parenthood

parenthood: chapter 9

happy april!

baby boy i will refer to him as hank from here on out as that is what his initials sound out haha turned nine months two saturdays ago and we continue to be grateful for the time God has blessed us with him. saturday there was a remembrance walk put on by now i lay me down to sleep near our house. keith and i decided to check it out since we heard about it last minute. seeing babies who had passed at various stages made me kiss hank all over and thank God even more. it also made me miss isaac all the more and the rest of the weekend i spent time looking through old photos and videos of our last days with him. this will forever be our normal.

this month has been challenging for me, i realized yesterday. i spend my whole day thinking of ways to socialize or entertain hank, trying to just make my house not look like a war zone, and trying to figure out how i am going to get a weeks worth of groceries while pushing around an itty bitty stroller. but when asked what do i want to do, i feel selfish, i feel unreasonable, for even knowing what i want let alone asking for what i want.

no one is putting the pressure on me except for myself. i find it hard to treat myself and take care of myself well, and i find it even harder to ask for it when there are more bigger priorities that need to be fulfilled. my son’s needs or my husband’s needs just automatically trump mine because i feel so vital to their success. of course i am not that vital, but it feels almost necessary for me to believe that because i am struggling to find my purpose apart from the role of mother and wife. i feel trapped somehow.

i have no thoughts as far as how to break out of this mindset, but am also not looking for a way to escape the process.

how were you able to overcome the guilt of taking care of yourself while still taking care of your family?

Read More

baby led weaning

baby led weaning

i think its safe to say i have no idea what i am doing.

i read all the blogs, books, magazines i could find on nutrition and baby led weaning, but now that its here, i am a headless chicken. i look at all these mothers with children around my son’s age and i cannot help it to compare even though i know the game of comparison is dangerously consuming what their children can already do at eight months.

everything i have read says by now he should have his pincer grasp figured out. nope. he still grabs things with his whole hand. so getting him to try bite sized anything is frustrating for him and terrifying for me. he usually ends up just smashing his food all around and then refusing to eat from a spoon when i try to feed him. i know its all a part of exploring new textures, but i’ve noticed that if it isn’t toast, a teething cracker or something that he can just grab and gnaw on until it turns to mush, he is pretty disinterested.

however, i have noticed that he likes to grab at the food on my plate or in my bowl, and i have often let him try some of the vegetable soups that i have made from scratch. he absolutely loves it or maybe he just likes the fact that he thinks he is eating like the big kids.

so i am wondering, and throwing this question out to you all, what sort of big kid meals did you make that were baby friendly? i don’t add a lot of salt to most of my stuff, but i do like to add spices this kid loved the soup i made with a homemade harissa base, so yes he likes things with flavor i am discovering.

Read More

huckleberry: baby sleep app

huckleberry: baby sleep app

those of you who have been following my road to motherhood, know that sleep has been a real challenge for keith and i. when i say we tried everything, i mean everything. i had resolved in my mind that baby boy was just going through a ton of developments and would need assistance until he had gotten through most of them.

we rocked, held, nursed, sang, bounced our boy to sleep through most of the night and day time naps, but last week i started to see the problem with having him rely on us for so much. not only was he overtired and waking up every two hours to be soothed in some fashion, but i noticed his progress with crawling and coordination had slowed down a lot. he wasn’t as alert either, and that all worried me. but it wasn’t just him all of this was having a profound affect on.

i mentioned this early on when we first brought baby boy home that parenthood can bring out the ugly. i found myself more irritable than normal, unable to communicate my thoughts and feelings to keith as i used to, and i could feel the tendrils of resentment starting to coil around my spirit. i felt stuck and i didn’t know how to kindly invite keith into helping me get our boy back on the right track.

while scrolling through my instagram feed, one of those promo posts popped up about baby sleep issues. i admit i think its extremely creepy that facebook and google know exactly what to bait me with. i read the mama’s blog (not sure if she got paid for

Read More

Parenthood: chapter 8

Parenthood: chapter 8

and just like that our boy is eight months old!

where do i even begin? baby boy achieved so many things this month that i will probably make a separate post about his leap 5 and 6 wonder weeks. sleep was also a hot topic again this month, but we decided to be proactive rather than reactive, with a few mental breakdowns in between. that will have its own posts coming shortly as that is a whole chapter in it of itself. what i will say about it, that it definitely improving as i am actually able to sit down and write a post!

