Monday, March 31, 2008

To Paisley: Two Months Old

In the past few weeks you have stopped looking like a newborn baby (and let's face it they all sort of look alike) and more like your own person. You are more awake and alert and definitely more vocal. You cry louder and harder than you used to and when Mom or Dad does something particularly annoying like dig around in your nose, you yell at us. It's both alarming and endearing at the same time. I have had this feeling from the very beginning that you were going to be a feisty little girl and this last month has only confirmed that. I feel like I am really starting to get to know you - your needs, what makes you happy, sad and angry. You are only a couple of months old and yet you manage to convey so much in your facial expressions. You make so many cute little faces and your dad and I laugh everyday and fall more and more in love each time.

Co-sleeping seems to be a very contentious subject in the world of parenting. Any mention of it on the internet or in conversations will elicit a strong response, it seems nobody has a neutral opinion about the subject so we've just avoided mentioning it all together. You sleep with us in our bed every night now and it has been going very well. It makes sense to us that you would feel most safe and most loved in between your Mom and Dad. You sleep soundly and you cry less...which means I sleep more soundly, and I cry less. This month you had a little bit of an incident in our bed however. I was lying with you against my chest after a late night feed and we were both falling back asleep...and then you promptly puked all over the bed. I jumped up and picked you up, only in time for you to spit up on the floor as well. I washed you, changed you and went back to the bedroom to assess the mess. In the dark I felt around and quickly realized that the situation was beyond a one-person job so I nudged your father awake to inform him he was sleeping in a pukey bed. He was so good; he turned on the light, took you and spoke to you gently while I stripped the bed and cleaned up. What could have been a bad situation being that we were both tired and were covered in spit-up ended up being one of those little moments I hope I never forget. I looked at your Dad, bed head and all, holding you with one hand and wiping up the mess with the other and I realized how lucky we are. We are not only parents to a beautiful little girl but we are a team.

You love sleeping with us so much that it would make sense that you now bathe with me as well. Rather than stick you in the little plastic tub that you never really liked I have started taking you into the big tub with me. You love floating in the water and seem to enjoy it far more than the other bath. We cuddle and sometimes I feed you in the tub. One day you lay against me, a tummy full of milk with your little feet still in the warm water and you looked up at me with this look on your face, like you were so relaxed you were drunk. You looked exactly the way I felt.

The soother made an entrance into our lives this month and you really love it. We laid a couple of ground rules regarding the soother and so far they remain unbroken. The first rule? It's a soother or a pacifier. We refuse to refer to it as a binky, a dummy or a sucky. Just because we are parents doesn't mean that we have start talking like babies. The other rule is that you don't get it to go to sleep. A few times you've fallen asleep with it in your mouth but once your last feed of the day is done, so is the soother. So far it seems to work and it means that we are not awoken at three in the morning because the thing fell out of your mouth and jarred you awake.

You have had a lot of visitors this month and your dad and I have eaten a lot of dessert! We decided the easiest way to entertain company would be to make dessert. It meant that I wasn't cooking dinner for everyone but that we could still have something to eat with our guests. In one week we had people over six nights out of seven...that's six cakes, pies and squares! We loved showing you off though and people have been so kind and generous. Friends from Brian's school, my work and family have all come to see you and welcome you to the world. You don't know it yet but you are very loved and very lucky. And your dad and I each have some weight to lose.

The most wonderful thing that has happened this month is that you have started to smile. You don't do it often but when you do it is enough to melt my heart. You fully recognize who we are now and will make eye contact for long periods of time. At night I will take you into the nursery and say my hellos before you start to eat and a few times now you have given me a huge gummy grin. It makes me want to cry it is so precious and so cute. So many people have made suggestions and given me advice on how I can nurse in bed and not have to get up with you or encouraged me to make the night feedings very business-like with little interaction. I wouldn't do that for the world. Although you are only two months old I have already realized how quickly this is all going to pass. You are going to grow up and each month you will be a little bigger and a little older until you are no longer nursing in the night. Right now, those moments in the dimly lit nursery, when it is just you and me and sometimes the radio, are the best part of my day. You are warm against my skin and I sing to you and talk to you and stroke your hair while you nurse. The rest of the world disappears and I feel nothing but love and calm. I often think that if the leaders of the world could see you in that moment of peace and vulnerability and get one look at that fleeting but perfect midnight smile, you could stop wars.


Monday, March 17, 2008

An open book that no one wants to read...

I think I may have written about this before but I have made a vow to be honest about my experiences of becoming a mother. I hate how so many women sugar coat their lives for the benefit of those around them. Getting engaged can throw you into a tailspin of self-doubt and stress. Being married is fantastic but there are bumps in the road. Being pregnant, while a wonderful experience, also comes with a side order of hemorrhoids, sleepless nights and thighs that touch where they never used to. Being honest about these things does not detract from the experience. It just helps to make others feel less guilty about their own feelings and everyone feel less alone.

So, I have made a point of telling people the truth about how I am adjusting to being at home with Paisley. I love it. It is way better, more interesting and fun than I ever thought it could be. I don't feel exhausted or depressed and I'm not really struggling with the adjustment. Obviously there are days where I feel frustrated because I can't get things done or overwhelmed by everything but these moments tend to be short and fleeting. My recovery from surgery has been quick and I have not been crippled like I was told to expect. The experience so far has been wonderful and I am feeling happy and positive.

People don't really want to hear that. Nobody believes me when I tell them things are good! After all this effort to be truthful and open about how I feel I am constantly being lumped in with all the uber-positive fakers out there. It's a little ironic that by being genuinely happy I have left some people feeling annoyed that I can't just be honest.

What's a girl to do?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Formula One

I think I may just have the only doctor in the world who does not support breastfeeding. Most doctors (along with, oh I don't know, the Pediatric Associations and the World Health Organization) encourage women to breastfeed, if possible, for as long as they can. I took Paisley to the doctor today (9lbs!) and this is what I was told:

"Sometimes babies just don't like to nurse."
"Breastfeeding can very boring for babies...just imagine, the same thing for breakfast, lunch and supper!"
"Don't worry about giving formula - it's practically as good as breast milk these days."
"Breastfeeding makes you feel like a cow."

And so on. Now, I can see why she might say these things if I had decided not to nurse and needed some positive feedback to assuage me of my guilt but I am nursing and it's going really well. So why would you try and convince a successfully breastfeeding mother to move to formula after one month? Because she stopped breastfeeding at one month. If I've learned anything about the world of motherhood it's that women have this weird desire to convince others that what they did was the right thing. Women who don't nurse feel guilty and so they tend to oversell the benefits of formula. Women who breastfed exclusively tend to judge those who didn't. It's too bad. I feel like I have made a choice that works for me and if and when it stops working for me I will reevaluate. I completely understand why some women cannot or choose not to breastfeed and it's okay with me. After all, it's not my baby they're feeding and who am I to judge?

Women. If we could all just be a little nicer to one another this world would be a kinder place.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Book Suggestion

Books are normally something I deal with on my other blog but every once and awhile there is a book good enough to straddle the line between sites. This is one of those books:

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama

Seriously - so good. It's the story of a family in Japan and it spans the time before the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and extends into the 80's. It's just one of those books like The Corrections that tells a simple story about people's lives and leaves you feeling lonely for your new found friends when you close the back cover.

It is beautifully written, poignant, profound, inspiring and personal. I have never read Tsukiyama before but I will certainly read her again.