birth, gratitude, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

backup

I decided that I can’t wait another day–the birth video has to get backed up tonight. The hour-plus video currently exists only on my iPhone and several people have reminded me that all I have to do is lose or damage the phone and that will be that. But the file is too big to send or upload and I’ve been too terrified to sync my phone.

Which is why my iPhone is propped up on a Buddha statue propped up on a stack of books, playing my birth video across from my iPad, which is recording it. At least if I have one backup I can feel a bit more confident about trying to sync it to iTunes.

And of course I have the volume up high so we catch all the audio, and sounds like the birth is happening in my apartment. Which is where it was originally supposed to happen. In fact, the recording session is set up right where the birth tub was located as we waited for the big day.

Meanwhile, the baby sleeps peacefully behind the bedroom door.

My midwife, Maria, had a crepe gathering at her house this morning, a regular event that I attended multiple times while pregnant. She and her wife regularly open their home to their community–pregnant moms, moms of babies and older kids, and their friends and families–everyone is welcome. One time, I had four friends visiting from out of town, and she said, “Bring them all!” Four of my new mom friends were there today, all of us with 4-5 month old babies in Ergos. AND there was a photographer, which is how we captured this adorableness of baby E and his BFFs:

e and pals

OMG it just got to the part of the video where I’m calling out the password to my iPad for the second time to the medical student who was holding it up like a mirror, “Little k big C…”

It was so cool to be back at Maria’s with baby E, after anticipating his arrival for so long, after wondering what sort of birth I would have. I hear her voice in the chorus around my bed, “K, you’re doing so amazing!”

She is so amazing. We all adore her. There are moms of older kids who show up to her house too, reminding us that this is a long-term midwife relationship. When she got married last summer, there were 55 flower children, each of which she delivered at home. When I hired her, I knew there was a community component but I had no idea how much it would add to my life–before, during, and after the birth, and forever.

Maria’s own midwife, who delivered her baby son who is now 23 years old, is nearing the end of her life and Maria is on call to go see her when that moment comes. A lifelong relationship as the circle of life keeps spinning.

E was just born on the video and I have tears pouring down my face. That little gurgly cry! That boy I now know so well.

I was scrolling through birth photos on my sister’s camera today and was jolted when I glanced up at him and saw just how much he’s changed in four months. Honestly, it’s hard to see the changes when you’re with someone 24/7, but he’s gone from a floppy little underwater creature to a baby who holds his head up high and looks all around, grips my shoulder, kicks his legs like a little Russian ballet dancer, grips toys and brings them to his mouth for sampling, and gives me a huge smile first thing every morning. He’s over 18 pounds and is already getting his first tooth, bottom right. He’s also getting those delicious thunder thighs.

Backup video complete!

There is a fine balance between living the moments and capturing them. Let’s do both!

lots of love xo

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family, gratitude, parenthood, single mom by choice, sleep, SMC

sleep

Sleep is definitely the most common topic of discussion among my mom friends. Those of us with babies at the 4-5 month mark are noticing changes in sleep patterns that are leaving us bleary-eyed and eager for solutions. (Didn’t it seem like sleep could only get easier after the first few months? Nope. I just read in “The Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood, “Ultimately you are faced with having to teach and reteach your baby to go to sleep and STAY THERE. This will be your life’s work, in one fashion or another, for the next ten years, so pace yourself.”)

The debate rages on between co-sleeping and the million variations of cry-it-out, and new parents are so sleepy that it’s a tough time to sort through all of it. Some moms rave about their Ferberized baby sleeping through the night. Others are checking into hotels without their babies to try to get a few hours of sleep in a row. A simple cheerful comment from another mom like, “I put the baby down with her pacifier and some white noise and she’s out,” can send me spiraling into doubts about our sleep habits thus far.

