Tuesday, April 30, 2013

12 items for the first 12 months

As Emerson's first birthday approaches, I find myself taking stock of the past year. One way I've been doing that is by creating lists in my head…some of which I've decided I will share here. Up first: twelve items I couldn't have survived the first twelve months without. 

I remember the enormous list of "suggested items" I printed out when registering for baby gifts. I ignored half the suggestions, opting for a relatively minimalist approach, but now looking back it's amazing to see that I could've gotten by with an even smaller list of items. This is surely not an all-inclusive list, but without giving it too much thought, these were the first items that came to mind…..

(Click the item name next to each number in the list for links. #1 and 4- links found within paragraph) 

1) Baby carriers. Multiple.

Reasons: The reasons are unending, really. On the whole, though, wearing your baby just makes life easier. Most babies are happy in a carrier, which makes parenting them easier. You can comfort and engage your child while simultaneously going about the business of your life (i.e. get stuff done with the use of two hands!). It's also a great way to breastfeed or allow your child to nap in public. What's more, babies that are carried cry less, are smarter and learn more, and benefit from plenty of skin-to-skin time. Wearing your baby also reduces the risk of SIDS and helps comfort colic. I could go on and on about the reasons I could not live without, and highly recommend, baby carriers. 

I will say, that it is beneficial to have a few different options. For instance, I heavily relied on the Moby Wrap during the newborn phase, then a combination of the Ergo and a standard Ring Sling (they don't make the one I used anymore, so I'd recommend a Maya Wrap) for the next phase, and now I rely solely on the Ergo, which will work for a few more years.

2) Exercise ball.
Auntie bouncing 3-week-old Em
Reasons: I purchased an exercise ball while I was pregnant after using one in my birthing class (great to use during labor!). After I gave birth, the ball was tossed into the corner of a room as there was little time to clean or organize with a newborn in the house. I thought we'd eventually deflate and store it until we discovered the ultimate newborn soother: bouncing on the ball while holding the baby. Emerson rejected the rocking chair, bouncy seat, swing and sleep n' play. But, holding her while bouncing on the ball was magic (it mimics the bouncing a baby experiences in utero when their mama walks). And, truth be told, at almost one-year-old, it is still our go-to sleep inducer. We deflate it and bring it with us on every overnight trip. 

3) Wool Diaper Cover

Reasons: We do cloth diaper in our household, but this recommendation is not for cloth diapering families (though I do recommend it for that, as well). We use disposable diapers at night, because Emerson "sleeps" for twelve hours and is a very heavy wetter. But, we were so frustrated for months dealing with annoying diaper leaks. Emerson woke up soaking wet constantly. Pajamas and bedding destroyed. Sometimes daily. And all of my "genius" ideas to jimmy rig some kind of leak-stopping device eventually failed. Until I discovered wool diaper covers. They are totally old school. The one Emerson has makes her look like she's wearing a man's swimsuit from the 1920s, but it's inpenetrable. Wool does need to be cured before it becomes waterproof, but after that point nothing gets through. We have not had a night time leak since we started putting the cover over Emerson's disposable diaper! No more doing laundry and changing the bed EVERY DAY. Bonus: wool is self-cleaning and only needs to be (hand) washed about once a month. Really.

4) Nipple Cream + Nursing Pads.

Reasons: I could not have made it through the first four months without these items. My nipples took a beating. It was the worst. Cracked, raw, sore and sometimes bleeding nipples. Enter a gallon of nipple cream every hour. I used a combination of Mother Love and Lanolin (which is also great for healing cuts, scrapes, diaper rash and to cure your wool diaper cover). And nursing pads. Everyone is different, but personally I went through a truck load. I had them stashed everywhere—nightstand, diaper bag, coffee table, bathroom, car—so I'd never be stranded without them….leaking or sometimes literally spraying like a fire hydrant through my shirt. 

5) Bambo Nature Diapers.

Reasons: If you use disposables and/or want to use a non-toxic, sensitive-skin-friendly diaper, Bambo Nature is where it's at. I have only tried non-toxic diapers on Emerson (but I've tried them all) as I personally cannot stomach the scary health risks associated with most disposable diapers. But, I have tried a wide variety of "regular" (think Pampers and Huggies) diapers on babies during my time as a nanny and daycare teacher. And I have determined that Bambo Nature is amazing. So amazing. They remind me of Honest diapers, but work so much better. They are the most luxurious (yes, I think a diaper can be luxurious) I've ever seen or felt. They are thick, super soft (rare for a non-toxic), fit well, super absorbent, contain blowouts and leaks, never ever cause diaper rash, all while being a healthier option for my baby and the earth.

