Goodbye to Mae’s First Home

At noon tomorrow, we close on our new house. And tonight, as I write this, I am a ball of mixed emotions.

I’m so ready to have our own place, a place to really make our own. We’ve also had a shitty landlord situation (euphemism) and I’m ready to be free of it, BUT this is the house that we brought Mae home to from the hospital. These hardwood floors are the ones we paced for hours while she cried. The big front porch was our savior more times than we can count.

The antique bear claw tub is where we bathe her every night and the stain glass window is what she looks at and recognizes as home.

I know that the three of us are what make our home, but I’m feeling so sentimental about leaving Mae’s first place. How many mornings have I spent with her propped on my legs while she watched the light come in our bedroom windows?

And I know there will be new memories and special things about the new house, but this move comes just a few weeks before I return to work, so in a way, it signifies the end of our time together, just me and Mae, so many hours alone in this house together. So many hours of struggle and sorrow, but also joy and growth that can’t be put into words. This house was our little bubble through these first few months. Sometimes it was solace and sometimes it was isolation.

It’s just that SO much has happened in this house–my transformation into a mother.

One thought that calmed me today was thinking about how we’d measure Mae’s height on the kitchen wall in the new house, just like I did growing up, because this house will be ours and we can mark it up and change it and really live and love in it with Mae.

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Parent Pet Peeve #2: Timelines or Milestones

Every new mom is given a timeline or milestones or deadlines for her baby. These dates are all over the internet (with horrible titles like “Is your baby on track?”) and baby books and the pediatrician’s office. And new moms cling to them because they promise things will change or get better. AIso, I think we are all worried and asking “Is my baby normal?” Because sometimes they are so difficult, we assume this just can’t be normal, and hitting those milestones reassures us in some way.  And every mom has one of these milestones, or many, that drove her crazy, and maybe still is.

For me, the milestone that we didn’t meet was “hitting your stride” at six weeks of breastfeeding. Everything I read online and in the books and even advice from well-meaning family and friends, said “just keep going until six weeks and it will get easier.”

No surprises where this is going: shit hit the fan at six weeks. Mae starting screaming through every feeding. Half the time she wouldn’t eat. My left nipple had what my lactation called “a crevasse” not a crack. I was in extreme pain through every feeding, every two hours. So I’d been sticking it out, just putting me head down, knowing it was going to improve at six weeks, and then it got worse, not better. Excuse my language, but this really FUCKED with my mind and spirit when it came to breastfeeding. I wish I hadn’t had this pretend deadline in my mind. Now I try to ignore all the milestones. I pay attention to Mae. I pick up on what she’s trying to do next, and that’s enough.

What milestone/deadline drove you crazy?

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The FamilyCord Baby Milestones Guide – Brought To You By FamilyCord

Tell A Mom Tuesday: Second Mothers

This week, I want to give a big thank you to all the women who become our second mothers. I was lucky enough to be mentored, nurtured, and loved by many women as I was growing into a woman and mother.

The house I grew up in was on a cul-de-sace. Across the street, my godmother Mary lived with her two children. Mary gave me my first Lucky Charms and what my mother called “rubber cheese,” the Kraft individual slices wrapped in plastic.

Mary was a big woman with large burgundy glasses leftover from the 1970s and white pixie hair.

And Mary smoked. She was a real smoker with a leather case that held her Marlboros and a raspy laugh that turned into a cough when you really got her going. She kept a carton above the refrigerator. She also had a bag of a purse filled with anything anyone needed—scissors, gum, paper clips, glue, cotton balls.

And when my parents were busy or my sisters locked me out of their rooms or I was just pissed off, I’d go to Mary’s. It seems like she was always at her kitchen window, looking out to the street, ready to greet me. I would eat junk food, tell her about whatever had upset me, and then fall asleep on her couch. I don’t think I have ever napped anywhere better before or since Mary’s house. She never woke me, never rushed me. Mary never seemed to have anywhere she had to be.

She was a second mother to me. Her house was Ninja Turtles when mine was Sesame Street. She had Doritos! She talked to me like I was her equal.

I hope Mae will also have second mothers. Women she can learn different skills and ways of thinking from. Homes she can visit and feel safe and warm and loved.

So here’s to all our second mothers. Thank you for helping raise us, too. And thanks for giving our moms a break!

#tellamom today and every Tuesday. Or just share this post with your second mom(s).

 

Sentimental Friday: To Daddy

We are the luckiest girls in the world. Period. End stop. Period.

You are sad to leave us in the morning and can’t wait to hold your baby girl in the afternoon. You give mommy a break at the exact moment she needs one. You love us so much. There aren’t words. When your husband becomes a father, it’s a transformation. In some ways, you lose a piece of him to your child, but you gain so much. Mainly, respect. We love you, Daddy. We are so thankful. And right now as I write this, you are singing our girl to sleep. I love you, Jimmy.

