One Year Old

We have a one-year-old.

It has been an amazing year. Some of the highest highs and lowest lows of my life. Yesterday, on her actual birthday, I was thankful for all she has brought us.

Unfettered joy. Bright wonder. Sheer life. Hope.

I looked back on the older pictures of her and realized she’d been herself from the very start. Even in her newborn photos you can trace the shapes that will become her square jaw and expressive eyebrows and cupid’s bow lips. Once she noticed the camera, you can see her inquisitiveness and unabashed delight.

She is stubborn and she is persistent. She is observant and she is hesitant. She is engaging and she is curious. She is attentive and she is (just a little) mischievous. She is compassionate and she is gentle. She is strong.

She loves beets and egg yolks and bread. She’ll squawk indignantly if you don’t share what you’re eating. She loves the kitties and she loves her stacking cups. She’ll drag her elephant lovey across the room as she army-crawls. She’ll pull out all the books on the shelf and then sit and turn the pages of her favorites. She’ll spend an hour taking blocks out of a box and putting them back and then she’ll suddenly crawl over to mama and demand to be held, then just as suddenly demand to go back to playing.

She smiles with her whole body and she cries just as fully.

She likes the book on quarks. She likes to play on her xylophone. She figured out how to stack her rings and she can pull up to her knees.

Her laugh melts my heart and her smile brightens my day and her cry makes me wish I could move the heavens to make everything better.

I’m so excited to see how she’ll grow, how she’ll expand into a toddler, a child, a human being. How she’ll change. And how she’ll stay the same.

Happy birthday, Lady Jr.

 

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A Year in Reflection: Photos

Oops I got excited and made a bunch of collages.

 

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One Year Postpartum: When it Got Better

This time last year I thought I’d be pregnant for another week at least. Little did I know…

I’m finding as we close in on one year, I’m feeling less inclined to rehash the beginnings. I’ve talked before about how hard it was and how little I want to do it again. I firmly believe labor and birth and the fourth trimester are one of the hardest things anyone can go through, at least in the modern world, where we have plumbing and sanitation and individual houses on individual streets in individual cities far from our closest connections.

But I want to touch on the isolation and sleep deprivation and anxiety one more time because I feel like past me could’ve used some sense of how much better it would get.

People will tell you about the long nights and the lack of sleep and the inability to function and the severe spikes in anxiety and the intrusive thoughts, but it’s one thing to be told and another to experience. I thought I was ready, but you just can’t be ready for it – and that’s okay. Unfortunately, I beat myself up a lot instead of just accepting and celebrating that we had all made it another day. I saw pictures of other women online who seemed to be about at the same point PP, but they were smiling and happy and put-together and out doing things in the world, whereas I saw more of netflix than I did my wife.

In the first few months, a typical night was spent on the couch bouncing a baby to sleep for 30, 40min, then caaaarefully putting her in the bouncer and trying to sleep myself or – more typically – giving up on sleep and watching netflix instead. Around 2am even I started to get tired, but by then the baby would be waking up soon so I would wait and watch. Then another hour of nursing and bouncing and finally finally she’s asleep and I feel like I can just close my eyes – except the cats have decided it’s time to whine for food or jump on me or scratch the carpet and the baby stirs and it’s 5am and I’m not sure I can make it until 7am, when I can trade with Dr Lady – but I force myself too out of some twisted sense of martyrdom and I watch each minute inch by until it’s 6.30am and the baby wakes and I feed her and bounce her and by now I’m weak and dizzy with exhaustion and I crawl into bed crying and asking Dr Lady to take over and then I lie in bed for another 30min staring at the ceiling and wondering if what I’m hearing is the baby crying or just my ears ringing and –

It got better the first time at 2 weeks. That’s when Lady Jr started to have a sense of day versus night.

It got better again at 4 weeks. Lady Jr started sleeping in longer, more predictable chunks.

It got better again around 10 weeks. That’s when we moved Lady Jr into our bedroom and even though her sleep didn’t improve, simply not having the cats around all the time actually meant I would sometimes sleep.

It got better again at 11 weeks, when I cut dairy out of my diet and the near-constant crying finally stopped.

It got better again at 12 weeks, when we discovered Lady Jr would stop fighting sleep if we just put her down and let her roll it out.

