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holy moly.

our lil’ bear is already three months old.  three months since that glorious day!  and while i don’t pine away for the first 6 weeks after she was born, i do pine away for our labor and birth experience.  so amazing.

and already three months ago…!

where does the time go?

i guess it goes into learning to roll over, smiling and then having a first giggle, finding hands to suck on and trying so hard to reach out for mama’s face without luck so far…yes, these are busy days for the bear family.

she is so fun…and funny, too.

in other developmental news, we approached an earlier bedtime…we started at 3:30a when she was born and slowly moved up to 11:30p.  we stayed there for a long while and finally moved up to 7:30p, which frankly i thought was fabulous…but it gets even better!  now, cross our fingers, we’ve settled on 6:15-6:30-ish and i think we’ll be here for a while until it likely gets a bit later again…maybe 7ish.

those evenings are a dream!

although, the minute i started to get used to this new routine, we had a rough night (last night)…a bit of trouble settling down and some gas pains in the night–ouch!

now i’m counting down to the end of the 3a feed…which i will very likely miss when the time comes.  such is life…a bundle of ambivalence.

i want her to grow and i want her to stay tiny forever.

                                               happy 3 months, lil’ bear!

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i’ve been working on my resume and job-hunting a bit this week, as i contemplate my new role as mother and career woman (or so i am hoping).

in perusing my files i came across a short essay i wrote for a vocational and occupational class i took in 2008 as part of my graduate education.  it was to be my statement of intent—a declaration of my career goals and pursuits.  i wrote it just one week after the first day of my very first miscarriage, when i found it difficult to declare even what i’d wear that day, much less what i was going to do with my life.  my graduation was just a few months away and i didn’t care anymore…it reads as follows:

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A mere eight weeks ago, my statement of intent may have read: when I graduate I plan to celebrate in a big way—months of celebration, culminating in a two week exotic vacation with my husband who consistently believes in my ability as a therapist even when I do not.  Along with celebrating, I also intend to begin the process of setting up my private practice by securing office space and designing my webpage.  I also intend to pursue possible agency work to gain experience and hours in a clinical setting.  I set goals for myself including securing fifteen clients by December 2008 and creating an office space that reflects warmth, tenderness and safety.  I felt like I would burst into the sky like a rocket ship from anticipation at the thought of embarking on fulfilling these goals and dreams.

Just four weeks ago, my statement of intent completely shifted when I discovered I was pregnant.  Fear and delight gripped me at the thought of rearranging my timeline, my vision of what life would look like in the coming months as I would need to make an enormous amount of space in my life for a tiny little bundle.  I had not previously known how deeply I desired to mother.  Then, my intention was to put my professional aspirations temporarily on hold, perhaps facilitating a group one night per week until I felt freer to pursue my goals.  I envisioned pushing back my “fifteen client” goal about two years from now.  I was beginning to wrap my mind around the possibility of being a mom and a therapist as a new “timeline” began to take shape in me.

In the wake of my miscarriage, I no longer have a clue what in the world I will be doing (or even feeling like doing) tomorrow, much less in three months.  At this moment in time the idea of making a declaration of my intentions, professing my hopes and dreams, feels unbearable.  I feel enraged.  I feel scared.  As it turns out, I was on the rocket ship Challenger, which exploded in mid-air.  In the wake of trauma and death, I am again so painfully aware of the fragility of life.  Making declarations such as these requires a level of bold courage and hope that I am currently not able to locate within myself.  However, I believe that tiny little pockets of hope are hidden among the ashes.  I will wait for them to bubble to the surface and I will honor my desire by continuing to hope for a future as a therapist and a mother, whatever shape that will take.  When I graduate, I intend to remain close to my heart, give myself as much space as possible to grieve and heal, and retain the tenderness and passion I have come to love about myself as a therapist.  Beyond that, I am unable to say at this point.  I will keep you posted.