Read More

Parenthood: chapter 7

I know I start every new month with i can't believe he is...  But seriously, I caught myself swiping through videos of his first months here with us and I am amazed at his metamorphosis!

upload.jpg

The battle continues for good naps and good bedtimes, but from here on, he is going through a ton of changes and I know that has played a part in his sleep. I am sure there is some cure  to this regression, but my kid doesn't want any part of it, and so I surmise that this is God's way of letting me know that he's got this. I need to relinquish control.

One of the biggest blessings we have received as parents is his laughter. Oh. My. Word. If you haven't watched my stories on Instagram, you are missing out on sweet giggles. It's the kind of laughter that fairies are made from.  sigh. Wish I could bottle it and wear it around my neck when he is inconsolable and I am exhausted. I need the reminder of how precious he is in those moments.

upload.jpg

he hasn't started to crawl yet although the Oksana baiul leg comes up every once in a while and I know he is getting pretty close. I have been doing my best to try and cheer him on without swooping him up the moment he gets frustrated. he can drag himself a few paces forward, but that's about it.

He seems pretty content with playing by himself while I am doing a few house chores. I have felt free at times in this stage, but I still find myself neglecting my own needs because i feel like I am on standby for any moment he may need me.

I don't think he is the primary source for self neglect, but he is definitely highlighting the struggle I have in general. I hope I can get the space to explore ways to truly care for myself in relation to others. 

parenthood: chapter six

I am about a week late in posting this, but the holidays blazed past me that I had no time to even schedule posts that I had written. but I am choosing to remain unapologetic on this blog during this season and just keep swimming.

upload.jpg

I cannot believe that our boy is already six months old. I feel like I have done my best to not blink but he is still managing to grow up fast. This period of infancy is simply incredible to watch, especially his personality. i cannot help but imagine what he will be like when he is talking and walking.

Lil man celebrated his first Christmas with gnawing on gift paper and engaging with his new skip*hop activity center. we stayed home this Christmas and did our best connect with each other and ourselves although we both fell short. 

upload.jpg

as I write this, our boy is with his grandparents and Keith and I have been left to house projects and chores for the last few days. I am glad for the welcomed break, but have been missing his sweet face every day!

upload.jpg

The separation is good for me, as it has allowed me to connect with myself, something I have neglected for the last six months. I have even had time to finish the first draft of this hospital project I have been massaging for almost a year now! 

We spent some time in the mountains and ironically this year I saw the most dazzling meteor falling from the sky. We climbed table rock and made ammends with our bodies to treat them better this year. 

Hoping for a better routine. hoping to be fearless like I used to be. hoping to connect with people and their stories this year. hoping to love myself better. 

parenthood: chapter 5

where do i even begin?

the sleep regression continues to be touch and go, so i won’t even spend anymore time on that issue and just end the topic with to be continued

upload.jpg

the time has flown so fast this month because i realize how few pictures i took of lil man during his fifth month until the end. this month was a big month for him too! we started it off with immunizations right before his first plane ride to visit the in-laws. a few days before we left for our trip, he finally mastered rolling from back to front while napping one day unfortunately he hasn’t mastered front to back so it was quite humorous to find him in distress over how to get back on his side.

he handled the flight well except for the decent due to the pressure in his ears and he would not feed or suck on a pacifier. he just wanted off that plane. his aunts, uncles, and cousins ate him up and he responded with smiles and squeals. he got his first taste of the city although its generally pretty calm on the weekends. he brought a smile to every face that encountered him both in the company of friends and on the street. Yes his nap times were way off to which i am sure we are paying for it dearly now but for the most part i think he enjoyed the stimulation.

