The Year Everything Changed

I started 2011 in a hot tub with six bloggers. At midnight we all went around and cheers’d to the year ahead and proclaimed what we wanted for the year. I wanted 2011 to be about Boldness.

I wanted to live a vibrant life without fear.
I wanted to meet challenges head on.
I wanted to feel in love with my life, not because I’ve been lucky but because I’ve gone out and claimed what I want.

When the year began, I would have never described myself as ballsy. I liked my life, my job, my friends… but something felt hollow in it all. I felt really lucky to have the things I did, but feeling like I had everything because of lucky breaks left me feeling uneasy; I didn’t feel like I had ownership of my life.

A week after I wrote about a weekend I cried putting on a duvet cover by myself because I felt so overwhelmingly lonely, everything changed. I went to a friends house and something clicked with this guy I had known for a few months. I was scared but I wanted to live my life boldly right? Boldness didn’t mean being reckless with my heart, it meant taking the risk and opening my heart up. Being open to the big feelings; it doesn’t get much bolder than that.

Everything changed when Mr. A came into my life, and not just because I ahem got pregnant. What changed my life was how he and I responded to the pregnancy. We became a we. We decided to get married and we spent every ounce of our energy building the solid foundation we would need when our baby got here.. and it worked.

Boldness was accomplished. That is for sure.

Now, we’re beginning 2012 and I was struggling to pick a new word for the year. I have been given amazing things this past year, a husband and a son to start with. We are past the beginning stages of my life here in the bay area, of my marriage, and of my son’s life. I am now looking to take the things I have and grow them the best I can. Nourish them. Protect them. Making them a priority for my energy in 2012.

This year I want to take care of the things I have gained.

I will cultivate my marriage. In a lot of ways Mr. A and I are lucky with the way our relationship unfolded. We have always been 100% in. We never doubted each other for a second and we spent the months leading up to Miles guaranteeing we had the best possible foundation. I want to make sure Mr. A is feeling appreciated, loved, and adored as much as possible this year. I want date nights and affection. I want him to feel in his bones that he is loved; our marriage will thrive if I can do that.

I will cultivate my wee baby boy. He has a ton of growing to do this year. He’ll be walking and talking by the time 2013 rolls around. That’s crazy. I guess I want to make sure that I am having as much fun with him as possible. I don’t want to take the easy road when raising him. I want to take him to the park and get down on the floor to play with him. I want to soak in this year.

I will cultivate myself. I don’t want to get lost in all that I have to care for this year. I still have to take care of myself. This includes bath time, training for a half-marathon in May, time with friends, my writing, and anything else that feeds my soul. It’s just like those safety advisories on airplanes that tell you that in case of an emergency to put your oxygen mask on first. To take care of others I need to take care of me first.

What are YOU going to be striving for this year? Do you feel like you’re in a transitional phase of life or reaching an equilibrium?

And now we can all put away our Justin Bieber Christmas CDs.

I’m sure I am not the first person to fall off the face of the internet once the Holidays come around.  Mr. A started his vacation on the 18th and it was just so nice snuggling with him on the couch watching CSI marathons with The Wee Baby Miles.

We had three Christmas’ this year, the first was with my family at my Aunts.  Due to the whole “I was single this time last year” thing, this was the first time Mr. A got to be in on my family’s celebrations.  I love that when we’re all together there is a ton of laughter and you get the sense that we just really enjoy each other. (The official family photo this year was taken by my camera and I saved us from having to make a bajillion attempts at getting a good one.  You’re welcome Family.)

 

Our First Christmas
Grandma got to love on Miles a ton.

Christmas night meant firmly establishing the New Christmas Jammies rule.

On Christmas morning we woke up to open our gifts and then hopped into the car and headed to Mr. A’s parents home in San Diego.  I was so nervous that Miles would scream the whole time, but he was a joy.  I think I’ll keep him.

Miles in the car. Totally chill.

In San Diego, I don’t think Miles spent more than 2 minutes not in someone’s arms. I pumped a ton just so his Grandad and Grammie could bond with him over his beverage of choice.

Miles loved reading with Daddy… although the new Vonnegut biography was a bit dry for his taste.  He requested a wake up when it was time to read “Good Night Moon”. 

The night we left we got to squeeze in a quick visit with my BFF and her Hubby. Erin is Miles’ Godmother, so it was quite an important meeting. Luckily they got along well.