Nature Babycare diapers run a close second. They boast all of the above benefits, and fit great (love the elastic backing). The only difference is that they are not as thick and absorbent for night time use, which is why I stick with Bambo.

*For those of you who do cloth diaper—I cannot live without Thirsties Duo Wraps. They fit well, don't leak, and are friendly on the wallet since they are adjustable.

6) NoseFrida

Reasons: Just do yourself a favor and pick one up before you have a baby. This is something you want to have on hand right away when you need it. We were very fortunate in that Emerson never got sick until she was almost a year old. But, most babies get sick. A lot. And even in the absence of colds or flus, Emerson still had plenty of occasions that required booger suctioning. And a bulb syringe is completely useless and ineffective. The Nose Frida really gets all the boogers out and allows your little one to breathe, nurse, and sleep! I was up all night with my sick baby until I purchased the Nose Frida. And trust me, you will NOT get boogers in your mouth. Not even close.

7) Mustela Stelatopia Line.

Reasons: This line is made for babies with eczema, very dry or sensitive skin. So, it might not be a "must" for everyone. For us, it is. Emerson developed eczema pretty early on and it's only gotten worse with time. We have tried so many products that are fragrance-free and made for sensitive or dry skin. Nothing helped. Most products instead exasperated her condition. This line is very pricey, but a god-send. I would rather pay for the moisturizer, cleansing cream, and milky bath than have to put the icky steroid cream Emerson's doctor prescribed on my baby's vulnerable body. Once in a while E does still have a flare-up, but Stelatopia has greatly, greatly reduced the frequency. Bonus: the line is made from primarily natural ingredients and is paraben-free (which is a must for me).

8) Regular, grown-up sized nail clippers.

Reasons: Babies nails grow at an insane rate, and they are razor sharp. This is the reason we put mittens on newborns. They don't just cut themselves either—I had cuts all over my breasts when Emerson was brand new. Ouch. But, the problem far outlasts the newborn phase. Emerson still cuts us all up if we don't keep her nails in check. The problem is, I was never able to effectively cut my baby's nails with protective baby clippers. I would instead peel her nails off, as suggested to me in the hospital. But, this took FOREVER, was difficult to accomplish and was not very safe (easily draws blood). I was seriously crazy about the nail situation—everyone being sliced by them, but not able to find a way to cut them—until Emerson was 7-weeks-old when I took a chance and trimmed her nails with regular, adult clippers. It took me under a minute and for the first time, all of our faces were safe from the claws of Em. I continue to use adult clippers (which now requires a bit more distracting to accomplish). Of course, you need to do this in good light so you can see, and very carefully. 

9) Beaba Babycook.

Reasons: It's easy to make your own baby food using this baby food maker. I feel so much better about what I am putting in my baby's body when it's freshly prepared—no hidden ingredients, more nutritious, and much tastier than jarred food. This machine steams, blends, and reheats food. So simple. We even take it with us on road trips. Also BPA- and PVC-free.

10) Mustela Foam Shampoo for Newborns.

Reasons: First of all, it smells amazing! There is nothing like the smell of Emerson's head after using this shampoo. But, the real reason I recommend it is because it treats cradle cap, or if used preemptively can prevent your baby from ever experiencing cradle cap, which can be tough to treat and not so pretty to look at. Emerson may not have a lot of hair, but she's had a beautiful, cradle cap-free head from day one (let the 'poo sit on baby's head for a minute after rubbing in). The shampoo can be used through toddlerhood though it's labeled "for newborns." Also, it's paraben-free and made from primarily natural ingredients.

11) Weleda Calendula Diaper Cream + Earth's Best Wipes.

