never get to eat it, because someone suddenly needs me desperately).

Monday, September 24, 2012

a whole lotta Emerson Winter

…just because.

Will you ever get that camera out of my face?

Yah, I'm pretty much awesome. Check me out.


Representing the West Coast with her
Cali map/bear onesie.

One of Emerson's new facial expressions-
sometimes it means "I abhor this"
and sometimes it means "I'm totally tickled."

Friday, September 21, 2012

musings on motherhood

Going home from the hospital

On the car ride home from the hospital after giving birth, I told Alex that I finally felt at ease in the world….finally. I never have—I've always been awkward and uncomfortable and confused. But, as my child grew within me during pregnancy, those feelings began to shrink. And once I held her in my arms, I felt relieved, like it was the beginning of my life. Being a mother is the most natural role I've ever taken on. And though that role is central in my life right now, I've also found more clarity and comfort in all the other areas of my life since my little one has been around.

Because this mothering thing is so important and feels like it is a huge slice of the what-I-was-meant-to-do-on-this-earth pie, how I perceive my abilities and talent in this area is pretty crucial. So, that is why this next thought was so difficult for me to bear: my first week as a stay-at-home mother was horrible—it was stressful, frustrating, exhausting and left me questioning myself as a mother. It was my first full week of being at home with the baby without my husband here to help (we've been so lucky in that he's been home for the majority of Em's first four months). Instead of going easy on myself, I decided to also tackle working on a nap routine—regular daily times, extending the nap time longer than 45 minute cat naps, and teaching my baby to sleep somewhere other than on my body in the Ergo. I took all of this on rather than just learning how to cope with my new role. While I did make a lot of progress with all the how's and where's and when's of nap time, I still found myself frustrated, emotionally depleted and not enjoying being a mother. By the end of the week I was in tears and picking fights with my husband. The progress I made wasn't satisfying and didn't make me feel hopeful for the future, it made me feel like a failure, because I hadn't miraculously "cured" my baby overnight (or within a week) like so many books/parenting strategies/relatives/doctors/random strangers claim should be possible. Moreover, I felt like a failure because it was so damn hard on both Em and I. Something felt off.

And then. A voice spoke to me in the middle of complaining to my husband. I shushed Alex to listen to it (and then he asked me how many voices I was hearing, because I was seriously going bananas). The voice said, "listen to your gut." That simple message—one I've lived my life by, and have repeated as my mantra throughout pregnancy and now motherhood yet somehow temporarily forgot—suddenly seemed new. I told Alex I had a revelation, which he thought sounded pretty dramatic, but really, it was a revelation. I went from crying and panicking to being filled with peace, just like that, after a week of a sucky suckfest in Suck Central.

As difficult and without solution some situations seem to be for me, one fact never changes: somewhere, inside myself, I always know what to do. I may resist the answer, but, in the end, I will have to come back to it, because it's the only right solution (for me). This applies to my life in its entirety, but it is so incredibly pertinent to basically every minute of every day now that I am a mama. No friend, relative, doctor, book, media outlet, or fellow mama knows what I should do with my baby. As long as I remember that, I might keep my sanity on this journey through motherhood. My revelation (remembering to listen to my gut) completely transformed my experience from challenging to joyful. My second week as a stay-at-home mama was utterly pleasant, and I found myself more in love with my child than ever. We've enjoyed each other's company tremendously, because there are only two people I've listened to and trusted in regards to how to parent my child: me, and Emerson. We know. We know.

Part of my joy, and what my gut was telling me, was that I needed to accept my circumstances, and more importantly, my child (yet another topic, but here we go….). I think we are drawn to read about, talk about, and search for answers concerning our children because IT. IS. HARD. Raising a child. Understanding a baby. Surviving. And we need help. So, it makes sense that we'd want to find some magic cure for every difficult phase, and perhaps find a philosophy (e.g. a book) to latch on to. I am no different—I'm pretty obsessed with reading about child development, child psychology, child-rearing and the like. But, I also think we have to temper our expectations when looking for help outside of ourselves, because all of our babies are individuals and nobody knows those individuals like their mamas. And while I know that that fact won't stop me (personally) from hunting the internet every time Emerson has a problem I don't know how to fix or hitting up the index of the good old Dr. Sears Baby Book when I want advice or calling a friend to vent when I'm struggling or going to my new mama's group to gather up useful tips, it does help to remember that my baby is the one and only Emerson Winter. 