now that we are back and settling into the stillness of our lives once again, i can see the benefits of him interacting with babies his age. the day after we got back, lil man started testing out his legs and made the first attempts to crawl! most of the people i know have toddlers or school aged children so it makes play time a bit challenging. but i think this coming month i want to challenge myself to get out more now that its getting cooler and explore more with my son and interact with those around me.

as for me, this has been a big month too. i finally started counseling to work not only through my grief but also through the many fractures in my world that have affected how i respond and react now. it has been overwhelming as i feel as soon as i start to see a part of myself more clearly, i see how much more stuff is still unpacked and waiting to be looked over. i know i will be better for it in the long run, but it doesn’t make the process any easier or more enjoyable.

all in all, i still feel like i am dreaming. not sure when that feeling will subside. baby boy is growing so fast and learning so much about the world, that it doesn’t seem like enough time to really take in the fact that he is here.

Leap four: world of events

last week i ran into one of my neighbors, peg, who was determined to have her yard cleaned before she went out to california for thanksgiving. as she leaned against her push broom, her walker within a few short steps, she asked how i was doing with lil’ man, and i told her, you know, just trying to figure out motherhood. she smiled and said to me don’t you wish they had a book on what its really like to be a mother?

i wanted to tell her there was and its called google, but i refrained.

while i don’t think there is a clinical book out there that has accurately or honestly described the first year of motherhood, i have been thankful for the books giving me a better understanding of what is going on with baby.

we as adults take everything we do, see, feel, smell, and know for granted. i guess somewhere in my mind i just assumed that babies were on their own biological timer that said hey now, its time for you to start crawling. i had not even imagined that just the ability to grasp things takes weeks of their brain growing so that it can hold all of the new data and string sequences together.

instead of looking through my own lens of watching for new achievements, i have started to look through his eyes as he picks up a toy and learns to drop it. i giggle as he repeatedly does it. i get the amusement of it all now and i find myself enjoying those moments more rather than anticipating the big ones like crawling and walking.

one of the books that has been shedding light on this wonderment (no pun intended) that we are both experiencing is called the wonder weeks. i am sad i missed all of the first few weeks, but am glad i can follow his journey from here on out. based on the book, along with the normal growth spurts, babies experience developmental leaps (the book mentions 10) that happen around certain weeks of a baby’s life. they will go through a fussy period right before the leap as their brain is trying to figure out this new “district” that has been added to their mind map.

right now i am in wonder week 19 or leap 4 where he is slowly learning about cause and effect and stitching the series of events together to create the effect! this means that all the little skills he learned early are now being put together like blocks to form a new bigger and stronger skill such as sitting up and rolling.

mind. blown.

so what has lil’ man been up to? i’ll try to do a quick recap of all his milestones below and then finish off with this week.

weeks 0-8

upload.jpg

he had pretty good head control from day one and he wasn’t bad at tracking me and others either. tummy time use to be his favorite thing and he was really good at holding his head up and pushing up with his elbows. i am not sure when this was supposed to fall in the leaps but i would say he did this early. as far as talking he started babbling early although not as much as he does now.

weeks 8-13

upload.jpg

it seemed like there was a lull here. he was definitely fine tuning the skills he had already started to master. He started to like getting his diaper changed and was starting to kick and flail his arms about. he was grabbing and holding on to a few things but only when he was on his back and he wasn’t actively looking for things. he did start the teething process and has been drooling and chewing on anything and everything. i will say he did get pretty good at learning to stand up on my lap.

weeks 14-18

i started noticing him noticing himself. he would wake up in the morning sometimes and just wave his arms above his head, slowly moving his fingers and wrists. definitely started talking a lot more and smiling a lot more at people. he also discovered his own reflection and is a bit infatuated with himself. has been rolling to his side for weeks but either couldn’t make the full roll or wouldn’t make the full roll. he gets pretty frustrated about it. at around 15 weeks he started insisting he sit up on my lap and even pulls himself up in the boppy if he is reclining.

upload.jpg

week 19-20

now he is starting to get the hang of rolling and gives me a roll (back to front) once a day now. he has been working on his core and getting better at his balance when he is sitting up. his big thing now is trying to walk and if he isn’t “walking” he wants to stand up.