Reasons: Diaper rash is pretty inevitable in babyland. And it can get so bad that your baby's skin bleeds or is open and raw. It's terrible to watch your baby go through. There are a million and one products made to keep this condition at bay, and I have personally seen and used a great majority of what's out there during my days working at a daycare and as a nanny. In my experience, one of the best ways to prevent diaper rash from happening in the first place is to use reusable cloth wipes and plain water the majority of the time (and non-toxic diapers or cloth diapers). Still, sometimes you need a disposable wipe when on-the-go, or as a final clean-up when there is poop involved. Wipes can do a number on a baby's bum, though. Enter the thickest, softest, gentlest wipes I've found: Earth's Best. They also have just the right amount of moisture and are chlorine- and paraben-free. Second, Weleda Calendula Diaper Cream. Because, rashes are inevitable sometimes (teething, for instance). This stuff usually clears Emerson's rash up after only one application. Completely natural and paraben-free.

12) A Mama Group.

Reasons: Last is certainly not least here. I think it might be virtually impossible to survive motherhood with your sanity intact without a group of (hopefully like-minded) mamas to talk to. There are so many resources out there. Use them! It's a great way to meet other mamas in your area (which, believe me, you will need!) and a great way to vent, regroup, and pick up tips. Mind you, leaving the house and finding the energy and motivation to seek out a group can be difficult with a baby at home. But, it's so worth it. I started going to a group for new moms almost immediately after Emerson was born. And have subsequently joined an amazing mothering group that meets throughout my area. I've also been lucky enough to form play groups, walking groups, etc. with the women I've met through these groups. VITAL. to. my. sanity. P.S. Joining online mothering forums is also very helpful (there are so many to choose from).

There you have it. The twelve things that have proven critical to our survival this past year. Happy parenting!

Friday, April 26, 2013

life in motion

Emerson's big birthday is about two weeks away! And it seems that the closer we get to one, the farther back into my archives I am digging. I watched the video of me giving birth last week and nearly died from nostalgia….and happiness….and disbelief that that day was a YEAR ago. Emerson was pretty interested in the video, as well, which was kind of a crazy experience in and of itself. 

Revisiting all these old videos and photos has also made me realize that I need to hang a gallery wall of Emerson as a newborn somewhere in my house. Yes, part of that is because there is nothing more beautiful or sacred to me than my newborn baby. But, I've also noticed that looking back at that time fills me with so much appreciation, and allows me to remember that Emerson is a clean slate that I am responsible for nurturing. I feel like having a visual reminder of those facts could be just the thing to center and calm myself when life with my little one gets…..err…..challenging. Because, though she is bigger and more developed, life is still so new (and confusing/exciting/sometimes scary/overwhelming) for Emerson. She is struggling to make sense of the world, and that isn't always going to be easy for her (or me) to handle. So, if in those moments, I could stand in front of a wall displaying a billion images of my child only days old, I could be reminded that each day is still so new for her and it's my job to do my very best to be patient and present with her. (I might need to stand in front of that wall a whole lot when Emerson hits adolescence.)

Newborn baby girl….

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

april 24

This day last year was my due date. I was reminded of that fact when I ran into one of the midwives who attended my birth this morning (how crazy, right?). It feels so strange, and almost impossible that a year has passed since that day. In fact, this entire year has left me feeling bewildered at every turn. I seem to constantly be playing the "this time last year" game either in my head or out loud to Alex. "This time last year, we found out we were pregnant….This time last year, I couldn't see my own feet….This time last year, Emerson was spooning me in bed from inside my body." It's all my way of trying to come to terms with the enormous, night-and-day, life-altering changes that have occurred while being completely in awe of the miracle of life. 

(I never got a good video of Emerson trying to rip her way
out of my belly—she was incredibly active in utero—but
I did take this one (very tame) video. You can
see her rolling around a bit and poking her elbow
out on the left side at the end.)

It's hard to believe that this time last year I was hugely pregnant and in agony waiting for labor to begin….looking for any possible sign that the end might be near. Little did I know I would be waiting another THREE WEEKS! That waiting was unreal. Both the physical discomfort and emotional impatience were at crazy high levels. The funny thing is, I went back and read my post from this day last year thinking I'd feel so far removed from whatever it was I was feeling then, but instead found myself still identifying with my April 24, 2012 self... 

I can't seem to move forward or backward, but instead hang and float in what appears to be never-ending stillness and nothingness. My past life, and past self, have long faded away, yet my new life and self still feel so far out of reach. I know I am waiting for my baby, but I'm also waiting to feel connected to this world again, to feel anchored to an identity and move along with time and space like I used to.