Hope your holiday was lovely too.  We are loving spending the couple of days before the New Year getting our apartment in order.  I have been telling myself that I had until the New Year to focus solely on Miles before entering the world again.  I am diving head first into more writing, more goals, freelancing, etc.  Thanks for all of your patience and support while I was in my little cocoon of New-Mamahood.  I am looking forward to being back.

Kind of Blue

Yesterday my mom asked me if I have been able to keep “the blues” away and I chuckled. Then I got home and read Hillary’s beautiful and honest post about the postpartum issues she has been experiencing and I knew I had to write.

As new Mama’s we have a million fears and expectations about all the changes involved in childbirth. We hear how awful labor is. We here about epidurals and emergency c-sections. We read a hundred birth stories about women’s emotions and triumphs over childbirth. I, for one, expected to have a completely magical other worldly reaction when Miles was put into my arms. I feel things pretty intensely as a rule, so I fully expected to be rendered immobile by love upon sight of him. That did not happen. I felt pain. I was in shock. I could marvel at the immensity of the moment maybe, but all those endorphins and happy feelings were absent. I felt like I had done something wrong. Somehow I forgot to push the “activate” button on all that mom love. Nobody told me I would have to wait to feel all the things.

The feelings of love came, but there have been days where I have felt very lost. Miles is 5 weeks old now and reading Hillary’s post I have felt all the same things: anxiety, guilt, and fear. I have cried a ton. I have felt intense anxiety over the the prospect of going out or being home alone. I have felt isolated. I have felt like a burden to my husband. I’ve tried to act like I hadn’t been crying. I have lost my shit.

Breastfeeding was hard and painful. There would be times that Miles would be hungry and I would cry anticipating the pain I would feel when he latched on. One night last week I had to wake Mr. A up in the middle of the night because I couldn’t stop crying and Miles was fussy and I was so overwhelmed I just couldn’t cope.

I’ve been lucky. Most of my dark emotions have not lasted long, but they could have. The line between coping and not coping seems so very narrow; all the hormones are like strong winds threatening to blow us over the edge.

I kept telling myself it would get better; that this period of adjustment sucked but would not last long. There were moments where I’ve felt like I have been holding my breathe willing the next phase to get here as quickly as possible. I don’t know what the difference is between me and someone who goes further over the edge into depression. I could point to my husband or my friends… But I bet they could too. Depression and anxiety don’t discriminate it seems, and just because I was spared the worst of it this time doesn’t guarantee that I won’t fall off the edge next time. It would only take a slight breeze.

I guess what I am saying is that having a baby is so hard, no matter how prepared you think you are, and we all need a little reassurance and kindness. If you know someone who has just had a baby, do me a favor and call them and tell them they’re doing a great job and their baby is lucky to have them. You never know how much power your simple act of kindness can have. If you’re a new mama, know you’re not alone and don’t be afraid to ask for help when things are too much for too long. Take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself.

It will get better.

One Month

Miles is one month and a day old.  To give you an idea of what life looks like with a newborn, I started working on this post over four days ago…. I win. He appears to be the same size as the day he was born, except for the three pounds he has gained in his cheeks. He’s too young to understand that his Daddy calling him “Jowly” may not be the most flattering nickname in some circles. We will have to cut that habit by the time he starts kindergarten.

One day when I was changing his diaper he  started peeing (as little boys tend to do).  Lucky for me the stream was in no way directed at me.  Unlucky for Miles the stream went directly onto his little face.  Also unlucky for Miles, his mom thought it was HILARIOUS and instead of thinking quickly and throwing a towel on him to stop the carnage I ended up in hysterics on the ground trying not to pee my pants.  Poor guy.

***

Things Miles is All About, 1 month edition.

  • Boobs
  • Tummy time
  • His first real friend, Sade the Seahorse
  • Making old man faces
  • Family Dance time
  • Bath time
  • Santa 

Things Miles Thinks are for Suckers:

  • Sleeping while not bring held
  • His car seat

Thankful.

The best part of being “an adult” is being able to create your own holiday traditions.

Today I am starting our first holiday tradition by instituting a decedent morning for all.

Thanksgiving Morning is for: Coffee. Cinnamon Rolls. Parades. Pajamas.

Later, we will have scallops and my Grandpa’s minestrone.

So much to be thankful for this year: my husband, my son, this mimosa I’m drinking because I’m no longer pregnant. :)

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Happy Thanksgiving All!

