Sunday, January 31, 2016

third months the charm.

My favorite things: 
  • Waking up in the most dramatic fashion. I like to stretch and yawn and really draw the whole process out for theatrical effect. But then I flash a giant smile and melt hearts. 
  • Taking in the world around me! I like watching Mom fold laundry and I like staring at Dad's red sweatshirt. I can appreciate a well placed ceiling fan or pendant light. My world is a fascinating place and I am soaking it up!
  • I recently started FaceTiming all my gal pals and I really love looking at new faces on the screen. 
My least favorite things: 
  • Sleeping for longer than 45 minutes during the day. I'm just not about that nap life. 
  • When anyone is wearing clean clothing with out spit up on it. It's my life's work to make sure I spit up on all the things. 
For some reason, three months felt a bit like a finish line for me. It's the end of the first trimester and I've been chugging along with this milestone in sight. Eva is a wonderful baby whose sweet, observant personality is starting to show and it's making our days a thousand times more enjoyable. I'm finding my groove and every day I feel like I have a more confidence as a mama and this whole gig is starting to feel a lot more comfortable. All those wonderful people who cheered me on when I was drowning were right: It really does get better! I am genuinely falling in love with this little person day by day and while it took me a little longer than some people to get here, I can honestly say I'm beginning to really feel at home and enjoy my new mama skin. 

It feels good to have had the space to get here in my own time and the wonderful encouragement and kind words were life giving to me, so, if you were cheering me on in person or in spirit, thank you from the bottom of my heart! 

Here's what we've been up to this month: 
All dolled up in her best brewery attire for Dad's Homebrew Club Awards Banquet.

Yes, she really does wake up this happy every morning. 


Speed blogging while she takes her signature power nap. 

Celebrating a beautiful bride to be and also a successful first night out away from the babe! 

Catching up on our baby celebrity gossip. 

This is a budding relationship, but Beau is slowly and surely taking to his new sibling. 

I added that little pillow to the tummy time routine and it was a game changer!

Family selfie!

Our little homebrew baby hanging out with her buddy, Mr. Yeast, a gift from her Uncle Jon B who obviously knows a giant yeast would be well appreciated in our home. (Are you confused about the giant yeast in our daughters crib? Go to this website. You won't regret it.)

Eva and Daddy checking out the brewing equipment at our favorite Jax brewery, Aardwolf Brewing Company.

A much needed girls weekend with two people who showered this baby with kisses and love and showered her Mama with belly laughs and good talks. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

i should and i shouldn't.

I've been reluctant to write this post. There's a lot being written about new motherhood. A lot of really true and wonderful things being written about the magic of holding your newborn baby and feeling a love well up inside you like you didn't know was possible. There's a lot of blog posts about how motherhood is made of  moments of awe inspiring connection with your kids and those moments of beauty somehow transcend the tough moments and all is made well in the light of your sweet baby's smile.

This is not that post.

I've alluded to this in previous posts, but new motherhood did not well up in my heart and crescendo in a moment of love when I held my baby for the first time.

No. It slapped me across the face and then kicked me while I was down.

Let me start from the beginning.

I have always known I wanted to be a mama. I love kids and ever since my baby brother was born when I was eight years old, I've been comfortable and at home in the company of kids. All through out my years of babysitting and being a camp counselor and nannying, I've longed for the day when it would be my own child I comforted or told jokes with or took to swim lessons. Then I got pregnant and I was elated because I thought, Finally! I am going to be a part of the Mama Club- that exclusive membership that buys you the knowing glances from other mothers and the fullness of heart that seems no other relationship can create. All through my pregnancy, I read what seemed like every single piece of literature about the unique bond that mothers and babies experience beginning in utero and strengthening during labor and delivery and breastfeeding and those fragile weeks known as the fourth trimester. I pored over articles and blogs and books that explained attachment parenting and kangaroo care and the importance of baby's first vulnerable weeks. I listened hungrily to other mothers talk about the magic of midnight feedings, looking down at their baby who needs them so instinctively and feeling overcome with purpose and love. I had imagined exactly how I would be as a new mother and I knew I would love it. I should love it, right?

And then every expectation seemed to slip away from me one by one, only to be replaced with a much less romantic reality.

