Sometimes the good stuff comes at the end

Today was a bad day.  If I had to guess it was the combination of an overwhelming workload and PMS.  PMS on a Saturday I can handle.  An overwhelming workload on a day that my hormones aren’t all out whack from recently growing a human I can handle.  PMS on a Tuesday at 10 AM when I realize I’ve missed another deadline and look at the next three months of planning where enough work exists for four of me?  Not so good. 

It was a day that 18 months ago would have been rewarded with a cold beer and fried cheese.  And for a moment, just a moment, I found myself missing the ease of having a bad day and wallowing in it.  Coming home and soaking in a hot bath with a glass of wine and a good cry. Or bitching to a co-worker at happy hour.  Or running to the mall and buying new shoes. 

Then, I came home to this face. 

Bundled up in the car seat for the 100-yard ride from Nauni's house to ours. What? It was cold out.

And we giggled.  I clapped while she practiced rolling.  I put her down on one side of the floor and picked her up when she rolled to the other.  She ate carrots and yelled when I didn’t get them in her mouth fast enough.  We gave her a bath and I laughed as she splashed me.  I took pictures, calling her name and making funny noises to try to capture her smile. 

And when I rocked her to sleep and felt her head heavy on my shoulder and the rhythm of her breath on my neck, I found myself wondering why my day was so bad.

Don’t Be Fooled

Don’t let those big eyes pull you in or the loving embrace of the doll fool you.  She looks all sweet and innocent here.  All loving and gentle.  All ” OH  MY GAWD what a sweet baby, I just want to reach into the computer screen and scoop her up.” And she is a sweet, sweet child with her doll and her father.  But with me…. no such luck. 

When I feed her, I get clawed in the face.  When I change her diaper, my hair gets pulled.  She scratches, she pinches, she tears earrings out of my ears and she tries to pick my nose. (In the interest of full disclosure I’m constantly picking hers too, so we’ll call that one even. )  Twice this week I’ve had to change clothes ten minutes before leaving for work thanks to diaper blowouts.    Have you ever tried to bath a baby in heels and a dress?  Not easy and usually ends in only a slightly better disaster than in which it began. 

It’s a good thing that this little girl doesn’t pack much heat behind her punches or I’d have some explaining to do!  So, someone tell me, when can I expect my kid to stop trying to kick my ass?

What if I forget?

At just a week shy of five months old, C has clearly left her newborn stage in the dust.  Gone is the teeny tiny human that would lay on my chest in the afternoon and sleep for hours.  No longer can I cradle carry her in the sling.  She needs to be up, facing out, ready to take on the world.  Her hands and her legs are in constant motion, as if, given half a chance, she would take off running.  

While things may not have changed greatly – our days are still all about the rhythm of bottles, diapers and sleep – there is a definite difference between our baby girl at 4 weeks and our girl at 4 months.  I don’t want to be eating her birthday cake this fall and not remember the weight of a newborn who spent 16 hours a day in my arms. I want to file away the moments that she gazed into my eyes while I was feeding her with a look that said “I trust you.  I need you.”  I want to close my eyes and remember how the sound of my voice or the comfort of being wrapped up in a sling would immediately put her to sleep.  I want to remember the sweet smell of milk on her breath and the lavender scent of the lotion I used after her bath.   

Those first few weeks were filled with nerves and anxiety, with excitement and visitors and complete love and adoration.  The three of us became a family the moment she was placed in my arms and I want to remember how I felt when I looked at her.  How she screamed her head off until they laid her in my arms when she briefly stopped as I pressed my lips to her head and softly said “Hi baby girl.  I know you.”   

3 weeks in, giving a new meaning the phrase "sleep when she sleeps."

 

So much has changed.  Every milestone she reaches equals a stage or a moment of time that she’s leaving behind.  Instead of laying on my chest, she likes to lay on her side curled up next to me.  She no longer likes being held up to my shoulder for fear that she will miss what’s happening behind her. When I feed her instead of just looking at me, she’s touching my face, reaching for my cheeks or pulling on my ears.  She is slightly more predictable and just as opinionated as always.   She recognizes my voice, reaches for me when other people are holding her and follows me with her eyes when I leave the room.   

In possibly a few weeks, definitely a few months, this stage will have passed as well.  She’ll be crawling, or scootching across the room; we’ll be playing games of throwing things on the floor to see if Mommy will pick them up; and instead of the shoulders of my shirts having milk stains her bibs will be stained with baby food.   

