Category Archives: happy things

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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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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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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Diary of a Strong Mom: 3.1 miles in (less than) 31 minutes

30 minutes, 24 seconds, to be exact.

I think I could have gone faster. I started out stiff – we arrived with 10min to spare, so I didn’t have much time to stretch or warm up. I just went and did it. So the first mile was basically my warm up, the second was what I should have been running my first mile, and the third was painful and fast.

But it wasn’t as awful as I had feared and I managed to stay relatively consistent throughout. I wish I could have broken 30min, but I’m happy to have a new PR regardless.

Plus, every time I start to think that I should’ve gone faster, pushed harder, done better, I need to remember how far I’ve come. This time last year, I couldn’t even walk a mile, let alone run three. Six months ago, I was just starting to run two miles again. In the meantime, I’ve only been able to run 2 or 3 times a week. I still weigh 10lb+ over my pre-pregnancy weight.

My fastest 5k before this was 31-ish min, and that was back when I was 20lb lighter and doing crossfit. Before that, it was 32-ish min in high school.

I’m 30 going on 31 and I broke a PR I had from high school. I should probably just let myself be proud of that for a second.

Where do we go from here? Well, I want to break that 30min barrier, of course. That shouldn’t take much, but it’s a nice goal for the next two months.

I also need to figure out a way to fit lifting back into my life. Squats and other strength exercises will help me towards this goal. I just need to find a routine where they fit. And on top of that, I want to keep going to the MMA/punching class. I’m really loving learning how to fight.

One of Dr Lady’s labmates said the sweetest thing when she told him I was learning MMA: “She’s already scary enough.”

Yes, that is indeed my ultimate goal.

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10 Months

10 Months (Clap clap)

New things!!

– As you can tell from the photo, clapping. She’s also figured out she can make adults clap. It’s the best game.

– Her sitting is stronger than ever. We’re to the point where I can plop her sitting on the floor and not feel like I have to be right there in case she topples over. She’s started doing controlled topplings herself, although they’re less than graceful.

– Her mobility game in general is so strong, they’re moving her on to Infants 2 at daycare. She still doesn’t crawl efficiently, but she can get wherever she wants to go and she is strong enough to stand without support, even if she never wants to. Diaper changing has become increasingly difficult, though, as have the monthly photos. I haven’t decided just yet when we’re going to stop doing floor photos and start doing sitting ones, but it’ll be by 12 months definitely.

SLEEP IS AWESOME. I’m going to regret writing that I know, but she reliably wakes only once a night and we’ve even hit two all-nighters this past week. So that’s what it’s like to feel well-rested. Holy wow. One night I even got to stay up until 10 and then get up at 5.30 and I still got enough sleep. I’ve been looking forward to this day because it means I’ll be able to have a more routine wake-up time and be able to get my writing in and maybe (gasp!) a little lifting before she gets up for the day. We’re so close. So close!

– She has gotten so big. She had another appointment 2 weeks after her 9 months to check her ear infection and she’d gained 1 pound. She has a follow up tomorrow (the fluid wasn’t completely drained) and I suspect she might have gained another. She’s quickly outgrowing all of her 9 month clothes and a few are even too tight on her arms. o.o

– Stranger danger has arrived. Our friend came to stay with us this week and arrived after Lady Jr had already gone to bed. While Lady Jr was eating breakfast the next morning, friend came in and she started crying. It only took about a day for her to get used to our friend, but daycare did mention the week before that new/unfamiliar people scare her. I’ve also noticed more hesitance in public, although as long as she’s in one mommy’s arms, she’s usually fine.

– Do we have the beginning of tantrums? Sometimes Lady Jr will just arc her back and start screaming for no discernible reason. It doesn’t appear to be pain because we can often distract her out of it, but she did it when I interrupted her playing once and another time when Dr Lady was taking her to the car to leave for daycare. She’s done it when I’ve taken my keys from her (she loves the keys) and she’s done it when we put her down to change her diaper. Her face scrunches up and her back goes rigid and she lets out this long, keening wail. She’s going to the dr tomorrow for the ear follow up, so I’ll ask about it there, but I have my suspicions…

– Favorite foods include chicken (a perennial), cantaloupe, cauliflower tots, anything mama-Kai is eating, and whole fried eggs (yes, even the whites now *fistpump*). She still won’t touch avocado and has started to eschew sweet potatoes.

– As soon as she’s comfortable/feeling safe somewhere, she gets so chatty. It’s da-ba-da this or mwa-mwa-mwa that or one long, concentrating aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. It’s so good.