What I know (for myself) is that when I accept Emerson as Emerson, this little operation we've got going on over here runs a whole lot more smoothly. Case in point, when I slowed down the nap routine train, Emerson mysteriously began napping for over two hours every day AND she took several naps in her swing (read: NOT ON MY BODY, wohoo!). I don't expect those habits to stick permanently just yet, but I know that I won't always be typing these posts with Em breathing heavily and sucking her fingers on my chest (as she is right now, le sigh). She and I are figuring it all out, together, every day. The end.

Playa, please. We got this.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

four months of emerson

I have tears in my eyes as I write this. I wanted to throw on some soothing music while Em sleeps, and noticed that I've been neglecting a playlist that is perfect for nap time. It was hidden amongst a bunch of playlists that I made for labor and birth, and have not played since then. Not realizing how emotional this was going to make me, I hit play. As the music started, so did the tears. I listened to this on repeat for many, many hours four months ago, as I waited to meet my baby girl, so when I heard the soothing sound of chimes and rainmakers today, it brought me back to that magical time, and to the moment when I finally held one of the loves of my life in my arms. Combine the music with the hundreds of images of Emerson populating my computer screen, as I attempt to cull the most special ones to share with you all (and HOW can I do that? They are all special. Sigh. Seriously. She's, like, amazing. And beautiful. And I have tears in my eyes again. You will just have to deal with being assaulted by more photos than usual, because I, personally, can't deal) and I've become an emotional mess.

When I first came home from the hospital with Emerson, I was obsessed with her birth (okay, really, I still am, but to a much lesser degree now). I flipped through the hundreds of photos of the labor and birth, stopping to gaze extra long at my favorites (one of Alex helping me through a difficult contraction, and one of the moment Em's head emerged from my body—amazing). And then there was the 5+ hours of film footage we had taken. I started watching it, totally enthralled, but then stopped after a few hours. I skipped the most exciting part of it: the birth! I won't get into the many reasons I didn't watch it back then, but I recently did watch the end….finally. 

Watching myself give birth—especially after taking a "birth break" for a couple of months—was un-be-leivable. The way I remembered it, and even the way I wrote about it in my birth story, was all wrong. Sure, the emotions of it were right on, but the way I thought I handled myself, the way I thought I pushed my child into the world, was a total misconception. I remembered being ridiculously calm, composed, strong and happy during most of my labor, but I thought that ended as soon as I fell deep into a pushing trance. But, no. From the outside, as I could see on my TV screen, I remained that way. I thought I had screamed like I was being murdered, I thought I looked like a woman who was just losing her sh*t. In reality, I looked like a woman giving birth, and beautifully so. The "noise" I had remembered emanating from my mouth was minor in comparison to my memory of it. The room was silent, calm, peaceful. It was amazing to see. And amazing to then hug my baby in real time.

Something I also noticed in my birth video was what happened after I gave birth. There is about an hour's worth of footage after the birth, during which my new baby is lying on my chest. And what I noticed was the difference in the love I expressed for that new baby. I know that I fell in love with Em somewhere around the time my belly became noticeable swollen during pregnancy. And then, when I began to feel her move within me, the love grew. As I waited for her, it grew some more. And at the moment of birth, the emotion was overwhelming. No doubt. It was the most incredible moment of my life thus far. And the love….sigh. But, to be honest, the love that fell in tears down my cheeks as I began to write this, was far more overwhelming. The way I know my baby now is the best feeling there is. There is a rhythm to our relationship…harmony…symbiosis. A deep love. That's the great thing about love: it grows. It is why we value relationships more as time goes on. And it is why I suddenly felt so blessed and excited realizing that this love and relationship I have with Emerson will continue to overwhelm me.

Being a mama is it. The "it" of life.

Emotions aside, Emerson is an incredibly vivacious little girl. The changes in her from month to month are startling. For instance, I thought she had learned how to use her hands last month….puh-lease. Girlfriend swipes everything in sight now—exciting, but sometimes dangerous. It's amazing to watch her reach out and touch the world around her, but I find her reaches toward me more precious. She will grab my face between her hands and "kiss me" (aka, put her wide open, slimy mouth on my face). When I read her books, she reaches up and places one hand on my cheek as she listens. When she's hungry, she tries to pull my bra open. When she's lying next to me in bed sleeping, she drapes one arm across my chest. It all just kills me. Kills me.