As Baby E’s sleep patterns change and we experience more night wakings and nap resistance, I find myself paging through my baby books and googling things like “baby nap strike 4 months.” Overall, he’s been an awesome sleeper from about 8pm to 8am, with maybe 2-3 feedings. Naps have been no problem (if short)–swaddle and bounce has been our go-to for months. But now something is shifting as he matures and becomes more aware–in the past week, we had a couple of nights of waking every 1-2 hours. And for the past two days the only way to get him to sleep is to be in transit in the stroller or Ergo. (Today I tried for 1.5 hours to get him down for a morning nap, to no avail.)

We all go into this with ideas and expectations and our own neuroses, and then a little needy newborn arrives and we figure out as quickly as possible what gets them to sleep and what doesn’t. Clearly, you can’t put a newborn down in a crib awake right out of the gate. Or, maybe someone can, but we’ll ignore that person. More often, they need something else–rocking, swaddling, shushing, bouncing, driving, nursing, etc. Happiest baby on the block. Then you get a few months in, and the experts tell you that you’ve got them hooked on these things–they can’t go to sleep without them! And, annoyingly, they’re right.

When is the right time to break them of these habits? The danger is that the tools become crutches–oh, you nurse your baby to sleep? Oh, your baby requires motion? Oh, your baby takes naps on the go?

Just as in pregnancy and preparing for childbirth, I remind myself that only I know the best plan for E and me. Or–if I don’t know the best plan, I’m still the only one reacting to his actual needs and doing my best with that. While there are moms and babies who are more into schedules and tracking, I am not those moms. Even though my first thought is, “I should be doing that,” it just doesn’t fit. I’m more laid back and resist any rigid rules when it comes to all of it. That isn’t to say that I’m not thinking a lot about sleep and what’s best for E. Just that I purposely try to stay relaxed about it. If it’s basically working for us both, then we’ll stick with it. If it becomes a problem (i.e. baby won’t sleep or I become non-functional from lack of sleep), then we’ll try something new.

I was just reading Dr. Sears’ chapter on sleep in The Baby Book. While his recommendations are couched in language that softens the approach and makes it seem like any decision is fine if it works for you etc. etc. he really makes it sound like any version of cry-it-out is abusive: you are breaking a fragile bond and losing your child’s trust as they scream in the next room. (Meanwhile, we all hear about babies who are sleeping beautifully three nights later.) BUT: every parent IS in charge of determining when they want their child to learn to go to sleep on their own, whether it’s when they’re four months or 2 years or a teenager. (I have a friend who slept in the family bed until she was a teenager and still sleeps with a hot water bottle.) While the ‘training’ process is super hard for all parties (and I do not look forward to it), it’s a necessary step in a child’s development. I wouldn’t want to rob E of knowing how to fall asleep without me. I just think he’s a little small to do it now.

E and I have been co-sleeping since birth, and this works for now (for us!). I love it. I just ordered a siderail for the bed since he’s starting to roll. Ask me again in a few weeks or months when sleep patterns shift further… I see all points of view on this one, and I feel great compassion for those parents who are struggling. My mantra: whatever works. We all love our babies and don’t need added guilt on top of everything else. Whatever works. Sleep, baby, sleep.

Time for bed. xo

gratitude, parenthood, single mom by choice, SMC

blink of an eye

9:17pm, quiet. I have iced sparkling water with lemon on one side of the laptop and a hot ginger tea on the other. My back hurts. I’m wearing the nursing tank I slept in last night and it has new stains of undetermined origin. Angel baby is sleeping on fresh sheets.

Life is full. I don’t try to be super mom, I just try to stay one step ahead of the tidal wave of stuff to be done–dishes, laundry, taking the trash out, ordering more groceries. I remember reading a kids book (I think it was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) in which the dad tried to do everything in the fewest number of motions possible. I’m practically running from room to room with armfuls of stuff in between baby sessions of nursing, playing, and sleeping.

