December 20, 2009

The Spirit of Christmas

No matter how difficult the last few months have been, or this week has been, I cannot help but feel a sense of quiet joy and wonder as we approach our very first Christmas with Zane.

It is not lost on me that there were years that during this season I felt the emptiness of trying so hard for a child and not having one. There was something, someone, missing.

Now he is here and everything has changed. We are discovering the season together, side by side. He is opening my eyes to magic, and wonder, and possibility, and beauty.

Every morning we make our way downstairs and greet our Christmas tree. We picked her out together, and Zane watched me string lights around her boughs. When we greet her, we first smell her rich piney scent, then we run our fingers through her needles, and sometimes we even give her kisses and thank her for being our Christmas tree. We always give her a nice big drink of water as well.

It occurred to me today that this is the first of many Christmas traditions I am building with my son. The amazing part is how it just happened. It didn't require a lot of thought or planning or research. It just seemed like the thing to do. And now we have this special moment every day that we share together.

For years this season was a reminder of what I lacked, what I longed for. For years I struggled to find the joy of the holiday.

Now, through the wide eyes of my little boy, and in his smile and his laughter - I am rediscovering my own joy, my own wonder, my own Christmas spirit.

This may turn out to be the best Christmas ever.


Disclaimer: I do realize, in light of my last post, that this one might seem a bit over-the-top hopeful or even bipolar. I am still tired, still finding my way, but today I just couldn't help but feel hopeful as I realized the tremendous gift I have been given in my son, my family, and was reminded how very hard it was for us to get here. So, in the spirit of hope and gratitude, this is what came up. And it hardly does justice to what I am feeling and what I am hoping for.

December 18, 2009

Truth

In the last three months...... (in no particular order)

We completely remodeled our upstairs, living in our dining room for a full month and dealing with the post-construction deep cleaning of our entire house twice.

Mr. Spicy and I both had the swine flu.

I had the swine flu on a week that Mr. Spicy had to be out of town for work.

Our oven died.

We moved Zane into his own room.

I traveled alone with Zane across two time zones, and visiting two different states, taking two plane rides, and four trains.

Zane has suffered with the croup, two bad colds, two severe ear infections, Roseola, diarrhea, and a possible urinary tract infection.

We have suffered with each illness as well.

We traveled for two weeks as a family, across two time zones, visiting family, only to come home to a house covered in construction dust.

I have battled sleep deprivation and bouts of post-partum depression more often than I would like to admit.




It's been rough. I am not even sure if the list above does it justice. I am exhausted and it feels like just as I find my equilibrium, just as I am sleeping a bit more feeling more myself, just as Zane is healthy and actually able to venture out into the world again. Bam!

This week I was feeling good, I was planning on signing up for an art class in January, finally feeling free and excited to take a little time for myself on a regular basis. I was keeping up with housework, making delicious dinners, doing loving things for my husband, spending time with a friend.

Then Wednesday night Zane spiked a fever and was up literally from midnight to 6am. And although Mr. Spicy and I have been doing shifts at night so I can get more sleep, there was no chance I was going to sleep through this, so I stayed with Z all night, just holding him and worrying. A visit to the Dr. confirmed a nasty ear infection. But Thu. night wasn't much better.

I have learned in the last three months that my depression is pretty much guaranteed to show up when I am not getting enough sleep. And sure enough, it's back. And I feel so incredibly discouraged. I hate being here. I want the energy and the joy I felt earlier in the week. I want to finish decorating our little tree, finish Christmas shopping, sing carols to Zane. Instead I am sitting un-showered, in disheveled pj's trying to muster up the energy to make a sandwich to eat.

I feel so angry. I feel like I am being robbed of the delight I want to be feeling for my son and my life right now. I feel like just as I climb up and out of this, I get a boot to the face again.

I hate to even be writing this. This is not what I want to remember of this time, this is not who I want to be. I feel like I am complaining and being negative and I have so much good to be celebrating instead. But maybe that's another post for another day.

It has been a hard few months. I am careworn and dog-tired.

I think I just needed to say that and have it be ok.

It is hard to give myself permission to say that I am struggling. It is hard to admit that life isn't what I would hope right now. It is hard to admit I am not always strong enough to make it all better on my own. It is hard to not feel like I am failing. It is hard not to be angry at everyone else in the world who seems to be ok. It is hard not to feel like a total loser.

I don't know what else to say.

I love being a mother. I love being Zane's mom. That much is certain. He is the most incredible little person and I absolutely adore him. I would do anything for him.

But damn, it is hard being a mama right now.

November 17, 2009

'Tis the Season....

Well I am taking Zane back to the doctor again today. Sigh.

First it was croup. Then last week he had a cold and a fever for 3 days. Now he's spiked another fever for the last 24 hours and he's all congested. Not sure if it's just another virus or some bacterial infection worked its way in while he was weakened. Either way....poor baby. And poor Mama!

I hope we can finally kick this thing in the butt. I am doing everything supportively I can: chest rubs with Eucalptus Radiata and Lavender, steam, cold-mist humidifier, herbal remedies where appropriate to ease his cough and help him rest, homeopathics to help with the sinus congestion, Motrin when needed to bring down the fever and ease his achiness. (all reccommedned by and approved by our pediatrician) I am taking mega doses of Vitamin C, Echinacea/Goldenseal, probiotics, herbal immune booster, whatever I can to hopefully add a little immune boost to my breast milk for him.

One problem with being so proactive and naturally minded when it comes to health issues is that you begin to believe you can heal almost anything with the right supplements and diet. Your body knows how to heal itself you just need to support it...blah blah blah. So when your son gets sick over and over in a three week period and you can't magically make it better you (meaning "I") feel like shit.

I feel like I am failing somehow, like it's my job to keep him healthy. The not so comforting alternative, and probably the truth, is just that we have hit that season - the one where your kiddo seems to be constantly fighting off one thing or another. Bummer.

Selfishly? There is something really sweet about cuddling and rocking my sweet sick little boy and knowing I am making him feel better. Even if I don't have some magic lasso or wrist cuffs that could blast that virus into the next galaxy.

If only.

November 11, 2009

Thirsty?

I left Zane alone in the dining room (aka our bedroom at the moment) for a few minutes and when I returned....

I found him pressing his face to the floor eagerly slurping up water he had just poured there from a cup (plastic thankfully) he had grabbed off of a bar-stool-height chair.

Dude. I totally would have gotten you some clean water.

Oh well....at least it wasn't something stronger*. :)


November 04, 2009

Rhymes with Poop

Croup.

My little guy has it. He first developed a fever on Friday, then the croupy cough and stridor on Sat. night. By Monday at 5am, despite our many trips into the cool night air and steam sessions in the bathroom, we found ourselves in the ER.

After a breathing treatment and dose of steroid he passed out on my chest and slept for the remainder of our required 3 hours of observation.

He's slowly recuperating but still has a nasty cough and can't sleep more than 20 min or so unless held in our arms in a somewhat upright position.

My poor poor baby!

We are heading back into the doc today.

It is amazing what havoc having a sick baby can bring upon your lives. Thank goodness for a dear friend who came yesterday to help me dig out from under the pile of dirty dishes and laundry!

I really hope he starts feeling a lot better soon. His little voice is so hoarse that he barely makes a sound when he cries. It just breaks my heart.

October 19, 2009

Sleep and Redemption

Oh dear! Has it really been that long?

I have been in such a fog these last few weeks. First it was the sleep deprivation....who am I kidding, it is still the sleep deprivation....then depression kicked in. That awful sort of depression that feels tied to everything and nothing in particular. The kind you know has some physiological basis to it (lack of sleep perhaps) but also seems tied to every loose string in your quickly unraveling psyche.

Oh and then? I got the swine flu. And my husband had multiple trips for work scheduled and I had to somehow manage to nurse myself back to health while caring for an extremely active and adventurous 8 month old little boy. Nothing like being kicked when you are down.

Then my husband came home and he got the flu. And things have been pretty bleak if you can imagine.

Also, we moved ourselves (and everything else from upstairs) from our bedroom upstairs to our downstairs dining room so that our floors upstairs could be done. Currently we sleep in our dining room and Zane sleeps in the guest room. We are living a cramped and cluttered existence for a few weeks.