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may i say, i am SO relieved to be past those early, early days.  i do not know how i got through them…i do know that i felt clueless as to where i was headed or why.

and while the memories of my much desired pregnancies remain ever with me, i feel so different today.  i feel content in a new way that i’ve not previously known.  i feel inspired to pursue my career goals more freely and more fully than i have up to this point.  i feel empowered.

and i still don’t have a clue where i’m headed…but i know where i’ve been and i believe and trust that my biggest asset today is my ability to find my way through those painful, horrific seasons with some sort of dignity. 

what i know now that i didn’t know then is that i’d one day have a lil’ bear whose smile melts my heart to no end.

and she’s exactly 12 weeks old today!

i.am.so.grateful.

sadly, our little chica got her first cold this week.  it is so sad to hear her little sniffly nose as she’s eating and sleeping…and those sweet little sneezes!

this week i learned that she hates it when i suction her nose (but who wouldn’t?!).

i learned that she can have some very strange-looking and/or very brightly colored poops!

i was also reminded this week that i’m prone to paranoia and anxiety when it comes to my child’s health.  i was terrified that this was more than a cold and we would surely lose her.

and after this experience there’s no denying that i like to find someone to blame when hard things happen…my huz brought this bug home from work! or a friend brought it over and didn’t wash their hands well enough!  somebody made her sick and it wasn’t me!

…because i guess if it’s someone else’s fault then my worst fears won’t come true…that i’m a bad mom and it’ my fault that she’s sick for not protecting her better.

so, as you can tell i had a mini-meltdown earlier this week. 

then when we were at her two month well baby check the doctor said she was looking fabulous and that she wasn’t concerned about the virus passing thru okay, i calmed a bit.  i learned that licorice root is an anti viral that we can give her, hence her sweet little licorice lips…it’s so cute to watch her lap that up!  she’s also very cute when she’s licking her probiotic powder off my finger.  i’m so hoping that one day soon she can tolerate me having dairy again!

we also learned she’s weighing in at 10lbs 15oz…our little 2 month old chunk of love!

by all accounts, the learning-to-sleep campaign is going well.  we’ve gone from an 11:30p bedtime where we’re all wired and exhausted to a 7:30-8p bedtime where the only time we hear from our little bear again is to eat until 6 or 7a…and then she often goes right back down for another couple of hours…or she might stay up for 45 mins and then go down for a long nap.  today, wonder of wonders, she went down for her last nap without a peep and without her binky.  i’m not sure what’s more monumental, the missing peep or the missing binky.  oh how she loves her binky.  it seems after weeks of overstimulation and sleeplessness (for a newborn), we have ourselves a sleeper.

i know this is what she needs.

i know this is good.

but guess what?

i miss her.  i miss all the hours of holding and cuddling and smooching her.  i miss being close and feeling her warmth.  i miss all her little twitches and the way her lips move in her dreams.  i miss the smell of her sweet, sweet breath. 

i just miss her.

and at the same time i know we couldn’t have gone on as we were.  she’s growing everyday and my back and shoulders were aching under the strain of holding, swaying and patting her while she slept.  i was beginning to resent her for all of the energy it was taking to get her to sleep even 45 mins…and what’s worse is that she was just so tired…unable to sleep much at all.

so, i’m torn…on one hand i am so proud of this bear family…we worked and worked for over 10 days to get to this point…our little one gave it her all and now she’s able to finally get the rest she needs. 

on the other hand, i miss my girl.

it’s been quite a while since i wrote, hey?

there are many reasons for this, but the main ones are:

~sleep deprivation—-i had no idea how negatively affected i’d be by lack of sleep over such a long stretch of time.  i need my sleep even more than i knew.

~too busy—-this is only partially true b/c i’m not too busy to write emails or make phone calls when i want to, but it is kind of true.

