Tonight was so perfect I wanted to capture it in a bottle. Instead, I rushed right in here to write it down before I forget.
Paisley isn’t feeling too well, she’s battling her first case of constipation. So it’s midnight, and she’s fussy. Usually she would have been in bed already for about three or four hours. At least it’s Friday night; we only have to be up early enough tomorrow not to miss out on the asparagus at the farmer’s market.
In an effort to help calm her down, and in dire need of a little bath myself, I got in to our shower and asked Shelton to bring her to me. The second the water hit her back she stopped fussing, and she didn’t make a single sound the entire 15 minutes she was in there with me. She never moved, never fussed, never even wiggled. Skin to skin, we stood there swaying with her pressed against my chest, her head laying sidewise with her tiny fist in her mouth, eyes wide open, and let the warm water rush over us.
It was perfect. I can’t even describe how perfect it was.
I hate that I haven’t written down more. I don’t have the time to write every day and that’s the pace at which I’d have to write to keep up with her. We hit the six-week mark this past Tuesday and I’m dumbfounded by that. How is that possible? She has grown and changed so much in that time already, it almost makes my heart ache to know how much she’ll change in the coming year, and yet I’m anxious for all of it. We attended my cousin’s first birthday party this weekend and I teared up a bit during the happy birthday song thinking that a year from now my baby won’t be such a baby – she’ll be that two-foot tall giant in the chair eating cake. Tear!
The other day I placed Paisley in her car seat and realized she fills it out quite a bit; she’s not the tiny ball that just sort of slumps down in the bottom and we finagle the straps to hold her in place. That was the first realization that she really had outgrown the “brand new baby” size. Break my heart! I weighed her at Shelton’s parents’ house last weekend and she was nine pounds. NINE POUNDS! That’s two whole pounds heavier than when she was born. Again, break my heart!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m so anxious to watch her grow and change and develop, to see her learn new things and put them into practice. But there’s not a mama out there who can argue that this handful-size of baby isn’t the most perfect time in their lives. When I get her ready for bed, I hold her asleep in my arms just a little longer, because she won’t be this perfect cuddle size forever.
In the past couple of weeks she’s been a very busy little girl. We took her to meet the entire OKC crew – which includes the Koskie family and so many of our friends. It was four very busy days and she kept up with us very well. It was fun showing her off to some of the most important people in our lives. She was a perfect little traveler, not a peep during the three hour trip down or back home. And I managed to not pack every single of one her belongings, just a bag of clothes and a bag of supplies! I stopped breastfeeding on this trip. Before the “Breastfeeding Propoganda” crew decides to hang me in a tree by my toenails and tell me that my baby won’t learn to walk until she’s seven, know that this was the best decision for us and I’ll explain more about my breastfeeding experience in another post.
She started smiling. Oh dear god did she start smiling! It’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. First for her daddy, then for her grandfathers, and then finally for me! I didn’t have to resort to a Friends-inspired Baby Got Back rendition, but I did have to make that vibrating-blow noise with my tongue for a substantial amount of time. Now it’s fairly regular and is accompanied by “talking” – her little coos. The best sound in the world.
We moved her from our room to her room this past week. She’s been sleeping so well through the night, about 6-8 hours at a stretch, that we thought it was time. That’s where she naps during the day, in her crib, and so it wasn’t an unfamiliar place. The first night was terribly stormy, but she slept seven uninterrupted hours; I did not so much, but the three of us have been fine ever since.
Last night she had another first – rubbing her eyes. That poor baby was so tired after we drug her through the most ridiculously scheduled day. Again, such a little trooper for keeping up with us in spite of her lacking nap schedule. We got home and as I put her jammies on her teensy little fist just rubbed her eyes; she did it again tonight in her bath.
I’m just in love. In a classically cliche way, I’m in love in a way I never knew possible. I knew I wanted to be a mom, and I knew it would be pretty amazing. I can’t push the bar high enough to describe how much better this is than any expectation, dream or assumption I had. It’s indescribable. This is without a doubt the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and Shelton. She is perfect in every way and a sweet, wiggling, beautiful reminder of how truly blessed and abundant our life is.
Last night Shelton leaned down to place Paisley in her swing and before he could move away from her, she ripped a fart that a truck driver would be proud of. And I died from laughing. Shelton had to giggle too, a little shocked but still managed to find it mildly adorable.
Welcome to our new lives.
Today, Paisley is 23 days old. I can tell you with absolute certainty that these have been the best, and fastest, 23 days of my life. There’s been so much going on, so much change and lots of chasing lost sleep that I have neglected to write. I’m disappointed in that for myself, I feel like I’ve already missed the chance to capture so much, and for not sharing more here. That is being alleviated slowly, and of course I’ll get back on the bandwagon soon.