One saving grace, thank God, is that Zane has not shown any major flu symptoms other than a little congestion and a slight cough. I am praying this continues.

In the thick of this chaos and confusion we have been slowly teaching Zane about sleeping. And we've made some significant progress. He has slept through the night (anywhere from 5 to 9 hours straight) multiple times in the last few weeks which while not consistent is nearly a miracle in our books. He also has learned how to fall back asleep on his own when he awakens and I can hear him doing this (without tears) a few times every night. He still needs us to come in at least once or twice a night (sometimes much more on a rough night) to help him fall back asleep when he can't do it on his own, which we are much happier to do now that it isn't every hour on the hour. He is taking regular naps and he is going to bed much earlier in the evening. Things seem to be improving bit by bit.

This season has taught me so much about the fragile balance I walk in mothering. Every piece of mothering is tied to some thing else inside of me. Lack of sleep, desperation, being so needed so constantly.....brings me to the brink of my own humanity, my own woundedness, the places in me that long for a type of mothering I did not always receive when I was small and needy. Teaching my son to sleep, moving him in his own room, listening to him wake briefly and quickly go back to sleep without my help.....brings up my own ambivalence about letting him grow up, letting him get big and strong, letting him go. In the midst of this, I have learned something amazing about my strength, my inherent goodness, my ability to give so much more than I thought I had to give, my ability to endure and struggle for the good of another. I feel like these past few months, and especially this recent difficult season, have forced change in me so deep and thorough that the very marrow in my bones is no longer the same.

I am a mother now.

I am changed.

Nothing will ever be the same.

And that is, at times, both terrifying and thoroughly incredibly redemptive.

October 02, 2009

In the thick of it.....and the thin....

Lets start with the "thick of it"....I feel like I may have left you hanging with my last couple of posts about our dire sleep situation. I know a few of you are wondering how we've been faring and whether the temporary solution has been working.

Well....yes and no.

I can't get into all the details right now because I feel like I am right in the "thick" of this and can't really speak well to it all with any perspective. But I have been getting slightly more sleep thanks to Mr. Spicy. I got 4 hours straight last week and 6 hours straight last night. Which is kind of amazing at this point. But still, not enough.

It has become obvious that my body and brain have been pretty beaten up with chronic sleep deprivation and it is going to take a lot more TLC to get me anywhere close to "normal". Mr. Spicy has been a big help, as has my counselor, and a few friends have stepped up and offered my help as well, which has been humbling and also a tremendous relief. Unfortunately, the plans I had this week for a few friends to help out fell through for various reasons, but next week will hopefully be much better.

My therapist and I are working through and monitoring some symptoms of post-partum depression that have recently popped up as a result of my utter exhaustion and we are working on a strategy to help teach Zane how to fall asleep on his own as gently and non-traumatically as possible (I will talk more about this later as I find out if it works or not and have more perspective on it. For now, suffice to say it is hard work but feels very necessary for all three of us).

It feels like we are standing at a crossroad. I am trying to move forward with gentleness and guidance to make wise and loving choices for both myself and Zane. I am being called into a new place within motherhood and I am trying my best to answer that call well for us both.

I will say that the more I work on this....his sleeping, my self-care, and all the various subtle issues in between....the more work I do, the more I am appreciating and loving Zane for just who he is today and finding myself more and more engaged and excited about who he is becoming as well.

----------------------------------------------

And now the "thin" :

Me!

I just have to brag a bit because I am so proud of myself today.

Since my gallbladder attack in June I have been strictly on a low fat, portion controlled diet. I have also been walking several times a week.

Since June 21st I have lost 20.6 pounds!!!

I am thinner than I have been in years. Which, isn't saying a whole lot since I still have at least 10 more pounds to go before I hit the weight I am most comfortable at.

I have been carrying around 30+ pounds of extra weight for years, blaming it on the infertility, depression, etc. Even after I shed nearly the entire 35lbs of pregnancy weight, I held onto those extra 30lbs. I never felt attractive at that weight and it affected so many aspects of my life. I became less active, my sexuality took a nose-dive (much to the dismay of my husband), and I just generally didn't feel "myself" moving through the world.

So much of my weight issue was due to emotionally-driven eating. Having gallstones forced me to eat smaller portions, to think more about what I was putting in my mouth, and to eat for energy and sustenance rather than comfort or distraction. In a way the gallstones have been a blessing in disguise.

So, thanks to gallstones, I am healthier, more active, and happier with my body than I have been in a very very long time. (Except during pregnancy - I loved my body during pregnancy)

As for those pesky gallstones? Well, I had another "attack" a few weeks ago, even on the low fat diet. (grrrrr......) So yesterday I met with a GI specialist and he is running multiple tests on me (including an upper GI endoscopy) to rule out any other causes of the abdominal pain. If it truly is those damn gallstones I may have to go ahead and have my gall bladder removed which I really wanted to avoid. Especially now that those gallstones are working so well for me! :)

I really don't have a great profound closing thought....so I will just ask for good thoughts/prayers as we navigate this season and hopefully move towards a healthier more rested Mama and baby.

Thanks to all who have offered your support this far. It helps so much!

September 24, 2009

The Sleep Solution...for now...

Ahhhh...thank you all so much for your words of support and advice yesterday. I really needed those. I was pretty emotional all day and it helped to hear from all of you. Thank you!

Well. I saw my therapist yesterday and spent a little time with a caring friend. Zane and I both were kind of crabby and sad yesterday - the lack of sleep taking its toll.

So. Our plan for the immediate future (I will develop a longer-term plan as I feel more rested) is that for weeknights we take shifts. Mr. Spicy takes Zane until 10:30 or 11 and I sleep in the guest room. Then I get up and come to bed and take any wakings after that. Then Mr. Spicy is on again from about 5:30am - 7:30am. For the weekend, I am going to get Zane down and then go to bed in the guest room. Then Mr. Spicy will take the whole night while I sleep (possibly with the help of some Benadryl?) . If this works it may be the first night I have slept through the night in 8 months+.

Last night we did the shifts and it worked great. I felt so much better even after just a few hours in a row and both Zane and I seemed to sleep better and be in better moods this morning. Win! I know there is still quite a deficit of sleep I need to replenish, but it feels like a good start and I feel so much better able to manage today with even that little bit of sleep.

I am excited to sleep more this weekend but also kind of dreading it. Even when Mr. Spicy has taken night shifts in the past (he used to do one or two every weekend when Zane was a newborn), I would sleep in the same room and invariably wake at least a little when Zane did. So I was still "there". Not being there when he wakes up, not knowing how he is feeling, not being there to hold him or help Mr. Spicy figure out what he needs feels really scary. But I have to let go. I know he loves his Dada and feels safe with him and I have to let go a little now and take care of me. I know I need to do this. I know. It's just hard.

So that's it. Just wanted to let y'all know that we are working on this and I hope to be doing much better soon. Thanks for saying what I needed to hear.

September 23, 2009

And the payoff....

This morning as I passed my husband and son in the hall on my way to the bathroom, my husband stopped me to give me a hug:

"Zane, lets give Mama a hug to say thank you for taking care of you all night. You woke up a lot last night, it was hard for Mama."

me: "Well, it was hard for baby too...(to Zane) I know you don't want to wake up so much. I'm sorry it was hard for you last night too."

At this point my beautiful boy lifts his head from Daddy's shoulder and leans over to give me a big wet baby kiss.

aaaaaahhhhh.......

September 22, 2009

Sleepless in Denver

I am downstairs, taking a break. Taking a break from my beautiful, incredible, sweet little boy. (He is with his Daddy)

My little boy whose lack of sleep is slowly driving me to the point of insanity.

I know he used to sleep. I just can hardly remember when.

I know that many many months ago he would regularly sleep six hours at a stretch, sometimes even nine.

But it's been a long time since that happened round these parts.

It's been a slow gradual decline....first it was a five hour stretch, then four, then three and a half.

Somewhere along the line I picked up "The No-Cry Sleep Solution", I remember that when I read it he was still fitting into the normal expected sleep pattern for his age. So I put it away and decided to just continue with what we had been doing. I comforted my tired self with the hope that this would soon pass and the knowledge that he was already growing up so fast and that I would miss these night times with him when he got older. And I was really ok with it.