What I didn't realize then was that the waiting doesn't stop when you give birth. Neither does the identity crisis. Emerson is here, and nearly a year old, but I still feel like my life is on hold. I still feel like I am waiting to feel "normal" again, to start moving forward, to somewhat resemble my old self. Because mothering can feel much like pregnancy. It can feel like nothing is happening or being accomplished. You may do nothing all day but take three naps and satisfy food cravings as a pregnant woman, or change diapers and clean up messes as a mother. But, something IS happening. Everything is happening. Life is being created, nurtured, developed, and enriched. All of your "nothing" is forever changing a little being's life. All of your "nothing" is the biggest "something" there is in this world.

But, it's difficult to always remember that—to feel like you are living your life with great purpose (in your sweatpants) rather than feel like you are putting it on hold. Last year, I sat on the couch putting the finishing touches on organs, strengthening lungs, and growing a brain. This year, I am sitting on the couch cuddling with a happy, healthy, loving little girl who is totally pumped that I am doing nothing but giving her my undivided attention. Though much of "me" is still sitting on a back burner waiting somewhere this April 24th, the smile on Emerson's face is exactly the reason I have given myself over to this past year (plus nine months) of transitionary limbo. And wouldn't you know, more life and meaning and depth has unfolded around me during this time. 

Maybe life is what happens….when you are waiting for the rest of your life to begin.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

passing thoughts

I wish it was customary to post a sign in front of one's home during the first year of your child's life that reads: We have a baby! Kind of like those "baby on board" signs people put on their cars to forewarn others that they might drive really cautiously and slow, or very abruptly pull over to allow their child to pee or vomit on the side of the road, or become scary and enraged if you do something to endanger their passengers. Yes. Something like that. I'd really love to inform people to just avert their eyes when walking past my property…to let them know that I am busy trying to keep my child alive and unharmed instead of manicuring my lawn, cleaning out my garage, or removing this year's Christmas tree from our shed. Baby on board, people. Keep walking.

Of course, I could use a sign like that inside my house as well...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

life in motion- a flashback

I've been going back through all of the videos I've taken of Emerson since she was born, and what strikes me is that she pretty much looks the same all year! Once she was past the newborn, semi-alien-like phase of month one, she just looks like Emerson, because she is always bald! She has yet to grow hair (it's just now starting to come in) so she remains very baby-like. It's hard to tell how big she is in photos. Videos are much the same, but her noises and body movements give her away. This is, like, the only video we have with one of us IN it with her. She looks so tiny at the end when she's sitting on Alex's lap. My little baby….

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

this is our life- a conversation in the car

Alexa: Remember when we used to take vacations, just the two of us?

Alex: I don't remember being just two

Alexa: We totally glutted ourselves on attention, affection, and romance. We were obsessed with each other. Totally and completely obsessed. We spent all our time together. Remember?

Alex: *Blank stare*

Alexa: Then POUF! It was gone. Just like that...I can't even access all that stuff now.

Alex: Now it's like we're two co-servants to some greater God, and we're just tripping over and annoying each other in the process. You know, like co-workers arguing over who gets to take their break first.

Alexa: Yes.

This is our life.

Monday, April 15, 2013

eleven months of Emerson

Emerson turned eleven-months-old on Friday. ONLY ONE MORE MONTH OF BEING THE MOTHER TO A 0-YEAR-OLD. How did this happen?! The past year was the fastest year of my life—a blur of labor pains and first kisses, nursing a total of one zillion hours and changing a total of one zillion diapers, cuddles and maturing cries, so many firsts followed by so many lasts, laughing and dancing, family hugs and a family bed, vacations and milestones. It was the most significant year of my life and I barely ever left the house or changed out of my yoga pants. 

I am so excited to be exactly where I am with Emerson right now—her personality, her quirks, her abilities and limitations, her developmental stage. Yet. I want to hold on so tightly to everything that came before today. I don't want it to disappear into the abyss of "so long ago I can't quite remember the details." I want to somehow figure out how to live in the past, present and future simultaneously.

So much is changing around here. And that's the exciting part. Emerson seems to develop new skills and her face seems to change in appearance every day now. She is fascinated with how things work, and intense in her field work on the subject. She's been playing with our large supply of spice jars for months, mostly just pulling them all out of the cabinet, chewing on them, and hiding them in various secret locations throughout the kitchen. But, a few weeks ago she sat on the floor for forty-five minutes until she mastered unscrewing the lid and then screwing it back on. That might not alarm anyone else, but as her mama, it blew my mind. How can a baby unscrew a lid?! Needless to say, I had to put a child lock on the spice cabinet shortly thereafter. Bottle of bright yellow turmeric one, previously white infant-sized sweatshirt, zero.

