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Baby Feelings

In the early morning I feel warmth and happiness as I watch our little girl slowly wake up, grinning with delight when she fully wakes and sees her parents.
Not an hour later I feel confused when she refuses to even take a bite of her oatmeal, but happily eats my oatmeal (exact same meal, just in a different bowl).
Mid-morning I feel a sense of calm as she happily plays.
By noon I start becoming anxious, wondering if she’ll take a nap soon.
Mid-afternoon I revel in the quietness created by her nice long nap. A half hour later I find myself worrying because she’s napping for so long. And then she wakes up – and I am once more filled with delight seeing this happy baby who is clearly thrilled simply to exist.
In the evening, when I watch her carefully pick-up each pea and place it in her mouth, I’m pleased by how much she’s growing and curious about her level of focus. And then, when I see her carefully pick-up each piece of corn and fling it to the ground (much to the dogs delight), I start to realize that she’s developing preferences (peas > corn > beans).
My parental heart fills with pride and joy as she holds a bell and figures out how to make it ring, watching the smile the fills her entire face.
Then it’s time to give her hugs, hold her tight, and marvel that this child, this little girl who is now sleeping peacefully, came from us, belongs to us, and is here with us.

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I’ve been feeling more and more like blogging recently but have been having a hard time writing a post so I’ve decided to start with something general – what I’m loving these days.

The trivial things (aka food):
I love that it’s citrus season. I buy a bag full of satsumas on a weekly basis and gobble them up. My 11 month old daughter sees me eating these citrus wonders and asks for some signing “more” and then once she has a taste, immediately starts shaking her head no and spitting it out. It’s cute… because she does it again and again.

And while I’m usually order a vanilla latte or iced coffee with milk at Starbucks, I had a sample of the Caramel Brulee latte the other day and I think I have a new favorite drink. It’s absolutely delicious

Finally, if you come across gingerbread frozen yogurt give it a go. I’m not much for gingerbread flavored things, but the frozen yogurt I had reminded me of pumpkin pie without the pumpkin flavor.

What I’m truly loving these days: Spending time with my baby girl.
We’ve been going through another transition period but as a result I’m getting to spend two days a week at home with my baby which has been absolutely wonderful. I have such a sweet baby girl and it’s fantastic just hanging out with her and going on little mini-adventures. She’s becoming more engaged in the world and it’s fascinating to watch.

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A precious memory:
I come home from work and walk in the side door. My little girl turns her head towards me, gets this ridiculously huge grin on her face, and starts crawling to me. I pick her up and she buries her head into me. I can hardly think of a better way to be greeted.
The pure love of a baby is amazing. This memory ranks right up there next to the first time she reached her arms out to me, asking to be picked up (I completely melted).

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Post Pregnancy Public Service Announcement 3: Hormones are real and feeling drained/overwhelmed is normal

During that first month I cannot tell you how many times I decided I wasn’t cut out to be a mom because I just felt too overwhelmed. Because I didn’t think I could make it if being a mom meant that this baby would be nursing every hour for the next month, or because I didn’t know how to magically calm her, or because she stopped crying when my husband held her. That’s right, I would get upset when my husband was able to calm the baby – try to process that one. So many hormones were running through my body and combining that with newborn sleep deprivation meant that the rational part of my brain just didn’t have a chance. Any time I felt like I was failing, I was certain that meant I was going to fail at being a mom.

Luckily I had two things going for me:
1) A husband and a mom who both assured me that whatever I was feeling was okay and normal.

2) A new parents group

New parents feel overwhelmed with life and are just surviving from day to day. If you can find a parents group, go. I didn’t think I could make it out of the house with my little baby and it took me a week to get up the courage to go, but I went and I just sat there and listened to other people talk. And realized that not only did they understand, but they had been there AND survived. The first two months were hard, and since then, life has been pretty good. Sure there are challenges, but we are out of survival mode and instead enjoying watching this adorable little girl grow and learn about the world around her.

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Public Service Announcement Two: Itchy postpartum? Try a new brand of pads.

After giving birth you’re going to feel sore and all sorts of uncomfortable – perhaps even a pulled muscle or two (fun times when it’s your abs), but apparently it’s not normal to feel itchy.

As a first time mom I had no idea what things were normal in the healing process. I spent weeks with an itchy rash down there. I just assumed this was a normal part of the post birth healing process. When I went in for my post-delivery check-up my doctor noticed the rash and then asked “Are you using Always brand pads?” I was completely taken aback – why yes, I was, how did she know that? Apparently many women have an allergic reaction to Always brand and it results in some itching and sometimes a slight rash. It never even occurred to me that this could be irritation due to a skin allergy. I stopped at the store on the way home, bought a different brand (I don’t even remember what brand but yes, I was able to find one with wings still), and 24 hours later I was fine.