It got better again at 12 weeks, when Lady Jr became more than just a lump and would smile and babble and grab at things and actually play on the floor so we didn’t have to hold her all the time.

It got better again when she started daycare, when Lady Jr stopped fighting going to bed at night all together. The constant wake-ups were still another thing, but over the following weeks it became a little easier for her to go back to sleep.

There was a bit (see: a big) regression with sleep between 3-6 months what with the 4 month regression and a near constant string of colds and ear infections.

But it got better again at 6 months, when we moved her out of our room and into her own. Almost overnight she went from waking up 4-6 times a night to only three.

It got better again when her 3 naps consolidated down to 2 and suddenly I felt like I wasn’t fighting her during the day anymore.

It got better again when she started crawling, because she could get to her toys and play more by herself.

It got better again at 8 months, when the three wake-ups went down to two went down to one.

It got better again at 9 months, when she started waking up at 3 or 4 or even 5am and I started sleeping 3, 4, 5 hours in a row.

It got better and better and better after that, as Lady Jr’s personality began to show through, and she would laugh and clap and dance. She watches everything that we do and displays skills suddenly, without seeming to have practiced at all.

It got better when I realized I finally loved her. Some moms say they bonded and loved their kid immediately, but for me it took months. I loved the idea of her more than the infant in my arms, but she grew and grew and now I miss being away from her and look at the pictures I’ve taken while I’m at work like I used to sneak glances of a crush. I feel a surge of joy when Dr Lady brings her home in the evening and when I go into her room to get her after a nap or a night.

Lady Jr is amazing and I love her. Yes, those first sixish months might have been the hardest, both physically and mentally, of my life, but I would go through them again and again for this baby and her wide smile and delightful laugh.

So: new moms, it gets better. It gets so much better. For some it’s earlier, for some much later, but it does get better. ❤

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One Year Post-Partum: What I Wish I’d Known

Our Lady Jr will be turning one next week(!!). So of course I’m thinking a lot about the last year. I have a lot to say and I’ll try to spread it out over several coherent posts.

This time last year I was 100% done being pregnant and convinced I’d be pregnant forever. I knew I’d be a week late, but thankfully I’d been prepared for labor to start since about 36 weeks. So when I actually went into labor on my due date, I was prepared.

…well, ish. Can anyone really be prepared for labor? For kids? That’s at least one thing I did right in those final weeks: to have no expectations. But even attempting to avoid expectations, you have expectations.

I realize now that I’d expected to have a long, late labor, that I’d have a difficult baby (in one way or another), that I’d be exhausted all the time, that I’d go for short walks, that I’d just sit around most of the time in the first few weeks, that I’d also be able to do things like go grocery shopping right away, that I’d have PPD, that I’d be back to my regular lifting/running by six weeks, that I’d be able to keep life-ing like usual, just minus the dayjob.

Oof. Yeah, not so much. So let’s just go with what I wish I’d known:

1) There’s a reason why a lot of ladies fear fast labors, and it’s not just because of the distance to the hospital. While I appreciated the shortened window of pain, the speed of it terrified me and gave me no time to absorb the fact that I was legit having a baby before the baby was had. I’m still grappling with some what-ifs from that time, TBH.

2) Putting any pressure on your bits post labor, including (especially) sitting, is painful AF. Leaning forward, getting up from sitting, basically any sort of movement was a lesson in pain and physics for about 2 weeks. I should’ve started using witch hazel and frozen pads sooner, but for some reason I just didn’t think about it.

3) PP recovery is no joke & just because I had a short labor, I wasn’t magically spared. I went to the grocery store 4 days post labor and nearly fainted. When they say take it easy, they legit mean stay in bed as long as possible. Do not do the dishes. Do not do the laundry. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

4) Colic =/ difficult baby. I wish I had known this sooner so that I would’ve sought more solutions instead of just accepting It Is What It Is. Beause…

5) Dairy intolerance does not necessarily mean lactose intolerance. It can mean casein, which means that even yogurt and hard cheese can be problematic. I didn’t realize this, so I avoided lactose, but still ate hard cheeses etc. It wasn’t until I cut out dairy 100% that Lady Jr stopped screaming and started sleeping longer, quite literally over the span of 24 hours.