Emerson is also very interested in where things go. She spends most of her day opening and closing drawers, pulling out the contents, putting the contents back in, finding new locations for the contents, etc. My bedroom floor is a constant disaster now as she delights in emptying all of my clothing drawers. She also enjoys an empty drawer (or box or cabinet or shelf) as a place to climb inside and sit, or to use as a booster to climb up a piece of furniture. Bookcases are also good. In her world, they are simply ladders to climb.

She can also unpack a box of tissues in under three minutes.

Emerson also seems very interested in all things "girly" at the moment. In many ways she is very rough and tumble so it seems quite possible that we have a tomboy on our hands. But, she also spends all her time with me (and apparently I am quite girly). She loves to watch me do my hair, and will pretend to do her own. And she just recently became obsessed with pulling my hair elastics out of my hair and trying to put them back in, which she obviously cannot, so she eventually ends up hanging them on my ears or nose. 

Hair products….yay.

Also, she loves to play with and admire clothes. She will put different outfits together on the floor, and tries to put them on herself. It's pretty adorable in my eyes, but frightens Alex (who would rather not have another clotheshorse living in this house).

Emerson has been taking steps, but seems to be in no hurry to master walking. She took a few steps a couple months back, and then seemed upset by it and became very clingy. She wasn't ready, so she stopped. But, she's back to taking a step or two at a time a few times a day. Still, it seems like she's taking her time and not anywhere close to running laps around the house (thank goodness!). 

We took Emerson to a children's museum a few weeks back and she was very interested in the older kids, mainly the older boys. She doesn't see much of the male gender, old or young, in her daily life. So, she was fascinated by how boisterous and physical the crowd of boys were in the museum's "building room." She sat observing them for a little while, then couldn't see why she couldn't join them. 

So, she crawled right in the middle of their intense building session and proceeded to jump up and down and scream until the noticed her. The boys (and Alex and I) all laughed at her call to be included, but I also felt so proud of her in that moment. I was totally thinking "rock on, sister!" Emerson has a very distinct presence of confidence, leadership and entertainment. She always seems to end up center stage. I'm so curious to see where that takes her in life…

Well, this is my final "monthly update" post before the big NUMERO UNO. And then what? There will be many more changes ahead, I suppose. Changes in Emerson that I can't quite wrap my mind around yet. And changes in my blog. Yes, there are some new blog surprises on the horizon….

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

this is our life: on dinner

At dinner last night, Emerson was very insistent that she take a break from eating peas and instead have some nums nums (breast milk). She was strapped into her highchair at the time putting a 3-point harness and tray in between her and a nursing session. But, she didn't want to get out of the chair and give up what was on her plate. She just wanted a boobie juice break

This happens semi-regularly—Emerson wants to nurse at the most inopportune time. Given I am fully committed to nursing her on demand, I have done some serious acrobatics in order to get her some milk (or comfort) at times. This was one of those times as I was starving myself and needed to finish chowing down my meal in order to get Emerson down to sleep afterwards. So, with one leg still on my chair and one arm still in control of my dinner fork, I bent backwards and sideways allowing my other arm to drape over the back of Emerson's highchair. I shoved tacos into my mouth as Emerson happily sucked down milk. This arrangement was a new one for us both, and Emerson was quite pleased with the service. She had a few peas in one hand and a boob in her mouth. To express her glee, she reached up and began to lovingly caress my face. As I awwwww-ed at her, her caresses slowly grew more aggressive until she was (lightly) slapping me across the cheek as she nursed. Bam. Bam. Bam.

"Emerson, stop slapping your mother!" Alex pleaded. "Now there's something I didn't expect to say in a situation I didn't expect to find myself in." Long pause and stare. "Dinners around here keep getting weirder and weirder."

"I don't know what you mean," I replied.