Miles’ Birth Story

It would be such an understatement to say that by the time I went on maternity leave I was over being pregnant.  I spent two days cleaning the apartment and then I started impatiently walking around while googling “How to induce labor naturally.”

Thursday afternoon I had my first contractions.  They weren’t super painful but they were 2-3 minutes apart so we headed to the hospital (because I had never had a baby before and really had no idea what labor was supposed to feel like).  We spent three hours in observation (watching High School Musical, obvs) only to be sent home at 1:30am and 3.5 cm dilated.  Baby was coming soon, just not right then.

Mr. A got a sub for Friday and we slept in and went out to our favorite breakfast place.   I knew that this would definitely be the last time we would be there without our baby in tow.  I spent the afternoon walking around the mall with my mom.  Did I mention that when I called my mom the night before to tell her we were headed to the hospital but to wait for us to get admitted to make the two hour drive to us my mom basically got immediately into her car and drove to the hospital?  <insert daughter-sigh-eye-roll here><Mom, I love how excited you were.  Honestly.  I love you.>

At 6am Saturday morning I was woken up by my first real contractions.  How did I know they were real contractions you ask?  Well, they made Thursdays contractions laughable.  These HURT!  I woke Mr. A up and told him that I was pretty sure we were going to have a baby today.   I hopped in the shower, not wanting to go to quickly to the hospital to be sent home again.  While I was in the shower the contractions got more intense and I found myself bracing myself on the wall during contractions.  I quickly did my hair and called my mom to tell her that she should not plan on driving home that day; it was baby time.

By the time we got to the hospital my contractions were so painful I couldn’t talk through them. We hung out in the monitoring rooms for a couple of hours again before the doctor came to check my progress.  5.5 centimeters!  It was happening.  We would not be leaving the hospital without our son.  I was so excited.

We had “planned” for a natural labor.  We took eight weeks of Bradley Method classes learning how to work through contractions with relaxation techniques…. by the time we got settled into our birthing suite I had absolutely zero interest in having a natural childbirth.  I was nervous that Mr. A would be disappointed if I opted for the medication, but he assured me that it was totally up to me and that he would be 100% okay either way.  My decision to get an epidural was solidified when I found out that my blood pressure was high (because of the pain) which would mean that the nurses wouldn’t let me out of my hospital bed… laboring on while being restricted to my bed sounded awful.

After my epidural in was a waiting game.  They broke my bag of waters (which felt bizarre) and we settled in and waited.  My mom was there with us while we watched a ton of DVD’s.  I tried to nap while I could, but my body was definitely still working hard even if I couldn’t feel the contractions; I was shaking and couldn’t keep anything (popsicles or jello) down.  Every time the doctor came in to check my progress I would be further along, then she would cheerfully say she would check back in another 2-3 hours.

As the day dragged on I started getting more and more uncomfortable.  I felt painful “pressure” during contractions and had developed a fever.   I was shaking pretty consistently and I just wanted to be able to hold Mr. A’s hand.  At 10:45pm we got the go ahead to start “practice pushing”.  It felt so good to be able to DO something productive.  It was nothing like the movies, I was completely silent most of the time, all of my energy was dedicated to pushing.

After an hour of pushing things suddenly went into over-drive.  The doctor was called back in and had to quickly put on her gloves to deliver Miles.  I didn’t even want to take breaks from pushing.  Everything hurt so much, I just wanted it over and I wanted my baby.

After he had crowned, and Mr. A broke all the rules and looked while they suctioned Miles’ mouth, I knew I only had a couple more pushed to go… so I pushed harder and with more energy than I thought I had and suddenly I had a warm and wet baby on my chest.

I was completely overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed with the pain I had just felt.  Overwhelmed with exhaustion.  Overwhelmed by finally seeing my little boy’s face.  I was holding my son and Mr. A had tears streaming down his face and we just stared at his little face.  His face was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  His nose and lips were the most perfect things.  We couldn’t process that we had made him.  From the very beginning he already felt so much bigger and better than me or us.  Miles was beautiful and perfect and ours.


 

State of the Household

He’s 5 days old.

I think I have one billion photos of him on my phone thus far.  (Can you blame me?)

Having Miles home has been intense.  I don’t think I was prepared for how much recovery would be involved in birthing a baby…there is no way I could have done it alone.  At first I was in so much pain, the only thing I was really good for was trying to feed him and holding him while he slept.  Mr. A was a rockstar and dove head first into the world of diapering and swaddling and doing everything to get both Miles and me anything we needed.  Miles and I sure lucked out with him.