6) Bouncers/rock n plays are lifesavers for colicky babies.

7) Sleep begets sleep and that’s true for mommy, too. I had a very hard time sleeping those first few months, even when given the time to sleep.

8) I’m running and lifting again now, but it took a good six, seven months before I was able to do anything like I used to. This is normal.

9) Honestly, I should’ve just expected to chill and try to sleep whenever I could for the first six months. After that, life began to get a bit easier.

10) It gets better. Don’t listen to those blog posts from moms with teens who’re telling new moms it doesn’t get easier. They’re assholes. You will sleep again. You won’t always cry from exhaustion when your baby smiles at you. They either had charming little sleeping newborns or they don’t remember what it’s like to have a 102 degree fever and be dragging yourself from room to room so you can pump for your 3 month old in daycare who was up all last night (and will be up all that night) only to have to stop and puke for the third time because you can’t keep liquids down and then have to spend all weekend caring for that 3 month old who is not happy because they can sense you’re not happy and you haven’t eaten or slept in 3 days… yeah.

11) Sleep is so incredibly important. I wish I’d been kinder to myself when I was so sleep-deprived.

12) The lows are really fucking low but the HIGHS are incredibly high.

13) It is 100% worth it.

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Diary of a Strong Mom: Fighter Class

I’ve been taking punching class for two months now and I can tell something’s improving. It might be my stance, it might be my pivot – it certainly ain’t my kick – but I’m getting through the initial Wow, I Suck At This into a more nuanced, Yes, I Suck At This But I’m Learning And It’s Okay.

Those first few weeks were rough, though. No, scratch that. The second few weeks. The first few, I could still rely on the newness of it all, jokingly add that I’ve only been to one or two classes. Now I’ve been to more than a dozen and I hit that wall of feeling like I should be at least good at some part of this already.

Learning new things is rough, especially when you’ve gotten really good at other things. I keep wanting to point at my running or my lifting and be like: look! I’m not bad at these. But those have nothing to do with this. I’m comfortable with those, I know the moves, I’ve even taught some of my friends how to lift. But every aspect of punching class is new and uncomfortable and trying to remember 6 different things at once while also getting up real close to a bunch of sweaty men.

Recently I was in class and failing (spectacularly) again at some key movement and all I wanted to do was throw in the towel and leave. I dreamed of joining a Crossfit box and getting back into doing something I knew well. Of feeling confident in myself again and, even – sometimes – being at the top of the class.

Thankfully I signed up for six months of classes, so giving up simply wasn’t an option. Well, not without feeling like I’d just wasted a bunch of money. So I stayed and then I came back and I came back again.

And then one day the teacher told me I’d improved a lot since August. As an aside, he mentioned that there were one or two things I could change in my stance, but he didn’t want to overwhelm me with the details and I should go home feeling proud of my progress.

I stopped him and told him no. I didn’t want to go home feeling proud. I wanted to go home knowing I was bad at this, but that there was something I could improve. He nodded, and then proceeded to show me those two things, and they made a difference, but I’m still not any good at it.

Then I realized: that’s okay. I need to stop fighting the discomfort and embrace it. I need to stop trying to prove I’m good at something I’ve only been doing for a few weeks. I need to listen and watch and ask all the questions and practice and get better and then, and only then, will I be able to kick ass.

At that point I also stopped pining after my Crossfit days. I’m not pure Warrior class anymore. Now I’m taking a level in Fighter. And I’m finally enjoying the process.

But one thing I’ve learned from this so far: I am really not good at being bad.

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11 Months!

We’re officially transitioning to sitting up photos! I realized I should have started this sooner, since at 10 months I had a hard time keeping her from rolling away. Now she cries whenever we lay her on her back (unless she’s distracted as such).

Holy cow, we’ve almost got a one year old and it shows!

What’s new:

MORE TEEF. One has broken through on the bottom making a neat line of three. We suspect there’s another tooth coming on top. I hope this means she’ll be able to chomp on apples and other fruits soon.

FAST. She can now crawl from one room to the next if you turn your back for a second. The cats are wising up, but sometimes they’re still surprised. She’s army crawling ATM, but I’ve seen her rock onto her knees. She just hasn’t figured out how to turn that into forward momentum.