This is our life.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

mother and child

I've been waiting for spring (aka: life) to arrive so I can get outside and snap some portraits of Emerson. I've obviously taken a zillion pictures of her this past year, but I've only attempted to set up an actual photo shoot with her twice (semi-newborn and Christmas). Given my obsession with photography, and the rate at which I used to photograph other people's children when I myself was childless….well, I'm just plain shocked that I haven't done more "styling." Of course, I totally understand why I haven't: I am a mother, a work-at-home mother. When do I have the time? As much as I get that I just haven't had the time or energy to photog it up with Emerson, it still makes me (so painfully) sad, because photogging is what I do! My only solace is that the other thing I do is write, and I can definitely say that I've been writing up a storm this past year. Maybe not as much as I'd like, but an impressive amount (in my opinion) given how little time I have.

At any rate, I am sad for the lack of styled photo shoots, which is why I am going to try my hardest to get it done for Emerson's first birthday. (Fingers crossed that spring arrives in time/it's not raining all month/the stars align!!) But, there's one thing I'm more sad about: the lack of pictures of ME with my baby….and Alex with his baby….and the three of us who make up this family together (so easy to forget to ever get behind the lens when your focus is always on the baby)! We have yet to have a family picture taken, not even a non-professional one. That's depressing. I guess that's part of the reason I've been collecting images on Pinterest. Here are some mother/child shots that so inspire me (and make me a little jealous)...

Photo Credits (some links not available):
1. / 2. / 3. / 4. / 5. / 6.

Monday, April 8, 2013

life in motion

I've been feeling the nostalgia lately as Emerson's first birthday approaches, which is why I've been recording more videos. I'll probably be sharing a lot of videos and photos in the next month (and sappy words), culminating in a grand finale media project I'm working on to commemorate Emerson's first year on earth. I have already documented this girl's life in so many ways, but I'm about to multiply that to a ridiculous degree, people. I'm so excited! I hope you are too!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

the bulb syringe that made me cry

Emerson made it nearly a year with her health intact—my strong little ox of a girl—until yesterday when she came down with her first cold. Of course, it had to end sometime. But, I will say that Emerson is much more of a trooper than I am when I'm feeling ill (I learn so much from her). For the most part, she continues to smile and laugh and be in a (relatively) good mood despite the ickiness inside her….except when I come at her with a tissue or a bulb syringe, that is. Then she absolutely loses it. She sobs and begs for me to hold her instead of de-boogie-ing her. (Side note: Why do babies hate tissues so much?!)

So yesterday, upon the suggestion of Parenting.com, I decided to irrigate Emerson's nose and then suction it out. She can't sleep or nurse comfortably right now, because she can't breathe. We all got about four hours of sleep the night she fell ill. So, I felt desperate to ease my baby's discomfort and let us all (especially the sicky-poo) rest. Being able to actually complete the de-boogie-ing task, though, meant having to restrain my baby, because she was not about to let me do it willingly. Parenting.com told me that restraining my baby would look and feel awful despite the good deed I was attempting to accomplish, and they were right. Actually, in my dramatic opinion, I think they understated it. 

My child does not take kindly to having her limbs pinned down and out of her control (no matter how gently). She's been that way since birth, fighting her way out of her swaddling blanket. In fact, she still considers blankets torture devices to this day. I have no idea why. Total tangent. The point is, when Emerson does not want something to happen (to her) she not only lets you know, but makes it incredibly challenging, if not impossible. 

So, I had to restrain her to get the bulb syringe anywhere near her nostrils. And it was awful. So awful. Even though the end result was a baby who could once again breathe (and subsequently sleep and nurse), I hated every minute of it, because she hated every minute of it. I desperately wanted to be able to explain to her that I was trying to help her, that I wanted to take away her discomfort, not add to it. And I tried to. But, they were words she could not yet understand. 

Later, before bed, I decided to repeat the process so Emerson could sleep longer than 15-minute intervals (literally what happened tortured us all the night before). This time, she was even more upset about it. I eventually gave up, because she just looked so terrified and upset and I couldn't handle the fact that something I was doing was making her feel that way. I scooped her up and held her, and as she buried her head in the nape of my neck, arms griping my body with all her might, it occurred to me that while I could give up the bulb syringe (or finally purchase a freakin' Nosefrida like I've been meaning to do all year!) I would still be faced with this predicament a billion more times in my life as a parent. I was just as upset as Emerson upon realizing that.