In the recovery room, I imagined I'd hold my baby to my breast and she'd squirm and shuffle to latch and we'd experience the incredible bond of a mama feeding her baby for the first time. Instead I was so tired and delirious from the long labor and the drugs that I had to squint my eyes to keep from passing out while the nurse talked to me about squeezing the nipple just so. I loved holding her to my skin, but truth be told, after the most physically grueling day I had ever endured, I wanted someone to take her away so I could fall into the deep, uninterrupted sleep that I was desperately craving. Then breastfeeding continued to frustrate me as the soft-focus moments of gazing down at my baby eluded me and instead I found myself un-showered and sleep deprived and sitting on my couch for the umpteenth hour in a row watching this tiny person literally suck the life out of me.

I imagined I would be tired, but so filled with awe at my new baby that the exhaustion would pale in comparison. This was especially hard for me (and still is). I've climbed actual mountains before and experienced that euphoric feeling at the summit that makes you forget your shaking legs and the weight of your pack. I really thought the first sleep-deprived weeks would feel like that. They didn't. I felt like a shell of myself that no one seemed to notice was empty. I thought about sleep while I was awake and wept hard when I was woken from the two or three measly hours I would get at a time. I started to dread nightfall because instead of the magic of midnight feedings, I felt the most intense jealously at anyone that was going to sleep and not wake again until the sun was up. (My mom deserves a special award for getting up and sitting on the couch with me in those lonely, exhausting hours. Just writing about it and remembering the overwhelming fatigue and knowing that someone would give up sleep on purpose just to give me some moral support makes me want to throw her a parade. Thanks Mama!)

Finally, I imagined that I would feel a bond with my daughter so fulfilling that all these other things would fall away when I looked at her and took in the sight of this person that my husband and I created. I had spent so much time during my pregnancy talking to her and imagining her face and her tiny hands and imagining our lives with her in it, that I was certain I would fall in love with her the moment I saw her. I imagined I would answer, "I'm tired, but my heart is so full!" when people asked how it was going with a newborn. Most importantly, I imagined that her neediness, her reliance on me for everything, would fill me with a sense of purpose that would radiate from me.

Imagine my surprise when all I felt when I left the hospital was overwhelmed and mostly terrified. I felt resentment and regret. I felt like I was dying a little death every time she cried and I could see my old life, a life of independence and productivity and self-assurance; a life I loved, slipping away. When she cried out and needed me and only me, I wept at the realization that no matter how old she was, she would always need me for something and instead of the feeling of purpose I imagined that would give me, I felt terrified by that neediness so deep to my core that it was all I could do to not to get in the car and drive and drive and not stop.

And every time a feeling of fear or resentment or exhaustion or anxiety would arrive, the most intense guilt would follow. "I shouldn't feel this way. I should be so in love with my new baby. I should be embracing my new life and my new role. I shouldn't feel so annoyed that she needs me. I should... I should... I should..." And the sound of my own guilt was deafening.

And then I became the needy one.

I needed space to let go of all the shoulds and shouldn'ts and the high expectations I'd set for myself and I needed space to be selfish and to grieve my old life. I needed kindness and compassion when I cried out of exhaustion and anxiety. I needed permission to say that I did not feel a sense of purpose, but instead I felt anxious and scared at the responsibility of parenting. I needed a lot of grace and love.

And I am lucky to have wonderful friends and an endlessly supportive husband and they gave me everything I needed. They let me be intensely selfish and they listened and reassured me without even a hint of judgment and, let me be clear, it was life changing.

In the space my loved ones created, I healed. I'm healing. Once I had the safe space to say out loud all the things I was convinced I shouldn't say, I felt free. I was free to be frustrated or exhausted, to be jealous or even resentful. And the safety to say them without judgement was just the thing I needed to banish the nagging guilt. There is no room for guilt when you your dark feelings are met with validation and grace. There was no more should or shouldn't. There was just the truth. And the truth is that my baby is needy and it scares me. And sleep deprivation makes me feel horrible and I hate being awake at 4am. And breastfeeding is hard and kind of annoying sometimes. And I miss my old life a lot. And I didn't fall in love with her the minute I saw her.

And that's okay.

I am finding joy in motherhood now that I have let go of the guilt and the expectations and steeped myself in grace. All those hard things are still very true but there are some other things that have become true as well. It's true that I'm becoming a more selfless person with each need of hers that I meet, especially when it's uncomfortable and inconvenient.