But then a few weeks ago it got worse. Much much worse.

It's been many months since I have slept more than 4 hours straight through. It has now been several weeks since I have slept two hours or more in a row. I have a constant headache and I am losing my ability to suck it up and function well during the day.

His napping is erratic. I never know whether I will get a blissful two-hour stretch from him or the more common 30 minute power-naps he has become fond of these days. Regardless, I have lost my own ability to sleep on cue when he sleeps during the day - likely due to the coffee I am drinking each morning just to manage.

I can't help but feel that it is my fault somehow - that I am missing something, that I should be doing something differently. I am very consistent with his bedtime routine. I use several cues to let him know it is time to go to bed. And he falls asleep easily. He just doesn't stay that way very long.

I thought maybe it was his teeth, as he does seem really unhappy and uncomfortable every time he wakes. I have tried herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies, massage, and good old-fashioned "baby crack" (aka Tylenol or Advil). I might get one extra hour from this but it doesn't seem to make all that big of a difference.

I have nursed him to sleep. I have not nursed him to sleep. I have rocked, I have bounced, I have begged, I have prayed. I have co-slept. I have not co-slept. I have tried soothing him in his bed without picking him up. I have tried picking him up sooner. Nothing seems to make that big of a difference.

His routine now is that after falling asleep, he sleeps about 2 hours and wakes again. I rock him back to sleep and he sleeps another hour, maybe two if we are super lucky. After that it's pretty much a crap shoot. He wakes roughly every hour, sometimes more often. Often he wants to nurse, but he also just can't seem to get comfortable. Finally, Mr. Spicy takes him about 6am and plays with him, changes him, and feeds him breakfast. After that he might come back to bed with me and sleep another hour to an hour and a half.

I am having a hard time holding it together and remembering that he isn't doing this to me. I know he doesn't want to be waking so often. I know he'd probably love to get a nice full night's sleep. I look into his poor sleepy eyes as he whimpers to me in the middle of the night, and calls out for his "Mama" and I feel terrible that I don't know what to do to help the both of us. I am all out of answers and just too damned tired to find any more.

I know I can't survive like this much longer. I just can't. This is torture.

I know I need to enlist Mr. Spicy to take more night shifts on the weekends. It is painfully obvious to me that I can not do this alone night after night. It's just in the past I haven't been able to sleep when he's stepped in to relieve me. I lie awake wondering if they need me and berating myself for not being able to sleep.

But even with the promise of a "night off" soon....tonight is Tuesday night and the weekend feels so very very far away....

And even a much needed break can't solve the underlying issue: Why can't my baby sleep?

What am I doing wrong here? What am I missing?

and why do I feel so much shame for being the one whose baby doesn't sleep? like it is some mark of mothering ability, to have a child who sleeps soundly through the night?

I feel protective of him. I don't want anyone to think of him as the "bad sleeper", or "difficult". I don't want him to be the subject of others' stories: "Well...I know a baby who still wakes every hour and he's eight months old!"

Sure, when he wakes up for the fourth consecutive time that I try desperately to lay him down and I need to pee and my shoulders are burning - sure, I might have a grumbling thought or two about him - but I don't want that to be what others know of him.

There is just so much else about him that is so much more delightful.

I know I am being somewhat ridiculous. I am not the first to live through this, I will not be the last. I know I am not alone - at least I hope I am not.

So, Mamas out there....please help me out: tell me about your sleepless nights, your exhaustion, your frustration - and maybe even what worked for you.

Maybe I can make it through this season knowing that there are others who are staring and who have stared blearily at the clock praying that their babies will just please go back to sleep and sleep for more than an hour this time. Others who could not imagine getting through one more night, and somehow they did.

In the meantime....back to it for me....

September 14, 2009

Celebrating the Now

Tonight Zane laughed with his entire body as he initiated a game of peek-a-boo with us by crouching down in his co-sleeper and then popping up when we asked "Where's Baby Zane?". He was so thoroughly delighted with himself, his excitement was contagious.

Today Zane sat turning a button around and around on his new overalls, his head cocked to one side as if he was wondering, "What does this do?"

Today Zane drummed a wild rhythm on his high chair with his real grown-up drum sticks. He then proceeded to put each one horizontally across his mouth, make "raspberries" and laugh hysterically at himself.

Today Zane crawled all over the house, the ultimate explorer. He tested each surface, each object. Drumming on them to determine their sound and density, pinching them and stroking them to determine their softness or squeezability, and occasionally putting his mouth to them to taste them or to bellow into them. After each test he would look thoughtfully at the object or surface and then occasionally bounce and squeal with glee as if his careful experimentation had yielded the exact results he had hypothesized.

Today Zane bounced, patted his legs, and actually sang along to music. Well, his version of singing anyway. He delighted my soul with his voice.

Today he was ripe with growth, with development, with possibility.

Today I looked into his eyes, and as he looked back I saw a boy that I cannot wait to know more of.

Gosh I love this little monkey.

All this growing and exploring sure is exhausting!!!!

September 11, 2009

Climbing just out of reach

I'm in a funk.

It all started last night. I was rushing around trying to get presentable to meet a friend for dinner. Mr. Spicy had just arrived home, greeted Zane and I, and had gone upstairs to change out of his work clothes.

Zane crawled across the living room to follow his Daddy. He crawled to the bottom of the stairs. And then? He began CLIMBING them.

He climbed up, stair by stair, all the way to the top, to find his beloved "DaDa".

We clapped and celebrated with him, this massive accomplishment. I sent out a mass text message to friends and family announcing my son's brilliance.

And then I sank into a weird funk.

There is no way around it. He is growing up.

I am left with so many mixed emotions about this that I might twist myself into a pretzel just trying to get a hold on them all.

I am so so proud of this little boy and I am loving exploring with him, playing with him, getting greater glimpses into who he is, what makes him tick, and watching in amazement as he tackles these great big milestones without a hint of hesitation.

But oh my. I miss my baby. I miss the cuddly, squishy, sweet little one who I could hold for hours. I miss the soft cloud of infant hood that seemed to surround our time together, slowing me down - making time irrelevant. I miss him.

Tonight I mentioned to Mr Spicy that Zane may well be walking by Halloween. His face dropped.

"That makes me sad!"

"I know."


I do. I know that even though his budding independence and mobility are these beautiful, strong, incredible parts of the boy he is becoming, even though I want this for him - I know that he is moving quickly out of my reach....away from me.

As he should. As he should.

But still....

I am just not ready.

I am not ready for this at all.

I want to beg someone to give us more time. The days, the weeks, the months have flown by so fast. How can we be here already? On the verge of our baby walking, on the verge of his running, on the verge of Toddlerhood?

It isn't that this season doesn't hold its own treasures.

It's just that it is all happening so fast.

Too fast.

He is already so many steps ahead of us both.

Already we are just barely keeping up.

September 04, 2009

The Z Files: Month Six and Seven

Zane turned seven months old two weeks ago, on the 21st. (The same day I turned 35, actually).

Because I am rarely in the possession of two free hands and time to write, and because I am such a perfectionist and also very wordy - I have not managed to finish a letter here for Zane for month six or seven. So instead, I am hereby switching the "Z-files" formats to a bulleted update / newsletter so I can make sure to get all these milestones recorded. I am writing shorter, more frequent letters to Zane in a private journal. Because I know you were wondering, right?

Since he turned six months old Zane is like a whole new kid. I swear he turned into a "toddler" overnight. I look at him and wonder where my "baby" went. I would be more sad about this except for the fact that he is just so delightfully interactive right now. I have a friend who says about his daughters that every stage was his favorite stage, just as he would think the current "stage" was his favorite, his daughter would enter the next stage and he would find himself newly and equally delighted with this new place. I get this now.

Growth:
-At his six month check up Zane weighed 18lbs5oz and he was 28.25 inches "tall". He was in the 93rd percentile for height but had dropped to the 50th percentile for weight. Lean and tall. He has definitely grown more in the last month but I haven't measured him. He is fitting mostly 12 month clothing now.