My hope is that when that time comes I can remember the milestones and the every day moments that we’ve passed in the process; the tiny bits of time that have shaped myself, my baby and my family.

It’s a Girl!

Damn, I hate it when he’s right.  But he was.  From the beginning.  The day I peed on the $14 stick and announced our pregnancy status to Craig, he said “it’s a girl.”  I was not as convinced.  Throughout the pregnancy he held firm that we were having a girl, while I waivered.  And secretly hoped. 

Some say that every woman wants a baby girl.  That we all want little girls that we can outfit in pink dresses and take shopping.  Others say that the bond between a little boy and his mother is unlike any other.  I’ve heard both sides.  But I still wanted a girl.  I had visions of doll babies, cheerleading camps and prom dresses.  I saw myself pushing her through the mall in a stroller and graciously accepting comments about how cute she was. 

Now that I have a daughter, I’m beginning to comprehend the responsibility of raising her. She’s not just my baby.  She will be a classmate, a friend, a partner, and, if she’s lucky, a mother.  While I still want to dress her up, buy her dolls and have long talks about boys, I also want to teach her many of the things that my mother taught me.  I want her to learn to be independent but not be afraid to ask for help.  I want her to identify the things worth fighting for and work like hell until she gets them.  I want her to always be safe, but take risks and push the boundaries a little. I want her to know how much she is loved. 

This baby that squeals when I blow raspberries on her belly will have her toes stepped on and her heart broken.  She will try and sometimes she will lose.   She will want things that she can’t have.  My job is to help her grow with each loss and praise every win.  To be her biggest champion but not carry her through life.  To let her struggle as she finds her way.  To support her every single time.   

And to teach her that a new pair of shoes can cure almost any bad day.

…and may all the wishes you wish come true…

May the sun shine, all day long,
everything go right, and nothing wrong.
May those you love bring love back to you,
and may all the wishes you wish come true!
~Irish Blessing
 
I love making wishes.  I make wishes on stars.  I make wishes when the clock says 2:22 or 11:11 or 3:33. When I find an eyelash on my cheek, I make a wish before blowing it off of my finger.  And, the wishbone of a turkey? Oh yeah.  I’m all over that. 


Or, I was.  Until all of my wishes came true.  Now I’m trying to get better at being grateful for my blessings.  Today (even though it should have been yesterday) I count them:

  • I have a husband who I love with all of my heart
  • A baby I love more than that and who brightens every moment of every day
  • Parents who are not only loving and helpful but who are a source of inspiration in my marriage and in parenthood
  • In-laws who live close and are supportive enough to babysit when I need to work, shop or go for the occassional drink – thus allowing me to feel like the person I was before I became a mom
  • Girlfriends who were mothers before me and now provide me with an unending source of advice on sleep schedules, product reviews and date nights.
  • Siblings I would do anything for, especially now that I see them as an aunt and uncle to my daughter
  • Friends who over the years have offered me their shoulders to cry on, phone lines to burn up with phone calls or texting, or a seat next to them when having a drink became the obvious solution
  • A job that challenges me and has given me an opportunity for professional growth.

So, when I realize that I have all of that in my life, what’s left to wish for? 

Today, I’m holding my baby

Forget writing thank you notes (its been a month, what’s another few days), going through clothes (that’s depressing anyway) or cleaning my house (like I need an excuse to avoid that)… today I am doing nothing but holding my baby, because tomorrow I am leaving her ALL DAY to go to a meeting for work.  ::sigh:: 

Yes I know my maternity leave doesn’t end until next week and I made the choice to be involved with 2010 planning while I was off and I offered to attend the non-mandatory meeting tomorrow.  Do not remind me that all along I’ve talked about how I could not be a stay at home mom, how I needed to get out of the house for ‘adult conversation’ and to feel productive and how I was pretty sure I could rock as a working mom.  Seriously, do not go there, because right now the words to the “You’re Gonna Miss This” song are running through my head and all I can think about is how much I’m going to miss tomorrow and every other day that I’m at work while she is home.  The way we cuddle in bed early in the mornings, and the way she smiles and gurgles after being fed and changed mid-morning, or the way she curls up on my chest to take an afternoon nap.  

So, tomorrow, I will go to the meeting, stop at Dunkin Donuts for a hot chocolate and put on my happy face about how it feels good to be back; but today, I am holding my baby and trying not to cry.  And seriously, the first person to say I told you so, loses blog reading rights. 