– She has favorite books! Basically anything with something to touch, but she also loves Max’s Bath which is… not something I expected. That and Baby Loves Quarks, which is def one of my faves.

 

As for Speck… things are going fine. Chipping away at Book 3. Trying to fit everything in. Enjoying (almost) every moment with Lady Jr. Letting the chaos just… be sometimes, which if anyone else is Type A and/or a virgo, you understand is a big deal.

I turn 31 in just about two weeks and I’m trying to grapple with that and all the changes of the past year, but that’s more than enough for it’s own post.

And now…

The pictures.

First, a blast from the past (well, around this time last year):

 

Then our first time visiting the Lake Michigan shoreline:

 

And now some random life photos:

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Diary of a Strong Mom: August

What!

Why yes, that is a sub 20min 2 miles. The first time I’ve done that in, well, ever. At least that I’ve been tracking. I am well on track to run my 3.1 miles in sub 31 minutes. Hell, I could have slowly jogged the rest of the last mile and still hit my goal.

So of course, the competitive side of me wants to try to hit sub 30min. My fastest 5k ever was 30min and change, so that would be an epic PR for me. And even more empowering because I weigh the most now (outside of pregnancy) that I’ve weighed in well over 15 years. So to be able to PR my 5k time right now? Yeah, that’ll be the best birthday present to myself.

Aside from running, I’ve also taken up a MMA (Mixed Martial Arts aka Fighting 101) class three times a week. It was largely in response to all the anger and frustration that I’ve felt with the news and a certain president lately, but it was also a present to myself to help me Get the Fuck Out of the House. I work at home and, while this is absolutely amazing and gives me time to work out and write, it’s also incredibly isolating.

So now three times a week, I help get the baby into bed, pull on some shorts, and head 2min down the road to a studio where I’ve been learning how to kick, block, grapple, and punch. It’s a lot of fun, except I somehow pinched a nerve the first week and so had to ditch the last two classes. But I’ll be back tonight. Just, maybe, I’ll take it a little easier.

And for reading all that you get ONE BABY PHOTO because tomorrow she will be 10 months and then you will get ALL THE BABY PHOTOS.

August DITL

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Strong Mom & Blueberries

july-88

First, blueberries.

Ever since I knew we’d be moving to Michigan, I was excited about picking berries. AZ is great for a lot of things – hiking, sunsets, bat watching – but its produce is abysmal. Still, we made the 2 hour trek out to the orchards every fall just to pick apples and pretend it wasn’t 90+ degrees.

July hit and with it the realization that, well hot beans, summer ain’t gonna be around much longer. Last year the warm weather stretched well into October, but I know the north is fickle and there’s no guarantee we won’t get an early frost this year. Plus, berries are only in season for a few short weeks (see: weekends). So we’d better hop on it.

We hit up a patch that was supposed to be an hour away, but due to random construction, ended up being two hours. By the time we got there, the clear day the weather forecasters had promised had become cloudy and misty. We pulled into a muddy parking lot still speckled with other cars and figured we wouldn’t melt and, well, it was better than a hot, humid day.

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Aside from my shoes getting drenched, it was perfect. We took turns holding Lady Jr & an umbrella and picking blueberries. It misted and rained and misted again. There were a few mosquitoes, but far fewer than there could have been.

The blueberries were perfect. Lady Jr kept stretching for the leaves, so I guided her to a clump of blueberries and she pulled one off and ate it. Then she ate another one. And another. She just kept plucking blueberries and eating them and I was so amazed I didn’t stop her. In hindsight, I should have, because she ended up puking blueberries all over my shirt. Whoops.

Chubby baby arm

Oh well. I bundled her back to the car, cleaned us both off, then put her in the carrier. Together we walked up and down the rows of blueberries and she fell asleep with her head back and her arms crossed under her chin.

Two hours later we were home again and I was rinsing off the blueberries (nine pounds!!). I offered one to her, but apparently it wasn’t fresh enough. Fair.

july-89

And now, a strong mom update, because finding time to update in general has been tough, y’all. Mostly I just wanted to say

I ran a 9:13 mile! Aaah!

I haven’t run a sub 10min mile in easily 2 years. I am not a speedy person. I am a lifter and I am tall and I am big. So getting that close to 9min is a big achievement. Now to hit my goal of 3.1 miles in 31min, I just have to do that twice over. Considering I had to warm up with a 10.50min pace and then had to walk for a bit after, I’m still a ways off, but…

That’s what goals are all about, right? Pushing your limits and being surprised at what happens.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to stuff my face with blueberries.

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