Maybe that won’t be the solution for you, but it’s an easy enough thing to try. If it works, you’ll have saved yourself from going in to your OB and then curse for not realizing that you could have saved yourself four plus weeks of discomfort (well at least of itching).

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My brain is full of things I want to share about becoming a mother. There’s no pattern, no cohesiveness, just a need to share because maybe it will help someone else who is facing the same issues, or who has the same questions.

PSA 1: Becoming a parent means understanding why other parents stop giving advice

Up until the day my daughter was born, I had ideas and thoughts about the way you should be a parent. This wasn’t about the idyllic life I would have with my child – I was aware that being a parent would be hard and challenging – no, this was about the sleep and food and schedules and routines. These are the sentences that being with “I’m not a parent but…” The notion that because you’ve done the reading you know that children should get x amount of feedings/day or sleep for x hours at a time or shouldn’t be comforted by x because then they’ll get used to it. I thought I was respectful, I thought that because I only shared what I had read or what friends of mine who are parents had shared with me I was just giving good advice.

Then I gave birth. And I understood why I notice so few parents giving unsolicited advice.

Because every person is different. Not just every child. Every person. Each family has to make the decisions that work best for them – for the parents, the baby, and any other siblings. They have to establish rhythms that work for them. The parents have to make decisions on how to go from one day to the next. These pre-birth ideas get thrown out the window. You meet your child and start learning what their needs are, and you start looking at this from the baby’s perspective. Someone might tell you that you should be doing x. y, and z. And if you’re like me, you’ll make yourself into a crazy ball of stress trying to figure out how to balance all of this advice when your instincts are screaming to do something completely different. Now I try to avoid giving “advice” because I remember how nerve-wracking it was for me to hear all these “shoulds.”

Having said that, we do benefit a great deal from sharing experiences and hearing how other people parent but it changes from “well I’ve read you should do x” to “We found that Jane dealt with car trips better when we drove during the day instead of at night.” I actively seek out stories from parents who have kids slightly older than my daughter as it helps give me ideas, but at the end of the day I know that I’m just going to be asking myself “what’s right for my child?” And I don’t have a second kid, but when that time comes around, I’m betting that we’ll probably come up with different answers.

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It’s odd, I have the reputation of being one to look on the sunny side – but in reality that’s only when it comes to giving people the benefit of the doubt, when it comes to life, I tend to be more of a pessimist. Along those lines, I wasn’t looking forward to my daughter learning how to crawl. I allowed myself to believe that it would be “all over” once she started to move. As my daughter started to show more and more signs of trying to crawl, I approached it with a feeling of “uh oh.” I didn’t understand why on earth my husband would be encouraging her to move – trying to lure her forward. I was only seeing the negative about her learning to crawl and being on the move – in short, that she’d get in to everything. I’d happily agree with people who said “uh oh, she’s going to be crawling any day now.” That is, until one of my friend’s said that actually one of her favorite things was when her daughter learned to crawl – because then she was able to explore the world around her more fully and seemed to have more fun.

Mindset Change

Once she said that, I basically took it as permission to get excited about this new stage. I was able to join my husband in delighting over our daughter’s growth. Instead of focusing on the new hazards/obstacles (pillows are no obstacle for our little one and the dogs/ water dish is a great attraction), I started watching our daughter learn. It’s amazing to watch a child figure things out. In the course of a few short weeks she has learned out how to pull herself up, how to walk around a footstool (one of her favorite activities), how to get under the kitchen stools, and so much more. The way she interacts with her environment is amazing. The first time she moved from the carpet to the tile floor her world shifted – she dropped her head and cried. This new texture that was cold and hard stopped her in her tracks. And yet, within a week, she’s grown accustom to it and now crawls about on the tile floor, not letting it detract her from the attractions of the kitchen – a forgotten dog dish, stools to pull herself up on, and of course, the friendly legs of her parents.

The pessimist would still be fretting about these changes, but instead I’m letting myself delight in the wonder of a child discovering new things. And I’m cherishing those sweet moments when my little girl, tired out from being on the move, crawls over to me so I can pick her up, where she then snuggles her head into my neck and accepts that all is right with the world because her mom has her. I hope she has the same feeling 30 years from now… the secure knowledge that her mom will always be there for her, as I know my mom is there for me. Sappy and oh so true.

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