My Labor Story

Before I forget the details, I wanted to get my labor story documented…
First of all anyone who knows me knows that I did not want to be induced. Remember the post where I laid out my labor plan… To go into labor on my own – on or before the 23rd of September; go without an epidural and not have a c-section. Well one out of four isn’t bad, I guess.
At our 40-week and 1 day appointment, the doctor scheduled an induction for September 30th, which would have made me one full week over due. I never thought I would actually be that late or need that appointment, but apparently the baby had another opinion. So at 7:45 on September 30th, Craig and a very pregnant me walked into the hospital and knew we would be leaving for a baby. On the way to the hospital Craig talked to the baby about putting me into labor right-this-very-second and I joked that I would be OK with it if they checked things out and discovered that I was in the early stages of labor and sent us home with instructions to come back later. Neither of those two things happened and at 8:30 I was still barely 1cm dilated, not effaced enough to break my water and hooked up to pitocin to start contractions.
For the first hour or so, the contractions weren’t that bad. They just felt like good old fashioned cramps. Then they started getting a little stronger and were a little harder to breathe through. I asked for some pain medicine around 10:00 and before the nurse gave it to me she checked to see how I was progressing. I was 2cm. Barely 2 cm. She gave me some pain medicine to take the edge off, which it absolutely did not, and increased the pitocin. A little while later, the contractions were really, really painful. Craig tried to help by telling me to breathe deeper – (thanks honey!) and I realized there was no way I was getting through labor without the epidural. When the nurse came back in to tell me the woman in the room next to me was getting an epidural, I told her to send the doctor to me when he was done with her.

They put the epidural in around 11:00. That was probably the most uncomfortable and awkward part of labor. Trying to hold still, sort of curled up in a ball, with a nurse standing between my legs holding onto me to make sure I didn’t move while having contractions that felt like like the baby was having her own version of ultimate kickboxing. I was surprised at how long it took to put the epidural in and that it didn’t take effect right away. After they finally got it all in and I laid back down on the bed, I did start feeling some relief… on my right side. On my left side, however, I was still feeling each contraction. They had me lay on my side for a while and that helped the numbness work its way over.
At 12:30 the doctor came back to check my progress, break my water and (after making fun of me for having the epidural when I had said for weeks that I didn’t want it) announced that I was fully dilated. I politely asked her if the drugs they gave me went to my head or hers. I didn’t quite believe her. This wasn’t the way I thought it was going to go. It was early afternoon, not late at night or mid-morning. I remember thinking that I wasn’t quite ready for this yet. She told me that I could start pushing when I was ready.
A nurse came in and turned the warming lights on for the baby and said that we could start pushing. Because I was still so numb from the epidural, she had to brace one leg and Craig took the other – breaking the strict “stay shoulders up and don’t look down there” orders. I tried pushing for about half an hour but it wasn’t really working. I couldn’t feel anything and was almost falling asleep between contractions and pushes. The nurse turned the epidural down and told me to relax for a while. I fell asleep for about an hour.

When I woke up, I started pushing again – this time with a roomful of doctors and nurses. Besides my OB, there were two nurses helping me push (Craig was on camera & phone duty), a nurse for the baby and a doctor from the neonatal ICU to make sure the baby was OK because there was meconium in the water when they broke it and they were afraid she had swallowed some. So, with the team of medical professionals talking me through the pushes – I could feel pressure but not pain – I pushed for about 20 minutes and at 3:33, my baby girl was born.

She cried her little head off while they wiped her off and laid her on my belly. Craig cut the umbilical cord and then they took her, cleaned her off and pronounced her healthy. When they wrapped her up and handed her to Craig to hold, I thought my heart would break from happiness. I will never forget the moment of seeing him fall in love with his baby girl.

All in all, I really couldn’t have asked for a better labor experience. I had a doctor that I trusted completely and who acted like a real person, a nurse who was comforting and walked us through the whole process, and a husband that didn’t do or say anything stupid. That being said, I have discovered that the reason the pain of labor is quickly forgotten has less to do with the love for your child and more to do with the fact that it’s replaced by the pain of recovering from labor – sore boobs, a crotch that feels like someone took a baseball bat to it and cramps from a shrinking uterus that are worse than any PMS I ever had. As I type this and look at my now 2-week old little girl who I love more than I ever thought possible I can say with conviction that it’s all worth it. Maybe someday, I’ll even think about doing it again!