I never would have guessed it ahead of time, but it’s easier to go out than to stay in. I think this is because baby E is more entertained by going in and out of carriers and strollers and watching the scenery go by–and who wouldn’t be! At home, he’s got the same old light fixtures to gaze at, and he craves something new. Plus I’m not multi-tasking when we’re out. He also loves to be around his baby friends, even if he doesn’t really see them quite yet.

Our mom group is going strong–it’s my first group of friends that I see so often that we don’t really hug hello or goodbye, it feels like we’re always together and always available to make more plans for other weekdays. We flow from Child Development class to a full afternoon sitting on the grass in the Mission, to yoga, to Zumba, to Parents’ Circle. Plus lunches, ice creams, and coffees. I have no idea what I would do without these moms.

Today was a rare day when I didn’t have a plan with them. I was trying to get stuff done–coddling E into helping me with an email or cooking dinner or doing paperwork. By mid-afternoon, he was heavily campaigning for some kind of outing, so I strapped him on and we went for a walk in the chilly fog, me in my tank top because we get so hot belly to belly in the Ergo. He took a nice nap and I caught up with Mimi on the phone.

When we got home, he ate a hearty dinner and then I assembled the enchilada makings brought by J–so delicious! E got a bath on the kitchen counter, a massage with almond oil, and nursed to sleep at 7:30. I’m trying to move his bedtime earlier so I get a little more evening, and it worked–except I fell asleep too, for an hour.

Our day has a lovely flow–we can be late or not show up, we can skip looking in the mirror to see what we look like (although E enjoys smiling at himself and then turning away, shy).

Baby E is thriving. Yesterday at yoga class, I looked away from him for maybe five seconds during downward dog and when I looked back up he’d rolled off his blanket from his back to his belly onto the hard wood floor, at an angle that didn’t even make sense. He now hugs my neck with both arms and crosses his little feet in all resting positions. He knows I can’t hold him every minute of the day but wishes I would.

It’s all so sweet. I want it to last forever and yet life will continue from here into lots of new phases and it will change and he will grow. And, in another way, I don’t want it to last forever because I am 24/7 taking care of an infant and there’s a lot of life that gets crowded out, some of which will eventually be nice to invite back in. And my back hurts and my belly pooches and my pedicure is 6 weeks old and I’m starting to forget how to spell. But for now, rather than mourn each passing day or dread the big changes to come, I try to remind myself to stay present. Strangers come up to me on the street and say, “Blink of an eye…” and I know that this is a universal experience, that new mamas around the world wake up feeling so much love but also overwhelmed because it’s such hard work and yet goes by so fast–once the baby phase is over, it was the blink of an eye. The days are long but the years are short.

My friend K gave me a CD of lullabies which finally made it into my car where E and I listen to it every day. There are many songs that get me teary, but “If You Ain’t Got Love” by Mason Jennings feels a propos here. I’ll share partial lyrics below, listen to the full song here. It reminds me that life is short and all we have are these moments. So feel them.

xoxoxo

15 weeks

From “If You Ain’t Got Love,” by Mason Jennings:

At nine in the morning
After nine months of waiting
You were born and I saw your face
And you looked up at me

But before I could hold you
The doctors raced you from me
They told me that you might not live
Your heart was not healthy

And with wires coming from you
I sat beside you

I’m never gonna give you up
What do you got if you ain’t got love?
If you ain’t got love
What do you got if you ain’t got love?

Someday, someday soon
You and I will both be gone
And lately, I can’t help but think
That the love we feel will live on

At a little wooden cabin
Up in northern Minnesota
We ran together down to the dock
And you jumped right off it

And from out in the water
You called me to join you
And I said, “Baby, I cannot swim
If I jump, I’ll surely drown you”

You said, “Life has no limit
If you’re not afraid to get in it”
And oh, baby, I jumped to you
Since then there’s nothing I can’t do

I’m never gonna give you up
What do you got if you ain’t got love?
If you ain’t got love
What do you got if you ain’t got love?

Someday, someday soon
You and I will both be gone
But lately, I can’t help but think
That the love we feel will live on