upload.jpg

he is grabbing at everything now: his toes, his toes, my phone, my hair-ouch! and as i mentioned before he is starting to drop things on purpose. a few times he has even passed an object between his hands. he babbles all of the time, especially when i am trying to have a conversation with someone else. he has been doing this thing with his lips where he puckers them, lifts his chin at me, and grunts.

upload.jpg

i started tickling him the other day and he started laughing and squealing. normally he just gives me a deadpan look and may throw me a smirk, but i have never gotten him to fully react until now.

there are quite a few things left on the list that he could master but if he doesn’t by the next leap then he’ll prolly master it then. i will update this on the next leap. what has your four month old been learning? Comment below!

Parenthood: Chapter 4

If I had it in me to torture my worst enemy, I would probably choose for them to endure the four month sleep regression. It is slow. and it is painful.

As Keith and I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel of sleepless nights, we were smacked in the face with yet another road block: extended wake times and sleep regression.

upload.jpg

I was less frustrated this time (but still a little peeved that this little person seemed to be toying with me and the hope that seemed to be dangling off of a cliff). I think I was more frantic that I was losing the groove I was beginning to establish with his sleeping schedule. Not only that, as soon as I thought he was okay with me leaving him to play by himself, he suddenly grew fussy and clingy for no explicable reason.

But in the midst of the mild stress it brought me, I could not help but watch my son in adoration as he discovered something new about himself. The way he explored his own movement, slowly moving his fingers slowly above him. Insisting on sitting up so that he could reach for something in front of him. Everything was new to him, abilities I take for granted.

upload.jpg
upload.jpg

I cheered him on as he tried to roll over without assistance and encouraged him when he grew frustrated at a failed attempt. I knew that feeling. I also knew how hard I am on myself when I fail. I knew I didn't want to pass that on to my son. I scooped him up into my arms and would tell him that his trying was excellent and that we would try again later. Part of me was telling myself those same words.

I believe that the Spirit inside of each of us both young and old is ageless and filled with the knowledge of the universe and so it comes as no surprise that God uses the tiny movements of infants to both humble us, as well as administer his grace through them.

Updates on the blog

Hey everyone!

Wanted to apologise for being MIA for most of post partum. Motherhood has been far more challenging then I would have hoped. In MY ideal world I was thinking that naps would be consistent and long enough to get a few entries done for the week, but as it were, I have a catnapper and a distracted nurser so I have only been able to get out one post a month.

I am also slowly working on a project that I hope to be able to introduce to you all in the new year!  It has taken a year to get going with it and it will be another 6 months before I hopefully have it all done, but the biggest hurdle has been keeping my attention focused on one project at a time.

Anyway, next week I will be posting Parenthood: chapter 4 and am curious to see what you all would be interested in reading more about. Comment below! 

 

upload.jpg

Parenthood: Chapter 2

I have clocked in so many hours with babies in both my young and adult life, but none of it prepared me for a newborn.

I find myself fumbling in the dark, just looking for a wall to find comfort in. There have already been tears shed in the early hours of twilight due to shear exhaustion. I am not sure how much people stress the fact that a newborn wields the incredible ability to bring out the ugly in you.

Really fast.

From friends and strangers alike, I have heard the tales of sleepless nights and cranky babies. I was schooled on what parenthood would do to me physically, but not emotionally and psychologically. I have been curt on more than one occasion with Keith, felt the agitation rising in my chest whenever he needed my help to care for our son. I could get to that place so fast, I hardly had time to simmer before I said what was on my mind. 

But the scariest part has been the frustration waiting to erupt when I have hit my limit with our son. He's the worst boss we could ever get, Keith often jokes. It's true though. Always demanding, leaving us to guess what he actually wants, long hours, and most times without thanks. Disappearing into the background as he becomes the main priority and sometimes the only priority.

suddenly, i can't remember when i last brushed my teeth or took a shower or saw the sun. the days blur into one continuous loop and the house begins to feel like alcatraz. exhausted. half-starved. depleted. exploited. frustrated. abandoned. trapped. alone.

invisible.

black mother breast feeding

I am finding it easy to lose myself in motherhood, not that I am trying to or want to entirely. One day my son will find his identity apart from mine and the last thing I want to be asking myself is who am I? I am fighting to stay present, to stay connected with myself, to stay in control, but the only things I find surfacing in the two short months that we have been with our son are insecurity, selfishness, and a lack of patience, all wrapped in a warm blanket of guilt and anxiety.