She is spectacular in every way and I genuinely mean that this whole “being a mom thing” has exceeded every expectation I have. I am in love with her, with this role, with our new family, all of it. There’s been a lot of adjusting, and yet it feels as though she’s been here all along. Funny how that works.
So I’m going to do a sort of FAQ thing here to answer some of those burning questions that always seem to come up when talking to people.
(This post, like the birth story post, is epically long. I’ll get caught up one of these days and go back to blog posts that aren’t equal in length to a Harry Potter book.)
Ahhhh that question follows us everywhere we go. The answer? Who knows. She’s either a really good blend of both of us or she doesn’t favor either of us. However, most friends and family have an opinion on the subject and will adamantly assert that she “looks just like Brandi” or “looks exactly like Shelton.” Neither of us see it.
What we do see is that she undeniably has my nose. It looks like a little button. Plus she’s small, so this is how she adopted the nickname “button”, one of many I’ve bestowed upon her.
She has freaking gorgeous blue eyes. The shape of her eyes is delicious, and the blue is stunning. I know it’s stunning because those are my blues! Not necessarily my shape, but my color.
Some people would say she has porcelain skin – Shelton and I say she is pigmentless. This she inherited from her father.
I love her hair. I have no idea where it’s going to go, but what she has now I think is beautiful. It’s very dark and appears straight until it gets wet/dries and then it shows signs of becoming curly like mine; when it dries it’s also fluffy like a baby goose. In the right light, it also lights up with Shelton’s red tones. So hair type and color are TBD.
I think she has big hands and feet, and if that’s true I have no idea where she got those.
At three weeks she is finally back up to her birth weight of 7lb/7oz. She spent two weeks down at 6/14, which was fine by me because she remained teeny tiny a little longer.
PS we think she is SO pretty!
Yes, she eats. Sometimes she’s like a hungry hippo and other times she’s like a hen-peck bird. I am breastfeeding. This was not a decision I came upon lightly. To be perfectly honest I never once had any desire to breastfeed; I thought it sounded horrendous. I know all the benefits and get rather annoyed with the whole “breastfeeding propaganda” group (as I like to call them), especially because I can count more formula-fed kids than I can breast-fed kids and none of them have lost limbs, they’re all capable of speaking the English language and they didn’t develop a rare form of leprosy.
HOWEVER… knowing the benefits, given that she’s staying home with me, and the fact that my husband over the years has turned me from a money-burning spender into a cheap-ass money hoarder… I knew I had to give it a fair shot. I was a Girl Scout after all, try everything at least once.
I was so dead set on not breastfeeding that I didn’t spend a single second learning, researching or asking questions about the process prior to delivering her. I figured if it failed as miserably as I knew it would, then I’d have a solid excuse.
So the night Paisley was born, the nurses told me I had to do her first feeding within two hours. I looked at the clock and knew I had to feed her by 9:05 pm, and began procrastinating and the “we’ll get to it” excuses. Visit with the family. Give her a bath. Let me eat. Oh, she needs a shot now, great. Et Cetera. At 9:00 the nurse was like, you should probably feed her. The moment I’d been DREADING had arrived. I had to feed this baby with my boobs.
I was actually quite comfortable with this particular nurse so I allowed her to help me get started. She introduced the football hold (for the baby, not my breast), showed me how to “sandwich” my nipple (the explanation about a giant hamburger vs. a small one was hilarious) and place it in her mouth and help her latch. And bingo, she was on and she was eating (the baby, not the nurse).
I tell you no lies when I say it’s been that simple ever since. I’ve not had a lick of trouble – none of the usual suspects of cracking, bleeding, etc. Paisley took to it like she’s been doing it all her life (I guess she has been!) and remains a skilled pro.
I’ve done every feeding, every two to four hours, since she was born. During the past week or so we’ve realized this isn’t always entirely convenient. Granted, nothing could be more convenient than carrying around two gallon jugs of milk on your chest with ready-to-serve nipples, but I’m not one of those flop-’em-out kinda girls. You will not find me nursing my baby in the booth at Chili’s. Just saying.
On Mother’s Day Shelton took me out for dinner; Bonefish, a place we really enjoy and the only place in Wichita you can get fresh fish that doesn’t involve the word “fest” in some sort of marketing promotion. I fed her before we left the house and planned to have MY FIRST GLASS OF WINE (oh it was heaven, let me tell you), so I’d pumped enough to take care of her when we got home. Knowing that she might, MIGHT decide she was hungry in between, I packed a freshly pumped bottle to take with us. Thus making me a smart mama! Toward the end of our meal she got hungry, and Shelton fed her for the first time, her first bottle. She took it very well, and proved that we don’t have to be under house arrest.
I finally started pumping, and that’s been a big relief. Now we can go anywhere and not worry about where, how or if I’ll be able to feed her. But, I don’t seem to be able to pump quite enough, so I asked the doctor if we could occasionally use formula and he was all for it.