Physical Development / Mobility:
- By six months he was regularly sitting up on his own and actively crawling.
- By seven months he was crawling with speed and he was regularly pulling himself up on any surface available, including our pant legs.
-The last two weeks he has been taking little steps while holding onto something and is standing while supporting himself with one hand.
-He makes his way all over the house this way, crawling, pulling up, stepping along, sitting back down, crawling some more. I am both immensely proud and a little dismayed by all this mobility. My cuddly baby is now constantly on the move and exploring and I miss when I could hold him for hours at a time. It makes me appreciate our cuddle-time before bed all the more though!
-As a result of the constant pulling up and (in the beginning) constant falling, Zane has learned to brace himself and catch himself when he feels he is falling. He went from multiple daily head "bonks" to almost none in just a week's time.
-He is really good with his hands and loves to turn things over and over and try to figure them out. He picks up balls and puts them in the holes of one of his toys, he drums on everything and loves playing his little piano or shaking his tambourine. He loves pushing buttons and pulling on things.
-He is crazy strong and has almost ripped the toys right out of his exersaucer (especially that bee who won't come out of her beehive - what is up with her?!).
-He gives us quite the formidable wrestling matches over changing time and being strapped into his high chair. I have had to come up with songs for his car seat, changing time, getting in the stroller, and sitting in the high chair. Once I sing the song he calms down and becomes more accommodating - otherwise it's pretty much like trying to wrestle a wild greased piglet. :)

Verbal Development:
- In the last two months we have heard the steady progression of Zane's vocal expression. It began with chattering repetitively: "bababababa", "lalalalalalal", "nnnnnnnaaaaaaahhhhh", and has developed into more consistent meaningful sounds: "Dadadada", "Hiiiii!", and "MMMMMaaaaaahhhh Mmmmmaaaaaahhhhh". Oh and then there's the "rasberries" and the high pitched excited scream, and the high pitched happy chattering, and the groaning and mumbling to himself and always the ever present laughter. I think his favorite "word" to say is "Dada" - he repeats it throughout the day, especially when he is happy and playing. And I can ask him "where is Dada?" and he will look for his Daddy. He mostly says "Mmmmmaaaaaahhhhh" for me when he is tired, sad, or hurt. But the other day, about a week ago, he was playing and he turned and smiled at me and clear as a bell pronounced: "MaMa!". I am pretty sure I passed out from sheer delight at that moment.

- He also knows sign language for "all done" and he will shake his head "No" when he doesn't want something (like more food, when Mama is begging him to take "just one more bite"!)

Eating:
- At five months he began eating rice cereal and while it wasn't a total hit, he happily ate it every night for dinner until he was six months old.
-At six months we began adding "solid foods". We began with banana. And he really seemed to love this new development. Slowly we introduced new foods every 3 days or so and all was well. I have been making all his baby food except for just one or two foods I choose to buy premade. I get so excited to introduce him to a new food, I love that moment when he first tastes it, contemplates it and then opens his mouth for more. Of course there have been a few duds (zucchini is not his favorite) but for the most part he has gladly eaten his way through every new introduction.
- At seven months I increased his meals from two to three daily and began creating more combinations, and adding spices and herbs, while still introducing new foods to his menu.
-So far his favorite single food is peaches, by a landslide. That boy can eat an entire peach (pureed of course) in one meal! Of course, anyone who has tasted Colorado peaches this time of year can understand this.
-His favorite "meal" is sweet potatoes mixed with pear and apple purees, millet, and a touch of nutmeg. I have a hunch he's going to love Thanksgiving time.
-Oh, and sippy cups! He loves drinking water from them. He hasn't taken a bottle willingly in many months, but he loves his sippy cups! Last night Mr. Spicy was even able to put him to bed by giving him breast milk in a sippy cup. Oh the possibilities!!!!
- And we can't forget to mention nursing! He is still breastfeeding with gusto. He loves to nurse and will often crawl over to me and cup one of my breasts with his hands as he burrows his face into it. He also frequently just blatantly tries to latch on through my shirt and bra in public. Good times! :) It is obvious that nursing is so much about comfort for him now. He wants to nurse when he is tired, when he has hurt himself, when he is in pain from gas or teething. I am so proud of us both that we have made it this far and are still going strong. I see his hunger being met more steadily by food and I know we are on the downslope. I can see in the distance a day when we do not connect this way and I can hardly imagine it. I will definitely miss this. He has been a champion nurser since mere hours after his birth. It is so hard to believe some day he just won't need this anymore.

Sleeping:
-Ouch. Well, sleeping has been......a challenge for us lately. At six months he was on a pretty steady routine. He would fall asleep quickly at about 8pm and he would wake twice for brief nursing sessions in the middle of the night, and then wake up for good around 6am. This worked ok for me. He was never awake for very long and he usually spent the last stretch of the night in bed with us.
- but then....there was teething, and gas, and god knows what. The last month or so has been a complete crapshoot. He will follow his old routine for a few nights and then randomly mix it up on us for a few nights or a week at a time. Sometimes he falls asleep really early, sometimes he stays up really late, sometimes he has a hard time falling asleep (really unusual for him), sometimes he has a hard time staying asleep (one night he continually woke up each time I would lay him down - seven times in a row, only to immediately fall back to sleep when I picked him up), sometimes he wakes up crazy early. We just never know anymore.
-So initially I fretted, I read and researched, and I berated myself for my failure to get him to sleep with regularity. And I became a miserable grumpy person and felt like I was going to explode any time he didn't sleep according to my plans and efforts. And it sucked. So one day I decided to scrap all my "efforts" and just go with the flow. I accepted that he is still a baby, that before long I won't get these night time cuddles with him, and I will miss them. I began to just understand and expect that he would wake up in the middle of the night. And although there are still those nights where I feel like crawling out of my skin for lack of sleep - for the most part, changing my own perspective on it has helped immensely. I am much more happy to help him fall back asleep when he wakes up and I can find much more tenderness for the both of us when we have had a rough night together. I do think he is about to finally cut a tooth or two and I think that is a large part of his waking, and I also think he is having such a huge spurt of development that it is also making him somewhat restless. I just keep telling myself that this is a stage, it will get better, we will get through this. He will sleep through the night eventually. (right?)

Miscellaneous:
-Zane loves to play. He actually plays now. Pulling out toys from his bin, choosing the ones he wants, exploring and manipulating them. The musical ones seem to be his favorites.
- He has a real sense of music already. He drums on things, slaps his knees to music and bounces along as he "dances". We begin a music class in a week and I am really excited to see how he will respond.
-He loves playing "peek-a-boo" with us, loves when we pretend to "get him", and loves being tickled. He laughs riotously when we dance for him or move around like dinosaurs or robots.
-He LOVES dogs! He screams in delight as they pass us on our daily walks.
- He also loves playing with water, from a hose, in the sink, in the tub - he just is fascinated by it.
-We spend our days going for walks around the park, to the coffee shop, around lakes with friends, going to the zoo, grocery shopping, playing in the grass (Zane loves the grass!) and exploring the house.



And one of my favorite moments in the last month (besides the "Mama" moment of course): He was crawling around the living room and I crawled after him pretending to "get him" by nipping his bottom and legs. He laughed so hard he almost fell over. And then, he began to turn around and crawl after me, opening his mouth and "getting me". It was an amazing moment. My baby was a little boy in that moment. The little boy I look forward to playing with for years and years to come. I caught a glimpse of our future together and it made my whole heart explode. He is my boy, my little boy.

We have so much to look forward to.






August 25, 2009

Seven

Yesterday was our seventh wedding anniversary. Whew.

Some people say the seventh year is the hardest. There is a rumor, not sure how accurate, about how most divorces occur around the seven year mark. I know of at least one marriage that dissolved on that timeline. And then there's the "Seven Year Itch" and all that.

But we made it. Today is day one of year eight. Eight's always been a lucky number for me.

It is not that I am entirely surprised we made it, but I am relieved. This has been by far the hardest year of our marriage. The year where I understood at a very frightening level why so many marriages don't make it.

But it has paradoxically also been the most blessed and fruitful year of our marriage. The year where I understood better than ever why "we" work and wanted more than ever for us to make it.

We grew so much this year, we faced so many parts of each other and ourselves that were painful and sometimes ugly. We cried. We screamed. We threatened and we ran.