There will always be unpleasant experiences that I will have to inflict upon my sweet child, because they are in her best interests. It is my job to take care of her health, keep her safe, and give her the best chance at a happy/successful/psychologically-sound future. So far, that hasn't required all that much discomfort on either of our parts. So far, I've mostly been the best-most-amazing-most-favorite-person-in-the-whole-wide-world to Emerson. 

Now I'm transitioning into a different role, and I'm not entirely sure how to contend with the feelings that come along with it. In moments like I-need-to-suction-your-nose-so-you-can-breathe-and-you-hate-it-and-are-scared, I feel something closely resembling guilt. I know I am doing what is best, yet I feel so badly about it. As natural and normal as difficult phases (terrible twos/threes/fours/teens) are, I am not looking forward to no longer being the best-most-amazing-most-favorite-person-in-the-whole-wide-world. I am not looking forward to having to say, "yes, this is happening even though you hate it, it's for your own good." Whether that means suctioning my baby's nose, cleaning the dirt out of her boo boos, sending her to bed at a reasonable time so she gets enough sleep, insisting she finish her homework, or enforcing a curfew….it all sucks. It's for the best, and is a healthy way to love my child, but it's not exactly fun. 

I guess I'm having trouble accepting that while I am currently the ultimate panacea to my child's every woe, it won't always be this way. At times, I will have to be the scary lady with the bulb syringe in order to truly love my child.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Sometimes, your baby is awake from midnight until four in the morning and there's nothing you can do about the fact that she wants to practice talking and not. go. to. sleep. Sometimes, you make yourself pancakes in the middle of the day, serve them on a fancy plate, and eat them with your eyes closed so as to fully enjoy this one little morsel of sweetness on an otherwise maddening day. And you don't share when your husband comes home and discovers you. Sometimes, you cave and decide to get yourself hooked on Downton Abbey during nap time instead of getting anything useful done. And then, as if it is a real problem, you freak out when you realize that Netflix only offers Season One so you google "when will Netflix get Season Two of Downton Abbey" and you don't rest until you figure that shizzle out. 

Sometimes, you ask your husband four times in a half hour what time he'll be home from work tomorrow, and though he answers all four times you still have no idea when he'll be home tomorrow….and then he refuses to answer you the last time, because he doesn't see the point. Sometimes, you wear the most hideous outfit in your wardrobe, because you know that no one will be there to witness it (no one over the age of one). And besides, it's comfortable. Sometimes, you consider dreadlocks because it seems easier to intentionally give up instead of being frustrated every morning when you try to wash your hair, but the baby/husband/time will not let you. Sometimes, you completely char the bottom of your expensive enameled cast iron, because while you were in the middle of steaming some apples for your child, it suddenly felt imperative that you pay attention to yourself for a change so you get out all your beauty tools and decide to shape and tweeze your eyebrows…..until smoke starts to waft up the staircase and your husband comes home from work just in time.

Because, you are a mama. You don't get any sleep. You need a break. You never give up, because you can't give up. You are strong and amazing and impressive even in all of these moments.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

life in motion

It's been a long winter. A REALLY long winter. Case and point: it's April 2nd today and it snowed here all morning. Mmm hmm. And we got a foot of snow a little over a week ago. Oh, wait…..it LITERALLY just started snowing again as I sit here typing this. Ahhh! I love the snow, but this mama is about to lose her mind if it doesn't warm up and start turning green outside. Winter with a baby who is quickly blossoming into a toddler is….err….challenging.

Perhaps not the most exciting video, but we (as you can tell by all the parental laughing) are quite entertained by Emerson and her mini pool. I may be a neat freak, but I make huge exceptions when it comes to kid's making (hilarious) messes. Not always, of course, but I think every child needs to jump in puddles, play with mud, paint their bodies instead of paper, empty an entire box of tissues (one by one), and pour flour all over the kitchen.

Monday, April 1, 2013

approaching one

One day old
Emerson is on a fast train rapidly approaching the one-year mark. And I have two things to say. Number one: why? I mean...WHY?! Can she please just be a bitty baby for a little longer? Can I go back to this time last year?! Seriously, can we not do this? Thanks. Number two: I hate you Pinterest (but also, am completely bat shit obsessed with you….thank you for existing…p.s. follow me y'all). You, all mighty P, have significantly compounded the stress/pressure some mamas feel (hand raised right here) to throw a party for their one-year-old. The same one-year-old who will never remember her first birthday. I've been casually collecting ideas here and there for this event, but yesterday typed "first birthday" into the search bar on both Pinterest and Etsy…and nearly collapsed in an anxiety attack. Too. many. ideas. Too. many. COMPLICATED/TIME-INTENSIVE. ideas.