~ashamed of some of the more difficult feelings i’ve been experiencing—-i wasn’t prepared to feel the level of “negative” emotions i’ve had since she was born.  it’s difficult to accept that these are also part of the package of mothering a little one so full of need and vulnerability.  but it’s true.  at least for me.  sometimes i feel angry or resentful or frustrated or enraged or numb or checked out.  and i’m embarrassed.  but i know these are part and parcel of this stage of life and mothering, so i try not to hold it against myself. i try to just let this process be what it is.  and make every attempt at managing all that i’m feeling so that i don’t take it out on our precious, innocent little bear.  after all, she’s just doing what little babies do…communicating primarily through her tears.

but here i am, expressing myself once again through writing.  knowing that this is one kind and helpful way for me to make my way through these experiences successfully…with grace and dignity.

i’m just loving this new role of mothering our little bear…she’s soft and warm and lovely.  easy to soothe.  easy to love.  and so tenderly vulnerable and trusting.  sometimes i’m overwhelmed to look at her and see her vulnerable little body, so trusting, so full of need, so open to receiving our love.

and as much as i’m deeply in love with this little baby, i also at times feel anxious, crabby, craving sleep, agitated and personally, quite difficult to soothe.

today i found myself pondering how it is that i can possibly mother our little baby when the little baby inside of myself–the young, vulnerable, needy places within me–needs such tender mothering…this seems so connected to the intense grief i feel around the reality of my mom’s death.  i so long for her to mother me as i mother my own child.

thankfully, as my huz returned to working half days this week, i have a friend coming down to spend the days with us…mothering us, as it were…cooking meals for eating and freezing…folding laundry and holding our lil’ bear while we try to sleep.

i am truly grateful for friends who will stand in the space that’s so achingly void of my own mother’s physical presence.

and i miss her so.

i desperately wish i could see her face as she looks at our baby for the first time.

i wish she could have been there to see our birth…she would have been truly amazed.  i know it.  and so proud of me.

i wish.i wish.i wish.i wish.

mostly, now i find myself wishing and hoping that when our baby girl is bigger she will tell us tales of visits from her grandma…i am quite sure they have already met…in that mysterious, other worldly place and i can’t wait until she has the words to tell us all about it.

to learn how to soothe a fussy baby by triggering their calming reflex, watch the happiest baby on the block with harvey karp, md.  amazing….and it works!

i thought, based on my experience of our first week together, i’d write out my list of “essentials”—would-not-want-to-do-without-these-things—when it comes to giving yourself the space and freedom to drink in the magic of the first days of life…pure magic…pure love…pure ecstasy. sacred days.