But we also held each other and held onto each other. We fought for one another. We loved and fell in love more deeply. We welcomed our son into the world and loved him with all of our hearts. We became a family. We weathered a long and difficult labor together, we continue to endure sleepless nights and exhaustion together. We have grieved together and rejoiced together. We have learned not to take ourselves too seriously. We have laughed till we cried. We have come out stronger and better for it, together.

This year my husband held me while I swayed and moaned and sweated and yelled, laboring to birth our son. As he held me, as I buried my head in his neck, the smell of him took me somewhere deeply comforting and safe. Somewhere soft and strong. Even now, so many months later I can recall that sensory memory and crawl right back into it, into that smell, that safety, that warmth, that knowledge that right there in that moment nothing could harm us, nothing could separate us. There, where I could rest. Even in the midst of the hardest work I would ever do - in him, in his presence, I could rest.

Last night I made a picnic for us. We dropped Zane at a friend's house and headed for the park. It was raining as we walked with our picnic in hand but we didn't hurry. We made our way to a spot under a tree where the rain was just barely sprinkling through the branches. We ate leftovers in the park while we looked into each other's eyes and talked about the year. More than any expensive dinner, more than any exotic romantic vacation, that moment (like the moment in labor) seemed filled with the essence of "us" and I was grateful for the simple presence of my husband eating on a blanket with me. I was grateful like you would be for water on a hot dry summer afternoon when you have walked a very long long way.

Before we even began "trying" to become parents we had "those" discussions. The ones where you wonder how you will fit a kid in your already busy and hectic lives. You wonder what will give and whether you'll be ok with the compromise. Back then I would hope out loud that parenthood would help us to distill our lives, prioritize, and simplify. I hoped that we would find ourselves taking time for the things that really matter and letting the rest go. I hoped it would slow us down in a good way.

Last night was conformation that my hopes had been realized. We didn't have to try so hard. We didn't have to over-analyse. Things did not need to be "just-so" in order for us to connect and find romance and luxury. A damp picnic in the park, surrounded by hungry geese was enough.

More than enough.

Happy Anniversary Mr. Spicy, I love you more now than I did when I married you and I cannot wait to share more of this life with you. I am grateful for you with all of my heart and soul. Thank you.

(a photo of us together at hour six of my labor)

August 16, 2009

Grief observed

My dog, our dog, of 14 years passed away yesterday morning.

Her name was Sativa and she saved me, protected me, and guided me through the last 13+ years. I owe her a proper eulogy but right now I cannot manage it. My grief and her absence is too heavy.

She had been declining in health, having trouble with her hips and hind legs. But until three days ago she was still very much herself. She was tired but she was with us. Then on Thursday she began having trouble with her breathing and stopped eating and we had to carry her out to the yard. Friday morning she lost control of her bowels and her breathing became harsher.

We rushed her to the vet's office. At the hospital where I worked for five years, where she spent so many days at work with me. Where she was once a blood donor for other dogs in critical condition. Now it was her turn. On the way to the hospital her breathing became more labored and she lost control of her bowels again. This time there was blood in her stool.

The staff carried her in. She was placed on oxygen. The radiographs showed pneumonia in her left lung. The blood work showed a urinary infection, possibly involving her kidneys. With the doctor's advice we decided to transfer to a hospital more equipped to provide ongoing oxygen therapy and monitor her condition.

A dear friend of 12 years, who I went to school with to be a veterinary nurse and who I worked with those five years and who has been a beloved "auntie" to Sativa for all of these years, joined me at the hospital and helped me transport Sativa while Mr. Spicy took Zane out shopping for toys.

On the way to the hospital, she began crashing and I was sure we had lost her. But then she rallied and came back to us. After arriving at the hospital, we agreed to oxygen therapy, antibiotics and fluids, and anything to make her more comfortable and decided to take a couple of hours to eat and talk about our decisions. We returned around 8pm and she seemed a bit better. She was more alert, more "present", her fever had decreased, and she drank a few small sips of water from me.

We had returned thinking we would surely need to make the decision to let her go. But it seemed she was making an effort to fight her infections and we wanted to give her the benefit of 24 hours treatment to see if she indeed had enough strength left in her to come through it.

I sat with her and told her how loved she was, that she was the best dog ever, that I wanted her to rest, and to do what she needed to do. I assured her that her family was ok, she didn't need to worry about any of us, to just do what she needed to do for herself. I told her I would be back in the morning and that I was so sorry I had to go. There was no way we could take her home as she really needed the oxygen at that point. And not only do they not allow overnight visitation, but I needed to be home with our baby.

The Dr. called at midnight. No changes, but she wasn't doing worse. I called in the morning. Again, no changes, her oxygen levels were steady, even without oxygen supplementation, but she was pretty out of it. I prepared to go visit her, trying to get Zane fed and taken care of for the morning. The Dr. called. Now she seemed to be going downhill again. She was not responsive, she had edema (swelling) in her face and limbs. I agreed to running bloodwork again to find out what was going on with her internally at this point. I got off the phone and hurridly tried to finish preparations to go see her. The Dr. called again.

"We tried to draw blood, and she stopped breathing. Her heart stopped. I am so sorry."

I will never completely be able to forgive myself for not being there for her in her final moments. The guilt is overwhelming. Although a wise friend, her Dr. of 10 years who was on a family vacation in the Grand Canyon and still communicating with me via text, email, and phone through all of this, commented that he believed she was "taking care of us through the end" and that he believed we "did it right, and so did she". I cannot help but feel that I let her down. When she needed me.

My only comfort is that she was not in pain and seemed to go peacefully, on her own. I just wish with all my heart I could have held her in those final moments. Now there is nothing I can do to make it right.

The grief feels like it could fill our house and overflow into the street in a flood of tears. But there is someone watching me. Someone who does not understand and who needs to know I am here for him. Someone who needs my smiles. Someone who requires that I let go of the sadness and play with him and respond to his rasberries and his chattering.

And so I do. I tuck away my broken heart and I learn to grieve in the small moments away from him and in the quiet of the night when he is captivated by dreaming.

I am living a life and a grief observed.

And it kind of sucks. I don't want to be away from my son. I don't want to let him down or confuse him. But right now I wish I could hit "pause" on being a mother.

Sativa was my "baby" for over a decade. And now she is gone. I feel it everywhere - her absence. I desperately want to curl up in a ball, hide my head under a blanket and sob for days. I want to concentrate on creating some ritual to honor her life and how she gave it so abundantly to us. I want to allow myself to be consumed in my sadness.

But I can't. And I won't. At least not all at once.

I hope wherever she is, she understands.

She mothered us all so well. She stayed so strong for us, up until the very end.

Something tells me she must understand.

Good-bye dear, strong, beautiful Sativa. I miss you more than I can ever say. You left a hole that can never be filled. A part of me goes with you where you are. I will always always love you.

August 07, 2009

Best $6 I have ever spent (aka: "I suck at blogging, here's some cute pictures of my baby!")

About a month ago we were walking through a store and I spotted these big plastic drink tubs on sale. I plopped one on the floor, sat Zane inside and decided this would be a great new bathtub for him. Since then, we have bathed him just about every night (usually outside on our deck) in his new tub and he loves it. It also works great as a place for him to just sit and play in an inch or two of water while we hang outside.

After all the expensive baby gadgets we have bought it is nice to find that six dollars can go so far! And while I stall on writing his six month letter, writing about our adventures in making baby food, our visits with family, and general updatey sorts of things....here are a bunch of photos for those of you who are into those sorts of things. (you know who you are)








July 06, 2009

Rice Cereal: A story in pictures

We planned to start Zane on rice cereal on Father's Day, which was also his 5 month birthday. But I ended up in the ER that day, so we pushed it back a day. He has now been eating rice cereal mixed with breast milk, every night for two weeks and he loves it! But it didn't start out that way:

Hmmm....this is odd, wonder why they have me sitting up here.


What are you mixing up there, Mama? Can I have some?


Wait a minute! I was just kidding!


Seriously NOT impressed.


Why are you doing THIS again?





Maybe it tastes better straight from the bowl?



Or from a cup! What a great idea!



Gulp...Gulp....Gulp


Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh........


Ok. Maybe I was quick to judge. I will try the spoon again. Bring it on.


So far so good.


I can't believe I almost missed out on this! Hurry up Mama!


kthx! I will take it from here! Bye Bye!