Miles and I focused on learning how to breast feed, and it seemed to be going really well until Tuesday night when my milk came in.  Miles became fussy and couldn’t latch.  He was visibly frustrated and I didn’t know how to help him.  I kept telling myself that breastfeeding was supposed to be hard, but we would figure it out.  He would scream until he would fall into an exhausted sleep, only to wake again more unhappy.  By morning I was anxious and defeated.  We headed to our well-baby check in and by the time we got there I was crying uncontrollably.  When they weighed him, he had lost the max 10% of his body weight they will allow; and I cried some more.

The lactation consultant checked out his mouth and found that the roof of his mouth has a super high arch,  he couldn’t tell he had anything in his mouth because nothing was reaching the roof of his mouth to activate his suck-reflex.  We left the hospital with a new feeding routine: I pump for a minute or two and try to get him to latch.  If it works, great.  If it doesn’t work than I pump for a full 15 minutes and then hand it over to Mr. A.  Mr. A uses a syringe with a tube taped to his finger to feed Miles.  When Miles sucks correctly, Mr. A helps to train his little tongue to fully extend while giving him a little bit of milk.  We spent all of Wednesday into Thursday morning with our new routine and Miles changed back to the easy happy baby he is.  The best part: by morning Miles and I were breastfeeding without any help.  Victory.

One down, seventy-billion to go.

Food Coma.

 

Meet Miles

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11/6/11
8lbs 3oz
21 1/2 inches long

He is such a mellow little dude. We’ve spent the past couple of days learning how to breastfeed and Miles will happily spend hours sleeping in the sling with Daddy.

We’re so in love with him.

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November.

Man did I pick the best time ever to be on maternity leave, Halloween through New Years?  I win.

I love that Miles is going to be an autumn baby.  One more thing to add to my list of reasons I love this time of year.

The weather here has been super warm still, in the high 70’s.  That’s set to change on Thursday.  It looks like Fall is coming Thursday with some rain and then highs in the low 60’s for the foreseeable future (what you didn’t know this blog is now a weather blog?)  I told Mr. A that I bet Miles comes with Fall.  A nice rainy day would be a great time to come into the world.

I had a doctors appointment today and I’m 2 cm dilated, which means good things and nothing at all, really.  It means he’s coming soon.  It doesn’t mean that we have a real time frame to speak of…. he’ll come when he comes.  Blah blah blah.

Until then I’ll be bouncing up and down on this exercise ball and repeating the phrase “Have this baby.  Have this baby.”

Baby Bump Friday: 38 weeks

So. Done. Being. Pregnant.

And if one more person says “He’ll be here when he’s ready.” I might throw something at their heads.  I am tired.  I am uncomfortable.  The idea of crawling into bed last night? MADE ME CRY because it is so uncomfortable and I toss-and-turn all night feeling miserable.  As I sit here currently I have a shooting pain in my back that just won’t go away.  I’m grouchy.  I’m just done.

Today is my last day of work before I begin my maternity leave, which is super exciting.  It also kind of freaks me out because he could be here anytime from today to… let’s see… four weeks from today.  If I am here in four weeks with child in my belly and not in my arms I might actually lose my shit.  So my plan for my maternity leave is to do an entire list of things that are meant to put people into labor.  I will eat only spicy food and whole pineapples while walking many miles around town and drinking raspberry tea.  Then in the evening I will bounce non-stop on an exercise ball while nonchalantly stimulating my nipples.  Basically Miles is getting his eviction notice.

 

Size of baby: 38  weeks means about 7 lbs and the size of a leek.

What up Mom?
Progress:  My next appointment is Tuesday.  We will see if he’s lower or if i’ve dialated at all.
Total Weight Gain: Same as last week.  I gained just under 40 lbs.
Maternity Clothes: I am so tired of my maternity clothe options.  Sigh.
Gender: Little Man Baby
Movement: Wiggles and feet wedged directly in my rib cage.
Sleep: The night before last may have been the worst night of sleep I’ve ever had ever.  I was up 20 times in the course of 3 hours.  I’m. So. Tired.
What I miss: Sleep.  (And my sunny disposition today.)
Cravings:  Chocolate milk.
Symptoms: Impatience.
What I’m looking forward to: No more work!