Sits and plays. We’ve got this box of blocks that she’s recently discovered and she’ll just sit there, taking blocks out and putting them back in, or putting them on top of the box, for quite a long while. It’s freaking adorable and her concentration is intense.

More and more varied sounds. I swear she’s said “maaaaaaa” and meant it. I’ve heard “k” a few times around the kitties, too. No obvious words yet, but it’s no longer just “dadadad” or “mwa!” We’re getting an assortment that sounds like her own little language more and more.

Bath time!! We finally caved and got a little bathtub that we put out in the living room for bath time. We used to just wipe her down but she started getting upset at us and wiggling away. We tried putting her in our bathtub, but it scared her. we tried holding her in the shower, and she was kinda okay, but it was difficult for us to hold an increasingly heavy, wiggly baby. But now she has her own tub and she friggin loves it. It’s so good.

Games! She’ll grab tissues/shower curtains/random pieces of fabric and play peekaboo with us. She likes to drop her ducky outside of the bath so that we can then make it pop over the side somewhere unexpected. She’s tried to do this with food, but I give her no reaction and I’ve noticed that she’s doing it less and less.

Favorite foods are still proteins. Eggs, chicken, ham, etc. She really friggin loves bread, though, and whines if you don’t give her any.

Sleep is unchanged. Sometimes she’ll sleep through the night. Sometimes she’ll wake at 3 or 4am. She’s been sick these past two weeks with first a fever then an ear infection, and now there’re the teeth coming through, so we expect that’s why. She still goes to bed easy peasy and her 2 naps a day are awesome. I am thankful every time she goes to sleep without a fuss because I remember how hard it was, and I know we still have sleep regressions to come.

– She’s started crawling into my lap when she’s upset, which is both adorable and sad.

Basically, she’s more and more fun every day. We crawl together and play with blocks and read. Usually I just let her do her thing. She’s enjoying the stroller more often than not, so we’ve been taking advantage of the gorgeous autumn weather and going for more walks. She’s stopped crying when we drop her off at daycare and seems to be having fun with the other babies.

While she hasn’t yet pulled up, she’s started pulling on various things, so that’s on the way. Man, she only just learned to crawl and I can see her walking by the end of the year. We’ll need to get her little snow boots. Omg.

As for me, I almost feel like my old self. I’ve also accepted that my body will never quite be the same, so for my birthday I got some new clothes in a bigger size. My hips are just going to be bigger than they were, and that’s all right. Unfortunately, that also means a lot of my skirts don’t fit right anymore. So my goal for the next year is to replace any that make me feel less than fab with new ones that fit. Life is too short to shove yourself into too-small clothes.

My supply is even more abysmal than before. I suspect it’s because of my increased activity and decreased carb intake. I’ve decided to stop pumping next week and just see what happens. When it takes 60min a day to get 3oz, it just doesn’t seem worth it. And we’re already supplementing with formula on the weekends, so it won’t be that big of a change.

As for work, day job has been more stressful than usual with clients being slow/petty and projects backing up. Writing, however, seems to be going fine. I got edits back from my editor on books one and two and I don’t have to set everything on fire and start again, so that’s always a plus. If anything, the edits are way less substantial than I’d feared/expected and we’re on track to get book one done and out the proverbial door by February. Of course, it’ll still be a full ‘nother year until publication, but. Well. Publishing is slow, man.

Okay you made it through all of that have some more baby pics. ❤

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The Next Room at Daycare

I’m a bit feverish, so it’s time to write an update!

Lady Jr started in the Infants 2 room at daycare this week. They move babies in there when they reach a certain level of mobility and there they stay until they’re two. It’s a small thing, but it’s made me realize our little baby is fast on her way to becoming a little toddler.

She got to eat big kid food, which is awesome because now we don’t have to send lunch every day. She also seemed a lot happier when she got home – it seems like she’s starting to actually play with other babies. And I’m sure now that the cacophony of crying newborns is gone, that helps too.

It’s only been two days of course, but they spent most of August transitioning her and even before that she’d been going over at the end of the day when all the infants had been picked up (we seem to be the only ones with a 9-6 schedule).

But it’s just another reminder that October is coming.

august-123

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