And the rest is history......

July 05, 2009

The Z Files: Month Five

Dear Zane,

I am a week two weeks late getting this written. And although I want to believe otherwise, I am fairly certain that by the time you are old enough to read these letters and appreciate them, you will not be asking why it took your mother a full week two full weeks to finally get your letter written, but rather how she managed to get it done only one two weeks late. I am working on this kiddo, but something tells me it's a lifelong lesson for me.

But you! There is so much to write about you!

You are still generally the happiest baby I have ever known. From the moment you awake each morning, you are full of smiles. And although most mornings start much earlier than I would prefer (you are still working on the whole sleeping-through-the-night gig), the way you absolutely beam at your father and I when you open your eyes makes every morning our own private little party with you. But you don't save the smiles just for us. Oh no. You are generous with these treasures. Everywhere we go, you smile at just about everyone you meet, the only exception being the rare moments you are overtired. You actually seem to work at charming people. You try to catch their eyes, and then boom you floor them with your smile. And everywhere we go, people are just drawn to you. I find myself surrounded by cooing women at grocery stores on a regular basis. It's the "Zane show" all day, every day. And I could not be more proud. You seriously might have a future in politics if you keep this up, kid. You even won the heart of a two-year old girl at a restaurant recently. She was so captivated by you that she spontaneously leaned forward and kissed you! I am beginning to fear your teen years if this is any predictor of what's to come.

You are really affectionate. You regularly grab our faces and move in to dive-bomb us with a big slobbery baby kiss. You hold on to us, almost hugging us, as we hold you. You pat my back gently just as I pat yours to comfort you. You grab the fat on the backs of our arms with a little vice-like baby grip and pull yourself closer to us. And the absolute kicker? When you lie in bed between us, you reach each arm out to touch each of us. You want to be in contact with us as much as possible and you are never happier than when both your dad and I are cuddled up next to you together. This is something I hold so dear about you and I really hope is always a part of you. I hope you never lose your ability to be openly affectionate and loving with your family and those you love. You have caused our hearts to break open with your tenderness and we are so much better for it.


You are also incredibly physical and active. Of course, you still love your jumper and are launching yourself in the air as if you believe you might be able to fly if you just push a little harder off of the floor next time. And, you are not fully crawling yet, but that doesn't mean you aren't mobile! You have perfected your ability to roll in either direction with speed and purpose, and you have developed your own scooching, inch-worm/army crawl. You also are quick to propel yourself off of any surface by pushing off on your legs with all your might. It is truly amazing we have not had to make another ER visit yet. Also, at the end of this month, you spontaneously began sitting up and being able to balance on your own like this for a few minutes at a time. It's been really exciting to watch you tackle this milestone. You seem so proud of yourself and you concentrate so hard on keeping your balance. You seem to love the challenge of it.

You are a determined little one. Whether you are in the jumper, or on the floor, or being held - you have a knack for finding a way to get to whatever you want. You are the definition of perseverance. You just do not give up when you see a toy, a book, or random objects you'd like to get your little fists around. I love watching the concentration in your eyes as you try to figure out how you will get to what you want and I love watching how happy you are with yourself when you achieve your goal.

You lead the way more and more each day. I want to read, research, learn how to do this the "right way", without mistakes. But your presence, your exuberance for life, your eagerness demands that I turn away from the books and the internet and simply face you (and sometimes, just in time to grab your leg before you launch yourself off the couch face-first). And so I do. I face you, I look into your eyes, and together we figure out what comes next.

One of my favorite memories from this month is a walk we took together in the rain. It has rained nearly every day in the last few weeks. One afternoon, we were home together as the clouds rolled in. I watched the sky turn grey and the drops begin to fall. I wondered how we would fill our afternoon. You had already had some "jumper-time" and time on the floor with your toys. We had read books. We had sang. We had danced. What would we do now? I looked at you and the answer came to me. I carried you outside and we felt the wind blow on our cheeks and felt the first droplets fall on our heads and arms. No one else was out. It felt like our own private world. I grabbed the umbrella, put you in the Ergo, and we went for a slow walk in the rain around our neighborhood. The streets were quiet. The flowers in bloom. The leaves wet and dripping. We looked up at the trees, we knelt down to look at flowers. We inhaled the smell of the rain. The world was ours and I was filled with gratitude for it and for you.

I am continually shocked at how much you teach me about being alive, being in the moment, and being a mother. And when I can't find the answer simply by watching you and listening to my heart, you make me want to get the answer - whatever it takes - the answer that will help me be the best Mama I can. Because you deserve that and a great deal more.

I love seeing the world through your eyes. You are delightful little man. Completely delightful. I am so glad you are my son, and I am your Mama. I love you so much.


Love,
Mama

June 26, 2009

"To beat as my own heart"

I recently read this post and this one, (by an amazing blogger known as Her Bad Mother) and I wept with the familiarity. Though she is much further down this road than I am, and has already said so many more good-byes, she is foreshadowing the storm I can already feel brewing in my heart. And it scares me.

The storm within me that is my knowing that my heart must let go, must let my little boy grow up a little more every day, a bit more every week, and a lot more every month. That he will. That he has already, so much. That I have already said good-bye to more pieces of him than I can fathom in these five short months. And it doesn't look like it is going to get any easier any time soon.

The baby who sucks on his lips and laughs so easily, the boy who pats me on the back when I hold him close, the infant who clutches at my arms and pinches me like a crab to pull me closer. The bouncing, jumping, already exploring, chubby legged little cherub. I want to hold him here forever. I want to....

"just hold on and breathe him in and pretend that we are still two pieces of one body, that I could, if I wanted to, press him back into my chest to beat as my own heart."

She says it so much more eloquently than I can. As I read her words, I find my own heart speaking to me through them.

How do we do this as mothers? How do we hold on, breathe them in, remember, and then let go? I know we must. But how? How do we survive it?

June 25, 2009

Do I even deserve to call myself a blogger anymore?

Geez it is hard to blog these days!

Between Zane hitting the age where he is somewhat mobile, excited to explore his environment, and in need of almost constant interaction and my recent health issues (I will get to that in just a sec) - it's been....crazy.

Being a full-time mom is by far the hardest, most consuming, most challenging role I have ever had. Just when I think I am finding my rhythm, something shifts and I feel totally out of my league again. Please tell me I am not the only one who had a hard time finding her Momma groove?

It's the managing of my/our time, the neverending to-do lists, the necessary organization, the "doing" of motherhood that I keep struggling with. The loving of my son (and oh how I love him!) , the snuggling, the taking walks in the rain? Those, I revel in. Those are easy. Those are the moments I get out of bed for every day.

And he is totally worth every second of it. Of course.

Health issues. Well.

So, I have had several "episodes" in the last few months. I thought they were back spasms. I would feel pain radiating up my sternum and around to my back and then my entire back would sieze up and I would be completely imobilized with pain for 5-10 minutes. I have been seeing my chiropractor and massage therapist to get some relief.

Ha. Well. This weekend I had another "episode". Only this time it did not get better. It didn't go away, it just kept getting more and more painful. I tried standing in a hot shower, I tried icing my back. I moaned and breathed through the pain as if I was in labor. It was honestly right up there with back labor if not worse. Finally, after an hour of this - when I could no longer feel my extremities and I could barely walk - we headed to the ER.

Long, painful, story later.....I have gallstones. I was having a major gall bladder attack. It took 4 IV injections of Dilaudid to manage the pain. There was talk of needing to remove my gall bladder immediately if they could not get the pain under control. Thank goodness that didn't have to happen.

I was discharged on a super-strict no/low fat diet and told to follow up with my primary and a surgeon. I have those appointments scheduled next week so we will see how they go. The diet sucks but if it keeps me from having another attack, I will do it as long as I need to. Of course, adding these new guidelines to my already gluten-free diet means I am ridiculously restrictive in my eating.