I am becoming a better person because she is in my world. It's not easy and it's not romantic, but it's good and I can feel my heart stretching wider and wider to welcome her in and it's like nothing I imagined.
Photos by Yates Photography

Friday, January 8, 2016

two months.

My favorite things: 
  • Bath time! I am completely amazed by the warm water and bubbles and it instantly puts me in a cheerful, observant mood. And my Mom likes cleaning out all the mysterious lint that I collect in my fingers and toes. (Seriously, file "lint collection" under Things No One Talks About When You Have A Baby. Gross.)
  • My new activity gym. I went to Lowes with Dad to get the supplies and he made it for me and my little toys never fail to make me smile!
  • Falling asleep then waking up right when Mom starts a task or tries to nap. I'm even waking up now since I can hear her starting this blog post! Ha! 
My least favorite things:
  • Middle of the night diaper changes. 
  • I still don't like being set down. 
The first month of new parenthood was all about getting my bearings. I couldn't tell my up from down. Most of the first month felt like an uphill climb and I'm just glad to have made it through to the other side. This second month has been all about connecting with my little lady. I have more to say on this matter, but I'll just sum it up for now and say that the blissful mama/baby bonding that I thought was magically bestowed upon new moms when they first held their babies has not come easily for me and it surprised and scared me. Maybe for some parents, the feeling is immediate and it runs deep, but that was not the case for me. 

Instead, I've been experiencing it slowly, over the course of the past two months. I feel like I've been getting to know Eva and she's been getting to know me and this past month we decided we liked each other after all. What can I say? I would expect any child of mine to have a discerning palate when it comes to befriending new people and I suppose I'm no exception.

But this month, in precious moments and through bright smiles, I'm falling deeply in love with this little person and even starting to like my new life with all it's tough adjustments. I'm thankful for a healthy, happy baby who is growing in personality every day and bringing me along for the ride. 

Cheers to two months! Here's a little of what we've been up to this month:

R made her an activity gym and she loves it! And I love that it cost about $10!

Her first stocking from her favorite Auntie Megan! 

Helping me wrap presents. And not judging while I drink wine before 5pm. 

Spending time with Grandpa. Love!

Getting everything ready for bath time. You might be noticing a wine trend...

Auntie Melissa and Uncle Jason are making sure Beau knows he hasn't been forgotten. That dog is such a ham. 

I have approximately 100 sleeping baby photos. Is there anything sweeter?

Helping Auntie Melissa get ready for a girls night out. 

Just a girl and her Dad, hanging out, watching the game. 

She loves being carried in the Moby wrap. And I love having my hands free to do other things. Like take selfies. 

Sunny days in December call for walks around the neighborhood. 

Coffee date at our favorite neighborhood coffee shop, Vagabond Coffee Co. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

the sweet and sound.

Happy New Year! And welcome to the new blog! 

If you've been reading since the beginning, you know this blog has grown and changed a bit since the first post. I've loved the journey of blogging so much and I wanted to give the blog a new name and a new look that would evolve with us. 

The name comes from lyrics from our wedding song, 'Somersault' by Zero 7. Here's the bit that inspired me:

You put my feet back on the ground
Did you know you brought me around
You were sweet and you were sound
You saved me

I love this song and I love these words because it puts to music how I feel about my little family. I couldn't have known how true this song would feel when we danced to it in front of our friends and family six years ago. We've moved four times in our short marriage and we're getting ready for another soon.  We've been far from our hometown and our families and we've even spent a lot of time far from each other. We put down and pull up roots with every move and we feel a little like vagabonds as we face new unknowns with every new chapter. And becoming a new mama has shifted the ground beneath my feet. Every new day with Eva is a like a constant evolution of myself as I grow into the new skin of parenthood. All the changes and chapters has the potential to leave me feeling disoriented. 

But my husband, and now my daughter, are my home. Where they are is where I feel safe and grounded and whole. 

So, as our lives continue to change and as we put down and pull up roots again and as I grow as a wife and a mother, I wanted to give my corner for the internet a name that felt lasting. The Sweet and Sound is named for my family and for the rich relationships that last chapter after chapter. 

As we head into a new year full of new and scary and exhilarating change, I'm staking a little land over here to make sense of it all. Thank you for reading along and letting me share my heart with you!