Now, you want ironic twists? Me, who wanted nothing to do with the feeding a la breast went out to purchase a can of baby formula and when the time came to make a bottle with it, I felt completely guilty and couldn’t bring myself to do it. I avoided making that bottle for two days! Not because I felt like her limbs would never grow and she’d never learn to speak if I gave her formula, but we’ve been doing such a great job with the breastfeeding I didn’t want to let either of us down.
Putting my rational hat back on, I knew it would be fine. And it was. She seemed to take it just fine. Formula bottles aren’t the norm, still hooking her up to the mommy pumps and pumping bottles and the formula is our plan C back-up.
Yes, she sleeps. I’d give her a B+/A- on this habit of hers. Lots of one to three hour naps during the day, which is great because I can get some things done. Those one-hour naps are killer, I don’t get as many things done. And while it would be really cool if I could set her down and go about my business, that’s not a possibility. According to my mother I gave birth to myself… if she’s not being held, she ain’t happy.
At night, we get anywhere from three to five hours of sleep out of her. The three-hour nights are great, the five-hour nights we want to make out with her and buy her ponies. One for each hour of sleep.
We know we’re fortunate in this area, and we keep our fingers crossed that the infamous “other shoe” doesn’t drop. It could. It might. But we’re taking sleep, like everything else, one day at a time. Some days are victories, other days we’re zombies. She doesn’t seem to care either way.
She is currently sleeping in our room. She’s still my tiny bits (one of my many nicknames for her) and I’m not ready to send her to the other side of the house quite yet. The first week or so, she would only give us decent sleep if she were lying on my chest. So that’s how we slept, chest to chest. Oh I savored it. She was warm and soft and delightful. However, I knew this wasn’t a long-term solution and that we couldn’t keep it up for long. Plus, my back was boycotting this habit. On the nights we put her in her pack-n-play crib, she screams. Wails. Wants nothing to do with it. So now she spends most of her sleeping hours in her big, round, popason swing. She loves it. She sleeps. We sleep. Yay for the swing!
During the day her naps take place wherever I can peel her off my body without waking her. The crease in the center of the couch cushions. The middle of our bed. In the Boppy. But more and more I’m trying to make those daytime naps take place in her actual crib. She does well in there, and I’m hoping that will make the transition easier. When we decide to do it. When she’s seven.
Can I tell you that watching her sleep will probably start showing up on my resume for favorite activities. It’s the best!!! She wiggles and squirms and chirps and groans and her little tiny feet just kick and flail about because they have no idea what to do with themselves. Even better than that? Picking her up from sleeping. I could eat her. With a spoon. She is warm and just nuzzles into my neck and coos and, well, I could eat her. But I hear that’s frowned upon.
We’re loving every minute in our new roles – defined as daddy man and mommy lady. She’s made every moment of the past six years well worth every ounce of the wait.
What if our child doesn’t have that perfect combination of our eyes, his red hair, my curls, his diligence and my creativity?
What if I can’t potty train properly?
What if I lose my mind?
What if my kid is a pickier eater than I am?
What if parenthood exceeds my wildest expectations?
What if I forget who “I” am?
What if I lose my nice ass and my hot boobs?
What if I never sleep in again on a Saturday?
What if I never sleep again ever?
What if motherhood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?
What if I can’t teach my child to read?
What if we lose our first IVF attempt?
What If, What If, What if. These are questions that constantly plague me. Hopefully I’m not alone. More times than not I can’t wait to have a little wriggly body that calls me mom. There are times when I see how my girlfriends are exhausted, haven’t had a break in months and at their wits end – that I think, is it worth it? Maybe I’ve been given a free pass. I don’t have to endure all of this. I get to just be me, just be us. That’s not what I want though. I want to be tired, exhausted, frustrated and out of fresh ideas – the way all the good mommies I know are.
I’ve been reading Dooce.com for nearly five years, on a most-days basis. She’s irreverent, honest, real and on my level. She inspires me to write more candidly and to not think that my odd work-from-home lifestyle is, odd. She makes me want to embrace the good, bad and incredibly ugly of motherhood. This week, her little girl turned five-years-old.
Each month she writes Leta a note. A very public Internet style baby book. Exactly what I’ve always intended to do. This five-year post is why I want to be a mom. I want to realize that I can’t spell things in front of my kid. I want to realize that they are quite possibly smarter than I am. That they resemble the one person I love more than any other in the world. That they changed “the demension” of my life that I never knew possible, and for all the right reasons.
That my what-ifs turn into:
What if I can’t keep a secret anymore?
What if my baby is more beautiful than I imagined possible?
What if Shelton turns out to be the nicer parent?
What if my kid is funnier than I am?
What if parenthood exceeds my wildest expectations?