I am anxious about surgery for several reasons: a) surgery! b) removal of an organ!, and c) Zane is not taking bottles at this point, so ensuring he is fed while I am out of commission for the surgery and getting the drugs out of my system, is problematic. He will take a couple of ounces from a sippy cup (or a small regular cup for that matter), and he eats his rice cereal mixed with breast milk like it is going out of style, but I worry he won't eat enough. Also? My breasts HATE the breast pump and I can usually only pump 2 oz or so in a sitting, and! my milk goes sour in the freezer for some reason. Literally every bag of frozen milk I have warmed up is bad, really bad. So....in order to have surgery I have to somehow have several bags of freshly pumped milk ready and I have to have convinced Zane that the bottle and sippy cup are not his enemies. That doesn't feel daunting at all.

So. We'll see what the doctors say and go from there, I guess.

Also? This all happened on Mr. Spicy's very first Father's Day. Poor guy, it really sucked for him. I promised him a Father's Day do-over.

And then, on top of all this, I went and had a major fall yesterday in Boulder. I was walking with Zane in the Ergo on my chest, carrying take-out food for myself and a friend. And - bam! In my efforts not to fall on Zane (I was successful, thank goodness) - I ended up landing on my knee and elbow. I ripped my pants wide open and received nasty scrapes and bruises on my knee and elbow. Today I am still pretty sore and feel like I was hit by a truck. Ugh.

SO. That's what's going on in my world.

And in the time it took me to write this post, my little houdini unswaddled himself three times and woke himself up with his wild arms. He loves being swaddled to sleep, but then he pulls his arms out and he can't sleep like that. Anyone else have this issue? Any suggestions???

Ok, I'd better get off to bed myself. More posts to come soon. I am running behind on Zane's monthly letter (he turned 5 months on Father's Day) and I haven't written about his adventures in eating cereal (I have lots of pictures too!), so I have some writing to do.

June 07, 2009

The Beauty of the Rain

It is mid-afternoon, but the light streaming through the window blinds is dim and grey. It is raining and the familiar smell of rain fills the room as the sound of the heavy drops hitting the roof and the street outside comes through the open window like a thousand tiny drums.

I am curled up on my side, Zane is nestled against my chest, his head just below mine. We are breathing in tandem as he sleeps, his angel face pressed against me, and I read.

I stop and breathe in the smell of him, I feel the weight of his head on my arm, the warmth of his skin against mine. I stop and take notice of the light, the smell of the rain, the staccato drum beats. I stop and say, "Thank you" to Whomever is listening.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

June 06, 2009

Baby Kisses

Maybe it's because I am always kissing him like crazy (who could blame me?), but lately I swear Zane is kissing me back!

He grabs hold of my hair, my cheeks, my neck, my ears - whatever will give him the best handhold - and he pulls my face towards his (or vice versa), and with his open slobbery mouth plants a big wet kiss on me. It is the sweetest thing ever and I never ever want to forget his little face as he stands on my lap and looks down at me with his bright little baby eyes looking into mine, ready to make his move.

I don't know how much more my heart can take.

June 05, 2009

How do you do it???

Never have I had more I wanted to write about, more I've wanted to document, more I have wanted to express.

And yet? I simply cannot find the time most days. If I am not busy with the munchkin, I am busy with something else - like oh....showering, laundry, sleeping, cleaning, trying to return a phone call or an email - or spending quality time with the husband.

So - you blogging mamas out there, I am curious - how do you do it? How do you manage to find time to get a few words down in between everything else?

I feel like such a slacker!

May 28, 2009

Our six month four month check-up

I have so much I should write about:
- my first Mother's Day
- our first "date" without Zane
- our first roadtrip with the little guy
- the crazy violent nightmares I am having

the list goes on....

But I will stop and take a breath and document our four month well-baby visit that happened yesterday:

Zane is squarely in the 90th percentile across the board, coming in at 17.1 pounds and 26 inches.

The doctor said "He is the size of a six month old and has the development of a six month old and he's smiling at me like a six month old! He was born two months late!"

I laughed at that, but it feels pretty on the mark, Zane has always "felt" like an older baby to me. Maybe he's "an old soul", who knows. I just think he's amazing.

We got permission to start rice cereal if we want to, in the doctors words, "It won't hurt him, but he'd be fine without it too." He basically said if I want a break from constant nursing go ahead and introduce it. So - we're thinking about it. I have a box of organic brown rice cereal and baby spoons. I have been feeling for a while he might be ready for something a little more "hearty", but I am going to wait till I feel really good about going forward with it. Mama instincts and all.

We also gave him his first vaccine yesterday. We delayed the start of vaccinations and are following an extremely modified vaccination schedule. And to avoid beginning a huge debate I will just leave it at that for now. If you want to know my reasoning behind our choices I would be happy to share, but suffice to say that I did my research, I talked with our Dr., and then I listened internally for what felt right to me - which was agonizing and is still something I am learning to do. As our Dr. so eloquently stated yesterday, (and I paraphrase) "There is no choice that carries zero risks, what is important is how you feel about the choice you are making and that you are honest with yourself about the risks you are taking and feeling ok taking those risks."

I am finding that so much of parenting lies in this grey area where I must make a choice, without any assurance of making "the one right choice", and then I must embrace that choice and stand in it - honest about who I am as a mother and what I am doing. Talk about a crash course in confidence!

Anyway, Zane did great with his one shot - he cried briefly which broke my heart to pieces, and he seemed a little sore in that leg last night but otherwise completely fine. I, on the otherhand, still feel traumatized a bit by it. I am such a wimp when it comes to him.

On that note....I had better get going, my six month four month old is asking me to play. And who could resist this face?




May 22, 2009

Time Management

I have to admit, I am not great at time management, especially not when it involves routines and schedules. I get bored. I am a life-long procrastinator and tend to manage my life in sprints and lulls rather than predictable, measured, walks and jogs.

But, it seems this too must change.

There is no procrastination with babies. There is only now. NOW. This moment. There is no promise of another moment, in the future, later...to do this thing, to go that place. Nope. Because that moment, that moment is completely unpredictable. Who knows whether that moment is the one that will hold the toxic diaper blow-out, the projectile spit-up, the unanticipated nap, the unanticipated lack of a nap, the baby who needs to be held, or all of the above.

So, I am trying. I am learning to carpe diem and all that. I am also learning to bring more order to my days and weeks through, (gulp), schedules and routines. And honestly, I like it. I am just not great at it.

All it takes is a week of being awakened every two hours and boom! I find myself disheveled, sitting in my three-days-unshowered filth and feeling like I live in a cave - promising myself I will take a shower....tomorrow. In fact, that is how I spent most of last week. Each day wondering if I was the only one to have sunk to this level so repeatedly, wondering what had happened to the energetic mama I seemed to have been a month before.

But this week I promised myself things would be different. I seized the opportunity to shower in the morning before Mr. Spicy left for work, instead of lying in bed counting how few hours of sleep I managed the night before and hoping Zane would fall back to sleep in a few minutes so I could steal another hour or two. Sure, maybe I still crawled back into bed on occasion, napping a precious hour or two with my deliciously snuggly little babe, but at least I had showered that day! And I began mapping the week. Monday: yoga day, Tuesday: errands, Wednesday: walk to the coffee shop and hang out there, and that's as far as I have gotten. I will make Thu or Fri a zoo day (we just became members and I am SO excited), and we'll probably make the other day some sort of activity as well (maybe a music class, or a playdate, or gardening!). I am trying to find a planned reason to leave the house every single day for just a couple of hours. This way I don't slip too far into cave-land, Zane gets out and gets some stimulation, and we still have plenty of time to hang out at home for a long nap, house cleaning, and just general necessary down-time.

Sounds like I have it figured out, huh? If only it were that easy! The hard part for me is going the distance, sticking to the plan week after week. And yet, with no plan - mayhem ensues. So, I am trying this out. I'll try to remember to let you know how it turns out.

What about you moms out there? What had to change for you in terms of time management? Did you have to become more organized? Let go of rigid routines? Did you find a routine or schedule that really worked for you and your child?

And you mommies-to-be....what do you anticipate needing to change for you?

May 21, 2009

The Z Files: Month Four

Dear Zane,

Here we are. Month four. You are one third of the way through your first year. And it bears repeating that it is all still going by way too fast for your mama here.

There were more than a dozen moments this month where I caught myself laughing at myself for my big speech to you in last month's letter about how "it's ok to cry", etc. etc. Sadly, you showed us this month that you are perfectly aware of that fact and you know exactly when and under what circumstances you feel crying should commence. In fact, as I was doing some final editing of last month's letter, you began teething in earnest and I was afraid my happy, laughing little munchkin had all but disappeared.