 

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Accidental Rituals

Amidst the chaos of a baby’s first year, it’s hard to stay in any routine. We cook, work out, read books, all sporadically. Of course, I keep trying to maintain some sense of order and then I fail and try again (rinse and repeat). You think I’d get the hint, and I am slowly starting to let go of the need for a schedule or routine.

I think the best we can hope for are loose rituals, and those are mostly impromptu and accidental.

We have a ritual every morning. One of us goes in to get Mae after she’s woken up for the day (any time between 6-7AM) and we bring her in bed with us. We lay her between us and talk about the how the night went or the day to come. She stares at the woven art above our bed. We admire her little fingers and toes. We listen to her babbling and try to translate. But we start our day slowly, all still in our pajamas and warmth of our bed, even if it’s only for ten minutes.

I cherish this ritual that we have stumbled upon.

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Tell A Mom Tuesdays: Wonder Woman

This is our second #tellamom post. I just loved the positivity that it caused, so I am hoping to keep it up. The purpose of this post is to simply praise a mom. I hope you will pass it on. If you see a mom with her hands full today, tell her she’s doing a great job and then hold the door for her! Or post online and #tellamom

This Tuesday’s mom is my trainer and friend Dani Almeyda.

Here’s a detail that pretty much sums up Dani: she was still training and doing star jumps on the day she went into labor with her son. Star jumps, people. I can barely do these on a good, non-pregnant day. Basically, Dani lives BIG. She reminds me of the Maya Angelou quote, “Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: ‘I’m with you kid. Let’s go.”dani

Dani is also a fearless mom. She was back to training at OPT with Marshall, her son, strapped to her in a baby carrier after just a few months.

And now she’s pregnant with a little girl, who is arriving in September.

Dani works two jobs, is an entrepreneur, takes care of Marshall, gives to her community, and is a loyal friend. She’s one of those women that you just can’t understand how she gets it all done, but it’s not annoying because she’s so genuine and kind. ;)

She makes me do A LOT of squats and I still love her.

She makes me do A LOT of squats and I still love her.

Her positivity is contagious.

Those who know Dani are better and brighter for being around her. What a wonderful outlook on life she will pass to her children.

#tellamom this Tuesday. Dani, we’re in awe of your mom skills!

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HangoverBabywearing

I’d seen parents using Baby Bjorns and Ergos for a while, and my sister used one with my nephew, so babywearing wasn’t a new concept to me. In my opinion, it was and is just practical. You have your hands free! It’s also great for the grocery and cooking dinner and any time you have a child that doesn’t want to be put down (that might be all the time). Did I mention you can have your hands free?

So I am a total advocate for babywearing, but it’s not my religion. I wear my baby when it’s convenient or necessary, but I’m not a BABYWEARER. This is one of my favorite clips from a favorite movie about extreme attachment parenting and anti-stroller/Babywearing beliefs. I use a stroller and couldn’t imagine life without it. I also use my ring sling a lot.

I’ve written about how I think a ring sling is a must for surviving babies, but I don’t think you need to use it all the time. I don’t think you need one in three different colors, and I don’t think you need to buy one that cost $125 bucks. And I don’t think it will work with every baby. Some parents treat Babywearing like the people who run with all the special equipment. It’s like dude, you just need a good sports bra and good sneakers. Now just go run and stop buying stuff. The religious Babywearers remind me of a quote from the Bible that I never agreed with (there’s more than one):

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15-16 (ESV)

Really? What’s wrong with being lukewarm? You’d rather me be cold?

BABYWEARERS tend to come off as a bit extreme and rigid in their parenting philosophies. And unfortunately, it kind of scares off the people who just want a convenient and efficient way to carry their kids/babies. I was lukewarm about bw, probably closer to hot than cold, but I was hesitant to dip in my toe in the water because I knew I didn’t really belong with the capital B Babywearers.

So while I think bw just makes sense, I don’t think it needs so much hoopla around it. Try a few different kinds of wraps, learn how to use them properly (youtube helps), find other parents who know about babywearing, and then see if it works for you.

Eventually, I am going to write an entire post about my love-hate relationship with Dr. Sears, but the way he discusses babywearing is one of the things that makes me dislike him. He brings it up like it will almost always calm your baby and that all babies will love it. This is so NOT true. Babywearing really worked for his kids and a lot of other’s, but just like anything else in parenting, it doesn’t work for all.

I see babywearing as just one more tool in my belt for survival. Some days it works and others it doesn’t. So if you are thinking about trying it, I totally encourage you to do so. It can be really helpful, and it doesn’t mean you have to join the anti-vaccine-homeschooling-vegan-gentle parenting-cloth diapering parents. Unfortunately, these types of parents are predominantly white and middle/upper class. I’d love to see babywearing become popular in other socioeconomic communities, but I think it has to become more practical and friendly in its message.

Be lukewarm about it. Buy one used on Craigslist. Then drink beer with ease and tell me what you think.

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