This time last year: 36-weeks
Aww, the belly. I so miss the belly!
So, number one. Yes, I often always write about the conflicting emotions that are part and parcel with motherhood—that unrestrained joy/overwhelming mournfulness combo that plagues most mamas. The simultaneous cheek massage (on account of all the smiling) and tissue box conundrum, as it were. It's in the air most days, but there are obviously times when it's especially potent. Major milestones, for sure. But, the day that your child is no longer measured by days, weeks, or months…..I can't even. I've still got about six weeks left with a 0-year-old and I'm already getting dramatic (hence the recent dive back into my photo archives from the first week of Emerson's life that is totally monopolizing this post). 

I mean really….
I'm just waiting for the day that Emerson grows a full head of hair, talks to me in real words, then gets up and runs across the room. It feels like that will all happen in an instant, and then she'll be gone. I can't help but already dread the day she moves out of our house….and I don't want to share her with the world, damn it! I mean, I'm not supposed to say that. And I don't really mean it. But, sometimes I do. Sometimes, I can't help but feel selfish and impractical and overprotective. Because, that's my baby, world! I grew her, and held her in my belly for nine months. I felt connected to her—body, mind, and soul. I birthed her. My muscles, my strength, my love, pushed her out into the open. I was the beginning of her life. And she has not strayed from my body for more than an hour or two since then. So, how can I imagine a day when our lives are running parallel instead of completely intertwined? Right now, it's simply impossible and anxiety-provoking to consider.

But, I will share her with the world. Of course. In fact, it's already one of my biggest joys. I feel so fulfilled and ecstatic when I watch her interact with family, friends, and other mamas and babies at our groups and classes. And to see how she is received by them….just amazing. It's so comforting to watch a support system/community/safety net grow around her…to watch people fall in love with her. So, I'm glad the world is there to receive her, but I will forever hold tightly (in spirit) that 8-pound newborn with her enormous cheeks, curious eyes and heart-melting coos. How can I ever let her go?

And then there's number two. Is it just me, or do all moms feel this pressure to throw well-styled, extravagant (as far as effort and detail…or money) parties? I am not a party thrower. Other than the occasional small dinner party, it's not really in my constitution. But, more importantly, it's not something I have the time/energy/desire to take on these days given I am the primary care provider for my child. We don't have family nearby, we don't have a babysitter, or a nanny, or daycare. And my husband is out of the house most hours that Emerson is awake. So, it's me. All me. When do I have time to sit and craft/cook/shop/decorate the day away in preparation for a Pinterst-y party? Pretty much never, folks.

Yet I am bombarded with pictures in my FB newsfeeds of elaborate children's parties my "friends" have thrown, and an insane amount of info out there on the inter-webs when searching for just a few, simple ideas. Pinterest, for instance, can really make a person feel like they are totally failing at life. Like it should be no problem to make a fantastic spread of food and desserts from scratch, sew party clothes for the entire family, make all the decorations and invitations and favors by hand, and have a pristine house on party day thanks to the slew of 30-point "how to perfectly clean your entire house" lists you have pinned. And, of course, make all of the above really cute and creative and just pure genius. Maybe I had the time for that when I was childless, and maybe I will again in the future, but as the mother of an almost-one-year old without any help, I say, "back off, internet."

For some reason, though, just knowing all these Pinterest-y ideas exist makes it impossible for me to ignore them. I so want to ignore them, I so want to keep it simple. But, I'm drawn to create and as obnoxious as I find all the party planning boards out there, I am also inspired by them. Because, those cakes and handmade decorations are beautiful. But, I hate them. But, they exist. And they are beautiful. Sigh.

So, I am throwing a party for Emerson. And, I will somehow, someway, probably put way more effort into it than need be. Because, I can't deny that it feels like a MAJOR milestone for me. For us, as a family. And as crazy as throwing a party is going to make me, I count myself blessed for having extended family that wouldn't dream of missing Emerson's first birthday.

Can you just stay right there forever, sweet Emmie?
Here's hoping I make it through the next six weeks without an anxiety attack! What will send me over the edge first: my baby turning one, or throwing a party for our entire family?