I knew I would have to sacrifice, I just didn't know this much and this soon. Part of me naively wished that God would make it easier for us since it was so hard the first time. I guess he has, although I was hoping for something with training wheels.

baby crying

Losing myself to care for our son is far easier than losing our firstborn. The reminder stings and haunts me, but it is far better for my growth than the sweet honey my own selfishness tempts me with.

So I celebrate the poopy diapers, the spit ups, the moments where he is inconsolable, yet his tiny arms wrap around as much of me as he can manage because he needs me. Most days are rough. Most days I am not the best I can be for him.

But he still gives me a smile. 

 

photoography by Jesse Walsh 

Parenthood: chapter 1

even though the first few weeks are from being considered a blur, i still cannot believe it has almost been a month since we brought our son home. the pure bliss of having a baby at home was quickly replaced with exhaustion and frustration over not having things figured out.

upload.jpg
upload.jpg
upload.jpg

i had prepared myself for the difficult task of parenthood as best as i could, but quickly discovered that i was still unprepared for the moments where i would not be able to console my son through his discomforts. his steady cries during diaper changes, bouts of gas, or in the late hours were unnerving and overwhelming. i didn't think a baby could cry at such a high frequency. and i have worked with a lot of babies in my life.

there was definitely ptsd mingled with every crying experience with our son. every minute continued crying, keith and i wondered if his vitals were dropping. our only indicator of distress with isaac was monitors that told us his heart rate was low, or his blood pressure was dropping, or his temperature was down. we never heard him cry, just saw his limbs move as the monitors beeped and blared.

upload.jpg
upload.jpg
bath time

but what was our son telling us through his grunts, whimpers, and screams? we had no manual, no on-call nurse or doctor to help us decipher his language, no screens to give us the numbers. I think that has been the hardest part about our transition into parenthood.

upload.jpg
upload.jpg

still, despite the challenges that keith and i are facing and have faced already, my sleep deprived heart melts the moment his chubby hands and arms embrace me after his terrifying sessions of diaper changes or as he drifts off to sleep. the first time he gave me eye contact, or his gaze followed me across the room, I felt seeen by hims. swoon.

upload.jpg
upload.jpg
upload.jpg
upload.jpg

i am learning to embrace the struggle, as dismal as it is, because in it exist these beautiful moments that remind me of the precious gift we have been given. I by no means am saying that every day is pretty. I take no pleasure in hearing him scream his head off in the car or during a diaper change. His cried rip me wide open, but he is coming to know his mama, reaching out for me when he is scared or uncomfortable and I have the opportunity and pleasure of responding to him with all of this pent up love that has been waiting to be released ever since we lost Isaac.

 

cuddle session
cuddle
naptime
bath time

Labor and Delivery

It all happened extremely fast.

The week leading up to active labor had been slow. I had gone four weeks being dilated with contractions that were mostly uncomfortable or nonexistent. The intensity of these contractions had been what drove Keith and I to the hospital for Isaac; yet now I was being sent home on a regular basis because i wasn’t in “true labor”. I had become discouraged at the repeated rejection and further delay of delivering this baby.

To take my mind off of the waiting, I did my best to do things for me rather than to just get baby out. I went out to dinner later in the week with Keith and some friends and then took a casual stroll around the lake with them. Friday, I decided to be ambitious and make lobster mac n’ cheese, spending most of the remainder of the day on my feet either grocery shopping or preparing dinner.

We filled our bellies that evening, and our souls with a good heart to heart. Keith turned in early, and I set up camp in the living room as usual. I decided to watch half an hour of TV before heading to bed. My insurance had just sent me my new Madela breast pump and at the suggestion of my doctor, I hooked it up to try to help my uterus establish more consistent contractions.