Other than the crazy use of her hands, Em has proven to be the most verbal infant I've ever known. She squeaks like a porpoise sometimes and it's my favorite. I know there are a plethora of milestones I'm forgetting to mention, but I think I've exhausted and emptied myself with the giant emotional fit I've just had in the last four paragraphs. So, I will instead assault you with an unnecessary amount of baby photos….

Oh, how I love the many faces she makes…

This is where she spends a great majority of her day.

All I think when I see the back of Emerson's head is:
DAMN. That head is wide.
And then I remember how difficult it was
to get that large head out of me.
Will I ever stop thinking that when I see my child's head?
Maybe when it's size is
hidden underneath a bunch of hair?

I love that she sucks her fingers. So. Adorable.


Monday, September 10, 2012

life in Motion

Not much happens in this random video, but it does explain why Em thinks lamps are alive and you can also hear a little bit of her squeaky voice. She sounds like a porpoise and it's like my favorite thing right now. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

a friday night in parenthood

This past weekend, we were up in Maine at the family house for my baby sister's wedding. Naturally, there was a lot of fun and revelry to be had….on everyone's part, but the parents of an almost 4-month old baby. We are deep in what I've heard referred to as the "baby cave" right now—the little bubble that one lives in when they have a baby(ies) at home. Life is not the same for that span of time—normal, adult sleep/wake schedules are disturbed, it takes an hour to get everyone packed up with clean clothes and clean bums and all the gear they require, nights out are replaced with (many) nights in, it's ridiculously difficult to travel, and you are constantly preoccupied with and discussing things like poop, nap routines, the amazing thing your child did that day, parenting philosophies, etc etc

It's difficult for others to understand "the cave," because life keeps on moving for those outside of it. And so, on Friday night, I watched as my sisters put on pretty dresses and makeup, as I put on pajamas and super absorbent breast pads. They went out to meet all the wedding guests at a local bar and enjoyed adult beverages and adult conversation, as Alex and I climbed into twin beds next to each other, and had a conversation via Facebook chat so as not to wake the baby slumbering by my side. As we typed back and forth, I thought "wow, this is quite the snapshot of parenthood." 

Here's our (somewhat abbreviated) IM convo (which makes a lot more sense if you're familiar with Dr. Seuss's Fox in Socks):

7:39pm Alex says:
in Maine...
Not bad so far
I'm really tired though, I was thinking about passing out
at 7:45

7:41pm Alexa says:
I’m usually asleep by now, but I’m all wired from the action of the day
I really need some sleep though
I do feel bummed to be in bed while everyone else is out having fun.
Life with a baby
We’re in the baby cave

7:43pm Alex says:
Haha, true, felt like a loser there for a second

7:43pm Alexa says:
I’d love a drink
and to dance in a bar to loud music

7:43pm Alex says:
Yeah, sounds nice about now

7:45pm Alexa says:
Shhhhhh! You’re making so much noise over there!
You woke the baby

7:45pm Alex says:

7:45pm Alexa says:
She’s going back to sleep

7:45pm Alexa says:
It’s hard to type with one hand
and it’s my non-dominant hand

7:45pm Alex says:
It's hard to do a lot of things with one hand, but we're learning (since
one hand is always holding the baby)

7:46pm Alexa says:
It feels like a vacation when I have the use of both my hands

7:47pm Alex says:
Wow, the speed of your typing makes me feel like I'm communicating with a paraplegic

7:48pm Alex says:

7:49pm Alexa says:
It’s this little barnacle on my nipple
Slowing me down
Would you trade places with Em if you could?

7:50pm Alex says: Alex says:
Hmm, good question
Probably not, cause she's a chick and I like being a dude

7:50pm Alexa says:
Lying next to me with my boob in your mouth all night

7:50pm Alex says:
Haha, oh that
Well... she does have it pretty nice there
Then again she can't walk, talk, ride a bike, eat food
or pretty much any of the other pleasures of being human

7:51pm Alexa says:
Well yes, you do have a lot of great skills

7:52pm Alex says:
Her future prospects are good though

7:52pm Alexa says:
You can also pee in a toilet

7:52pm Alex says:
Well, debatable
depends on who you talk to about that...