  • find a room in your home that can be converted into a dedicated space for “baby central”; this means having all the necessary baby goods within an arms reach, so to speak (i.e. diapering station, chair/foot rest/pillows for nursing/feeding, bassinette, etc accessible without needing to leave the room, go up and down stairs, etc.).  it also means mom resting, partner tending to mom’s needs around food, water (lots of water!), and ice cream–of course.
  • don’t bother fussing with dressing baby those first few days.  for one, they don’t usually like to be dressed and undressed, but even moreso…save yourself the extra work b/c your lactation consultant will more than likely tell you to feed skin to skin, especially when you and your little one are in those early days of learning.  instead of clothes, swaddle your baby up in a couple of flannel blankets and maybe put a kiddo.potomus swaddle over that…keeps them warm; saves you energy and the stress of hearing your baby wail while you change their outfit.  plus, this makes diaper changing that much easier, too.
  • speaking of diapers, don’t stress if your baby doesn’t poop right away after the meconium has passed, if you are breastfeeding your baby, that is.  according to my naturopathic pediatrician, bf babies always poop, it’s just a matter of when…our little bear didn’t poop for a few days and i was worried, but oh dear let me tell you…………..everything is working just fine in that dept now–more on that later! (of course, always follow your instincts and check with your pediatrician, just in case.)
  • hunker down…cozy up…and fall in love with your baby and your partner…the rest of the world can wait b/c this is your time to bond as a family.  visitors are well-meaning, but will only cause stress in the long run…even though unintentionally.  these days will go so quickly and trust me…everyone will still be hankerin’ to see your little bundle a few weeks later.  babies just do that to people.
  • and that reminds me, i can’t tell you the stress you’ll save yourself if you stock up on freezer meals before your baby is due…when making dinner, just double your recipe and freeze one.  you’ll not regret this one bit…even if you have a whole host of people dropping off meals just after your baby is born, eventually that will stop, but you’ll still need to eat!
  • take turns with your partner in caring for your baby so that each of you can go to the guest room, the sofa, or an air mattress—a tiny bit away from your sweet baby and her precious noises that will keep you from being able to truly fall asleep—not forever, just long enough to get a nap so that you’ll be able to handle a potential crying jag or diaper blowout with grace…not to mention being able to face the challenges of breastfeeding if you and your baby need extra practice with latching on, etc.  sleep deprivation can make us begin to feel anxious and overwhelmed and paranoid, among other more difficult to manage emotional states of being…by giving yourself a slot of time for “interrupted” (not sure there’s such a thing anymore!) sleep.  you might be surprised how difficult it is to relax into sleep when you can hear your baby’s every sound.  i know i was.
  • with regard to breastfeeding, if you are planning to do so………..have the name and number of a lactation consultant handy in case you get home and bump into some difficulties.  even better, contact her before your baby is born to see if she will do home visits to your area and to see if you feel comfortable with them over the phone, etc.  you may need the help and you won’t want to delay on getting it if you start to feel like your nipples are about to be bitten off!  when the breastfeeding is painful, it’s very easy to begin to resent your baby’s need to be fed and it can also  cause off the charts anxiety, etc.  not to mention, the interference with the all-important and amazing bonding process.  plus, when the baby is properly latched, you will feel a delightful sense of feel-good hormones coursing through your veins—now, why delay that experience?! 🙂

so, these are my top essentials for making your first week just that much more simple and exceedingly, delightfully, deliciously magical.  what things would you add to the list of must have’s/must do’s?

..they are just too sweet and velvety-soft for words…

i just simply had to show you…

notice the crease on the underside of her big toe…..oh how i love to kiss that little line…..

you can’t imagine how soft her little feet are.  you’ll just have to trust me on this one.

i keep trying to write her birth story…i relive it all the time in my mind…and bask in the glow of all that goodness and wonder.  i try to talk about it and i do talk about it constantly, but still it’s lacking.

putting everything i’m feeling and our birth experience into words is impossible right now.  i’m so high on love and sweet newborn breath that i can’t find words for it all.  i don’t want to find words…words can be so limiting and this life altering experience is full of unimaginable, deep, deep love and fullness…it’s also full of grieving and tears and missing.

so.so.so.full.

one day i may write a post including the details, but for now, suffice it to say~

~experiencing my body and my baby working together to bring her into this world was simply…otherworldly (hypnobirthing all the way).

~i am amazed and in awe of all that my body continues to do for our baby and for me…providing hormones to give us the ultimate bonding experience, making milk to nourish her tiny little body…i feel humbled by this body’s abilities and so sorry for all the years i’ve spent hating it.  forgive me body.  i want to carry this gratitude with me for the rest of my life…

~i am more in love with my huz than ever…i’m sure the hormones have a hand in this as well…we just look at each other in awe.  today when i went back into our baby bear den after having a shower (our bedroom has been converted into baby central, which is where we spend all of our time…cozy, warm, private), i found my huz rocking our little one whom he’d dressed in this fluffy little white bear outfit while i was away…singing to her along with the beat.tles…i melted.  and started taking pictures!

there’s so much more, but this is all i can put down for now…this little one brings me unspeakable pleasure and contentment…and lots of diapers and everything else.

she’s magical and i’m head over heels in love.