Fifteen minutes into Riverdale, I got my first strong contraction.

I turned the pump off and waited to see if anything would follow. Nothing. I turned it on for another ten, feeling irregular contractions that increased slightly in intensity. There was a growing pressure on my cervix. I turned the pump off when I felt and heard a light popping sound. I turned the pump off. I stood, wondering if my waters had broken. Not even a trickle, and the contractions seemed to have subsided. But within five minutes they were back, stronger and more rhythmic.

active labor

Within thirty minutes they were a minute long and less than three minutes apart. I thought for sure if we went to triage they would turn us away, but I wasn’t going to chance it. It was late, but thankfully it was a friday and I felt less guilty about waking Keith up. We checked into triage at half past eleven and within minutes the delayed sensation of trickling water alerted me that I was in active labor. A nurse, dressed in lavender scrubs, bright pink sneakers, and a metallic fanny pack entered our room with a smile.

Lets see, Nurse Pink Daisy replied as she examined my cervix. I’d say you’re 6 almost 7cm dilated.

Daisy along with another nurse, Tracy worked quickly to get me hooked up with an IV and antibiotics. Dominique, a nurse who had served us earlier in our pregnancy, got the honors of wheeling me up to labor and delivery. Within half an hour of arriving to triage, I was changed, pricked, and admitted to begin active labor.

active labor

Keith and I sat and looked at each other, silently exchanging glossy smiles. In a few hours, our baby would be with us. And that wasn’t the only excitement. Nurses in our section had heard that the gender was a surprise and flooded our room, feeling my belly before casting lots on what i was having. I tried to rest, but both the anticipation and contractions were becoming too great a distraction. As a matter of fact, the contractions were becoming stronger and irregular at the same time, which was making it difficult for me to focus. I asked for a walking epidural, just to bring the pain level down from a 10 to a manageable level 7. Basically, it was a glorified excedrin for me.

An hour later, the pain had returned and I found it difficult even to walk. I even tried to go to the bathroom, but quickly asked Keith to help me back to the bed because the pressure on my cervix was unbearable. The epidural was no longer working, but before the anesthesiologist could switch me to a full epidural, a nurse came in to check my cervix.

You’re a 10, she replied. Do you still want the epidural?

I was delirious. My contractions were still irregular, but powerful. But there was pain in between the contractions. I remember crying. Not really wanting an epidural, but knowing there would be no way to concentrate during delivery. I was really surprised that none of the nurses seemed to want me to get the full epidural.

I whimpered when they asked if I still wanted the full epidural. i can’t do this. I can’t do this.

Just as I was admitting to my weakness, Nurse Jay asked, Is that the baby’s head? Nurse Jay and Pam both comically tilted their heads to the side. Yeah, it looks like -2 station. Pam confirmed.

newborn black and white

Oh, God, I thought. This baby is a few pushes away from entering our atmosphere. I started to panic. I don’t think I can do this. I thought I would have more time, but now Isaac’s brother or sister was headed our way like he did--a blazing meteorite. You can do this, Nurse Pam said sternly, but not without compassion. I need you to pull it together for me. Your baby is right here, and I think it would be best if you started pushing rather than getting the epidural.

Will you help me? I cried. I was so desperate to gain some control over my senses and failing miserably. Of course I knew they would help me. It was their job. But the question was my way of surrendering control. Within minutes of the midwife arriving, I was pushing.

Three contractions. Eight pushes. Five minutes. A cry. Our baby boy, in my arms.

baby boy
upload.jpg

He looks like Isaac, just bigger. He even has his strength and spunk. I broke down crying as I was wheeled out of the hospital--with a baby to take home. Once home, I was overwhelmed with the reality that our son was here to stay. It still feels like a dream. Even a week later.  I look down at his sweet face while he rests on my stomach and cannot wrap my mind around him being real. I thank God every moment that I look at him and then I smother him with kisses till he grimaces.

My life was altered with Isaac, as it is with his brother. And I am so incredibly grateful for the change.