7:52pm Alexa says:
That is true
I do end up cleaning up just as much of your pee as I do Em's
Em and I have talks about daddy's pee every morning right before I sit on it

7:54pm Alex says:

7:54pm Alexa says:
Sit on your pee

7:55pm Alex says:
Was that a directive: go sit on your pee?
Well, go eat your poop

7:55pm Alexa says:
No, it was the end of the previous convo
I will not eat my poop here or there

7:55pm Alex says:
Would you, could you in an outhouse?

7:56pm Alexa says:
I would not, could not in an outhouse

7:56pm Alex says:
I think Fox in Socks is making me lose my mind
The rhythm of it will come to me at entirely inappropriate moments

7:57pm Alexa says:
I seriously could get lost in that book, like the people who get lost in an acid trip and never get out.

7:57pm Alex says:

7:58pm Alexa says:
I mean what the fuck is that Fox talking about????

7:58pm Alex says:
And where do they start?
Why the hell are they building stacks of random crap?

7:58pm Alexa says:
Things get really messed up for me when Fox starts sewing hoses and roses on some old crow's body. I mean what the hell is that about? Who would think to do something like that?

7:59pm Alex says:
And who the hell is this Mr. Knox guy?
I think he's connected with the mafia or something
I mean the way he plays dumb the whole time, then shoves the guy in a bottle!

7:59pm Alexa says:
Yah, there is something really fishy about that
And why doesn't anyone have any fingers?
Just a thumb and a mitten-like appendage

8:00pm Alex says:
What kind of animal wears a tunic?
Dog? cat?
And good luck guessing the gender
The Fox in Socks is ironically the only one who makes any sense
I mean, it's a fox
wearing socks

8:00pm Alexa says:
Really. I like that Fox is at least identified as a fox
Also, how can bricks get sick? I’m really disturbed by a whole mess of bricks lying in bed, crying because they are sick

8:00pm Alex says:
They don't cry, they "tock"
There is something really existential about that
I could definitely write a research paper on this.

8:02pm Alexa says:
Knox is a man, Mr. Knox.
So we can at least be clear about that.
But, he's wearing a full length tunic so it's a bit confusing

8:02pm Alex says:
Hmmm.. that's true, unless he's a hermaphrodite

8:02pm Alexa says:
Maybe that's what he's trying to cover up with that frumpy tunic

8:02pm Alex says:
Perhaps it's a transsexual who would rather be identified as Mr.
or even more terrifying, the Fox is just mocking her for looking mannish
or wearing that stupid ass tunic

8:03pm Alexa says:
Well, the fox is running around naked wearing only socks, so he really shouldn't talk

8:04pm Alex says:
Haha, that's a bad dream
Wake up wearing nothing but four socks
in a classroom of your peers
Talk about kinky
It's amazing Knox takes so much crap from him

8:05pm Alexa says:
Also, I’m uncomfortable with the explosive rage on Knox’s part in the end. I mean dude just loses his shit and shoves that fox into a bottle with a bunch  of battling beetles
and this is in front of children?

8:05pm Alex says:
Em hates the beetles,
to her credit

8:05pm Alexa says:
She always moans when the beetles come on the page!

8:05pm Alex says:
She gets upset every time they roll around

8:05pm Alexa says:
She so does
They have really mean faces, maybe that's it
She doesn't care for their attitudes

8:05pm Alex says:
I was reading in Nurture shock
that kids get their violent tendencies from the stuff they read and watch

8:06pm Alexa says:
Oh, great

8:06pm Alex says:
Something like 70% of the stuff that's out there,
including classics like Grimm's Fairy Tales,
has someone harassing or injuring someone else
and in like 95% of them, the harassing party doesn't apologize or make nice

8:06pm Alexa says:
I believe it. Fox in Socks is kind of a dick.
Maybe we should rip out the last few pages, all the ones with the battling beetles and the bottle shoving

8:07pm Alex says:
At least in this one Knox gets revenge

8:07pm Alexa says:
Knox tells him again and again that he can't play this game and that it's upsetting him and that he wants to stop and Fox keeps on and keeps on-
won't leave the guy alone
That's why I say that Fox gets what he deserves in the end
But it's still not a great message

8:07pm Alex says:
But, it's no wonder our kids start harassing and kicking the crap out of each other
They include one like from Sponge Bob square pants
I'll butcher it but.... Sponge bob says to his friend "How can you go on living knowing you’re a complete moron"
And the others watching just laugh and cheer him on

8:08pm Alexa says:
That’s awful
I would never let Em watch Sponge Bob.
It's 8:08. I’m up way past my bedtime.