Thankfully, that was not the case. You have had more than a few fussy nights due to teething and gas and possibly being ready for something a bit more substantial than breast milk (more on this later) - but you still dazzle us daily with your smile and you save a few tears up for those laughs that literally make your eyes water.

You have also cried a few times when confronted by a loud noise, a deep voice, or your own sad face in the mirror (you had just bonked your head on your swing). Your cries are mercifully short, but nonetheless heart wrenching. So I am glad to report that you are seemingly moving back into a more jovial season as your fourth month comes to a close.

New this month: rolling over! Here's the thing though. You mastered the art of rolling over in one day, did it multiple times in a row as we cheered you on, and then? Eh, not so much. You have not rolled over again. You seem to be over rolling and instead moving on to the fine art of the pre-crawl "scootch". Yes, you are already moving arms and legs in a determined fashion, scootching across a blanket on the floor to reach a treasured toy. Leaving your mama and papa in wide mouthed amazement, I should add.

Speaking of toys. You have discovered toys this month. To be fair though, anything within grabbing distance has become a possible "toy". Today you grabbed a pen right out of my hand as I was writing. Your favorite toy is probably your stuffed puppy rattle. You like to nurse on its nose and clasp it tightly to your chest. You also shake it and toss it and I gladly fetch it and return it to you.

You also love your doorway jumper. You stand in it, bounce in it, and walk yourself in circles in it. Today you stood in it and stared in amazement as the dogs laid just out of your reach. But you still tried reaching for them and walked yourself in their direction as far as you could, calling out to them. It was really sweet to watch. I think it might be the first time you really noticed them as other beings you could relate to.

Things no longer in your favor? Bottles, and to a lesser extent, pacifiers. Yep. We let you go too long without a bottle feeding and you have officially decided you are done with them. This has been really distressing for your daddy. He puts you to bed on Wednesday nights while I am out and you have just completely rejected his attempts to bottle-feed you. This results in one very stressed out papa and you going to bed hungry. I even went out and bought you a fancy bottle made to resemble a breast. Nope. There is no fooling you. So, I decided skip the bottle altogether. I dug out a sippy-cup we received as a gift when you were born, filled it with breast milk, and voila! You aren't exactly gulping it down, but you are willing to take several sips from it which seems to satiate your hunger just enough to allow you and Daddy to have a peaceful and enjoyable night together and I am not worrying about you going to bed hungry. You are also just about done with pacifiers as well, which is not as big of an issue but makes me a little sad for some reason. You just seem to be growing up so fast little man!

You are waking up a lot at night lately and it seems to be just hunger that is waking you. You generally wake, eat, and drift back to sleep. Although there have been a couple rare nights when your face lit up in the middle of the night and you decided it was party-time! For the most part, you are just eating a lot, all day, all night. Which, paired with the teething, the rejection of the bottle and acceptance of the sippy cup, the grabbing, the fascination you have with anything we are eating these days, and the fact that you are one big kiddo (18 pounds last time I checked) leads me to thinking it may be time to start you on something more substantial - like FOOD. Yikes! I swore I would wait till 6 months to start you on solids, because I have a pretty significant food sensitivity. But, once again - being your mama means letting go of my own preconceived ideas about how things "should" go. My instincts are telling me to feed you. I think I have to listen to that.

So, next month's letter will probably be all about eating and food, and what you like to eat and what you hate to eat, and what babyfood looks like splattered all over our dining room walls. I sort of can't wait!

Last but not least, we took you on your first official road trip this month!!! Your daddy's birthday and Mother's Day fell on the same weekend, so we packed up and headed down to one of our favorite places on earth: Taos, NM. We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast and you so charmed the owners that they offered us free babysitting if we would just bring you back. It was a bit of a long trip, too long I think - but you handled it like a champ and I think you even slept better there than you do at home! Of course you got to sleep in your favorite spot, between Mama and Papa, all night long, so that may have had something to do with it. I loved introducing you to this special place for us and I can't wait to bring you back when you get a little older. I also really loved getting that time away, just the three of us, a family. There were no chores to be argued over, no "to do lists" to make, just us enjoying being together, resting, reconnecting, finding our own ways. It was magical and it made me want to run away somewhere with you and your daddy. I am already looking forward to our next family trip.

What else can I say? You continue to be an incredible source of joy and wonder in our lives. I am a better person because you are here, I love being your mother and cannot think of anywhere I would rather be than where I am at right now. I love you with more of my heart than I ever knew existed and I just fall more in love each day. Thank you again for making me a mother, your mother. Thank you for being our son. Our sun.

With love as deep as the ocean,
Mama

May 08, 2009

Happy 36th Mr. Spicy!

We have come through quite a bit in the last year and our focus has been almost singularly on Zane. So, in honor of Mr. Spicy's 36th birthday I would like to shift the focus to him and list 36 things I love about this man, in no particular order.

1. He continues to rescue stray cats and kittens who become stranded in our backyard, sometimes bringing them food or water, even though this has backfired on him in the past and ended up costing us a small fortune.

2. He can talk to anyone and when he asks people how they are, he really wants to know the answer.

3. He is already an amazing dad. Better than I could have ever hoped for. Zane is one lucky little boy.

4. When we travel to Spanish-speaking countries or just to the corner taqueria, he boldly speaks what Spanish he knows while I am still silently trying to parse together an acceptable and grammatically correct sentence for fear of sounding like an idiot.

5. I brought a cat and a dog into our marriage and he has always loved and cared for them as his own.

6. When we got our youngest dog and he persisted in waking in the middle of the night and whining to be let out for the entire first year, Mr. Spicy got up every night, sometimes more than once, to let him out. And he was kind to him in the process, which is more than I could have done.

7. When Zane was first born and was jaundiced, Mr. Spicy went with him for every blood-draw, comforting Zane and allowing me to sleep.

8. When Zane was under those awful lights at the hospital for his jaundice, Mr. Spicy held him for hours, his arms kinked into the plastic bassinet, supporting his son so he wouldn't feel alone.

9. He got into a heated argument with the Dr. on-call while I was in labor, determined to protect me and to allow my wishes to be heard.

10. He knows what he wants and will persevere until he gets it.

11. He is strong, both in character and physique. (Have you seen his biceps?!)

12. He loves to travel and explore - and he lets me do the research and planning.

13. He LOVES to dance. (He was teaching swing and salsa dancing when we met - yum!)

14. Even though he loves dancing and was in high demand with the ladies back in the day, he chose not to learn the Argentine Tango. He felt it was a dance he specifically wanted to save to dance with his wife some day. He's been hounding me to take Tango lessons with him since we were engaged. (Why haven't I done this yet???)

15. When we are having a hard time or there is tension, he really wants to talk it through. And he will mull over these discussions for days.

16. He calls me "Beautiful" more than he calls me by my name.

17. He shed tears when Zane rolled over for the first time.

18. He loves the ocean and he has shared this passion with me.

19. He dreams big.

20. He is a great swimmer and doesn't mind when I cling to him in fear when we snorkel. (I don't really do this anymore - much)

21. He is a fierce protector of those he cares about.

22. He is driven to excel at all he does.

23. He is crazy smart.

24. He always smells yummy.

25. He takes his current role as sole financial provider for our family really seriously. He works his butt off to make sure we are taken care of.

26. He treats me as an equal in every way.

27. He values what I have to offer our son and tells me all the time what a great mom he thinks I am.

28. He once gave me a book he made of one hundred quotes about love (borrowing from Neruda's 100 Verses of Love) .

29. He is a poet, through and through.

30. He is also an engineer, through and through.

31. He loves fixing things and making things better.

32. He loves to teach and is a phenomenal teacher.

33. He once serenaded me.

34. He lets me sing at the top of my lungs in the car and tells me that he loves it (even though I know I don't sing that well) - and he is the only person I have ever felt safe enough to do that with.

35. In every way he has given me a home.

36. And well....just look at him:







Happy 36th Birthday, Mr. Spicy!

I am still so grateful I am the one who gets to wake up next to you on your special day, and the first to celebrate with you every year.

I love you.